Sunday, October 6, 2013

Where to Now St. Peter?

"Crazy was the feeling.
Restless were my eyes.
Insane they took the paddles.
My arms they paralyzed."

Elton John was one of my first "Pop Music" favorites.  One of my earliest memories of rock music was "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."  That album vaulted him into the upper echelon of pop stardom though he had already achieved noted success with "Honky Chateau" and "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player."  With all that success over the years it's easy to forget "Tumbleweed Connection," his first "top 10" album.

Elton, I suppose, is like the Sistine Chapel.  I imagine you could look at that magnificent ceiling for years and still discover new details you had never seen before.  As much as I've listened to Elton over the years I still hear a song every now and again I didn't realize he sang.  Songs such as "Yellow River" off "16 Legendary Covers" or the song above "Where to Now St. Peter" always delight me as if I've hit gold while prospecting the XM radio airwaves.

Over the past 2+ years in this blog I have so come to love doing these little music "infomercial" pieces at the beginning of many of my posts.  After finding a new song that moves and stays with me I do some research about the song and that tends to lead me to back stories that are just as intriguing.  It is so with this song.  The album "Tumbleweed Connection" was somewhat of a tribute to American "country and western" with singles such as "Country Comfort" and "Ballad of a Well Known Gun." But I heard this song "Where to Now St. Peter" over the summer and it really haunted me as I reflected on my then experiences.  The song is written from the perspective of a soldier (in this case probably American Civil War) dying on the battlefield reflecting on his circumstances and the reality of the finality of his fate as he reaches out to St. Peter for direction.  Reading about the song meanings I stumbled upon one person's comparison between this song and the poem "Strange Meeting" by Wilfred Owen. The poem depicts the attempted escape of a soldier from the hell of a WWI battlefield deep into the trenches. But as he flees further into the trenches he in fact enters into Hell and upon that realization of his whereabouts he happens upon his "Strange Meeting" with the enemy soldier he had just killed the day before.

I know that doesn't seem like what I was going through but through the summer as I continued to run to or from things it seemed as if I continually returned to my circumstances and was in fact quite lost in those current circumstances.

Wow, that is a lot of gobledegook but on the Friday afternoon of my week of Great Expectations I stared at a text message that said:  "just sent you an e-mail, I hope it explains things."

Sandee has never really been an e-mail queen so I was pretty certain what this meant.  And so as I opened up my inbox and began to read that e-mail, the thoughts and memories of a relationship now two years old coursed through me and I did in fact have to ask the question to myself:  "where to now St. Peter?"

And as with that soldier as I ran from the troubles of my life was I running toward rescue or a worse fate?

By Friday that night it had become obvious that there would be no great sexual extravaganza nor even a simple breakfast.  Two years ago and certainly 10 years ago this would have troubled me to anger.  Now, I just moved on; such is life.  As I often say nobody is going to give a *rap in 100 years anyway and the happiness I might find over the coming years can only be lost by rushing to judgement over why something should have happened yesterday versus a week from now.  For all my logic I have turned somewhat spiritualistic or fatalistic.  Simply put what will happen will happen and pain is often a result of us pressing for action when we should be patient.

That being said I was a little startled when I did get that text from Sandee "just sent you an e-mail," no good ever came from that wording!  I was pretty sure I knew what the content would be.

As is Sandee's way she is often so naively matter of fact as if I could just read this and go on.

Hi Ryan,

So I'm back in the craziness again. The vacillating- it's exhausting. 

I wanted you to know that your offer of cooking for me--- it was beyond amazing. And I mean that. Just the gesture alone was something that's meant more than you know!  I wanted SOOOOO much to spend time with you, But it always leads back to the same place for me. Just knowing that it's not going anywhere. It's hard, you know?  

I've told you all of this before so I'll spare you the drama, but I wanted to give you some explanation. ( I have a hard time telling you in person (remember?? :)  So I just need to tell you one. Final. Time.  I'll try to put it in a language you can relate to... In sports terms, it would be the final inning-- all bases loaded. overtime. whatever.
Anyways, It's just too hard to do "this."  Just the "for fun " & once-in -awhile thing. I need/want more and you can't  do more. Like I said before- I TOTALLY get it!! And it's ok. You have a great life and family. I wouldn't expect anyone, EVER to have to choose! Even if the prize was ME!! ;) hehehe jk.

I hope some or all of this makes sense. I think my Spidey senses (very awesome, womens intuition) says you  may even feel a tad relieved to read it :). I mean, it's seems like maybe you've been pulling back a little more anyways? :) but it's ok. Like I said, I get it. 

