Image by Duc Quang Tran from Pixabay
it's always the same
stella with a cold glass
double patron silver  chilled really well  salted rim
at the same bars with
different people
and a lot of times
the same people
wishing they had a cigarette in
their fingers
a woman or man on their arm
drunker then they are
they know they won't make the night
face up.  
Image by Jose Fernandez from Pixabay
jack daniels.  and eddie and mary and joey or pat or jose or eduardo or absolute and if it has alcohol
that's fine too.
this is not cheers
but everyone knows your name
but have no clue who you are.
Image by Social Butterfly from Pixabay
we're not really here
we're somewhere off
on a beach resort with a
tall one and a pink umbrella
and a tropical evening breeze
your brain is numb
to the hammering 
in your head
the screaming from the loudest
drunks in the room
pretending they’re not leaning over
just a little too much
or smashed down on the bar top
their face in their three dollar drinks
the plastic swizzle stick stuck up their nose

and they’re laughing 
their asses off

and no one even notices. 
Image by Angel Chavez from Pixabay
this is not cheers
but everyone knows your name
but have no clue who you are
and that's a good cold drink.

January 23, 2010

Reflections and Random Thoughts II

New Year, New Possibilities, New Future

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste they hurry past it.”

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard.
Courtesy of James Monroe H.S. Yearbook 1966

I admit it. My life has been a blur. From thirteen years of age, when I entered the seminary until now, it all seemed too fast, one step in front of another at an excessive speed. Afraid that I would miss something but instead missing so much. Worrying about how I would get to tomorrow and that tomorrow was more important than today. The deafening roar of thinking and overcomplicating a task, an emotion, the moment of experience instead of just being… in the moment of being. In between trying to smother feeling anything at all, I found the act of being a challenge. Crushing me as I tried to glide through life as an unaccompanied minor first, then as a lost adult who was making it all up as I went along. I got good at it. Faking it, that is. At least in the beginning. With time, the experiences of failures and successes helped me along. The next time, I found myself in a crisis where I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. Faking it until I figured it out was my motto. And damn, I got good at it. I fooled a lot of people (or at least I thought I did) and myself.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz
Scattered beans
Like so many memories
Randomly 	    effortlessly 
Spilled from my mind
Waiting to be picked up
And read interpreted
Understood  	and then I will know
What it all meant    About how I got here
Shipped here on a plane at 35000 feet
From East Coast to West Coast
Gliding over cities and towns and
Cotton fields and rivers and monuments
To our vanity- and traffic-crowded freeways and people
Millions of them	looking down at their paths
So they don’t fall	tripping over the cracks in their lives
Hanging on to whatever 	small dreams they have
Because	what else can they do
But not look up at the silver cylinder streaking above them
And see wishful dreams pass over them
On my way	            to an unknown future. 

Holy shit. What happened to 2022? And 2000. And 1984. And 1960. And 1948. You really can lose track of time if you’re not paying attention.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Life is a cat crawl

Life is a dog walk

Life is a fox trot

Life is a monkey march.

Everyday Serenity by David Kundtz [Pages 8-9]
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

I must forgive myself so that I can move on. Some people- maybe most people- are not going to forgive me, but that’s okay; I know I’m different. I strive for better than I am. To dig a hole full of guilt is a waste of time and stunts growth.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Please Tell Me What I am. Hispanic, Spanish-Surname, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Nuyorican, New Yorker, Spic, Latino, Latinx, American, Anthony, Tony, Lippy, Shorty, Antonio, Fatso, there is somewhere a longer list that I can’t find right now that includes Bougie, Person of color, BIPOC, Gringo, Coconut (Brown on the outside, white on the inside), it’s a really long list, not-really-an-American nor really whom I say I am, I don’t speak Spanish so I can’t be Spanish-Speaking, junkie, alcoholic, sexist, misogynist, bully, liar, I told you it was a long list, you say I’m not a New Yorker anymore so I should stop calling myself a New Yorker, father x 2, parent x 2, not a good father or parent x 2, grandfather, all the jobs I’ve ever had including messenger by subway-motorcycle-walking, counter clerk at Chock Full O’Nuts on 57th street until I went nuts, junkie, seminarian, student, petty thief (I’ve got to pay for the drugs somehow), husband x 3, drunk, drug dealer, abuser of so many people and drugs and alcohol and pills and time, writer, poet, producer of images and voices, radio host, good kisser, good fucker, bad fucker, sex fiend, television reporter, lost soul, lost, protestor, traveler, organizer, television producer, obese, marathon runner, slim, possessor of two kryptonite knees, mentally unstable,  sociopath, arrestee, unindicted co-conspirator, snitch, production assistant, supervising producer, defendant, executive producer, bartender, news director, coward, sober, lover, animal lover (they always love back), builder of imaginary worlds, truth-teller, angry man, human being, college student, student of life, scholar, essayist, news junkie, reader of everything I can get my hands on, video editor, video camera operator, mentor, consultant, small business development consultant, bullshit artist, website builder, telecommunications policy analysts, photographer, grand jury witness, stalker, psycho, man with a good heart, selfish, selfless, brother, son, bisexual, unsexual, old, older, senior citizen, American citizen, resident of the Bronx New York Washington D.C. Middletown New York Hartford Connecticut Inglewood California Los Angeles California San Pedro California Long Beach California Planet Earth The Universe, I told you it was a long list and I’m still not finished listing all the names and titles and identities that people say or I say I am begging the question why I should give a fuck since all that really matters is who or what I am in this moment to me and to hell with what everyone else thinks.

