Between Shadow and Smoke: A Memoir

The moribund grave of sin and self-loathing that I have dug for myself is cavernous; it walls scaled high by the layers of foolish pleasures. Iím mid-aged now, and already I feel the end closing in about me, dark clouds forming in the valley just beyond my most recent crisis. Was it my selfishness and my supercilious nature that spelled my undoing? Was it my lack of regard for the needs of others?

Can I blame it on a mind beclouded by years of drug abuse? Was it the protracted state of denial, my shameless appetite for sex or my prodigious thrust for approval?

Gone is the five-bedroom Victorian two-story in the suburbs and the two cars. Gone too is my sense of self-worth, let alone any respect that I may have garnered from my co-workers and friends. Friends, now thatís a joke. I never had any, really.

Lots of casual acquaintances along my primrose path had passed for friends, but never a friend in the lot. Maybe thatís because I was never truly befriended a single soul. Not a one.

To anyone who has befriended me, my name has become synonymous with disappointment. As for coworkers, I no longer have a job, not one I can live off anyway. My car has been repossessed and my three children no longer make inquiries, unless of cause Christmas or a birthday is drawing near. But, I guess I had that coming too. My two stepchildren told me in no uncertain terms, ďYouíre not our father so you canít tell us what to do, so why donít you just go.Ē

Years ago, I walked out on my three adorable children in search of the effigy of happiness. I had made a solemn promised to each of them while they slumbered blissfully in their cribs. I vowed that stars would desert the heavens before I left them to face a cold, unforgiving world alone. So much for vows because thatís precisely what I did. With all of my years of serious study, efforts to education others, and the pursuit of academician credentials: Iíve never learned the meaning of the word fidelity. Honesty, devotion and sacrifice were tragically missing from of my repertoire as well.

How did I get to this wretched place maligned by the shadows of iniquity and clamminess of self-deprecation? A murder of crows has descended down upon my field of dreams. The timorous scarecrow, that is my inner self, stands idly by while my spiritual harvest is ravished by thousands of tiny, ravenous beaks.

I have used people and they have used me and I have been too blind and too stupid to know it.

I am circumscribed by debt and couldnít obtain credit enough to purchase the hole in a donut? My good health is beginning to suffer from years of ďexperimentingĒ with lifeís little helpers and then washing them down with ample amounts of inebriation. Binging on drugs and alcohol had become my perilous aversion from reality.

Taking the easy way out has cost me my pension after nearly twenty years at a teacher, I have next to nothing to live off of after Iíve cross the finish line. I have squandered a more than modest salary with no thought to my golden years.

I married badly, no wretchedly. Which ended the only way that it could have, with pain and suffering all around. The one woman who stuck by me through it all has yet to be makes an honest woman. Like all the others, she has received only the promise of a good life.

Buried in a deep, dark cave of dreadful despair, where the sympathetic voices of strangers are the only cure for feeling of alienation. I found gratification in lust, not love. The touch of a forbidden thigh, a stolen kiss my only salvation.

I offer no apologies and have few regrets concerning the life that Iíve lived because, to some degree, my life chose me. Okay, it was my choice to lie, to steal, and to hurt the very people who loved me the most by betraying their trust, but then there were all the mitigating circumstances.

I have unleashed my share of wrongdoing into the world. For that I have paid and continue to pay a karmic retribution. From me, the devil has deducted his pound of flesh. But I have also contributed a fair amount of joy and laughter into the world, as well. For that, I have been rewarded and continue to be rewarded. The light of my divine soul flickers faintly in the face of a hellish gale. Nevertheless, it still burns, and where there is light, there is life, and where thereís life thereís hope.

This book is a testimony to the healing powers of that hope.

Only the truth matters now, or as much of it that remains unsullied by the gauzy veil of my faulty perception. Sometime an embellished portrait of truth is all we have to go on. Oneís personal truths told to self and others become the pretentious ground on which our world rest. Reflections and remembrances twisted into a cadre of fibrous strands bounded into a self-image.

This assures that my stories are fact and fiction, real and imagined, lies and gospel.

Already my literary legs are sagging under the weight of reservations; my mouth is too dry to swallow and stomach flutters with anticipation of a journey to the furthest region of my past. A past that until now, Iíve only visited by way of nightmares. The thought of holding the actions my loving parents, who are both deceased, up to light of scrutiny terrifies me.

But, the thought of examining my own deleterious thoughts and misdeeds frightened me even more. So much so, that I thought of scraping the project more than once. However, in the end, I knew that I have no other choice but to plunge head long into the icy, but often healing waters of life. I pray that absolution and spiritual expurgation lies in wait at the other side, waiting to caress me, suckle me and restore me.

In addiction to the therapeutic reasons, and the compelling urge to tell my story, I revel in the thought of revisiting my childhood and all its tragedian twist. I long to again set eyes on the salubrious faces of my youth, I miss them so. I dearly miss them so.