Everyone has the "one that got away." I guess in the scope of things so did I but that one that got away found happiness finally as I did so I guess it's no harm, no foul. Ours was one that was supposedly devised by our devious mothers when we were kids and I guess I did my part to screw it up, even though I knew nothing about the plot.
I was sitting on the dock at my Uncle's cottage and I wrote a story about a lonely midnight watchman and a brief encounter one night. Later on it was called A Better Place to Be. Even though I didn't know about the outcome of life, I knew that it was going to be a struggle despite how easy my parents made it look. Finding out later in my mother's life that hers and my father's marriage even though a strong one, had its ups and downs like everything else and they had to proverbial "Rob Peter to pay Paul." They made life and even death look easy through coping with the passing of their mothers and siblings throughout the years so I figured that with some faith, and strength, things couldn't be so bad.
There was never a crack in the armor until my four year old niece passed away in a car accident. It was the first time in my life that I saw my father visibly shaken. My mother told me throughout the years that the only time she had seen him cry was when his mother died but I was a bit too young to see. This time though, he was quiet and very withdrawn. He had asked me to do a couple of things which I did without question and he handled things in a business like atmosphere which I guess he needed to do to get through things. I didn't see him for awhile after everything was done so I figure he just withdrew a little to grieve on his own.
When I lost my first love, I sat on the dock and wrote a story about a midnight watchman who watches the metal rusting, not thinking about much except getting through the day. His day was a monotonous series of the same events leading up to his early morning stool at the bar where he had his breakfast and a drink, talking to the waitress who was pretty much overlooked by everyone who entered the establishment.
He spoke of a brief affair with a stranger he met at the diner while having dinner. The encounter ended up being a one night stand but I could imagine him lighting up as he told the barmaid about the lady who sat two seats from his right. In the end, the barmaid finally tells the midnight watchman that she wished she was more beautiful or the he was halfway blind and the story had a happy ending. Stories back in the early 1970s had to have a happy ending.
Life has a way of screwing with you. If it's difficult, sometimes you get angry not at life but at other people who have things easier than you. You're struggling with something while others seem to be going on their merry way, living their lives to the fullest. When tragedy happens, you hope your family and friends will be there to support you as you seem to slide down the bottomless pit of depression and anxiety. You know that one day you're going to wake up and things will be better because that's what we are taught about life but some days, you wonder it it's all worth the trouble.
In the end though, it may take some time but you land back on your feet. You may be a little wiser, a little lonelier a little more broke but you eventually find some kind of footing in the unsecured world. Some people have the fortitude to get through things on their own while some need infinite amounts of help. It doesn't matter as long as the outcome is the same. Some end up like the midnight watchman who watches the metal rusting and waits as time goes by.
I remember writing after my wife died as a venue to wrap my head around something other than grief only to be ordered down by a Judge after I was sued by some people who figured I was writing about them. I said at the time that they either had a guilty conscience or they really were the people I was depicting but, as ordered, that blog came down. Sometimes withdrawing works but in most cases, it just causes things to fester into a state where it's difficult to emerge.
After all the years and experiences, some good and bad, my smile has gone to a sideways snicker, my walk slow and I seem to listen more to some people who are having a hard time. Sometimes I think they are having a harder time than myself but usually they are going through the same experiences I did at one time or another. I wonder sometimes if they will repay the kindness that has been shown to them but that's not up to me to determine.
I'm in a place where I can't watch the metal rust anymore because there is not rust around but there are days where I watch as time goes by. Maybe I still consider myself the Midnight Watchman as I sit and watch time go by, thinking about experiences both good and bad and wondering what would have come from that one night stand I wrote about a very long time ago.