Like the Starks

WARNING: MILD NERDINESS INCOMING

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire fan. I read all the books in a maddened, month-long frenzy this summer. I’d definitely recommend both series (TV and Literature) to anyone who is a fan of fantasy, political-intrigue, medieval history, complex characters that reside in a world dominated by moral greys, or just exquisitely crafted fictitious worlds. With that said, if you aren’t familiar with the series at all, some of this might be lost on you, and if you are only familiar with the TV Series, well, I’m hoping to not really spoil anything.

With that said, I am writing about my family today.

In the series, one of the central families is the Stark family. One of the seven major houses of nobility, and arguable the protagonist family of the series. It really is a tragedy of sorts, at the beginning of things, you see a mostly united family, all together in their realm of the north. They are simply– together.

Then things kick off, and the once whole Stark family begins to part ways. We see them all together in the beginning, and ever since then, not only do many of them not reunite, but there is a strong theme of constantly branching off further and further apart.

A family apart does not cease to be a family, but they can’t compare to a family together.

Lately, my family feels more and more like the Starks.

Also occurring this summer, my brother(-in-law) and sister were given an opportunity to move away, to greater pursue dreams and goals. Shortly after, one member of House Curtis-Lee set off to the exotic Hawaiian Islands, followed soon there after by the rest of the flock of House Lee. And just like that, our house was already split off.

Compared to most of the south, my parents are unique in the sense that, as long as I’ve been alive, we’ve been branched off from our families. My only real contact with my mom’s family in my life has been through Facebook (something I would like to change). My dad had his brother, my uncle, and his family, and beyond that, the two Curtis boys were basically the nucleus of that family after my Nonnie passed away when I was just a small child. I grew up with the idea in my head that this was how most families worked. I moved to Tennessee and thought all these kids who had grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts, uncles in their daily lives, and cousins who were their best friends, were abnormal. Granted, I don’t think there is a normal or weird in this case, but the standard way families have always worked is that families are the people you are together with. They are your life long pack, and packs usually stay close, stay together.

As I grew up, our pack grew a little bit. My older sister got married. My older sister had a daughter. Then she had a son. She had a husband, and he had parents and a sister. They moved from Florida to here. Just like that, we had a tight-knit, local pack. I look back on it, and now my perception is that this idea of family members spreading out is a vigorously foreign concept to me.

My family is an extension of myself. I am something like 90% them and 10% bits and pieces that are solely me (or derived outside of them).

The Starks separation was not one that was initially proposed with tribulation, but quickly spiraled into a separation that greater reflected harder and harder times the further apart they get.

Mom and Dad are in California now. I couldn’t tell you what they are doing out there. Could they? Probably not. I don’t think anyone really knows, not tangibly, not in concrete words and ideas. My close friend Robert is in Japan, and when people ask him why, he just says he doesn’t know, he just feels like that’s where he is supposed to be right now.

First off, I don’t know many people braver than that, or whose sails of faith can let them be caught by the streams of conviction to just replant their lives into a totally foreign land for over a year at a time, and second, I don’t know if I know anyone who is that honest with themselves and the world to ever openly admit such a thing– yet, so many times, that really is the answer for how we get to where we are.

I don’t really know why they are there. They are trying to get to Hawaii. They want to be with their grandkids, but what business did they have compressing as much of their lives, throwing it into a few bags and driving across the country. What business in their current situation in life did they have doing that? It is a harsh world out there, but we are good at surviving in it. It doesn’t get any easier the older you get. They are both getting older and older, and I don’t know where they find the energy and faith to do such a thing.

The same could even be said about Cece and Michael. What business do they have uprooting an entire family, a young family, that has much time to fill with stages of rapid learning, growth, and changes as it is. I could tell you a couple more tangible reasons for each of them, but if you look at it like that, it is still an incomplete equation.

And myself, am no different. Why am I still in Tennessee? I am a foreigner in my own land. I am entirely on my own. I’m like an Arya or a Sansa or a Jon. I guess more a Jon, because in some cases, I could still be with my family, but I choose not to. When I tell people about how my family recently spread out, they hear where they went to and always ask what on Earth are you still here for?!

It’s a choice I made. I can give you small tangible bits and pieces, but like a snack, it only makes you forget that hunger, that curiosity for a while. Yeah, I’ve already got a life here. I have a job here. So did everyone else, but they left. The fact is, for all of us, just like Robert, that’s where we believe we need to be right now. Everyone of those things is faith applied. My parents are trying to journey to Hawaii. Trying to reunite most of the pack, and right now, their leg of the path has them in Southern California indefinitely. Cece, Michael, and the Kids are trying to re-nest in the most drastic change, because they believed in the opportunity enough to try, and keep trying until it works, or they end up where the family needs to be, and me, I stay here, because I want to be here.

