First note to self: Every road has a crossroad, eventually.
This may be my last blog post. Then again, it may be the first of another few hundred. It all depends on what’s coming at the next crossroad. Once upon a time, in a distant, bordering county to Los Angeles, I thought I knew exactly what the path of my life was. With a wife and two kids, and a history of changing directions every few years, I believed I was cosmically chosen to move back to the land of my raisings, and begin all over again in the very same zip code my parents had once called home.
So we bought a nice, mid-sized home, half a mile from my old high school, and with plans and late-thirties dreams, we marched blindly ahead into the future. I started a brick and mortar business. Our eldest started the 9th grade. My wife stayed home with our youngest. It was an early chapter in our book of the American Dream. Now because this is an unread blog post and not an essay in some fine quarterly anthology, I will cut to the chase and tell you that in the years following, the business went bust, our eldest learned how to score meth, our youngest retreated into his own insomnia-fueled exile, and the marriage came to an end.
And those weren’t necessarily the worst things that happened, just the highlights I felt like sharing.
Basically, it was a ten year stretch along a highway of failure after failure, bad choice after bad choice, crossroad after untaken crossroad.
Second note to self: Every crossroad has crossroad of its own, if you’re looking for it.
When I was younger, I would hear this phrase spoken a lot, “When God closes a door, look for a window”. Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds a lot like breaking and entering. And God being God, I figure if he closes a door, the least he could do is open another actual door, and I would not be required to carry a crowbar and a flashlight everywhere I go just to get into someplace I actually belonged. Yeah, metaphors are tricky like that.
So anyway, crossroads.
About ten years ago, give or take, I began two hardcore pursuits that, combined, still occupy nearly all of my waking hours, and a lot of my sleeping hours, too. Those things are work and writing. I know, work doesn’t sound like something you just decide to pick up in your late forties, and it’s not. And frankly, neither is writing. But the way I threw myself into them was. Starting slowly, I forced myself to learn what it was to work. Long hours of actual physical labor, with no human reward except the food it put in the fridge, the rent it paid, and the endurance it created in me. And at the very same time, after thirty years of ignoring a calling I first heard in college, I began to write. Then, after ten years of writing, a first book was born. As much a tribute to the endurance learned from work as any questionable skill I may possess.
Both the work, and the writing, the result of slowing down long enough to look, and to see, the crossroads.
So now, because I sort of know what to look for, I know I am at the crossroads again. After ten years of these twin occupations, I have decisions to make with them, and what roads to turn down on my way to something newer, better, and right. One decision is made, and the other is in the making. The first, I am quitting the job that is now damn near killing me. That’s a done deal, even if the boss doesn’t know it yet. The second has to do with the writing, and not even I know what the questions are, let alone the answers. But I think the writing may be killing me, too.
You remember that line at the beginning of all this, “This may be my last blog post”?
Maybe it is, maybe not. But I know I can’t keep doing both the work and the writing for very much longer without becoming some cliché mashup that a friend of mine had called, Norman Rockwell-Bukowski. So with that, and because I hate being a cliché, I’m taking a detour off of one of these roads before I have to take the other. And we’ll see what calling it quits with the job does in keeping me from calling it quits with the writing.
But the truth is, I do not know what in the actual fuck I am doing.
© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday