He sees all his friends, old acquaintances, even his family, navigating life like masterful downhill skiers. Slicing between flags at blinding speeds, looking as calm as they would were they walking the grocery aisle. But then he looks to himself and sees a one-armed man trying to juggle for the first time. With axes. Blindfolded. And upside-down. Nothing comes easily except gaining weight and procrastinating. He doesn’t know why he can’t right himself on this river of existence. But at the same time, he does. Admitting to himself that he is lazy and unmotivated is not the hard part. It is sadly easy. What is difficult for him is fighting that truth. It is easier to stagnate and be mad at the universe than it is to stand up and cut your way through the jungle between yourself and your ideal. But there is always something missing.
If he had a better job he would be happy enough to make changes.
If his job had a better schedule he could be more creatively productive.
If he had a girlfriend he would be confident enough to take the steps needed to grow.
If he had more money he could work less and use that time to work out.
If he had higher self-esteem he could maintain a relationship.
If he wasn’t this, he could be that.
If he was here, he could go there.
If one, then the other.
If up, then down.
If future, then present.
If he had motivation, he could write. So he stood up, took a step, and he wrote this.
Mom painted the living room wall again. Of course she painted the entire room, but she always starts with that wall. She keeps coming up with reasons. Nicotine stains were getting bad, a new color will make the room look bigger, a new décor for the new millennium. Each time she does it, I watch her. It gets easier after the first wall. But I can see the pain in her face as she moves the roller up and down that side of the room. She pushes harder, adds an extra coat that she doesn’t need. It is because in her mind she still sees what was there before. So do I. But I’ve learned to control it.
We see Dad, sitting on the floor. The blood on the wall, almost dry, paints a trail from his head up to the six foot high smattering of holes in the wall, made by the household shotgun he used to keep in the hall closet. Self-defense, the police decided. Dad attacked her after she discovered obvious stains on their bed. The white stains were from him. The red stains were not. She defended herself and, at the same time, got her revenge.
He put down his binoculars and sighed. He knew for a fact, in his heart, that he could be happy with that woman for the rest of his life. The spark in her eyes, the flash of her smile, the flow of her body’s curves made up absolute beauty. She was all he ever wanted. In his own apartment complex, no less. All he had to do was walk downstairs, across the parking lot, and knock on her door. Then he would be happy, forever.
He thought about that for a while. What would he say? “Hi, I’m sorry to bother you, but I think you’re beautiful.” “This is going to sound odd, but would you like to go out to dinner?” “I’ve been watching you all day from my window. Are you busy tonight?” He thought about their date. He thought about after their date. He thought for a while. When he was done he grabbed his binoculars again and looked at his soon-to-be love.
She was clothing the curtains. There was a man in the apartment with her.
So he put away his binoculars and his lotion, threw away his tissues, and crawled into bed, gathering the sheets around him.