Today has been a hard day, not because of anything that happened as much as reality is setting in: I’m in a downward spiral and I can’t seem to stop it. For reasons I don’t understand, I’m depressed again.
I had one particularly strange moment tonight. Friday is one of my full days at the restaurant. I was in the kitchen by 9:30 this morning and did not leave until a little after 8:00 tonight. The way I feel, it was the best place to be. I go in early to be the main prep guy, which means I’m there by myself. The pub opens at 11:30 for lunch, so there is a bartender and a server, but from nine to two I was the only one in the kitchen. I cooked bacon, cleaned mussels, made dressings and sauces, cut tomatoes and onions, and got the line ready for lunch. The others came in about mid afternoon and we got things ready for dinner. I actually had a pretty good time. A friend sent me her Portuguese phrase book after reading about the Brazilians I work with, so I’ve tried out a few new food words on them today. I think I earned a little Brazilian street cred.
The Masons made their monthly stop, which meant we had forty Iceberg salads to make and then entrees of either prime rib or grilled salmon. When it came time to plate forty dinners at once, we all chipped in.
Somewhere around dark, I was the only one on the line again. The room was warm and vibrant; there was good energy in the place. Yet, an overwhelming sadness fell on me like a heavy blanket. All of a sudden, I was weighed down by a palpable sadness and loneliness. I could feel the tears behind my eyes. I wanted to fall into a crumpled heap behind the counter and cry. I didn’t. I just stood there, hoping it would pass.
The loneliness is what scares me most. I knew I was coming home to a Ginger-less house tonight. She is away for a church thing. It’s been planned for a long time. For the love of God, I’m almost fifty; I ought to be able to come home to only Schnauzers every once in awhile. But, out of nowhere, standing there in the kitchen, I missed her. I felt alone and I needed her to remind me I was not.
I teared up because a song came to mind. In my mental iPod, Billy Joel began to sing:
when I look into your eyes and I see the crazy gypsy in my soul
long as I have you by my side I can feel my withered roots begin to grow
well I’ve never had a place that I can call my very own
but that’s alright my love ‘cause you’re my home
Ginger is home to me. There is no place, no town, no city, no country that makes me feel at home. I moved around too much to put much stock in geography. For five years now she has she had lived with my depression (for sixteen put up with a bunch of other stuff) and she keeps hanging on. I can’t imagine living these days without her. The thought of coming home to our empty house was daunting, but underneath that was a melody of hope.
if I travel all my life and I never get to stop and settle down
long as I have you by my side there’s a roof above and good walls all around
you’re my castle, you’re my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house ’cause you’re my home
Driving back to Marshfield after work, I turned on the Sox game hoping for some good news. It was the bottom of the second and we were already up 7-0. The Oriole pitcher was having a worse day than I was. The game was not very interesting, so the broadcasters had already started telling stories, which is why I love to listen to the games on the radio. Tonight I learned about Moose Stubing, who is the only person in history to never get a hit as a major league player and to never win a game as a major league manager. His failures were short-lived: he batted five times in 1967 and managed eight games in 1988, both with the California Angels.
I found a strange comfort in hearing about Moose. Part of me pictured him driving to Iowa to play ball on the Field of Dreams (it’s still there) where he could finally get a hit, or a win, or at least forgive himself. Part of me felt a sense of kinship, somehow; I wished I could call and see how he’s doing and never, never say a word about baseball. When they finished talking about Moose, I punched the CD button on my radio to see what I had left in there. It was Warren Zevon.
don’t let us get sick
don’t let us get old
don’t let us get stupid, alright?
just make us be brave
and make us play nice
and let us be together tonight
I turned it up and sang along. The second verse says:
the moon has a face and it smiles on the lake
and causes the ripples in time
I’m lucky to be here with someone I like
who maketh my spirit to shine
By the time the last chorus played for the third time, I was pulling into our driveway. Zevon’s waltz had danced me home in the darkness, even though Ginger is not here tonight. I opened the door to see the mail she had stacked, her jacket on the back of the chair, the note she had left me. I knew she would call before she fell asleep. I knew, even though she is somewhere else, she would still be my home.
The night is dark and my sadness sits on my chest life dead weight. But even in the dark, I’m working hard to move in three-quarter time, feeling a rhythm that runs deeper than darkness and truer than loneliness. Today was a hard day, but I made it home.