The paths that we walk, the choices we make, how they permeate through our lives, the pain we inflict on ourselves. Ah crap, I can hear some Redemption lyrics from the song “Release” rattling about my head.
Tired of life and filled with despair
And covered with blood from the crosses I bear
But I’m still standing
– Redemption, The Fullness of Time: Release
So, I went for a walk the other day. While I was out walking, I spent a reasonable amount of time thinking that I have slowly, but surely, been leaving clues for my inner circle about the stark realities of the decisions I’ve made and the task I must walk.
Thankfully, I’m thrilled that I’m doing it, so I am setting expectations for myself and them in the event of the creeping in darkness. There’d be no honest way to release me and the burden I feel on my mind.
Yup, I keep hearing that god damn song again echoing in the back of my mind. It’s lightly buzzing back there, pushing me to investigate myself further.
I find myself feeling very disappointed in people, and yet I find hope in others where previously there was a void. I’ve had friends step up and had “friends” that I had to release from my life because they were incapable of being adults.
And what I’ve been at that, is that people who cannot maintain or have a conversation with somebody without getting upset and name-calling. It’s just not something people can release themselves from. It’s the stark reality of the world that we live in.
That night, I called an old friend whom I’ve known for over 25 years. While we were talking, I brought up that subject. You know, the one about the darkness that was coming for me. I find it hard to explain at times for the uninitiated.
She’s a longtime friend from the short stint where I lived in Florida. At the time we met, I was working for her then-husband. It was Thanksgiving, and he invited me and my roommate “Greg” (I will call him that).
I didn’t know that “Greg” and the boss were old friends from their time working for some interwebs dial-up place in the early 1990s. But, I knew “Greg” from growing up in the area of NY I was from.
I knew the boss was married, but I knew nothing of her. And for the sake of doing this ridiculously, we’ll call her “Andrea.” I’d never met “Andrea” before, so I had no frame of reference.
The boss invited us in, and we were in the dining room, having an adult beverage, and this incredibly stunning blonde walked in. I think “Greg” had to help me pick up my chin after it had dropped.
I didn’t gawk for long, but her southern accent was nearly as stunning as her overall beauty. As the night went on, “Andrea” was friendly to me, but not overly. I don’t want to piss off the boss.
Friendliness doesn’t mean a lap dance, although I would have welcomed it in any other setting. That includes church, in a movie theater, cemetery. You get the point.
I believe I’ve written about her before, elsewhere.
Ok, back to that night. Overall, it was a pleasant time. At the night’s end, “Greg” and I thanked our hosts as we said our goodbyes. I figured I’d never see her again, so it wasn’t heartbreaking.
As time passed, she ended up divorcing the boss. I don’t recall him giving two shits to have released himself from whatever the deal was.
Because “Andrea” was friends with “Greg,” I’d see “Andrea” from time to time when the group would go out to a bar, hang out at someone’s apartment, whatever.
Andrea was never overly flirtatious with me, but she was going through some tough times with the divorce. I’d come to understand that some ten years later.
The one lasting memory that I have of “Andrea” is the last time I saw her when I was living in Florida. It was like something out of a dream, so surreal that it couldn’t have possibly been anything other than a fabrication.
I was with my new roommate, “Terry,” who had moved in when my buddy “Greg” moved back to New York to take a job working doing networking stuff. He had been released from the lease.
That was painful as I had moved there because of my friendship with “Greg.” But, even today, I don’t hold it against “Greg” for doing what was best for him.
“Terry” was cool and from the same general area as “Greg” and myself. However, he was a few years younger than us, so I had not met him until moving to Florida.
“Terry” was a part of the crew that would hang out together on the weekends before “Greg’s” departure after being released from the lease. So he got “Terry” to step into that spot.
Over the next few months, his girlfriend (whom I called “girlfriend” complete with a lower g) had moved in. She was a nice gal, with one slight side note.
You see, she got herself around, having dated “Greg” for a few months. It was weird to see her there. She was kind of like furniture. Look it up.
Well, there’s a second note there. It was weird seeing her walk around naked while being “Greg’s” furniture and not caring. And the same thing when she was “Terry’s” furniture and having the same attitude.
