I took him home and he slept. I laid him in a corner of the yard, sheltered beneath a mighty pine. I covered him with a heavy blanket then came back inside and shut the door. I could hear him snoring from my living room. For nearly a month he slept. Or, at least I thought he did. After a few weeks of restful slumber, there were times that I could hear him stirring, but I chose to ignore him. He had been so calm that I hoped he would simply return to that state if left unbothered. There was still a large part of me that was fearful.
By the time that I did check on him, it was clear he had needed my attention much sooner. I thought he had tamed, but he was still feral. He had been plucked out from his domain and exposed. Without follow-up care he grew resentful. He had been living off the plentiful apple trees in our back yard, but clearly hungered for something more substantial. I could tell that he blamed me for his discomfort. I gladly took ownership. He was righteously angry.
I fed him. I made sure it was clear to both him and myself that I was remorseful. Even though we could not communicate directly, I could feel him calm.
He was fiercely independent, but I had uprooted him. I now have an active responsibility in his development. With him here in my backyard I can no longer be in denial. I can no longer turn a deaf ear to that howling in the distant woods.
There was a certain forlorn quality to his call. As I stepped out of my car I expected to see him in some state of debilitation, but he was not. He sat leaning against a great myrtle just off the roadside; far enough from the highway that I would not have noticed him if it wasn’t for that call. My glasses are obsolete, so it took me far longer than it could have to establish what I was seeing. As I discerned he sat patiently as if waiting for me.
I am quite a tall man myself, but he was taller. What I first saw as a long brown jacket, perhaps to protect against the growing wind, was actually a thick coat of fur that covered him head to toe. What I first saw as sunglasses, perhaps to protect his eyes from the unfettered spreading sun, were actually thick set eyes under a heavy brow. He sat with his knees tucked to his chest but an expectantly rigid back. He had an inhuman stare.
He called out again. I wasn’t sure anymore if he was calling to me. He seemed now to be staring off toward the road, aimlessly beckoning. I decided to approach him regardless. The noise he made was unlike anything I’d heard before. My mind raced as I tried to file it somewhere among the many noises in my memory. Perhaps something from a movie? Some sound described in text? In person it seemed alien beyond comprehension, and it defied categorization. I needed to better know its source.
As I continued to approach he began to take notice. He slowly moved up into a crouch, but did not shift from his place under that great tree. When I did not falter in my advance he stood tall. He absolutely towered over me and seemed to unfold and expand into a terrifying figure, hoping to formalize the relationship between us in no uncertain terms.
It was exactly in this position that I could see him the clearest. What I first saw as an animal body under thick feral fur, was actually a familiar human figure and proportions. What I first saw as brutal beast-like eyes, had began to show me fear.
I took him home with me that day. I agreed to co-habitate with that thing, that most would call “it” but I insist on calling “him.” I have yet to work out the details, but I know he at least deserves my respect. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully comprehend him.
Still figuring it out as I go,
She came to me in a dream. I don’t mean that in some cliched implication of prophecy. She was no avatar of long lost love. I am perfectly happy with the one that didn’t get away. Even so, she was someone that once meant something to me. A good friend, from a time that I had far more ambition and dreams. I don’t dream much these days. I sleep fully grounded in reality, as if some part of me is enforcing on myself a tether to the concrete.
But there I was, walking across a college campus. It was some intermixture of campuses (campi?) past, the kind of place that exists only in your sleep. As I walked along my little chunk of quad, floating in some indescribed aether, she approached me. Not quite a singular persona, but some allegorical aggregate of friends past. It was as if for a moment I lived again in that space: In that discrete 6 week chunk of summer on that campus so long ago. She was a friend, a fountain of support at a time in my life that I thought I was an island.
In my dream it was as if we had not seen each other in some time. The surroundings were the same, but we were different, like some temporally displaced reunion. With a grateful embrace time scrunched and shuffled until that spacious disparity between us dissolved. I wondered why it had taken us so long to reconnect. I have not talked to her since that summer long ago.
At the time I didn’t realize the effect that those people had on me. I barely held onto them when I had them, so when it was time to say goodbye they easily slipped through my grasp. Looking back, I can see how they affected me; how those people shaped me and propelled me forward. We had yearbooks at that camp, and mine are over-filled with genuine well wishes and memories. At the time I was cynical. Those messages seemed contrived. Reading them now creates for me a new canon. At the time I created a reality for myself where I was confident I was just misunderstood.
I was the one with the misunderstanding.
I realized how much I miss those people. I don’t consider myself someone who has regrets, but I seem to have forgot that for a bit this morning.
With 20/20 hindsight,
I stood at the cliff face afraid to look down. I expected that I would see an unfathomable void; a bottomless pit with no equal. I expected that I would stare into its depths and know some form of nihilistic terror. I expected that if I looked I would lose my nerve.
I did glance down. I couldn’t help myself. It was an involuntary reaction, almost instinctual in feel. It confused me. There was the bottom, almost more visible than the back of my own outstretched hands. I could gather up all the details in my mind and piece it into a concrete reality. It seemed wholly mundane, and yet it terrified me. Probably more than that bottomless pit, it dropped the floor of my stomach until it mirrored those expectations.
I could feel the actuality of that ground nearly drag me over the edge. There was a comfort in that bottomless pit. A reassurance that if I stepped back and walked away I would be justified. Now I would just seem like a coward. That known quantity carried with it a burdensome expectation. Under such conditions a logical person would act, and I am a logical person. Right?
I couldn’t do it. Well, more accurately I could have, but I did not. The pressure felt too great and the stakes too high, so I folded and walked away. There was no one there to judge me but I could handle that myself.
Maybe in time I will build a bridge.
I’ve grown sluggish. I would have been prepared before but I wasn’t this time. I don’t know if you could even call it an ambush with the leisurely, telegraphed approach he took. I was too distracted. Too comfortable. It was easier to pretend that I was safe. He didn’t even bother hiding.
I defended myself but I was too cowardly. I fled when I could have stood my ground: Stared deep into his glare and howled in turn. I would have been swept up again into that cycle. But which is better, to be bold or meek? Either way I didn’t stand a chance. I thought I did. I stared back, but when his gaze did not falter mine did. So I ran. Surrounded by a sea of good, strong people I ran. In that moment I prefered solitude to support.
Even though I was able to salvage the rest of today, even though I am comfortable and safe, I am still shaken. I still have work to do.
I am starting to hesitate. The initial intention of this being a daily blog n0w seems short-sighted. It is extremely difficult to post something daily, and on days that I don’t have a particular desire to post I feel like the content then isn’t worthy of posting; that is too mundane. Does it detract from the overall quality? Is it worthwhile to give simple updates of positive days?
I don’t know, but it’s something I’ve been considering. My concern is that less frequency will be less habitual and that will lead to abandonment. But what if I burn myself out by posting when I am not in a creative mood? What if I burn anyone out there out with excessive, subpar content? Is the journalesque and more straight-forward content even worth doing? Maybe there is a middle ground. Perhaps a few times a week? I feel oddly attached to that “Day XX” title format, but that’s not really a good enough reason to stick to it.
I’ll have to consider it more.
Lost in a great ponder,
I can feel him out there. Wherever I am, he seems to also be. At home I feel like I catch little glimpses of him moving outside my window. At work I feel like he’s lingering off past the tree line, waiting. I don’t quite know what he’s waiting for.
Normally I would go try to shoo him off. We would start yelling and screaming and in the end I would be exhausted and knowing he would be back. It doesn’t seem worth my effort anymore. It’s not worth being angry at him. He’s broken. I am too, but in my own distinct ways. I wouldn’t be suprised to find him in the records at my job. A petulent kid, neglected for too long. Pushed away and never given the attention he needed.
Now he is grown. Oh how he has grown. I believed him to be a monster, but that discredits his own struggle. There is a portion of responsibility that exists outside him, that he can’t be held responsible for. So I let him lurk. I understand he means no harm. Like some wild creature he is gauging and testing. Perhaps within time he can be tamed.
It’s funny that the better I feel the less I feel the need to write. I suppose that’s “a thing.” Angst is good for creativity, eh.
Today was good. I attended a CPI training, which is our non-violent crisis intervention for my work in the case of a resident that’s a danger to themselves or others. I always enjoy those, because they actually have a ton of good information. They cover not only holds and various physical responses, but how to de-escalate situations and a whole method for categorizing how escalated youth are and the proper responses etc. It’s kind of old hat at this point for me, but a refresher is kind of nice. Plus I got to spend some time talking with some old co-workers.
It was held in the previous facility I worked at, which was much more high stress and bombastic than where I am now. I hated it while I was there, but coming back to it I kind of missed it. It’s been upgraded quite a bit in the 8+ months since I’ve been there, but it felt familiar. I missed some of the staff there especially. Then a resident made an inappropriate comment to a female co-worker about how much he loved the smell of tuna fish as she walked by. Didn’t miss it so much after that.
This is the first vacation that I returned to work actually feeling refreshed and rested. Although I’m extraordinarily tired now, so I think I’ll head off to bed.
In a fierce sleepiness,
There it was again. I had found it many times before, each time in a new location, but every discovery felt new. Here I was again. Standing in a clearing in the woods. Only it wasn’t in the clearing. It was far off in the underbrush, almost camouflaged, as if someone had placed it there in secret, as if I wasn’t meant to find it. I felt a little bitter at whoever had placed it; frustrated that they felt it needed hiding. It had taken a lot of determined meandering to find it again. It wasn’t the kind of thing that you could search for. It defied intention.
But here it was.
It was a thing of simple construction: Some sticks leaned on each other–supporting each other–lashed together and covered with brush. Yet in this simple construction it was magnificently inviting. It was a thing of beauty and practical craftsmanship. Although it was hidden in the dense underbrush, I could see what looked like deer trails leading off towards it. As I looked closely I could see a dozen or more trails, coursing outwards as rays from this fortress. I picked the closest one and followed it.
I walked this trail for several minutes. It was much longer than I expected. As I walked the adjacent trails seemed to fade off into the distance, leaving my singular lone trail. I felt as if I was the only one in this vast forest. I stopped for a drink of water but realized that I had dropped my pack in the clearing. I decided to leave it there.
When I arrived the fortress was empty. I stood for a moment, back hunched under the low ceiling like some grey wizard, before I sat. The floor was a simple dirt floor, blended with pine needles tracked in by someone’s shoes. I bent down, arms spread, and gathered up the dirt and needles and formed and packed them into a bed. It held strong in the middle of the fortress. I lay down and slept.
I slept most of that day before returning home to finish the things I needed to do. Today I feel rested. It is my first day back to work from vacation. A great dread started yesterday, but I was able to lay it to rest. Today I feel well.