These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears
When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me
I’ve tried so hard to tell myself that you’re gone
But though you’re still with me
I’ve been alone all along
Evanescence, My Immortal
As spring approached we got serious about leaving Denver. Eddie researching river industry possibilities – his summer gig is Raft Guiding and Kayak Instruction. In the end, he chose a Raft company out of Salida Colorado to work for. I applied for restaurant jobs in the area and we got ready to move.
Moving to Salida has been… magical. Everything that could possibly go wrong, has, yet we find ourselves in love with this place and the direction our lives have taken since we arrived. Eddie’s rafting job never really quite worked. High water levels led to an unfortunate number of deaths on the river, so only senior guides worked extensively, and nervous management eventually ended up taking him off of rotation entirely. My initial job was working the local coffee house. I made enough for us to survive, but only barely.
We lived on public land in a tent for our first month, here. And then spotted an ad hanging in the local laundromat: 18′ tipi for rent. $150 per month or help with odd jobs. We called. Went by and met the dude: he’s an old hippy with a house right on the borders of national forest. Over the years a pretty well designed tipi site had formed through the work of many different people living there and tweaking the set up. We were down. We went up the very next day to help him erect the tipi and move in. Good thing, too… when we returned to our campsite we found our tent blown over with a snapped pole. Timing is everything.
About the same time, I picked up a waitressing gig in a local restaurant. Things were finally coming together once more.
With the water levels so high, kayaking was a bit sketchy for much of the summer. So we took up a “new” water sport: boogieboarding. The local grocery store was selling inexpensive boards, so within a few weeks Eddie had rucked up a crew of half a dozen late teen/early twenties dudes that were all down on playing in the river. And then I gave it a try and found that, yes, I am still a water baby and playing in the river is fun.
We spent a lot of time, over the summer, hanging out in and around riverfront park. Meeting people, playing river rat, and tossing bocce balls with the kids. When August rolled around, we met the newest arrival to Salida: cat named Kenny. Wow did he cause a stir. Into this quite mountain town (that admittedly was still trying to figure out me and Eddie) walks this 18 year old, half hispanic, singer-songwriter guitarist with all kinds of personal style and the face of an angel. Created quite an uproar amongst the teenage girls that hung out, I can tell you.
It was really no surprise when we realized we were looking at a kindred spirit. With all the girls chasing him around it was a sort of slow process, but the three of us gradually became really tight. By the end of the summer, we had to start looking for a place to live – our tipi lord would not allow a fire inside, so staying through cold weather was out of the question. Once more, nothing seemed to come together. Until, one day, friends of mine told me they were leaving town and they were renting from one of our bosses at the coffee shop. A couple phone calls later, we had an inexpensive pad, close to downtown and sufficient for our needs.
The night we moved in, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to find a beautiful black cat perched on my chest, purring and looking just as at home as could be. He climbed in the window (its a basement apartment), decided we were alright and that maybe he’d like to stay. In time, we decided to call him Ronin. He’s been away the last couple months since the cold weather truly set in – but I kinda expect to see him again come spring….
Once we were settled, we started spending a lot of time with Kenny. Forgive the cliche, but we had a certain Three Musketeers kind of thing going on, I think. Eddie started playing guitar again, regularly. We’d sit and play music and sing together for hours on end. We’d ruck about town, in a mood, practically daring anyone to try and be as sexy as we three… and then giggle all the way home, again.
Next thing we know, Eddie is finding himself confronted with an attraction that he never expected. (See, Kenny is comfortably bisexual). And I’m trying to reconcile an attraction to a man less than half my age. However bizarre… when the three of us ended the day cuddled up in a ball, none of us really could find anything to complain about.
But then things went wonky again. Kenny had a really stupid idea. Worse he followed through on it and ended up guest of the county for ninety days. Through the holidays, through his nineteenth birthday, through Eddie finally returning to work on the mountain (to his great relief) where he once more is teaching uptight people how to play in the snow and be a kid again (also known as teaching snowboarding) we did our best to make sure one of us, at least, was able to go visit each weekend.
Earlier this month, he came home. It was a bit awkward, a bit tense, at times. He was staying with us – for a few weeks while he got working and arranged things. He spent the first couple weeks trying to regain his equilibrium after his extended vacation. And just to confuse things, Eddie and I are both in love with him and he’s not at all sure how he feels about that. He and I have been relatively comfortable all along… but things have not been so easy with Eddie. Kenny tells me that there are certain aggressive behaviors that simply turn him off. In my mind, I see a cycle: we three – or just Eddie and Kenny alone – find a comfortable space where we can just be together. Eddie sees that and thinks that he is going to get what he wants, consciously or not, and then starts taking liberties or pushing matters in some way. Which then pushes Kenny away. Fundamentally, every time Eddie believes things are finally working, that is exactly when things are not working anymore.
I may be totally wrong about that – I’ve been told repeatedly over the last week to stop speaking for other people, stop mediating, stop getting in the middle. By Eddie, that is. Hell… I guess I need to tell the whole story… Last week, we spent the day together. All three of us lounging on the couch, snuggled up, holding hands and generally just being very comfortable together. It was a brilliant day, for all of us, I think. The next morning, Eddie told me he was feeling excluded. I did not take that as seriously as I should have, perhaps, because that night when Kenny came to bed (with Eddie moments behind him) the chemistry between us kicked into high gear and within moments we were…well… fucking. Eddie went off the handle. Yelling and screaming – at me, it was only my fault in his mind. This led to several days of arguing and tension and bad vibes. Kenny amazed me by sticking with us through all of it. For someone that claims that he runs away from any conflict, he was absolutely diligent about being there for me, for Eddie, for us… I don’t know which. Finally, the conflict began to settle. When Eddie and I were alone it would sometimes come up again, but Kenny’s presence was enough to keep that to a minimum. Most of the time. But he did see how ugly things could get between Eddie and I – and I think that was the last straw for him. He wanted nothing more to do with Eddie… “no assholes allowed.”
Monday morning, Eddie went to work and Kenny told me he had found a place to live, that he was leaving that afternoon, and he did. Once he was gone, I spent a good hour plus on the couch bawling my eyes out. Because he was gone. Because I was going to have to tell Eddie this when he got home. Because I knew how Eddie was going to react. Because I found myself scared of how bad it might get. Because I was scared we might not live through the night. And because I was angry that I could be thinking these thoughts in the first place. Perhaps the hours I spent alone dealing with this were a good thing. I had already decided what I would do if he reacted as expected. I was neither shocked nor confused nor unable to think what to do about it.
So he came home, and I very carefully (to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy) told him that Kenny was gone. The reaction was instantaneous. “You bitch. This is all your fault.” And so on. I was out the door within five minutes. I spent the night at a friends house, thought about things a whole lot. Wandered around town the next day, lost in thought. Finally saw Eddie mid afternoon. Told him exactly what I was feeling. Reminded him that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. In this case that “same thing” was me accepting the unacceptable, even as I told him it was unacceptable. It was me carrying all of the weight of responsibility for our lives. It was me standing by him while he consistently did things that I kept telling him were hurting both of us. I told him I was moving out because he needed to stand on his own. So that HE would know that he could (I already know it). Meanwhile, he begged me to stay and swore to me that he could show me these things if only I would stay. So I gave him a laundry list… these are the things I need to see from you if we are to have any future. These are the things that are totally unacceptable, and these are the things I need you to think about and wrap your head around.
I probably never should have accepted his promises…. I had heard them all before and yet nothing ever seemed to change. But I gave him another chance because that’s what I do and that’s who I am. Life plodded on for a few weeks… some really bad days, some pretty good ones. But then in late February we had a particularly awful night and I moved out for real. I went to stay with a girl I work with and started spending a lot of time with Kenny and with other friends I have made here in town.
The next two weeks were really pretty good for me. Spending that time with friends and especially Kenny was healthy, I was enjoying the mere fact of living and I was starting to think about what really matters to me and my life, again. But I was also talking to Eddie regularly and trying to get across to him the beliefs and ideas that I have and feel he is missing. Not spirituality or philosophy type stuff, I don’t mean to imply that, just… reality as best I understand it.
I told him that I could not be with him if he continued to drink, because all other things aside, when he drinks I cannot trust him. Period. End of story. I told him that I could not do this for him – that if he wanted any future for us, he needed to step up and make some changes for himself and by himself. I told him that I was no longer willing to accept the unacceptable no matter the reason or the intent.
After seven days he did it. He quit drinking, started being pro-active in his life and started really listening to me when we talked. He wanted me to come home. Eventually, I caved. I could not bring myself to walk away from him when, for the first time, I believed he had taken a step that could make all the difference.
I moved back in and then went to see Kenny – told him that I had moved back home and I wouldn’t be around so much for a while. He registered shock, then hid it, smiled, gave me a hug and had nothing more to say. I told him that I would always be there for him if he needed me. No matter what. And then I went to work and he went on his way.
A week later, he bailed town for California. I haven’t spoken with him since. So now I know what he was unwilling to say: that he could not be a part of my life if I could not stand up for myself and what was right. In some ways, he was right: but at the same time, and he knows this too… I pride myself on being that person that never gives up on those I love. At least not if I can find a way to help it. Unfortunately, in this situation, I had to walk away from one or the other. And I chose to walk away from the one that had always been good to me and always been my friend, because at the end of the day, he didn’t need me. (And to be honest, the age thing got to me as well. I like to think that is irrelevant, and it is… but it isn’t at the same time) More the fool I.
So Eddie and I lived together again for another six weeks. He gradually began to drink again – now I come to find, far moreso than I had even realized. Last week the shit hit the fan and I couldn’t put up with any more. Even now, part of me wants to find a way to help him, but I know that this is residual co-dependency between us. Mostly I have broken free of that dependency in the last several months – he has not – and that is the basis for the worst of the troubles we have had. But I cannot do any more because everything I do now merely makes it worse.
So now life begins anew. I’m talking with several friends about renting a place together. I don’t know if I will actually stay in Colorado for much longer, but I am committed through the summer. I am also completely committed to simply being alone for a while. I did not give myself proper time to heal after my honey and I split up, circumstances being what they were. It’s time for me now to take some space for myself and figure out where I go next. Whatever ends up happening there is one thing I will never ever let slip past me again: simple joy. Life is good, no matter what happens, no matter how much crazy shit occurs, life is always and ever, simply good.