She was a nice person, and I can’t fault her for being an exhibitionist. But, on the other hand, I’m sure she felt as if she had released part of herself to be able to do that.
And she liked Brandy Rai quite a bit. Then again, who didn’t? He was super rad.
Sorry about that, back to the story about “Andrea.”
I was standing there, trying not to stare at a very impressive woman that I had thought about from time to time. What was she like to fall asleep with? Did she prefer holding hands with the left or the right? You know, stuff.
As the conversation about who the fuck knows what concluded, not paying attention as I wasn’t a part of it, I watched as she turned and walked away from me.
Sashaying her ass as if to say “Hey, look at me! I’m something you can’t have.”. Either that or telling me she loved anal.
Somehow, we have managed to stay in touch for many years now. I have promised “Andrea” a kiss, just a kiss, probably sometime in the last 25 years. Lol.
I don’t recall this promise, but I have faith in her, to be honest, nor would I ever suggest that she should or could release me from that agreement.
“Andrea” and I talked the other night, and I mentioned to her that I had been looking at airfare as I needed to fulfill my commitment to her, even if it was the last thing I did or the last bit of money that I had.
At first, I believe that she was taken aback five by my willingness to openly and honestly communicate, how much value I place on my integrity above so much else, and its importance in my life.
I know there’s a chapter in one of my unreleased books about integrity. Something about a code or some shit.
I think it’s hard for people to understand a good human and the sheer amount of work that goes into it. There’s an immense amount of effort to it.
You have to be willing to stand up for yourself, and you have to be willing to stand up for others. You have to be ready to walk the walk. Who are you, and what do you want to be?
Very importantly, you have to be able to admit when you’re wrong and not because you’re being backed in a corner. So release yourself of that burden and release yourself of that pain.
Because you’re a good human, you will always know the difference between right and wrong.
I find that it is the respect you show somebody to listen to what they have to say and recognize your wrongdoing. Then, you will be released from their doubt and strength that bond.
While we typically don’t want to admit to being wrong, that is a human condition; it is essential to your integrity that you do this.
For without integrity, you are just a shell of a person and more apt to be a piece of shit than to be a standup human. Again, you must release yourself to achieve this level of integrity.
For as long as I can remember, I have tried to walk the walk. I have wanted to be an adult keep my feelings in check, although in private; that’s another story.
But it’s important because people are lunatics and unhinged. They come at you with anger, spite, and vitriol and expect you to do the same. So you have integrity when you do not retaliate, and you listen. You listen.
Sigh, again, dude? Ok, back on track as I tend to get into the weeds.
I have known “Andrea” for 25 years and have repeatedly acknowledged that I am responsible for fulfilling my obligation. Therefore, I think she could understand why it was important to me.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to fly anywhere, let alone to Chicago again. But, I’m going to do that because I am a man. I am a man of my word. That is integrity.
Doing things that you don’t want to do but for the sake of doing them because they are right.
There is a line that one must walk and save yourself. To be the human you are supposed to be, you have to own your own shit. If you can’t, you are weak.
Do you lack the courage and strength to stand in the face of anger?
You would think that I would have something more to say about integrity right now for the amount of stuff that I’ve written about integrity. But the truth is, I can talk about it all I want, but in the end, I have to go to Chicago to fulfill a promise.
Ya gotta do what you gotta do, right?
But seriously, I had every intention to do that, even if it’s the last thing I do. Good and longtime friends are hard to come by, even harder to hold.
And that’s the great thing about having integrity. Your friends know that they can count on you.
If you can maintain those values, the people around you will always know that they can count on you. And they know, they all know, where are stand on something and how important it is to your moral fabric to maintain that.
Backlinks to other Chapters
DRAFT – Chapter 0 – Lost – The Other Side |2022
DRAFT – Chapter 1 – Backstory – The Other Side |2022
DRAFT – Chapter 2 – Hope With a Side of Fear – The Other Side |2022
DRAFT – Chapter 3 – Fear without Hope – The Other Side |2022
DRAFT – Chapter 4 – Fear with Darkness – The Other Side |2022
DRAFT – Chapter 5 – Darkness and Hope – The Other Side |2022