Bent Words

Bent Words

September 25, 2009

A picture worth a thousand words...

And a few apologies.

Several requests for the old photos came up and, here I am, unprepared and missing most of them. For six hours I searched, thinking that I might have handed them all off to you. 25 packs of photos we sifted through, once upon a time, gone. I might have tossed them, I might have stored them, I might have even lost them in a vain attempt to cover my past (curiosity killed the relationship, you know). Well whatever. Here I am sans photos.

I am, admittedly, not entirely without photos for I have many of you. But I can't post those, right? The ones that you are in?? Well, can I? I don't know! I don't know what's right or what's wrong. It was racing, it was the past, it was what it was (hate that phrase). People want the photos but when I was snappin' pics, I wasn't recording the event, I was recording you. You were the main event. So here I am trying to sift through photography that doesn't include you when nothing back then excluded you. Arrrggghhh!

I don't know what to do....

I just want to post my photos. But I hesitate. I don't want to cause strife, I don't want to raise a clamor, I don't want to incite some off-handed jealousies. But I do want to be free in posting (showcasing, elaborating, giving credit to) what was my entire life. I want to be as free as you are now. I want to be able to say "here is what we did (or here is what I did)" without the trepidation of a 2am phone call.

I want the record for the record's sake. It was freakin' awesome how entirely into it I was -- how everyone was into it. I want the gratification of the being the sole surviving spectator. I want to scream how much I adored it and how much a part of it I wanted to be. I wasn't in the race but I was so into the race that I never took my eyes away. I never worried over the blaring sun or the stupid cold or the unforgiving rain. I never stopped to think whose way I was in and, even when I wasn't invited, I was there. (I watched from the hill because I could not miss a moment)

So here I am, looking it all over, feeling that I have (at LEAST) a right to that and yet I'm second guessing myself.

Instead of saying, "Here is a piece of my past. Here it is -- what I did, what I contributed," I am worrying over whether or not I will offend another party. Again. I don't know where to step up, where to back off, where to start or where to end. I don't know where *I* begin and where I fade. I argued with myself, while looking for these photos, and I wonder, are you serious? I still have to keep it hidden?!

Eight years and I'm still the ghost you've heard about but never seen.

That's how it is. That's how it was. I still have to tiptoe about -- pretending it wasn't real, pretending it isn't real and losing myself in what it is (if anything) that I get to keep.

I put the damned record on repeat, didn't I, with I'm into now...

Not knowing what it is I have a right to do or say or feel or think or project and so I keep it all in. I have to downplay everything, shrug it off as a mistake or deny it ever really happened at all -- and I cannot tell you how much it hurts. It just came back to me with this photo hunt -- how much I wanted to declare and yet how much I had to fake. Every moment that was bliss had to be recorded as a hush. Every photograph I took had to be buried. Every kiss that I wanted to draw attention to had to be quieted. Every time you took my hand, every new place that we visited -- every memory -- a forbidden story, a buried bit of beauty.

And finally we come to the photo and the final reason for my apology....

I found it. I looked at it. I agonized over it. "To send or not to send..."

It's not the best photo. You're pretty much upright. You're barely racing. You were getting tired out by then. You didn't know why but the frustration hit you like a mallet. "I feel like an old man." The aches... Like old age. Your photos in the pits were dismal. Who could have comprehended...

I was worried that all of it was me. You were tired and worn and aching. I thought it was the stress of having to deal with my insanity but I knew it was more than that. I begged you go to the doctor. I knew, with all my heart, that something bigger than our struggles was eating you alive and, the day you finally went to the doctor, without calling me back as I waited and waited and waited by the phone, hours tortured by more and there it was. CML.

Late. It was so late by the time you called me back and I thought you had blown me off so when you told me the news I basically folded into how it could not be. You would later reprimand me for not saying much, for not showing emotion but you don't know how much of me was there. The shock of it all wouldn't let me loose. The reality of it would not fade into tears until the evening faded and the morning drained my senses. I barely knew what I was supposed to be but I can tell you that my entire being swelled from the inside out, expanding into the absolute desire of the everything I wanted to be.

And, while I'm sorry for interrupting, that's the photo.

The moment just before you knew.

And so you should have it.

For your son, just as you have your father's picture. For your son just as you may think right now you've lost him -- he will grow and realize and he will know. Some day when he's older and wiser and perhaps a bit more ready. He may feel lost but there will be a day when he grabs that photograph and knows, without a doubt, who you are. And he will be proud. He will be even more proud than I have been (and, damn, that's quite a ladder) or ever will be.

And though I didn't know what to write or if I should write at all.... Though I didn't know if I was allowed to. I was so proud to send it just the same. To wish you happy anniversary on your two years of a second chance at LIFE. I didn't know if there was anything I could say, though there is so much. What was I allowed? Just that. The photo. I hope that's enough. For once I hope it speaks louder than whatever's written here or muddled in the past. I hope, SO MUCH, that you know. I hope you see past the plain crazy, beyond the unsteady silence, over the unexplained stupidity and directly into the plain truth.

I never skipped a beat.

But even more than that I cannot wait for what your children will see. Seriously. It doesn't matter that you've faltered -- we all get to do that as often as life will let us -- it just matters that you were in it. Life, that is. You put your head down and made your way. That's the photo. To me, anyway. A fight well fought. A chance taken. A tough road, a rough track, a pass over a pro in the chicane, a restart in the dirt -- you kept getting back on and riding your ass off. And no matter where you placed overall, it was a race won. A race well done.

Keep it. Hold it. Remember it. Pass it down. It was taken because you were in the forefront. Say it's courtesy a former racer, photographer. Whatever. Just be proud as all hell.

Like me.

And for that I do not apologize.

Written at 8:26 p.m.