Tuesday, February 26, 2013

OLD MAN, LOOK AT MY LIFE

A friend of mine likes to say his last ex-wife (there are four) is "the one that made me old." He's in his 60s and still vigorous, still vital, but there's a lack of light behind his artist's eyes. He could live to be 100 and he would still be convinced — still know — that the young man inside him died when he fell in love with his last ex.

Some men age and despite the thinning, graying hair, they stay young, they keep a spring in their step, they never lose the glint that marks them as spirits for the ages. Bill Clinton is one of those guys, and it's not because he's a rascal — it's because he has presence, a charisma that most humans could only dream of having. He'll be a badass until the day he dies. That's why he's the Big Dog.

My friend who is convinced he's become old: he's got charisma, too, and talent out the ass, and an ability to be as charming as anyone I've ever met. He could have run for public office, had he not had such a taste and affinity for certain delicious habits.

I first scoffed at his insistence that another person could sap the youth out of him. That seemed to give too much power to someone else, a power that no one ought to possess. But then I thought about the power I have ceded to Calliope in the past couple years, the eager way I allowed her to shape the way I thought and acted. Don't get me wrong: she didn't make me feel or behave any certain way. I did it of my own free will. She just has the personality that made it easy for me.

It cut both ways. She made it easy for me to feel free. She made it easy for me to feel hopeless.

In recent weeks I have thought of her as the woman who made me old, but that's ridiculous. Despite my physical age of 52 I'm still much younger of mind and spirit than most people in their 20s and 30s, much more able to adjust and morph and adapt to this thing we call life. Much more resilient, too. I don't have Clinton's charisma or charm, but I do have the magnet, the connection that can't be broken no matter how much you pull apart the unlike poles.  It's foolish to ignore electromagnetism.

Her magnet helped make me more young at heart. She helped me focus on things like hope and happiness, concepts that were largely foreign to me before she came into my life. Now that we are strangers I find it hard to conjure up those emotions. I miss that. I miss my friend. Every day we are strangers I grow a little less sad but a little more dead, a little more like the guy I was before I met her — not necessarily old, but certainly ready to turn my back on the idea of a vivid third act in life. To quote Neil Young: one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true.

Today my friend Moloney asked me what was going on, and I (naturally) deflected and turned the conversation back on her life. Later she came up to me and told me I wasn't getting away without spilling. Instead of answering I mumbled something meaningless and turned away, Neil singing the answer in my head:

Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed ...

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