There is punchline funny, and then there is the unable to make this happen ever again, series of events funny. One of the most situationally humorous things that I've ever experienced happened to me on one of the worst days of my life.
It was 2011, my brother had been dead for about six months, and I was at a party with my ex wife. I noticed at some point in the conversation, that she and her girlfriend seemed like they had a secret that I didn't know about. The next day, I told her that I had this weird feeling that we were over even though I did not want that, and asked her about her behavior with her friend.
She told me that she felt like we had been over for a while but wanted to give me a year after my brother died before she said anything.
It was one of the most devastating things I've ever experienced. Its one thing to not be loved, its another thing to have to Blues Clues it together. It was also hard because my marriage was one of my sources of certainty. The loss of it on top of the loss of my brother and family drama felt like an unraveling of everything I ever knew to be reliable.
Its the kind of thing that would go into the tapestry of my personal narrative forever. Its funny how other people's words and actions get so much press in our story.
As an older and wiser man, I have a sympathy for my ex wife that I didn't have in that moment or later. I was never nasty to her (up until the bitter end I tried to be a fair and kind man), but I was hurt and hurt for a long time. All my hurt aside, I can't imagine what its like to feel trapped by the demand of being a good person to stay in a marriage you feel like is dead. Being rejected is death, having to reject someone you care about is a self inflicted injury. I still think that all things being equal, I probably got off easier. I also think I bounce back from tragedy well. I see it as my one real gift.
The next day, I had to go to work. I was tired from the late night conversation and deflated. I was so sad that I could even relate to terrible danish pop songs. Thats sad sad.
The day after work, I had one mission. To walk around Copenhagen and grieve. Walk is too nice a word, shuffle would be a better word. I always drew energy from the sophisticated energy of the city. The city is 1000 years old. It has seen and done everything, and I wanted to distract myself til my ears stopped ringing.
The locus of my thoughts was this: I was nothing, I had nothing, and I was going to return to Charleston a 27 year old loser, and my ex was going to continue living her cool life with all her cool Copenhagen friends.
What I didn't know, was that the weekend I was trying to walk around like a one man funeral procession had a direct conflict with the International Copenhagen Gay Pride Festival.
At every cross street where I expected to be alone, there would be flat bed 18 wheelers full of leather daddy gay men throwing beads and dancing. Flags, banners, crowds, people throwing out candy, it was a celebration.
It wasn't funny at the time, but looking back this was fucking gold.
Its really hard to take your depression seriously when you see assorted member of the LGBT community doing the "I can't hear you" hand to a crowd before throwing candy at them.
This story came back to me in the shower this morning. I guess the thing that sticks out to me now is the fundamental flaw in my thinking: that she would get to be happy and I would not.
I know this is a common fallacy, but that doesn't mean people are better at recognizing it.
The truth is, the real truth is, that everyone gets to be happy. Maybe not in the same ways as you once were, but yes. Even you get to be happy. Maybe every form of love or happy that I've ever tried to squeeze was trying to tell me something. Maybe the pride parade was trying to tell me something. In the midst of the letdown, there is always a party going on somewhere and you get to go.
Whatever it is you want, the scariest and most exciting thought is that it is way closer than you think. Get a baby sitter and go do an open mic. Open up a god damn word document and start your book. Maybe finishing it will make you happy, maybe it won't, but not doing anything is like grieving one penny at a time.