A month now in New Hampshire. My life has changed. I feel differently than I have ever felt, but it is difficult to put into words just how I feel. The closest word I can find to describe it is "Home." Never in my life have I felt more at peace and never have I felt so clearly that I am where I belong.
A friend recently asked me if I felt a sense of "triumph" in what I have done. I went into a kind of exile for seven years in Orlando and returned on my own terms. What I wanted more than anything in this life I received. There is no sense of triumph. There is no "victory party." The Muse, who I now live with, put it best a few nights ago. "It feels like we've always been together. It feels completely normal. Isn't that weird?" After being mostly separated for two decades, it is a weird feeling. And the weirdest thing about it is that is doesn't feel weird at all.
Over the years I have had many different relationships with many different women, far more women that I deserve to have been that close to. Some tried to change me, to mold me into the kind of man they wanted me to be. They failed. Some accepted me as I am and in return I did the same for them. They are always in my heart. There is something very different in my relationship with The Muse. She is both my greatest adversary and my biggest supporter. No one pushes me harder, no one tries harder to get under my skin and no one loves me more. The one thing that really strikes me, the one thing I tend to think about as I fall asleep at night, is that somehow I was always right about her. For years she tried to convince me I was wrong, but every time she tried to get me to believe I was better off without her and that she wasn't worth caring about in the way I cared about her, she would give herself away. She'd load the gun. She'd put it in my mouth. She'd cock the hammer. She couldn't pull the trigger. That's how she always gave herself away. I knew. I always knew.
Last night I had a very strange, intense dream:
I'm working at a fast food restaurant as a temp. I am one of two temps working there. The other is Clint Eastwood. We're not working the counter or cooking food, we're doing something else, working for a very shaky man who is doing some kind of major maintenance work, knocking down walls, replacing counters, putting in new cooking apparatus. I came in my car, which in the dream is still packed as it was with all my belongings when I moved from Florida to New Hampshire.
At the end of the shift, Clint asks me for a ride home. He says it is interesting that he has hitchhiked three times in his life and that I have picked him up every time.
On the second day working at this job, I see our boss stuffing my clothes into a hole in a new wall we are putting up. He says it needed insulation. I go to my car and find my suitcases of clothes empty and thrown on the ground. The boss man sees nothing wrong with what he is doing, but Clint promises to help me "get even." I tell him I just want to get my clothes back and then I want to quit. He says he will help and then says, "I'm sorry this guy is such an asshole, but we both need this job so lets just get the clothes back and act like nothing happened."
I am not sure why I would so desperately need this job that I would put up with this boss, who in addition to stealing my clothes and using them to fill space behind a wall, is abusive and nasty. I'm really not sure why Clint Eastwood needs this job or why he needs a lift home. When I take him home I leave him on the side of a dirt road. He says, "I'll just walk the rest of the way," and thanks me for the lift.
I see some people after, including my father, and I tell them about the job and about Clint Eastwood. I ask them if they think it is strange that I have picked Clint up hitchhiking three times. A woman tells me, "Is it stranger that you picked up Clint Eastwood or is it stranger that he was picked up by YOU?"
The group of people I see turns into a party, an ornate affair where people are well dressed and having cocktails. I get the impression from comments people make to me that I am somehow very important to them. I am an honored guest, and yet I have to return to the fast food restaurant to install ceiling tiles the next day.
The following day I'm putting a new window in a freshly cut hole in the wall with Clint assisting me. He turns to me after I make some kind of complaint about the job and says, "Do you consider this kind of work beneath you or something?"
"No," I tell him, "but I can't believe some people have to live like this and take shit from a boss like that son of a bitch all day."
"Then do something about it, you asshole."
At that point I realize he isn't Clint Eastwood at all. He's someone entirely different. I was just perceiving him as Clint Eastwood. He gets into a car with some other people and drives off laughing.
I woke to the voice of Anastasia telling me, "Now you have your peace. Now you have your solace. You have what you need. It is time to continue your work."