Reflections and Random Thoughts

End-of-the-year resolutions that will soon die on the altar of hope.

New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

What is it about the end of a year that we are compelled to reflect on the last 365 days and wonder, fascinated that we made it through the fire of days and weeks, and months of work, play, sex, love, hate, hunger, gluttony, selfishness, selflessness, the beauty and the ugliness of being here except to be able to reflect and write these words and live this life learning and growing knowing that one day we will be unable to continue anymore?

2022. I am often obsessed with the reality that I’ve made it this far, not just this one year but all the last seventy-four years of it all, even after forty-five of those years stoned, drunk, feeling nothing knowing only eyes wide shut, refusing to acknowledge that there is a better option. Eyes wide open. All the way open so that all the light, the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, nature’s sweet calling, and the laughter of babies, children, and adults who sing in the morning and during their daily living because that’s what we should all do. Hey, it’s better than crying all the time and hiding in a closet with no light allowed to enter and no breeze, and fear is one’s only companion.

Been there. Done that. 

Goals are good. Hell, I have had plenty of them. Then, I realized that I was living for the goals and not for the moment’s journey through them. After a moment, I knew that I couldn’t tell you how much the wind breathed or the sounds of the birds and bees that sent me messages or the color of the trees and that flower that greeted me every time I stepped out of my house and the sights I passed on the freeway or city streets because all I did was look straight ahead stiff-backed eyes on the road listening only to the incessant noise of the all-news station or talk radio blabber of call in yahoos complaining about their miserable lives so then soon my life was also sad. I forgot where the hell I was or going or cared.

Kill me now, I often yelled in the emptiness of the car. 
New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

2022. We’re coming up on three years of the pandemic (you do remember the pandemic). I’m trying to fly above it, being careful not to be dropped head-first into the eye of the hurricane (knock on wood that it hasn’t happened yet), trying to defy the odds while flying to Texas (three times) and San Francisco (two times) and slipping into enclosed spaces at school with a mask on. Still, no one seems to worry on the planes and in school (do they know something I don’t?). I have been scared shitless for nearly three years, and this is no way to live or die, but amid the fear, something beautiful has happened.

Resolution number one: burst the fear like a yellow-topped pimple (yuck). Yeah, it’s ugly and gross, but so is the fear that comes with constantly looking over your shoulder and to the side of you and in front of you and all around you because you’re so worried about everybody else and everything else that you’ve lost faith in your ability to make the right choices that are right for you.

Sticks and stones will always hurt me, but fear can kill my soul. If I stop fearing, the fog can be lifted from my mind.
New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Resolution number two: Be happy. Only you can make yourself comfortable. Don’t look outside of yourself for salvation. Salvation will only come from you. Don’t look outside of yourself for liberation. Liberation will only come from you.

Trust me. There is no magic pill. 

Resolution number three: Make all the goals and plans you want. Just don’t forget that you must take a path and a journey to get there. It begins at this moment, followed by another moment, followed by many more moments composed of a moment of silence and thought and meditation (something similar to stopping, looking, and listening for the eighteen-wheeler coming at you while you only think about getting to the other side of the street without looking both ways.)

