Today I am publishing another post written by my good friend, Eddie. I could ramble about how amazing he is, but I feel like we all know that by now 😉 His other guest posts are here, here and here if you want to check them out 🙂
A second and last foray into death(ish) from me, quite by accident rather than design I grant you, having seen the death theme in the previous post. This is post regarding something that I do that people might find inexplicable or downright bizarre, but I do anyway.
Halloween recently passed by which always reminds me of these traditions and how they’re celebrated (if that’s the right word) in other countries and cultures. Before I knew of these practices in other places I’d found that I had already developed my own version of this ritual without even knowing of all those elsewhere. If you didn’t know (and I didn’t until not long ago) the Day of the Dead is celebrated (actually celebrated) in Mexico and is a frankly wonderful way of remembering those who are no longer with us. There is a lot of information on the subject. Death there isn’t feared, but embraced and I don’t have words for how fabulous that attitude is.
My own ritual is intensely personal and I do this alone (as of ten years now), yes I’m weird I know. Mine takes place on the first Tuesday in July every year and I head off to a quiet place to be alone at sunset (my family know I do this every year and they’re fine with this, the specifics I don’t share though). I’m always alone for this, it’s my own ritual and includes those that were relevant to me alone, it’s never felt right to include anyone else. These are things that I think of as dead as they are no longer a part of me, less that actual dying process. (I don’t even know myself if that makes sense or not when written down, it just is)
I’m actually sharing this with a sense of anonymity via Kendels Guest Spot just to see if anyone else replies that has created their own version of this that they themselves observe in private like I do.
I take with me certain items, the same every year – these are my own gateways that allow me to unlock the memories and recreate the links to those now gone.
In my case, it’s not only people themselves that I remember for this night, in one case it’s a time and place that I reconnect with and those others involved (to the best of my knowledge) are all still alive and well, in places unknown.
(A) The Tuesday Night Club
The first thing I recall is the reason for the fact that it’ll be a Tuesday night, in July. Many years ago when working as a student with a large company I found myself in a large shared house, I got close to a small group of those people and we created a Tuesday Night Club. Fridays and weekend nights in that town were always unpleasant affairs in that place and at random we once found ourselves out in a small group of 7 of us on a Tuesday night. We drank and toured all the pubs, we smoked and laughed and walked dark parks in our combined stupors. Ate dodgy kebabs at midnight, all manner of debauchery. It rapidly became a thing and we adhered to that for nearly a year, it was the day we all looked forward to above weekends and everything, right up until we all parted company for our respective universities again.
For my recollection I will smoke a joint (yes I know, naughty, but we did that as we walked from pub to pub on those Tuesday nights) and sit quietly and remember those events, details are vague now but I remember that carefree sense of pure fun and simple enjoyment of that weekly event. I honestly can’t remember a single episode of my life that I experienced that was so uncomplicated and full of such sheer joy. I remember the faces, the names, the personalities but above all I remember just how much we laughed. The following day at work was never hard work, when you’re young you can shrug off the excesses of the night before on a few hours sleep without a care.
These memories flood back all at once, almost overwhelmingly so but I will smile and occasionally laugh out loud as they do.
(B) My Best Buddy
I met this guy at uni many many years ago, we were both as weird yet as much polar opposites as one another. We formed a strong friendship lasting 15 years. After I moved to Australia we drifted out of touch but I know if we met again (and we will) that we’d pick up where we left off. I saved his sorry ass so many times as he did mine. I was proud to have him as best man at my wedding. The list of adventures we had together was far too long to mention but they were all memorable, for good or bad.
For this recollection I’ll drink a miniature bottle of Jack Daniels, his drink of choice. Not mine though, I hate it but I’ll drink it anyway and then I’ll recall the bond we had and that dependence we knew was there no matter what.
(C) My Grandfather
This one is sad but I go there anyway. He was a proud yet almost silent figure in my life, he spoke rarely but when he did I listened. He taught me that you don’t need to ever shout to be heard and that if you have something to say that is worth hearing then people will listen. He was always softly spoken and never wasted words, ever. He’d survived the 2nd World War as a pilot and the memento I have is a booklet containing 20 pages of a letter he wrote from a flight over Europe towards the end of the war describing the sights in huge descriptive detail. He would never have known that I would be reading that, it surfaced after he died when I was 17. I keep it safe always.
I feel very very sad when I read and think of him, I wished he’d lived longer that I may have gotten to know a bit more about him but such are these things. Despite all this I aspire to be the sort of proud yet gentlemanly and infinitely patient and polite figure that he represented always. My favourite recollection of him was him sitting in his greenhouse on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea in a dusty rocking chair, smoking a cigar made of tobacco that he’d grown himself secretly in the very hidden far corner of his garden that he loved so much. I don’t think I’d ever seen one person look as content and serene as I did him at that moment.
(D) The Love Of My Life That Was But Never Could Be
This is hard, it hurts and I cry over this but I need to do this somehow.
I met a girl once, I shouldn’t have met her and shouldn’t have gone where I did but I did anyway. She fell in love with me and shortly after I returned the favour. It was like looking into the abyss and feeling it look back into you, it changed me forever and I never knew a love like it before or since. Only someone has been so hopelessly in love with someone they can never have can know this excruciating pain. If that’s you that’s reading this right now then I’m SO sorry, really I am.
For this I have a handwritten note she wrote me, it’s full of the most beautiful things and compliments I ever heard anyone say in my life, the sort of things you don’t imagine ever hearing. Well it’s that and so much more. Whenever I see anyone who is said to be gorgeous or beautiful then I subconsciously look and compare her to the girl I loved and find them second place, every time. I literally never met someone so beautiful outside and in over my whole life. This always brings a tear or two and pain of course, having gotten on with my life where all others can never match the past. This brings it’s own pain too. But we all have to move on.
This moment is where I feel that pain, initially sharply then feel that love again, it’s bitter sweet but I am ultimately buoyed by the warmth I remember and my heart beats hard and warm once more in that glow. This is like a secret indulgence, twinged with naughtiness akin to eating ice cream and seeing a chick flick in secret. I thought I’d been in love before, nope I hadn’t until I really did, then never found another even close.
Those are my four, they may sound strange as much as the ritual and as much as I do, but that’s me and that’s my first Tuesday in July every year.
I sit, I wallow and reflect, I remember then laugh, cry, and laugh again. All in, I’m alone with my life thoughts for many hours during this ritual. How strange.
Anyone else have theirs?