I'm not going to go back on my decision this time. This really DOES make me
look like a flaky pastry, but  I am resolute this time. I swear I am. That's why I won't be texting or writing- no phone convo's, etc.. (that would include sending smoke-signals or talking through soup cans..anything)  As much as I'll be wanting to just hear how things are for you, sadly,  it's gotta be a clean break. I will miss you though. You are truly a special person, and you mean  alot to me. I just wasn't allowed to say or show it  (part of the problem) :) 

Please understand. All of this-- it's ALL your fault!!  It's because you spoiled me and left me wanting more :) 

Take care of you, Ryan, 
Sandee :) 

I'm usually not one to be thrown off guard; I am proud of my Ryan-ness.  But I have to admit this time it did take me some time just to process and figure out what I felt.  I was beyond slammed at work at this time, the busiest time of the year and some golden, signature, career defining opportunities were falling at my feet.  It was hard to separate and carve out the time to react and to feel or even decide if I should or needed to feel.  Fully eleven days later I responded with this:

 Hey Sandee,
Well I've been thinking about my response for a week now and still don't really quite know what to say.  One thing I do have to admit is that I've been quite busy so I can't completely claim benovolence.
So I guess what I can say first is that I understand and I'm not mad.  I think at one point I mentioned that I was going to try to come to some conclusions about my life by May.  As I often do I didn't and procrastinated.  So to that end I appreciate you holding out for the summer and joining me on some really fun times.
Your spidey senses are not quite on target.  I was and never would look for a way out with you; you mean too much to me.  What you sensed was me denighing myself the urge to promise you something I was not sure I'd be able to deliver in the end.  You are too good of a person to be the recipient of unfounded commitments.  You know the funny thing is is that the last week has been so busy that I can't say I've missed being able to see a movie or go on a walk; that is just life getting in the way and is understandable.  But what I miss is the daily texts or e-mail interaction with my friend and compatriot (in crime and adventure) - Sandee and the anticipation of figuring out our next wacky adventure.  And that is it, you have been the best and most wonderful part of my life for the last two years.  You are a prize and don't ever forget it!  Any man should consider it a priviledge to sweep you off your feet and treat you like someone well worth winning.
What I can't accept though is a clean break.  I know emotions get in the way and it's tough to be with someone you want to be with daily but can't.  That being said I have too much emotional involvement with you to not know how you are doing or know if life is getting better.  I need to know you are on a better path.  Please keep in touch as I plan on doing so.  I'll probably call in a few days depending on how you resond to this.  As bad as I am with making a decision on life events I am bad with closure.  For example, my dad was just telling me he is thinking of buying a place in Sommerset so since you like him so much perhaps I can set you guys up!  :)
Of course I have to send you a song.  I heard this the other day and it seems to represent my feelings.  I'm kind of asking myself "where to now...," as my where to for so long has been whereever you are going.  I'm sad to not be going somewhere with you as with you is always the best and funnest place no matter where that is.
Of course I have to send you a funny as well.  Hope you like it.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Sincerely and Thankfully,

You know I am typically a very good judge of people and can anticipate actions and reactions.  But this time I drew a blank.  I really wasn't sure if I would ever see or communicate with Sandee again.  And with that I was not sure if I should be scared, sad, or angry.

And so on those drives to and from work I was haunted by the images of a life partially led over the past two years and an apparent parting that could be captured in the words of an unfamiliar song sung by a familiar voice.

"Dirty was the daybreak, sudden was the change.  In such a silent place as this, beyond the rifle range.  So, where to now St. Peter?........."

Where to indeed?  Two years ago it would have been so easy.  It would be onto the next AM accomplishment and a new story line for the blog.  But that didn't seem exactly the right course to pursue just now running back to AM so soon.

For now I could only reflect on the journey and think if things could or should have gone differently. But perhaps mostly, I thought, I should just be thankful for how things went.  It's not often you get to have a Sandee in your life.  Wouldn't it be great to just be happy for what you had at a time when you think you are supposed to be sad.

"Strange friend, I said.  Here is no cause to mourn.
None said the other save the undone years."
- W. Owen (from a "Strange Meeting")

Note:  The poet who penned this, Wilfred Owen, was killed in action on November 4th, 1918, one week prior to the Armistice that ended WWI.

Please take a listen to this beautiful, melancholy song that is in fact so enchantingly bittersweet and delightful at the same time.  Such a paradox, but I do love a good paradox!  And think about "which road (you) are on, "strange friend."


rachel-xx said...

I hurt w you when I read this. And I wanted to remember more about Sandee, so I went back in time and read all your past posts about her. Sandee seemed to really make you happy. I'm very sorry Sweetie (long distance hug).

Anonymous said...

Oh, you were right. This one required a tissue. :(
But, I'm glad you posted it, because as I read Sandees letter I picked up on a few things that I often feel in my own relationship, and your reply to her made me feel a lot better about it. So thanks. :)Hugs to you!

Max said...

Ouch.... That's a tough e-mail to receive. I think you handled it as well as you possibly could.

All the best.