New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

For most of my adult life, I believed there was no time to stop for anyone or anything. I was in a perpetual hurry fueled by doubt, inexperience, and often drugs and alcohol; I just had to keep going, not knowing what direction I was headed in (I don’t know where I’m headed, but I’m going there anyway) as long as I got there only to find out later that it wasn’t the place I wanted to go to. Or needed to be there. There was no map or directions, only a meandering, sometimes blind journey. What a waste of time, I would shout.

But was it?

Here’s the last random thought. All those detours, dead ends, and misdirection somehow became embedded in my brain and eventually became guard rails, signal lights, bells, and whistles at those intersections in life we always find ourselves. I could count on them to help me decide at that moment so that I wouldn’t again drive off the road or a cliff or something crazy.

Lesson learned. 
New Year resolution
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

I got goals and plans for 2023. Big goals. Big plans. Big dreams. In the meantime, I’ll relax, lay in this moment, and be.

And that's a good thing.

American Flag 1

One in a series of narratives on being American

American History
Image by SEDAT TAŞ from Pixabay

The red white and blue flag waved on high as it celebrated freedom and loyalty even as the founding enslavers who promised everyone freedom but was really meant for land owning white Europeans a life safe from the horrors of living next to people who did not look like then and we believed them as we saw their neighbors lynch fathers and mothers while their own children stood witness as blood ran from the back of their heads in the cold rain with the red white and blue American flag waving as truth behind them on the same courthouse steps where they were ripped from a courtroom and carried high above the cheering crowd as if they were heroes to be honored but were instead just another number of so many numbers their clothes stripped and burned at their feet as they wailed one last song of hope for their children and their children’s children and the generations in an unknown future before the final layers of skin were torn from their faces and hands and feet and there was the blessing by the man with the white collar and black suit and black hat and bible in his hands with the pages turned to the curse of Ham held high as he gave the crowd the consent they wanted but was not necessary because they knew their flag was all they needed to prove that their nation was indeed theirs in the name of their enslaving fathers their privileged sons and their arrogant spirits. Amen.

Closed Eyes

Image by Natálie Šteyerová from Pixabay
I see nothing
	because I don’t want 
	to see.
It’s easier this way
	then I don’t need 
	to think
	to ask questions
	to receive answers
	I don’t want 
	to hear. 
I admit
	pain is sometimes
	too great
	too blinding
	what is the point
	will I learn anything
It’s torture
	to face the truth
	to admit that there are
	nails in my heart
	mud in my veins
	pins in my soul. 
It’s easier
	to throw a dark cloud
	over my eyes
	smother them shut
	sew them tight
	so I can never
	know the truth. 

Birth Days

December 8, 1948-December 8, 2022

Birth Day
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay
A time to measure
	looking back ain’t so bad
To celebrate	a memory 	a thought
	hanging out there
Wondering if I could have 	should have
	done it differently
	or maybe it’s better than expected
Birth Days
We were all young once
There are days	forgotten
	and those are the ones I 
	wonder about
What lessons did I miss
What moment of happiness
	did I not savor	relish enough
Birth Days
Father and Sons
I am taught that I am supposed to be 
	measuring 	reflecting
	making long lists
	of resolutions that we promise
	ourselves will make us
	better	than last year
	so we can celebrate
	next year
Birth Days
My Television Life
The Birth Days	pile up
	like so many memories
	year after year		
		74 years
	months after months
		887 months, 1 week, 2 days, 
		21 hours, 13 minutes and 19 seconds
	weeks after weeks
		3858 weeks, 3 days, 23 hours, 
		59 minutes and 59 seconds
	days after days	
		27010 days
	minutes after minutes
		38894400 minutes
	seconds after seconds
		2333664000 seconds
	heartbeats after heartbeats
Until I cannot see through them
	around them
	behind them
Birth Days
The Older You Get
And all I see	is what is in front of me
And all I want to see are unclaimed moments
	opportunities to create
	new moments
of happiness peace kindness cheers laughter
	much laughter
	hope serenity 
	so next Birth Day I will feel
with a smile that it was all right and I can 
begin my next path around the sun knowing
that it will be full of good feelings. 

Writing For My Life

The following was written in response to an assignment to read “Write Like a Motherfucker” for English 404 Creative Nonfiction.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

I don’t remember if I read this somewhere or someone told me this: Writing is writing. Period. If you’re not vomiting words onto a page and instead just looking out the window, standing by the coffee machine, or sticking your head in the dryer waiting for inspiration, then forget it. You’re wasting time. The blank page should be an opportunity, not an invitation to stare.

