Love was never my best thing. I realize I'm not the only one to have blown it so seriously in the romance department, but it isn't pleasant to think about. It has been a long time since I fell in love; I've lost track of what that's like - for good and bad, I guess.
Tomorrow is the birthday of one of the greatest loves of my life. His influence on me was tremendous and though it was never meant to be a relationship of lengthy duration, we nevertheless entered each other fully, as happens when people fall in love. Do you know what I'm talking about? That kind of heart merge has only happened to me 2 or 3 times, depending on how you measure it.
For a few years after the tragic end of our relationship, we wrote letters or talked occasionally on the phone. We went through a lot together; it makes no sense that we would remain close, but love is, if nothing else, paradoxical.
But eventually we lost track of each other - probably because I moved around so much. Since the rise of the internet, because it's possible, now and again when I think of him, I google his name. He was a painter so it was fun to track his work through the decades. When I knew him he painted cynical, over-busy cartoonish type depictions of the worst side of humanity. He was a great draftsman, but chose to create rather gruesome images. They were fabulously compelling but difficult, in an eyes-glued-to-the-car-wreck way. After he retired from teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he began painting beautiful landscapes. To me, that points to a profound healing transformation. He matured and became happy, or so that's how it seemed to me, gazing at his paintings.
Paintings reveal the internal life of the painter, after all. I learned that from him, and oh so many other things. He was one of the greatest teachers I've ever had. He mentored me at a time when I was freshly insane from my upbringing. He took a great interest in me. But then he fell in love with me and because I was too stupid to understand what was happening, I got involved with him.
It was a fucking disaster - no need to mince words here. I could go into details, but that would take up more space than it's probably worth. I bet I spent at least three of my ten years in psychotherapy trying to work out what transpired between us. Good lord.
The point of this post is that I googled him today, because of his birthday. I guess it has been awhile since I looked him up because what I found was his obituary. He died, "peacefully in his sleep after a short illness," at the end of May 2012.
Given the intensity of the birthday just past and the intensity of my connection with him, the news hit me rather hard. I guess that's appropriate for Valentine's Day, yes? I say yes.
When I knew him he swore he wanted to be buried sitting in an overstuffed chair, encased in plexiglass. He wanted to be entombed with his guitar, a can of beer and a cigar, a smile plastered on his face into perpetuity, or at least for the million+ years it takes for plexiglass to degrade. He was quite a character, a hell of an artist and a hell of a man to fall in love with.
Romance? Never my best thing. May he fly high, may he rest in peace. Shalom.