Every day was just like the day before until one day it wasn’t, you know? Everything was in a holding pattern, jab/jab/jab/jab/jab, back and forth, until the hook came out of nowhere and the spitty blood went raining all over the front row people and it all seemed like slow-motion motion picture stuff.
It all seemed like something out of Rocky. But without the triumphant feeling you would have felt back in ’76 as your heart pounded up inside your ribcage and you sucked down another swallow of cold Coke and clenched your fists when Rocky won. But with my thing: no one won. No one really ever wins these things, I guess. So, to me anyways, it all sort of feels like the fight got thrown. Like it was obvious as hell that someone just laid down and stayed laying down until the bell rung and the crowd went nuts one way or the other.
Marriage, my marriage to the woman I married, it was such a dream come true. So why didn’t I ever believe it? Why do some of us coast on into a relationship and get it right, without even seeming to try that hard, but then so many others, me included, we just get so damn excited about love and all of it’s potential, but somehow we manage to get lazy or mean or just stupid as the years roll by?
Is it the way you were raised that guides you through your love affairs? Is that it? Maybe there is something to be said for dysfunction breeding dysfunction, I don’t know. Or maybe too many of us these days have just lost our manners. Maybe our dignity has been so banged up in the hard race to get to the place where we can finally sit there one night in the tap room with our friends around us, swigging beers/tossing back peanuts, just an electrified wad of anticipation minutes away from breaking the news.
“Yo, you guys. I think I’m really in love this time.”
They stop, mid-swallow, and stare into your eyes to see if your BSing them. But you’re not. Oh no, you are not.
“I think this is the one. I’m gonna ask her.”
They know what that means. Everybody knows what that means, man.
With me, I look back and try and figure out certain things. I try and pinpoint certain days or nights where maybe I made key mistakes. I said so many things. We both did. But when did I say the worst one, I wonder. Or was what I said not as bad as it all seems? It’s hard to say. I want to own so much of all of this. I want to own it like a dignified ex-lover ought to own it. I want to own the goddamn sun setting as the credits roll.
But I don’t know if I can. I just don’t know if I can do that. Where does that kind of strength even come from? I keep asking myself ‘How do people just walk away from something that was supposed to be forever?’ But the fact that I’m even dancing around in that particular disco probably says a lot about why I’m messy with love to begin with, I guess.
Magic is yours for the taking in the beginning, isn’t it? You meet someone and you kiss them hard in some dark corner and you even remember to caress the skin on the back of their neck with your fingertips and sure as hell they break out in goose pimples and you fall together on some condo bed or some apartment futon and the next thing you know, man, you are surfing on a bolt of wild lightning and so is the other human being all tangled up in your breath.
But lust creates dust, I think. And sometimes I wonder if that’s all I ever have been to anybody I’ve shared my time with. I don’t mean I was used as a piece of meat. Hell, I’d like to know that feeling, just to say I have, but I’m no one’s carnal pork chop and I get that. What I guess I’m trying to say, and it’s a tough one to nail down with English words really, but what I guess I’m trying to say is that I don’t even know if I have ever known what real true love feels like.
And I suspect that a lot of people are in the same boat. Even you.
Oh, I loved my girl more than the blood in my veins, and I probably still do, to be honest with you, but what are you supposed to do with that when the fight gets thrown and you’re standing there with a busted face and your eye is leaking eye sauce and you want to keep jabbing/jabbing/jabbing, but you know it’s no use anymore?
Your opponent is down and they’re winking up at you. And you, you stupid s.o.b., you’re just standing there in the spotlight tapping your gloves, jogging a little in place, trying hard to hear the roar of the crowd. There you are/there I am; trying hard to understand who they’re even cheering for now that the bell has rung. I just wanna reach down and pull her up off the ring floor, but I guess it’s late, huh?
You can’t keep fighting after the bell. You can’t keep trying and dreaming and fighting because you love the fight and the other fighter so much more than you even love yourself and you never ever want it to end even if it means you will die in the same filthy ring you’ve been dripping all over for decades, right? I mean, c’mon. You can’t be side-stepping and throwing sweet, beautiful jabs at the sky when the crowd sounds like the nighttime North Sea and the distant dying tings of the last of the bell shots is all there is left between you and your opponent and the cool evening air blowing through your cuts, healing you like a witch with heat. Or can you?
Or can you?
I just don’t know. No one knows.
Everybody thinks they know about love and what it means and what it feels like and all, but trust me; from sitting there drinking your beers way up in the cheap seats to down there hanging on to ring ropes for dear life, no one knows what the hell love even is.
Especially those two fighters, those two certifiable souls wandering back to their corners, each of them a little bit happy/a little bit sad/a little bit dizzy, sweat trickling salt down out of their spinning heads into all of the swollen, gaping questions that still remain.