The Search for Circe

Chapter 1 - Story of my life

I DON'T REMEMBER WHEN I FIRST considered committing suicide. Maybe it formed inside me the way an alkali lake is created in the desert. Maybe it started the same way sexual tension does. There are smiles across a crowded tavern and that initial feeling is fed by a couple of Disaronnos and laughs about socially comfortable topics. Hands touch and there is a knowing exchange of glances. We end up at my condo, and we know why we are there. Then the grand unveiling begins. There is the most delicious moment when I slip the blouse or T-shirt off a woman for the first time, and there is the introduction to her bare breasts. Guys fantasize what a naked woman looks like, but actually seeing her is a glorious gift. There is no longer a mystery about areolas or nipples. Some areolas are as small as nickels, and the nipples stand out like pencil erasers. I like bigger areolas, something larger than a silver dollar, and nipples that politely wait to rise sharply until I first touch them. Put those on a 23-year-old woman and I believe you have perfection.

But I digress.

I read that suicidal tendencies can be genetic, that I was prone to that moment because of my DNA. If that's the case, I can blame my parents. I was destined to have that urge to hurtle myself toward death from the exact moment Big Mike and Evelyn did the humpty-humpty and I attached myself to Mom's uterine wall. But that smacks of predestination and eliminates free will. That precludes the impact of choices, and I am too intelligent to believe that. To a degree, I chose to be at that suicide moment because I fucked things up time after time after time.

The one thing I can recall for certain was the day it happened. It was so damned hot that it almost melted everything around me. Banks of trees became an ooze of dark green that settled like sludge and blended with melting asphalt. Billboards turned into slithering snakes of many colors, and road signs twirled into nothingness. Of course, the fact I am writing about it means I failed miserably in my attempt.

Story of my life.

I had great hopes. I had little-kid days when I thought I would be some great sports star. You know, the guy standing at home plate in Yankee Stadium and delivering the blow that kicked the damned Yankees in the teeth right in front of their loyalist fans. But I was seven years old then, and who knows anything about life at that age? Then I got real and thought about being a great businessman. You know, the guy whose every financial move is pure gold. Then I decided to get unreal and think I could become a novelist. You know, the guy whose first novel takes its place right next to The Great Gatsby, and I become rich and move into that writers colony in Charlottesville, and John Grisham has me over for drinks as twilight settles over the city, and he praises me for my skill, then we talk into the wee hours of the morning. And George Will drops by from New York or Kiawah Island just so he can bask in our brilliance and shoot the shit about baseball, writing and history.

Never happened. Any of it.

Story of my life.

My life isn't like some shattered mirror. I'm not going to get that melodramatic. It is more like mercury that has spilled onto a 

metal table and fractured into microcapsules. I can look at each droplet and see a dim reflection of myself, then I try to get all those elusive blobs back into one big blob, and I can't tame that beast and put it into a container. It's like herding cats. There are just scattered microcapsules that mock my effort and reflect my defeat back at me every day.

Here's another fact: The greatest day of my life wasn't the greatest day of my life. I can say that with certainty thanks to 20/20 hindsight. I wish I had 20/20 foresight because it would save a lot of pain. Maybe that's one of God's biggest jokes on us, but does that mean he is a great mentor or a boss with a mean streak? I try to figure that one out.

I am not alone in this thing, this "I thought it was going to be great before everything went all to hell" revelation. Lovers go to the altar with deep feelings that their wedding day will be the first of a series of greatest days of their lives. Three years later they are in divorce court. A man and woman weep tears of joy when their little one makes it out of the birth canal, only to have Junior carpet-bomb them with expletives sixteen years later, or have little Janie announce that she's never had sex but somehow is pregnant.

Life gets funny that way.

Funny if you have a really strange sense of humor.

I thought I was going to be rich. I thought I was going to be famous. Heck of a jokester, that God.

Instead I found myself on a highway in Mississippi -- the delta blues-and-bourbon South, for God's sakes --- and wondering whether my life was going to disappear into a black hole, only to discover that the abyss was inside me. Then I found love, or maybe it wasn't love. Maybe it was just good ol' human hormones raging and I wanted a depository for my semen. That's happened a lot in my life. Or maybe it was really love. I am trying to figure that out every day, too. Life is funny that way, if you have a really strange sense of humor.

There are little touchstones I reach for, always in vain. I love the sensation of a woman's hands on me. No, I don't mean just when those hands wrap around my private parts and I rise like a phoenix. I mean a beautiful, intelligent woman with a gorgeous soul, and when she touches me she reaches with the depths of her intellect and compassion, and her loveliness pulses through the core of me. My ex-wife was great at doing that, back in those days before one of us screamed "I want a divorce," and the other one started thinking it wasn't such a bad idea, and my life went all to hell.

Story of my life. I trust you see a pattern here.

I am leaving a lot of gaps in this narrative. I will fill you in as best I can. Maybe you will be wondering what is really happening, just like I wonder all the time. Maybe you will feel like you are trying to herd mercury back into a container. Then again, maybe you are one of those lucky ones who is blessed with 20/20 foresight and can see me heading for my emotional demise long before I get there. You are lucky people. You also are highly abnormal.

Life is funny that way if -- well, you know the ending to that one.