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A Dog-Eared Page
A journal entry, in metaphor, from a low point.
At 3am, about 4 years ago, I woke up from a nightmare to the brutal reality of my actual life. A wedding ceremony the prior September and an unravelled life in December. I wrote this in the middle of that unravelling. What follows is a snapshot of the lowest point, when all your plans and pillars for your life were gone. With nothing of the coming metamorphosis to show for it yet. When raw emotions burn through your skin and fingers and toes, when no word is overwrought.
I’ve written a lot by now in the book of my life. By the time I was about to discover you in my story, I had an idea of the kinds of characters I might find in the world. I couldn’t have even dreamt you up. I was banging away on my typewriter and you came in. You held my hand and we painted in vibrant oils. When I got to you the colors jumped off the page, the letters danced, I saw hints of more chapters, of even more books in my epic, seeing far ahead to pages left blank with only you and I on the page, the rest to be written in golden ink.
Collaborating would be work. no doubt. A life’s work authoring a story worthy of you, of me, of us. The work of a lifetime, and I was lucky to write the fine print with you. The first book in our epic ended in color and record heat in the thick afternoon air of a redwood wedding grove. Hallucinations of love, support, hope, ambition, connection, and care danced off the page in visions of a rich life earned and celebrated. As we closed that book in our epic, we opened the next. And your vibrant colors faded fast. You wrote side stories, but still claimed you and I were the primary authors.
We had a book deal for life, so I didn’t worry. Then I tried so hard I wrote in your part for you. You felt pressured to make the words come out how I wanted. But all I wanted was to write with you, in color, again. You said we wrote together plenty. Said I was crazy.
When you ripped yourself from my pages, you took some of my favorite characters written in all colors of the rainbow. Did I ever have color in my life before you? Can these paints and vivid art ever get into the story of my life without you?
I haven’t written in the books of my life for months now. I journal on the side. Pages of black scribbles. Words crossed out. Pages ripped. Tear smudges. Papercuts.
By now the books of my life have been handled. They feel worn. I’ve met most characters by now. Nobody jumped off the page like you. I’ve read enough books to know the main characters may already here by now. That the colorful bits are bygones.
That you were my great vibrant love, but for you the pages burned too hot, the pressure too much. I re-read the dozens of narratives that make up our stories. The times I fucked up. The times you showed me patience. The time I dulled my pen for a year to learn to write a softer style to make you feel at home. The love you showed to see me as the better man on the other side. When we decided to co-author the rest of our epic, come what may.
Some days I want to stop writing. Time to stay away from bridges and waterfalls and cliffs and cliffhangers.
I dog-eared pages all over the part you wrote with me. Your bookmark is longer than the rest. I threw out the others after I met you. Your bookmark is a shiny strawberry blonde, sticking out from the part where even the pages are taller. I had to get the book remade just to fit you in.
I have to start stringing basic. letters. together. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a word. And by the end of the week, a sentence. I can work with that, I try to tell myself. Maybe in a few months, a whole paragraph of a life strung together. But a few months ago, whole novels of technicolor pages burned like sun in an august wedding grove. Our grove. Our story. Cut short.
I’ve written several new stories since then. The vibrant love I wrote about here, with hindsight, was not without imperfections (dramatic understatement). I have a draft of a longer story, less metaphor and more reality. Someday I may publish that.
In the years since, I learned a style of authorship better fit for me, or at least for me on the other side of all this pain. I ache for the past version of me that wrote this. I wish I could tell him that it would get easier, but that would be a lie. We just got better at handling it. Calloused, but not scarred. At least that’s my hope.