In the past 60 days I have:
- Ended my primary 8-year relationship as well as a secondary romantic relationship that had been going on for a year
- Been burglarized
- Been in a fire
- Started drinking again after almost six years sober
- Published a book (at least that’s one good thing)
As a result of all this, I’ve started questioning a lot about myself that I have previously taken for granted. I feel like there is a huge void in my life, something essential that is missing, and I really don’t have much of an idea what it. To facilitate the search, I’m going to do some travelling in December and visit people I know in various cities. This is also going to double as a book tour and solo music tour.
My eight-year relationship had some problems for a while that I was unwilling to deal with directly. Most of these had either to do with the way we communicated or were problems internal to myself. Very little could be blamed on her. Basically, I was unhappy and filled with an unfocused anxiety. I began another relationship late last year that was long-distance and more emotional than physical, though we were able to see each other three or four times over the course of that year. It was out in the open, as far as my primary relationship was concerned, but aspects of it were not always as out in the open as they should have been.
Even though I had some previous experience with polyamory, and I’ve read all the major books on the subject, I still made mistakes. I’m no superman afterall. I ended the secondary relationship, feeling that I had neglected the primary too much and needed to focus on that for a while. Ultimately, I felt like I had done too much damage and, though communication was better, my own problems with the relationship just didn’t seem resolvable, so I broke that off too.
In September, I moved into a one-room “apartment” in Kensington, Brooklyn. There was no kitchen, and the electricity was spotty, but it was a place to shower and lay my head. Within three weeks, it was burglarized. My laptop and desktop computers were both stolen. They didn’t take my guitars or anything else of value. Thankfully, all my actual data was backed up on an external hard drive. It could have been worse, but it shook me up quite a bit.
At the beginning of October, I rented a room on the Upper West Side from a pothead opera singer. He was nice enough and left me alone. When I was there, I was usually in my room with the door closed, working or sleeping. I stayed home from my day-job one Monday because I had a cold–this was a little more than two weeks after I moved in. I had taken some Nyquil and was sleeping soundly when suddenly I became aware that I was surrounded by smoke. Over the previous weekend, I had bought an electric blanket (the room had no heater and was excessively cold on cold days), so I thought that was the culprit and quickly pulled out everything that was plugged into the wall, but the smoke seemed to just be rising up out of the floor. I opened a window (after a few moments of struggle to find the latch), and I saw flames shooting out of the window directly below me on the third floor.
I left my room and found that there was still smoke everywhere. I didn’t notice until later that there was no smoke alarm going off. I don’t believe there was one in the apartment. When I opened the front door, I ran into a crew of firemen in gas masks who were seconds away from breaking in with an axe. They asked if I was okay, and I said that I thought I was, making my way through the smoke to the stairway. As I approached the third floor where the fire was, the smoke got much thicker, and I couldn’t breathe. For a short while, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, but once I got to the lobby, I was okay again.
An hour or so later when the fire was out, the firemen let me go back upstairs to put some clothes on–I had just been wearing a t-shirt, sweat pants, and socks, and it was cold out. Plus I had walked through firehose water somewhere along the way, and my socks were soaking wet. I got dressed, grabbed my essential belongings, and ran back to my old girlfriend’s place, where I’ve been staying ever since. It’s been fine, and it’s been a comfort for both of us to have each other around. At the moment, I plan to stay there until I leave on my trip.
The whole experience of the fire really intensified the feelings that I wasn’t going to find happiness on my current path. Something had to change, and I had to get out of New York, at least for a short while, to get some perspective on things.
This started a couple of days before the fire. I only had one. I had one more a couple of nights later. And since then, I’ve had one or two every few days. It hasn’t been a problem, and I don’t feel obsessed about it, and I feel like I do have another recovery in me if it turns out that I need one. As one of my (two!) therapists pointed out, the timing is “interesting.” It has a lot to do with the general questioning of everything that I’ve been doing lately. Other than some anxiety I had about telling people in AA, not to mention other friends who knew I was sober and might be concerned, I haven’t had a lot of feelings about it. Maybe it’s just because I have a lot of other things going on.
I am quite proud of the book, and the fact that I have it has given me more of a reason to reach out to people. It includes my novella and several short stories that have all been published previously in other forms. I’m very excited to have all this material packaged in a collection, and the book itself is beautiful too (thanks M!)
I plan to leave on the first of December and visit people in Philadelphia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Mississippi before landing in Birmingham where I will spend osme quality time with my family and other friends. From there, I will likely take some side trips to Atlanta, Dothan, and Gainesville. So far, I’ve got at least a couple of planned music gigs, and I’m hoping to arrange some readings also. At the very least, I will try to push the book and maybe read a story at the music gigs.