Then as it was, then again it will be
An’ though the course may change sometimes
Rivers always reach the sea
Flying skies of fortune, each our separate ways
On the wings of maybe, downy birds of prey
Kind of makes me feel sometimes, didn’t have to go
But as the eagle leaves the nest, we've got so far to go
Ten Years Gone
Ten years ago I came into Orlando driving a black Mazda Miata with access to a great deal of money, flying in on one wing as I sought to resolve the meaning of a dream that had haunted me for three years.
It can be said that the more means we have at our disposal, the more likely we are to reach the resolutions we desire. That isn't always the case. When I arrived in Orlando the first time I had quite a great deal of self-assurance primarily based in ego. It would not be exaggerating to say that for three years I'd not been turned down by a woman for anything I sought. It was truth, at the time. I was Magik, a man who existed as something of a living legend, someone for whom nothing was impossible. It was about time I managed to get myself shot down and brought back to earth. I got that when I first came to Orlando, courtesy of Tina, and Christine Lisl, two women with basically the same name who both refused to give me what I asked for and instead only gave me what I needed.
Being humbled is worth more than one might think. When we think we are above the law, or in my case, above the law of gravity, we are due for a reckoning.
I had this friend named Crystal back in New Hampshire. She often went by Chrissy, but only amongst friends. She brought me to New Hampshire in 1995 in order to meet her circle of friends. We had started talking for no particular reason online following some rather distressing events in my life. At the time she told me that she was married but about to get divorced, describing her husband as someone who had grown into a monster over the ten years they had been together. On my first trip to meet my new social circle in New Hampshire I met the two of them. He was especially flip and cocky, showing signs of being the type of person who had grown restless and angry with a lifestyle that no longer suited his purposes.
I'm no longer Magik. The skills and reputation I had more than a decade ago, which caused me to be named after a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have evolved into something else. At the time it was almost more than I could handle. I could not go to a gathering of people who were part of the New Hampshire circle without having to gather my strength in order to make sure I didn't disappoint anyone who had heard of Magik and wanted to meet him. I always had to be "on my game," except there wasn't any sort of game. Which made it easier and more difficult at the same time.
Years later I had the story of Magik explained to me as being a rather simple one. "Magik never wanted to get laid, Magik never wanted to find a girlfriend, Magik never wanted anything other than to simply be Magik. And that frustrated the shit out of every woman, and most of the men, who met him. No one could pin him down." Well, maybe not entirely simple, but seems that way to me these days.
More than a year into the whole Magik thing, I found myself on Hampton Beach in New Hampshire at a party with a large number of the New Hampshire circle in attendance. Chrissy's now ex-husband was becoming more and more agitated as time went by, and finally he slugged down a shot of liquor and stormed out. For some reason I followed him. I never held anything against the man and believed somehow I could understand him. When I got outside I found him going through the trunk of his car and pulling out of tire iron. He made a number of remarks indicating his intention to use the tire iron as a weapon with which to exact his revenge on his former wife for what he perceived as her wrongdoings.
"That's quite insane, you know," I said as I leaned against the side of his car and watched him massaging the tire iron.
"I've had it, she's my wife, and I don't care who she is fucking now, hell, it might even be you, but I am going to fuck her up so she remembers..."
"She'll remember," I told him calmly. "Want a cigarette?"
I offered him one of my cigarettes, long before doing so became a point of religious conviction to me. He took it, lit it and leaned back against the side of the car alongside me.
"What's your deal, Magik?"
I shrugged. "Fuck if I know. I don't do anything and shit just happens to me."
"You ever have dreams?"
"All the time. They bug the shit out of me."
"I fucked up my marriage, and I've fucked up my whole life. What the hell am I supposed to do?"
"Don't fuck it up any more," I said, glancing purposely at his tire iron. "That is just crazy shit, dude."
"Yeah, you're right," he said. He finished his cigarette and went back to the trunk and put the tire iron away. "You know what scares me?"
"I think I really would have killed her."
As time went on, I never told Chrissy about the night of the tire iron. She didn't need to know. All I remember about when she asked me what happened when I went outside with her ex-husband was that I walked over to the stereo at her place and put the song "Ten Years Gone" by Led Zeppelin on and went to the bathroom.
"That about sums it up," she said as the song ended, long after I had zipped up my fly. "And now I really need to move on. I can't keep worrying about how what I do keeps affecting him."
"He'll move on once you stop letting him think you continue to be absorbed with his bullshit. It is what you both need, really. He's not such a bad guy, he just can't escape from the whole idea that you spent ten years together and now it has ended. It is that whole business with 'Hey, wait a minute, this was ten years of my life' and you can't think like that. You can't hang onto shit just because it once was something else. Everything changes."
"He told me he never deserved me."
I shrugged. "There were good times, weren't there? I mean, you did date him for years and then decided to marry him. It couldn't have been all shit eight days a week. Remind him of that, or..."
"He might do something stupid."
It was ten years ago that I first arrived in Florida. I had all cylinders firing and was ready to start something I thought was going to turn out to be something other than what it really was. I sold myself on a simple interpretation of what I had seen. A woman had appeared in my dreams telling me that if I found her she would explain things to me. This led me to believe I would talk to her and she would just fall all over me, just as the women I knew from New Hampshire always had. She didn't even blink. She just kept telling me the same things over and over again. "I'm not the reason you're here. You're here for someone else. I just brought you here."
My ego demanded something more. When I told her I was thinking about leaving and not coming back, she looked frightened and said, "Don't do that. Don't leave. You need to stay."
I've been back to the bar I now call my church twice since I've been back in Orlando. The first time all I saw were ghosts. The second time I decided maybe I was looking for something that no longer existed. I ordered dinner and had a few beers. At one point I remarked to the bartender that I had a long and strange history with this place, but that was almost ten years ago.
"Ten years ago I think I was still in grammar school."
I laughed. "It has been a long time. I've been up north for a few years."
"You picked a hot summer to return, then."
"Yeah, but not as hot as 1998."
He walked away shaking his head. I'm no more than a stranger now. No one in this place remembers what once was and will never be again. I closed my eyes and told my angel that I needed a sign to know whether or not there was any point in me visiting this place that had once held so much magic but now only held a collection of ghosts.
The volume was turned all the way down on the television over the bar. I knew because I had been absently watching ESPN as I did my own pathetic recollecting. As I sat there alone, servers walking past me without giving me a second look, I remembered how I never used to have a moment to myself when I sat there at the bar at my church. There had been something special then. Ten years before everyone who worked there had found a reason to talk to me, and maybe it was because I've gotten older and creepier, but there was something else to it.
Then, quite suddenly, the television volume came on. It was a commercial of some kind for NASCAR and it was playing the Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire" as part of its promotion of an upcoming race. That song happens to be directly related to the summer of 1998 and my church.
And then the television went silent again. No sound, only pictures. I stared for several minutes not sure of what I had just seen.
"Is the television on mute?" I asked the bartender when he returned.
"Nah, but the sound is turned all the way down. You want me to turn it up?"
"No, that's cool. I was just curious."
Ten years gone.
My dreams have given me a new riddle to solve. And they remind me that I once tried to read too much into things, that I once tried to interpret everything the way I thought made sense, the simple, straight line interpretation. This time I am reminded to learn from the past and not jump to conclusions before I am able to understand all the factors at play.
"There is someone whose name sounds like the one you are familiar with, but add the letter 'A' to the beginning of it. This is your next connection. If you blink you may have already missed her."
And that continued to repeat in dreams until I tossed it out to a friend who figured it out for me.
Or maybe she didn't. Time will tell.
Ten years gone. Life goes on.
I’m never gonna leave you.
I'm never gonna leave
Holdin’ on, ten years gone
Ten years gone, holdin’ on, ten years gone
Dedicated, in part, to Jenny Poo for reasons she will likely understand.