They can have my wedding ring

Could you imagine if one of the twin towers survived?  What would you feel when you looked at her?  Could you imagine how she felt after 30 years?  Were they lovers?  Which would be worse?

They were a marriage of souls conceived by a million ideas and thousands of hands.  At some point they were just an idea in a single mind.  I know it is a personal topic to many people, and it certainly is for me, and I do not disrespect the memories of the dead by using this analogy lightly.  I am speaking of the buildings themselves, however.

My wedding ring hangs on a ribbon in front of the picture of the towers that hangs in my living room.  I won’t wear the ring, but I am loathe to get rid of it.  It has immense personal value to me.  I am not sure how it was received, but my mother saw it and seemed upset by my having it and hanging it.  My sister thinks I should sell it and I probably will one day.

In the interim, the almost random way in which I chose to hang it just where I did is another perfect lesson.  Somehow, that is where it belongs.  The first thought that lead to the hanging of the ring was the realization of how fateful September 11th was for my marriage.  Somehow I felt that placing the ring there would grant me perspective.  It has.

I will explain some of the perspective in the next few days, but for now, the tidbit I want to share is this.

There was always a space between them, yet no one could come between them.  It didn’t matter where you stood, every photograph has both.  Every memory of one is of both.  They never became one building or one thing.  They never changed for each other.  They were different, yet belonged together.  They were similar, but each complete and true to themself.  There was no reason there couldn’t have just been one, but they needed each other.  If they had never met, each would have been a strong and beautiful thing by themselves.  After 30 years together, one couldn’t survive 29 minutes without the other.  Perhaps if they could have saved one, both would have made it.

They can have my wedding ring.  I want a marriage like that.



Today is my Unoversary

Almost 15 years ago, I adopted the screen name, “TheOnliestNumber.”  Unfortunately I have lost the password and even access to the ISP email that it was set up for.  I adopted that screen name as I broke up with my girlfriend of 2 ½ years.  It was, for me a realization of no longer being a half and no longer being a pair and all it means.  This is the geek/nerd equivalent of a tattoo or what teenagers do when they change their wardrobe in order to wrap themselves up into a personality.

Here, as I celebrate my unoversary, I realize that like most wisdom I gained in my teenage years, I have forgotten that lesson.  I wish to share that lesson and immortalize the wisdom onto the internet, so that much like the small fabric signed a fish gave me at about the same time, I can randomly find it and look back at it and slap myself knowing that someone told me so and I even understood it.

One year ago, today, I went to court and my marriage was declared over.  It was the most tremendous anti-climax ever.  It was like 13 years of build up and then silence.  I was waiting for the beat to drop.

I am a fan of electronic music.  I’ve been to a few festivals and have idolized DJ Tiesto for far too long.  I’ve had nights that last so long that the sun comes up twice.  I wouldn’t trade a moment of that for the alternative.  I am so happy that she coaxed me halfway out of my shell, then grabbed me and pulled me out altogether.  I may have been a quiet guy and the least coordinated person  in the club, but I learned to have fun.  She taught me how to let loose and dance until the sweat flew every which way on the dance floor.  The last 2 years of the legal entity known as our marriage was a slow fade out with a few bass kicks of the old beat.

She had flown down to appear in court and we sat in the waiting room together.  When we were called before the judge, it seemed fairly unofficial at first, with them not even really asking for her to come into the courtroom.  I suppose the courts are familiar with the petitioner attending and the other party not showing up.  As we were seated before the judge, she read some official stuff and then asked for the reason of the divorce.  I looked to my wife.  She stared blankly at me.  So I told the judge “We had grown apart.”  The judge said that wasn’t enough, that it wasn’t a real reason.  I again looked to my wife who said “It’s for you to say.”  I considered this for a year, and it seemed I reconsidered it for another year in that courtroom.  “She’s in love with someone else.”

“I guess that would do it.”

The last words I would hear before the invocation of the spell that undid my marriage.  As we left the courthouse, I offered her a ride to her hotel.  I felt numb in the silence that followed.  I went to Denny’s and had breakfast for lunch.  I really don’t know what else I did that day, but I couldn’t go home.  Eventually I went to the bar we always used to go to.  I sat down, had a beer and some food, quiet and withdrawn as I usually was there.  In many ways, it was her bar.

I went back there on Tuesday, as it was becoming a weekly occurrence to cope with one of my classes.  I was greeted much differently.  Apparently some of the staff knew we were married.  Some of the staff did not.  Between the staff and the regulars, I was offered condolences and sympathy and encouragement.  Apparently she had come in shortly after I’d left on the day of the divorce.  It’s funny because I had not said a word about it.  I have tried not to imagine what happened when she came in.

Since then, life has been like a cold spring.  The roses on my patio just waiting to be planted are budding in January.  I wouldn’t have been able to see them for what they are a year ago.  Life has been cold and harsh, but I have grown and changed and life is good.  Bad things happen; life is never bad.

Regardless, the lessons I began to learn, on that Tuesday night, have grown.  It’s like taking the college version of classes you took in high school.  I am not a half.  I am not a pair.  Any time I’ve felt like a half or a pair has been delusion.  I am one.  I will always be one.  It is TheOnliestNumber.  I am just looking for another 1 to stand next to.  Some 1 to comfort me with her tenderness and share the weight of the world sometimes.  Some 1 to look at and see all the strength in the universe so that I can recognize the strength within me.  Some 1 to stand beside me for at least the next 30 years, through thick and thin and anger and love and everything else.  I want some 1 who is comfortable being 1 and with me being 1 and never becoming a 2 or a ½.

Today is my Unoversary.  Today I am one.  Today I understand that.  Today I celebrate that.

Kiddy Pools

The true observations of friends are sometimes the greatest compliments and sometimes the most condemning curses.  Today I received both.

I went out with one of my great friends and we were having a random conversation as always when the guy sitting next to us leans in and says, “That sounds like a deep conversation.”  Without missing a beat, my friend says, “He has no shallow end.  Whenever we go out, there’s no small talk”

I smiled and took it in.  This was not small talk.  I do not know if it was intended as a compliment or a condemnation, but he is the one who had invited me out, so I guess it wasn’t, much of a condemnation if it was such.  I’d like to think it a compliment, but as I consider it, I am sure that it is not an entirely good thing.  I am also pretty sure he had no idea how deeply moving and meaningful those words were.  He has a shallow end.

I pondered this in my drunkenness for quite a while, and awaken, here, at this sentence with a million things to say.  The first thing I must say is thank you.  It amazes me when I find references in the hearts of others that explains the title of this blog.

The ocean is mostly surrounded by “shallow ends.”  The term “shallow end” really didn’t have a meaning until we started building manmade lakes in backyards.  So once again, I am a “manmade ocean”.  I have these edges that don’t mesh well with others.  These edges require others to dive in or fall in and be immersed in the depth of my soul.  It is no wonder to me that I do not “have game.”  Dating is about splashing around in each other’s shallow end until people have the courage to venture deeper into one another.  Not me.  I’m going to throw you into the pool.  You’re going to get a full dose or nothing at all.  Perhaps I am too intense.

It is the same for me, with friendship.  I am fast friends with people.  I don’t have a shallow end.  You go from stranger to loved one in nothing flat.  I’ve spent so much of my life, putting up fences and walls around my soul because it is terrifying to think what would happen if I let someone into the depths of my love and it was the wrong person.  I question people before I let them in.  I don’t look inviting on purpose.  I have a detached mask that I put on, just under my skin, and listen to people while I quietly decide if I should let them in.  Once I decide to let them in, and they see the pool, it is not a very long time before they dive in, or are most likely pushed in by the laughing child who squats in my pool house.

I know, on some level this is not what he meant in that heartbeat that the words fell from his lips.  What he meant was that I would do this. He meant that I would spin his simple sentence into this amazingly over exaggerated life changing event.  He meant that I see the depth in people and words very quickly and am comfortable in the deep end, so I would voice this, all of this.  We do not always fully grasp the wisdom in the words we speak.  If you’ve ever given someone the advice you had ignored in the past and then continued to ignore it, yourself, in the future, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Early in this post, I mentioned that he has a shallow end.  It sounded insulting and even condescending.  If you’ve understood the depth I speak of, I hope you understand the magic of having a shallow end.  It is a gift.  I love finding people who have soul with depth, and he certainly has one, but he also has the ability to make small talk and make many friends.  The thing about a shallow end is it is the promise of depth, with a gentle introduction.  Many people do not have shallow ends because they are just big plastic bowls we fill with water and let children splash around in until they grow up.  Yes, most people are kiddy pools and I am talking about their capacity for friendship and love and relationships, not because they lack depth of character, but because they are afraid to even let anyone see how deeply they can be touched.

Evil, God, Chemistry

One of the greatest life lessons I have ever received was delivered in a high school chemistry class.  You see, that is where I learned that hatred and evil is imaginary.  No, not imaginary, but intellectual constructs.  I am an atheist.  I state it plainly in many things I write because I seek connection with everyone, regardless of their religion.  You may believe in God or not, at your own choosing, but the lesson I want to share is valuable to everyone, because it is about why a good and omnipotent is impotent against evil.  Chemistry, who’d have thought it?

The experiment was simple.  We had 2 beakers with water.  One also had ice in it and the other had just been removed from a burner.  A bent metal bar was hung between the two, with both ends submerged in opposite beakers.  The hypothesis was Continue reading