It took me sixty-eight years to realize that I could not take the opportunity of the blank page because I didn’t see it. I was too blinded by every insecurity and disorder created by drug addiction and alcoholism ever imagined. When I did get sober or straight enough to write, it was but a drop in an ocean of living. And more often than not, it was like the trash you see floating on that ocean. Embarrassing and disgusting all at the same time.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I love the line in “Write Like a Motherfucker.” The one that tells us, “You have to tell us what you have to say.” It has been mainly in the last four years since I turned seventy that it dawned on me that I understood these instructions. While school assignments have been an excellent excuse for writing (no one but me was going to write those class essays), I’ve also realized that it could be a great learning opportunity and a lab for experimenting. I could write until I developed carpel tunnel syndrome, knowing that sometimes I would write some good shit and other times I would write lousy shit that I wouldn’t want to read a second time. But that was okay. I wrote something.

I wrote through my moods (and boy, do I have moods) and the times that I ached from everything that can hurt in a soon to be seventy-four year old man. Fuck, it has come down to time. I don’t have time to waste. I got plans for my future, so I have much catching up to do. To use whatever time I have left (thank goodness old age is a family trait), I’ve got to keep busy.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Best lines in the essay:

“The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. Its strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”

Dear Sugar, The Rumpus Advice Column #48: Write Like a Motherfucker

That is good advice that I live by every day on this plane. Do it because not to do it is not to live.


The following was inspired by “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion for my English 404 Creative Nonfiction class.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’ve been told that the inspiration for writing is everywhere. Just open your eyes, I’ve been directed. The person or object in front of you, even when it’s a computer screen or the view of the backyard through your office window. Look up in the sky like when you were a kid, and you stared out your bedroom window and conjured up images from the cumulous clouds above the Patterson Projects in the South Bronx. It doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as you write something. Oh, they’re very insistent. The inspiration is there and everywhere. I must open my eyes, ears, and mind to the possibilities.

For a long time, I couldn’t write a thing. Well, that’s not accurate. I could write a love letter, a script for a radio show, a television news report, a technical or policy paper, or maybe sneak in a poem or two. Still, these were either the duties of a job or some frivolous moment to fill while I waited for something more serious to come along. Filling time. That’s how I sometimes thought of creative writing. You know, the writing where you open your heart and soul and scream words onto a page until they click into moving pictures. Or, to put it another way, they can walk into living worlds and settle down to rest as long as they want.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

A million other writers and I have said it before, writing, authentic writing that spills out honestly when you grab the courage to free yourself, and your soul will follow, is difficult. Almost impossible if you’re not honest with yourself. Writing on demand can seem easy when you’re just pecking away at the keys in the hopes that something comes out and all that seems to appear on the screen in front of you is gibberish that even your eyes can’t translate. But you did exercise your fingers and proved that you could type. Yeah, that’s one way of looking at it.

When I was a television reporter, and I had to crank out two-three scripts in the span of a couple of hours (without the aid of a computer or Grammarly), you had notes, and maybe you had a chance to watch the news film (probably not) or the video (doubtful). You had to tap your memory banks, write a story based on fact, make sure it made sense, and ensure that it weaved with the visual element into a minute-and-a-half report that was succinct and clear enough that someone at home would take that time to watch it. Not sure I would call it “creative writing,” but you did hope it moved someone’s feelings or mind an inch. This is before the internet when people did sit in front of a television at an appointed hour or at least had it playing in the background over dinner and watched and heard crime stories or scandals or some stimulating “if it bleeds, it leads” news report that had spun out of your electric typewriter only an hour before. My goal was, to tell the truth in the best way I knew how and my inspiration was the reality I had witnessed or at least gotten other witnesses to share their stories.

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay

The Creative Writing I do in college is different and more challenging. Some people can do any number of processes, exercises, and techniques to get their creative juices started. I start writing simply enough. A title. A thought. An incident from my past. A word. A single word. What’s important is that I start typing. Type. Type. Type. Take a breath and then start typing again and be confident enough to ensure that a stream of sentences flows across the screen and that it makes some sense. Okay, maybe not at first. It’s my first write. Perhaps it will be gibberish at first. It’s a beginning.