San Diego will always be my favorite place in the world, it’s where I am from, but it also is not my home. Nashville is my home. It is where I need to be right now, and the unfortunate part of that is it keeps me separated from my pack, but I also think that is why I need to be here.

A common theme in my life in recent years has been this idea of being a lonewolf. I do a lot of things by myself. I am even convinced that certain things that most people do socially, or not social acts (for instance, going to the movies. It is nice to go with company, but it is not a friggin social act, at all– so I usually go alone). I have a bunch of small branches of friends, and that means I usually go fraternize with other packs as this sort of lone wolf (and might I add, for those unfamiliar, the Stark’s family sigil is a Direwolf). That’s just me.

It makes me really sad, though. Just as I can read a piece of one man’s imagination and be sad to think about all these key events of each family member’s life that won’t be shared with the rest of the Stark family, I am sad to think of the potential key evens that are going to be experienced differently because we are apart from each other.

Whenever I’ve made new friends or dated someone in my life, I’ve always been most proud to first bring them to the house, to meet mom and dad; Miss Eva and Psycho Alan. And when they meet Cece and Michael, things are just complete. The time will come where I am dating the woman I will end up marrying, and I won’t be able to do that. It takes a huge element out of things. I take my niece and nephew and proudly display them to the world, and at the same time, to myself, can’t wait until I have my own kids running around that are as impressive as those two.

And when House Curtis-Lee grows again, how will it be different this time? We will grow as a family, but we won’t grow as a family. Not like we used to. Not for the foreseeable future, at least. Life is busy. How well will they get to know this prospective woman? Will we even all be able to meet in the same place at once, and be a family together, before we add to the family? And what of her family and my family?

I don’t usually think in super futures like this, or about marriage with this level of specificity, but it can’t be avoided when I miss my family. You can’t help but wonder how that plays into something like that. To someone who is just now meeting me, my family is hypothetical, and abstraction, a cloud over a distant land, but their rains don’t reach us.

They’ll just have to see them shining through me. And they will.

It won’t be the same, and that’s sad. We are Like the Starks right now. We are all well, and we are all there for each other more intently then we were when we had the convenience of physical proximity, but we are also like the Starks because we face a whole set of new struggles. I could argue that they are greater struggles than our family has even met since this generation of our family has formed, but you it is like that whole comparison of different fruits, I guess you can’t do it.

For all I know, the last time I saw any of them could be the last time I see any of them, and that’s what makes such a period in my life such a stark period of uncertainty and fear, as well as longing for those you already miss, but regardless of this, just as I read a book series, I take each day like the turn of a page, and one of these days, in one way, shape, or form, that page will feature our reuniting. And we will still be family.

(and for the record, yes, I think what Starks there are to reunite will certainly reunite. GRRM basically said so when he likened the Starks to the heroes)

Now if you excuse me, I need to turn the page to today.

The Lonely Will Stay Lonely

January has always been a very lonely month for you.

This, the happiest January you’ve had in a couple years, is also the loneliest.

What did Mark Twain say about lasting a couple of months on a good compliment? Well, a human can last a couple of months on some good companionship — or in your case, a couple of years. Then he or she is on their own.

You would never admit it; being lonely. You’re too rock solid, at least in your own eye. Loneliness is for the weak and the troubled. Loneliness is one of those fowl scents that permeates off of a person like a ghastly mixture or cigarettes and whiskey off of that too-far-gone alcoholic.

You can’t help but feel it, though. Enero, enero, enero. It’s kind of close to zero when you write it out, but that’s a stretch. That lonely month. It’s grinding you down faster than ever. And now, you’re lonely — at times — you’re lonely, that’s the most you’ll ever let yourself admit. It’s a self-admission, and you can’t even give yourself that ground.

You are upset with yourself. You are beside yourself. You can’t forgive yourself because you gave away too much ground. Now you’ve opened your eyes, and now you’re isolated. You know– and you know what is beyond what you know, and that’s really the problem.

You’ve become lonely, and the thing about the lonely is that they stay lonely.

