Well, writing is supposed to be therapeutic according to recent research. My writing lately has been on my blog, DogDharma. Little did I know what an odyssey it would be when I started in earnest last June. I have nothing whatsoever to say. Life seems like a hamster treadmill sometimes, with no exit. The sadness and pain so profound, it never ceases. I do not know where God is taking me. I am weak and not doing my part. I try, I cry, I struggle, I avoid. I hide, I write, I play my silly iPad games on my sofa with my dogs huddled nearby.
I have stopped watching the Investigation Discovery channel. I know just about everything there is to know about psychopaths, except whether they are capable of change. Everyone says NO. Change is impossible or is rarer than the proverbial needle in the haystack. I certainly have seen no evidence. My therapist says that if change were to happen, the first thing I’d hear from Paula would be a genuine, “I’m sorry” — and that would suffice.
Ghosts of Paula are everywhere. Last night, I went to Franklin’s restaurant with my new friend, S (thank you!). The last time I was there was, I believe, July 2010, the month that Paula and I got married. I see the exact table where Paula, R, and I sat — surrounded by laughing, faceless people. The food was exquisite — fish and chips and fried onion rings, and Stonehenge beer from the restaurant’s microbrewery. Not fish and chips like you get in England, with malt vinegar and wrapped in un-inked newspaper. Delicious nonetheless.
I remember that Paula had her favorite US dish back then — BLT — when I took her to Franklin’s. I believe we went to the restaurant a few days after we were married, the tail-end of the whirlwind month, and I didn’t yet know I’d decide to return to England with her. Franklin’s got the high-five from Paula, a much better experience than our last meal at a US restaurant — at IHOP’s, where Paula complained of everything.
After eating, we went down to the gift shop which is beyond excellent. It carries an odd selection of quirky things — books, games, toys, gag gifts, puzzles, trinkets, candles, etc. Paula picked out some gifts to take home to the kids. One of them was a soccer goalie for her son. I tried to help her find toys I thought would interest the kids, but R kept interrupting us. He’d say, “Come here, Paula, and look at this!” And she would have to dutifully drop what she was looking at and make some fawning comment to him. I finally became disgusted and wandered alone in the aisles. Paula came to see why I was upset, and we rolled our eyes together.
So tonight, Franklin’s was de-Paula-ified. It was my late birthday treat. S and I went into the gift shop after our fish and chips. If anything, it’s bigger, better, and brighter. Many tantalizing things that make the fingers want to reach for the wallet. I caressed an updated version of the old Spirograph, but put it back on the shelf. Too little money and not enough smiles for whimsy. S got a Tetris puzzle for his partner. It was a wonderful evening and I appreciated it so much.
I’d achieved 3 days of no smoking, but by 4am, I was pacing like a madman. When did the little convenience store come open? Not till 7am, I thought. I’m their best customer… But the Sunoco gas station would be open earlier. So at 6am, I made my way there. It was still dark outside. Much of my path to the gas station is unlit, and it struck me that it was a metaphor for my life now … stumbling around in the dark, looking for the light.
The gas station itself stood out aglow against the darkness. When I opened the door, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee flooded over me. Another ghost… On all of her visits here, Paula would get up early and go to the gas station for coffee. And probably to sneak a smoke, if Kitt was telling the truth, which I believe he was. The friendly man behind the counter asked me if I was going on a road trip? “No….” “Well, you asked for so many packs of cigarettes, I thought you were stocking up for a road trip.”
I guess I was stocking up for the road trip called life, such as it is. And I don’t know where it is taking me, but I’m being dragged along, kicking and screaming, on the journey….
I’ve aged and the effects of the stress-induced Bell’s palsy that struck me on July 19, 2011 — one week to the day after I’d moved to the UK — still evident on my face. Left side of my mouth won’t “smile” and left eye won’t stay open.
Yeah, you’re so vain, you probably think this blog is about you.
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