Then, I go over it, the writing. Sometimes, I’ll study it on the screen, making immediate changes as I go along. Or maybe after the fourth or fifth versions (I’ve done upwards of twenty versions during the course of writing a piece), I’ll print it out and read it aloud, listening to the cadence of the words, the connection of those words, the specific words themselves, hoping that I’m not repeating the exact words, nouns, prepositions, adverbs, complex sentences that run into each other because I sometimes forget that there are such things as periods or commas or semi-colons. Grammar not being my strong suit sometimes. Always thinking what’s a better way to say something (Word Hippo is my thesaurus friend). To visualize it first and then splash it across the page so that whoever reads it stops for a moment to absorb it, to bring it into themselves and allow it to fill their head and soul with the music of the words and beauty of the picture that is flashing before their imaginations. That’s when you know. Yeah, it’s all good.

Lifelong Learning
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I don’t want to stop there. I want to be continuously inspired to make the words sing louder, and the picture is brighter, the colors forcing you to look at them while at the same time they burn into your very essence and your heart dances gleefully and more heartedly than the first time you read or heard my words.

There’s so much more to learn. To exercise my fingers across this page, to tap that thing inside all of us so that those unique words just come forward and wrap me and you in ecstasy.

Yeah, that would be good.

The Nor’easter

Inspired by Jill Talbot‘s essay Emergent for my English 404 Nonfiction class.

Not the 1978 snowstorm but close (Image by Kosta from Pixabay)

Everyone knew it was coming, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I woke up with two feet of snow on my front door steps. Okay, I was a little surprised when I opened the door, and those two feet of snow piled up against it fell like an avalanche across the entranceway floor. All I could think at that moment was Damn, I’m going to be busy today. The 1978 Nor’easter had arrived, and it would be a storm to remember.

The Hartford, Connecticut television news station where I worked as a reporter was calling all of us in. It was going to be all hands on deck. The Governors of Connecticut and Massachusetts had called for their states to be shut down. I-95 between New York and Boston was to be cleared of cars and trucks so they could run plows through the wind-blown piles, some six feet or more. All non-emergency vehicles were to get off the roads. That meant everyone except the media.

But first, I needed to clear my driveway to back my’72 Toyota Corolla out of the garage. I knew the car was on its last tires. I couldn’t remember if I even had snow tires. Would I even make it to the television station? I called the station and begged for someone to pick me up. My fragile car would not make it out on the road.

Not the 1978 snowstorm but close (Image by Kent DuFault from Pixabay)

All of this happened six months before the marriage crisis that would send me for a loop and escape from future New England winters. I was in my second marriage and thought I had learned something about faithfulness and responsibility and not allowing my ego and hormones to interfere with being a good and loyal husband and father. I was twenty-nine and a television reporter in the eleventh biggest television market. I had dreams and ambitions to move on to the big time in Washington, D.C., where I had gotten my start, or even my hometown, New York. As one of only two Latino reporters, I had come a long way from my beginnings in 1973. I was calm and relaxed as a reporter by the time of the most significant storm in a hundred years, or at least that was the headline we were pushing.

Our house was a two-story box-like home with three bedrooms and 1 ½ baths that kept us cool in the summers (even without air conditioning) and warm in the winters with that basement furnace. Every fall, I would get the ladder out and put up the storm windows and caulking. That was a challenge. You try lugging those windows up that ladder, attaching them, and making sure they are sealed tight without falling and killing yourself. I seem to remember some ten windows between the first and second floors. Of course, I should have hired a company, but I saw my neighbors doing it without problems. Hell, I wasn’t going to act like some country bumpkin from the South Bronx unable to figure this all out.

My 1978 house today (Uncredited)

I was never dressed adequately for New England weather during my four years there. The first winter there, I didn’t get rubber boots until December, when I had already ruined at least two pairs of shoes. I don’t know if it was vanity, but I thought wearing galoshes while doing a stand-up in front of City Hall was a terrible look. Experienced New England hands finally gave me the lowdown. No one cares about the galoshes, heavy coats, ski gloves, scarves, or hats (I drew the line at covering my nicely coiffed hair that fell on my shoulders like a seventies rocker). What was important, they told me, was that you get the story right and stop being a prima donna. Who do you think you are, Geraldo Rivera?

Snow storm
Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

The Blizzard of 1978 has been described as “a catastrophic, historic nor’easter that struck New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the New York metropolitan area.” The storm hit hard from February 6 overnight until the evening of February 7. I remember driving to the smaller towns and cities in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts to assess the damage. There were estimates of around 100 fatalities and 4,500 people injured with physical damage in the range of $520 million dollars in 1978 dollars. That translates to $2.16 billion in 2021 dollars.