They become fixated on it. Everything they see is the antithesis of themselves. The lonely only see happily waltzing couples in a cascade around them. The lonely families together, being happy and difficult like families do– and you remember how nice it is to be difficult with people at almost no recompense. You see everyone else except the people around you, you hear the people upstairs, at the store, on the TV, at your job, and the cold seeps in just a little deeper.

Everyday that cold sets, you find yourself further away. You are the stranded at sea. The stranded, who don’t believe they ever knew what land looked like.

You’re the lonely, and you don’t know how that changes. You remember the departed, and you see the hand imprinted on your face from each of those who have shunned you. You look at the unknown like an unsolvable puzzle, and a puzzle unsolvable is nothing more than nonsense with a false promise.

You need that puzzle to take shape, though, because the new and unknown is the only thing that really entices you. You see the unknown, those new and unfamiliar to you, and the hunger you once felt in your stomach is located 6 inches above. You hunger for companionship.

You only see the former continually bleeding out, until you realize it’s you who is the trail of blood who has slipped away from the surrounded ones, and you’re a dried out, evaporated puddle of once living loneliness.

You see a woman. You want to talk to her, you want someone like her, one to just share company with, but you feel a paralyziation greater than desire. You don’t talk to her, or the one after her and the one after her, nor the group of them across the room.

You see a group of men joking around, and having a good time. You want something like that to participate in, but you feel more threatened than you feel that desire. You feel like you have to prove yourself, or some sort of superiority, and that’s not comfortable, so you see the group enjoying themselves, they move on, and you see them no more.

Everything you see just further conditions you for your loneliness. Every instance is another opportunity to further prove your loneliness to yourself, scattering you further into isolation.

You know you can fix this loneliness. You know you can find new girls to spend time with, and new guys to hang out. You’ve done it before, and that’s why, even now, you’re not alone, but you don’t trust it because you know doubt better. You know the situation facing dictates that we live in a fast paced, aging world, and you– you only get to know people on a long timeline.

You are no longer afforded to get to know people on a long timeline. You’re writing novels when you should be writing short stories, and everyone else is only reading limericks.

You think and you think. You study. You analyze. You reverse engineer. You practice. You reinvent. You can’t rewire yourself. You can’t understand.

You want to be in the center of it all, amongst strangers and acquaintances. You want to be the one smiling and easily divesting themselves, but you’re not. You aren’t unhappy, but you look it, because that’s what’s comfortable. You don’t give away your smile for free, though it takes less than pennies to earn it, yet you won’t earn anyone else without the charity. You can’t find comfort among the unknown without knowledge, and the unknown won’t seek you out without comfort. It’s a standstill, so you stand still while life moves on.

The lonely don’t figure it out. The lonely are good at being the lonely, because what they do and how they act drives them to loneliness.

What they do and how they act is who they are.

That’s who you are.

And right now, January or not, you’re lonely.

And the lonely will stay lonely.

Unrecovered

It is common to use the instituted markers of time as a means of forced reflection. It just so happens that I woke up today– a few times– and had already been naturally undergoing the process. I guess that’s apt, I haven’t been doing a good job of it lately, at least not here, which is my sanctuary for all things of the type.

I like to draft up personal etymologies for words and slang. It is one of those things that is so secretly personal because the personal etymologies are so stupid and silly that I’ve never even told anyone that I do this, but I also feel like it is one of those things that a lot of people grow up doing on their own.

When I think of the word ‘bug’ (e.g. ‘the fact that Hannah Montana never replies to my love letters bugs me’) I always think of the time that I stumbled into an underground Yellow Jacket nest with my neighbor, Josh B. I’m not going to tell the story right now, but the short of it is that he started getting stung before me, and took off running up this big hill, leaving me hopelessly confused. Then I looked around and saw these insects– bugs — all latched onto my skin, humping their little stingers in and out. There was about a 30 second round trip delay between each stinging assault, my nervous system sending the signal of pain to my brain, and my conscious brain processing that I was getting swarmed. I’d call that bugging for sure.

See, in my mind, when something bugs you, it lingers for a while, it does it’s damage. It is like Snidely Frickin’ Whiplash, with his cunning, and that conniving, obnoxious mustache, slipping in and out of your path, implementing small obstructions, until at some point you realize that you’re beaten up and bruised as a cumulative result. And in my experience, that’s much how a bug works. They obstruct you subtly, in the background, then on delay, you pick up on it, and a nuisance is born. Bugging.

So, something has been bugging me a lot. This morning was when I saw it crawling on my walls, slipping through the cracks, swarming me from all angles.

