I’m so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
‘Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won’t leave me alone
These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase
Evanescence, My Immortal
Every story I write seems to start the same way…. with me not knowing how or where to start. But somehow this translates into me finding a voice and a focus.
After fifteen years of something very much like marriage… I walked away. I’ve told that story, more or less. And I’ve told how that story ended with me moving half way across the country for my old best friend and lover. Since then… since then I have lost and found myself more times than I could ever count. Perhaps that ‘s why I find it so difficult to write this…. the cycles big and small that I have run through… the times that I was sure I was irrevocably broken and would never recover, and the equally intense moments of pure joy and hope and contentment – if you can imagine those feelings all occurring simultaneously.
Moving to Colorado was a whim. Not whimsical, by any means, but somehow still best described that way. I left, initially, with the intention of bringing Eddie back to Chicago so that he would have family support, my support, and he could take a look at his life and start fresh. But twelve hours of driving later, it was very clear to me that this would be a mistake. Eddie’s life, his career… really, his heart and soul dwelt in the mountains. Taking him away from that was the worst thing I could do for him. So instead, I decided to stay with him.
Initially, I expected it to be short term. He needed me… he needed his friend, he needed someone that would stand with him, hold his hand, be strong when he felt weak, step back when he needed to do for himself, and simply love him when he felt unlovable. I wanted more, certainly, but I knew that if I was honestly to be his friend that those feelings needed to be subordinate to our friendship. I think the most stressful times early on were the moments when I forgot this. And forget it, I did, frequently.
Late May, 2007. Eddie and I found ourselves an apartment. Nothing fancy, but convenient for his regular visits to the VA hospital, and still reasonably placed for my job and our other interests. The day we were to move in, another of my oldest and best friends called in crisis. He was living in Denver and his roommate situation just blew up in his face. So where we were two, suddenly we had a third roommate for some short but yet undetermined period of time.
A few words on Davey… we went to high school together. Originally, he was three years ahead of me, but he repeatedly dropped out and failed to graduate, so he became a sometimes student trying to complete his final year repeatedly. He was the total punk rocker, raging homosexual, and disturbed in a way that I have never seen since (nor before). We lived in a town that was quite conservative, and his parents more than most, and yet he came out at age 13. In the eighties when this was still a rare occurrence. I think he spent his entire life fighting simply because he learned he had to fight starting so early in life.
A few years after we were finally done with high school, he spent a couple years in prison… mostly a trumped up charge, but nonetheless. Unfortunately, for him, there was some level of appeal to being taken care of. His release coincided with my return to Chicago, immediately before Ian was born, and so we got a house together (with another friend, also recently returned) and for many months he waffled between building himself a life and finding a way to return to the safety and relative ease of incarceration. For most of us, this sounds incredibly bizarre, but there was always a weakness in Davey… a desire to be taken care of, and, for all of its drawbacks, the prison system did take care….
To return to the recent past, Davey took our second bedroom while he and his partner began looking at properties to buy. And when he wasn’t with Brian, he looked to me to take care of him. After all, I always had done so in the past. Unfortunately, at that point in my life, I was already trying my damnedest to take care of Eddie. And that is what this story is about. Holding tight to my friends hand until he found the strength to pull himself out of his self created hell.
So this leads to a few words about Eddie. I’m not going to tell his story, as it is not mine to tell… but in order to make sense of our relationship, a few words must be said about who this man is to me. We met when I was sixteen – he was nineteen and already father to a beautiful two year old daughter. Her mother was a friend, once removed, and I had heard nothing good about Eddie. She was the love of his life and she hated him – or part of her hated him – at the time it was the same thing.
He was a competitive swimmer from early childhood, a martial artist with multiple disciplines, an amateur pilot since early adolescence, a teenage rockstar (literally – in the midwest punk scene, anyway) and one of the most emotional men i have ever known. We were friends, and then lovers and then best friends. He became a paratrooper while I was still in high school, and then a few years later married a woman that really never knew him, only knew what she wanted from him. But by the time they separated, he had left the service and she had made sure that neither I, nor any of his old friends, were in contact with him anymore.
He married again, moved to Colorado, became a professional snowboard instructor and amateur competitor. He was… and is… very good at what he does. He’s also the biggest pain in the ass anyone had ever seen. They had a child, but in the end, that relationship failed also. When it did, his life spiralled… he bopped from mountain to mountain year after year and eventually lost himself in a bottle. But he came back again – he found a VA program that could help him get his shit together and off he went to Denver. When we first made contact again after all those years, he had been in the program for part of a year and was starting to make some real progress. Unfortunately, another girl got in the way.
The details don’t matter, but when I came to Denver to “save” him, he was emotionally ravaged, anxiety ridden, unfocused and quite literally at the end of his rope. So I did the only thing I could – I stood by him no matter how much he challenged me to run away. I let him have whatever he wanted, under whatever terms he asked – but I also never stopped telling him when he asked too much, even as I granted his request. He was not the best person, by any stretch of the imagination, but through it all I could still see the man I knew underneath it all.