The knee-deep snow on my driveway did not match the record-breaking 27.1 inches of snow in Boston or 27.6 inches in Providence, Rhode Island. This storm was unlike any I had ever encountered in New York or Washington, D.C. There were “hurricane-force winds” with speeds of 86 mph and gusts of 111 mph. Reportedly, the snow fell for 33 hours, then turned into what seemed like immovable snow drifts of six feet or more, and in many cases, it hardened into black ice on highways and city and town streets.

Not the 1978 snowstorm but close (image by Hans from Pixabay)

This Nor’easter of 1978 was not an ideal working condition, and my personal life was no leisurely picnic. Someone might venture to say that the storm was a grand metaphor for the crazy happening in my personal life and there were some similarities. The storm and the pain from the dissolution of a marriage do eventually end, but the effects can be long-lasting. Hopefully, you learned something to prepare for the next storm and the dissolution of any relationship. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

In Sickness and In Health

Inspired by “Old Faithful Testing the limits of love” By David Sedaris

Old marriage
Image by 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay

The last five years have been a test of the marriage vow we took in 1987; you know, the one about loving each other forever, in sickness and health. I sure did test my partner with those words. My body called for not one but two artificial knees during that time. The left knee in 2018 and the right in 2021, smack damn in the middle of the pandemic. Trust me when I say you never want to do even one if you don’t need it. And I mean last resort.

I’ve had other medical issues over the years of our marriage (if you don’t count the drugs and alcohol). There was the Hepatitis C scare. I’m cured, but the news came five months after I stopped drinking and taking drugs. The doctor told us that if I had continued, it would have been catastrophic for me, like throwing alcohol on fire. I missed that bullet.

My lower back pains, sciatica shooting down my right leg, high blood pressure, some crazy chronic cough that we think is acid reflux, and my general yo-yo weight fight. Other than those issues, I’m probably a diabetic, anxiously waiting for whatever else comes with high blood pressure. And she still stays with me. I mean, she’s had some issues over the years but compared to me, she is strictly an amateur. No, I got her beat.

Old marriage
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

We both have worked from home for the last nearly three years of the pandemic. School classes have begun to open up, so I attend more in person each semester. But I still stay home for homework and some Zoom meetings as much as possible. My partner does almost all of her sessions on Zoom. As a result, no matter how much space we give each other in our house (thank goodness for the size of the house), we still need to interact more often than when we were both working full-time at our respective jobs in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from living and working at home during the pandemic: give each other space. Otherwise, you are inviting trouble. Of course, that was hard to do when you needed help during one of my medical issues, like when I was not that agile with a busted knee. The trip to the bathroom was like an adventure in mountain climbing, as in climbing out of bed, holding on to the metal bars of the walker, lowering oneself, and raising myself on and off the toilet. The shower had its own set of challenges. Considering how dependent I was in those first few weeks of my knee surgeries, I got to give my partner credit for hanging in as long as she did. Let’s say she’s a little queasy about looking at blood and scars and those yellow pus marks on top of bandages.

I think about other couples I’ve known over the years who have had their marriage tested by far more significant medical challenges than my lousy knees etc. Cancer, terrible life-threatening accidents, dementia- I feel stupid talking about my issues. However, there is no escaping the fact that a marriage can be tested by other conditions that we seldom want to discuss. For example, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other mental health crises. All these and more spur the couple to confront the limits of what they are willing to endure and what they are eager to do to resolve them so their marriage remains intact.

Old marriage
Photo by Sumire Gant

It’s easy to say, well, you made a vow and that you should live by that code. Yeah, that’s easier said than done. I’ve learned over three marriages and two live-in relationships that all the tests of the relationship cannot be passed if both parties aren’t willing to endure it and pass through it together. If the foundation of love or whatever you want to call it isn’t there, then forget it. I mean, sometimes, the tests call out the best in people, and couples who may have been on the edge of disarray end up discovering something deep down inside of themselves and then use it to move through the crisis together, and they all live happily ever after or at least until the next crisis.

I am lucky that my partner has a deep reservoir of humanity in her and that I’ve discovered that I have one that I didn’t know existed. The past five years, especially the last three, challenged us both to take our vows seriously and to live each day contemplating what we meant when we said those words, “…until death do us part.” So far, we’ve come out on this end together and still rocking that love thing.

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