Sunday, June 19, 2005

It ain't love, but it ain't bad.

He sits on his porch and watches the sun set with a glass in his hand, and two bottles to his left. It isn't a rum and coke every night, but it's what was in the house tonight, and it's working its magic well enough on him.

He watches the sun slither into the horizon every night, but not because he finds it a particularly attractive or inspirational sight. Only because it signals the end of yet another day.

If you asked him, he wouldn't tell you this. He's not even really aware of the fact anymore, he's felt this way for so long. And it isn't that his days are that awful -- he doesn't have the best job in the world, but he's content with it most days; he has his health; his parents are getting old but they're both still around, and they call him once a month to see how things are -- but only that they've been somehow sapped of meaning.

Not that he knows this either, really. They've been sapped of meaning for so long he can't remember what it was like before.

Sometimes the sunset is particularly spectacular, and he finds something inside of him stirring to life. Whether it's the part of him that, for just a few moments, remembers what it was like before everything turned grey, or the part of him that in the raging heart of the burning sky is inspired to make tomorrow a better day, makes little difference, because the feeling never lasts long. He pours himself another drink and the feeling drifts away, along with all the other feelings -- good and bad.

He's never thought that he might have a drinking problem, because he never really drinks a lot. He'll have a few glasses and watch the sun set, and once the sky is dark he'll leave the porch and watch television for an hour or two before bed. And yet, this ritual on the porch, those few drinks while the sun sets, is the most important part of his day.

Because it's the only thing he really has to hold on to. A ritual that, in its regularity, gives some sense of meaning to his life.

The liquor doesn't love him. It doesn't care if he lives or dies. It doesn't want to make him happy or hold his hand or kiss him on the forehead or take him to the most beautiful places in the world.

But it does help keep him warm. Which is a far cry better than everything else in his life.

No comments: