Saturday, June 23, 2007

Not such a funny night after all

Last night, I went down to Sarasota to see Brian Regan doing stand-up at the Van Wezel. As I mentioned previously, I was looking forward to it because he's one of my favorite comedians, and having lived in Sarasota for ten years, it would be fun to see how the place had changed in the eight years since I'd moved away. Well, one out of two ain't bad, right?.
It was bad.
I left straight from work so I got down there early, giving me plenty of time for sightseeing. I came off the interstate on University Parkway and sensory overload set in almost immediately. Where there had been cow pastures there were now Super Target stores, apartment complexes and shopping centers. Heading south on Tamiami Trail was even more shocking with massive condominium towers where there had been motels and shopping centers where there had been vacant lots. I was blown away. I would have to say that there has been proportionately more growth in Sarasota in the last decade than there has been in Tampa. It was apparent the place had changed dramatically. But that didn't prepare me for what I saw next.
I turned off Tamiami Trail to Cocoanut Avenue, to drive by the first house I had lived in when I was married. Times were good back then between us. I wanted to see if it still looked the same, maybe see who was living there now...but it was gone. Torn down, and apparently some time ago because there's no trace of the house remaining. The only thing there is the driveway that had led to the garage. I wasn't sure exactly why at the time, but this literally hit me, and I mean hard. There's no other way to describe it; I felt just like I had been punched in the face. I pulled into the driveway, got out of the car and stood in the middle of the vacant lot and looked around. At nothing. But I knew this was the exact spot in the living room where we had a recliner. It sat next to the sofa there and faced the TV over against that wall. To the left there was the kitchen and back behind me was where the bathroom and bedrooms were. And I think that's when I figured out why this had such an effect on me; since the house itself no longer existed, there was no evidence aside from my own memories that it, and the life and the happy memories it had contained, had ever existed. I couldn't even drive by with friends now and show them where I had lived. There's nothing there. Grass now grows and dies and grows again next year where a house stood in which I had once shared my life with someone I loved. I suddenly felt very, very much alone.
I got back in the car and drove the two blocks to the Van Wezel and watched the show. Brian Regan was funny and I laughed aloud a few times but I was pretty much numb and empty just sitting there.
After the show, I drove around aimlessly for awhile, but my heart was definitely not in it. Further dragging me down was a text message I had received from R asking if I'd like to go to Pleasure Island Saturday night. By all means, a trip to Pleasure Island would be a perfect remedy to pull me out of a funk like this. So yes, more than just about anything in the world, I would love to go with you to Pleasure Island, R. Unfortunately, the reality is that I have to work Saturday night so I have no choice but to decline. R's very kind and thoughtful invitation had inadvertently darkened my mood even more and I started contemplating the pros (many) and cons (few) of driving my car into a phone pole at 70mph. But lacking a flair for the (overly) dramatic gesture, I just drove home to Tampa and went to bed, with serious intentions of staying there until I had to go to work Saturday night and then immediately getting back in bed and staying there until Monday morning.
That plan was working well until 11:00 this morning when my phone rang. It was my friend W, asking me to come over tonight after work because she's struggling with some personal problems of her own. I didn't know how much help I would be, having dedicated myself to being depressed and all and that this would seriously cut into my laying-around-and-being-pathetic time, but what the hell, I told her I would definitely stop by. After hanging up, I laid there and stared at the ceiling for a while and thought about everything, all at the same time. What eventually came of that was the realization that somebody who was hurting was seeking help from me. This provided some motivation to you know, be alive. So I got out of bed, pulled my head out of my ass and got ready for work.
I think the rest of the weekend will be better than Friday night.

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