It is a very well known story that I’ve reworded and placed in different perspectives over and over again, but there was a point a few years ago that my love broke. The easiest thing to liken it to would be when Bane broke Batman’s back, except I was arrogant and stubborn and in love, and instead of asking for help, or seeking some kind of relief, I tried to should all that weight with a broken back, and then the rest of my bones were continually cracked off into incomplete shards.

By the time I crawled out of everything, I was spaghetti. I went through that stupid phase in life where I had lost all belief in the idea of love. It crept into all aspects of love. Take all the greek words for types of love (because I am not as familiar with any other languages), and it was damaged in some way. The romantic love you feel for another was gone, and I was convinced such a thing was never there.

More embarrassing recovery story later, queue up Eye of the Tiger, and my training/recovery montage arrives, and I start to get bits and pieces back through a lot of hard times and a painful work.

Here is where everything ties back in.

Every time I’ve started to think I can get this ability to love back, it seems like something just pops back in and crushes my leg to bits with a mace, or grabs my hand and holds it under a fire.

I can’t recover my love.

I know that it shouldn’t be up to external factors to determine if I recover it, but I don’t want to get into the ins and outs of that side of things. I just want to observe.

What I will say, is while the external environment should not dictate my ability to restore the love I had in me, it doesn’t mean it can’t impair it. Maybe it isn’t always popping in and impairing like I think it is, but it definitely has enough.

Seems like there always has to be something just as I’m starting to get that broken wing working again; an unforgiving friend who pushes away, the rare love interest who is already taken, the departing family, the departed friend, the defeating job hunts, the inability to connect to anyone new, the Houdini friend; all sorts of things, a lot of it trivial, some of it severe.

I wouldn’t classify it as a ‘Woe is me!’ type of thing, but I can’t deny, I’ve been fighting a battle with a fresh set of handicaps every couple months, and that has worn me out.

That’s what I realized bugged me.

I had a dream last night that I had road tripped with someone, to somewhere down south and west (not Texas). We took a big U-Haul and I basically dropped this person off, and went on my way. At one point, I got downtown, I don’t know where, it was just downtown. It was almost 2 am, which was the time my friend was getting off work (which actually parallels something that was the case like that in real life), so I decided I’d pick her up and we could ride in this U-Haul back home since she was probably tired and it was dark and late. I wandered all over downtown. I thought I knew the place, but each corner and back alley I took further revealed my ignorance. I did find the building, and got there just as everyone was starting to leave. I even saw some people I actually knew– a lot more people than I expected, almost as if I were the one who was left out of something that I should have been at.

I tried to run up to the next floor to find my friend, but couldn’t, so I followed everyone out back into a huge alley that was kind of like a basin. It was very dark, and all I could see were shapes of shadows and the sound of chatter bouncing off the buildings. I just tried to keep up with the largest conglomerate of people and see if I could find her, but much like trying to swat a swarm of gnats, they dispersed much more rapidly than I could approach. Eventually, a homeless man with a piece of wood carved to look like a very rudimentary dirk was chasing me around and poking me with it. Somehow he was faster than me and kept poking me. I couldn’t run into the crowds to shake him, and after a long chase through the streets and various buildings, my only solution was to give up the search and get into the U-Haul truck and go on my way.

The next few days that transpired in the dream revolved around my trying to chart my way back home, unsuccessfully trying to find a few more friends I thought who needed me, having a guy I picked up as a travelling companion try to con me so he could take my truck, a police chase, and a navigation error that led me to drive the wrong direction for 3 hours and cross a river by ferry, until I decided to teleport back to the starting point with the proper directions.

I got as close as having to walk from actual downtown Nashville to another friend’s house by foot and late at night, but I never made it home. Though, I was glad that I had been hiding that teleportation ability the entire time.

I don’t think there is any real point to sharing any of that dream, but every image, emotion, moment of that dream translated to my conscious brain into this thing that has been bugging me so strongly for so long.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to be mean, or just generally sour, just a weird black stain in me, and I haven’t known what it is, or why it is there, especially because these days I am the most joyful I have been in as long as I can remember.

I know what it must be now. It is this thing bugging me. No matter what, I just can’t seem to recover my love. The victim in me wants to go as far to say that I can’t seem to recover my love, and nobody seems to want to help me.

But woe isn’t me.

The bird’s gonna fly again.

At some point.

 

 

 

I’m tired of things trying to keep me down, and if I had to guess, any anger that pops up within me is really wanting to be directed at that.

I hate that I am processing this on this on the first day of the year.