Friday, July 18, 2014

Wormhole to Arizona - A Place of Pain And Serenity


I had a strange thing happen a long time ago when a girlfriend who I had been living with for three years, up and moved out on me literally without any warning.  But that's all water under the bridge now.  With all of this in the past, one aspect of the experience remains poignant to me.  It was that when this was all happening (about the fall of 1993), it was extremely painful for me.  This caused me to go into a really strange place in my head, which will be difficult to describe here since I haven't completely made sense of it even to this day. 

I am not and have never abused chemical substances in my life.  The most I have ever experimented with was pot when I was fifteen, and that was only because I had a couple of friends who smoked it now and then, so I gave it a try a couple of times.  Two friends and I also took mushrooms at Disneyland once during our time at university, which was pretty interesting.  We chalked it up as a perceptual experiment.  I have pride in myself about my lack of interest in chemical substances because I had a biological father who drank excessively, so one might expect that I might have had an inclination to have either experimented with or have leaned on substances.  But I never have had the desire to mute my own pain at all.  I have always felt that surviving through pain directly strengthens me.  Having been adopted by a mother who was a child development specialist may have helped in this regard, as I was mostly open to my own feelings throughout my life.  I wasn't perfect with handling them, but that expressive channel was always there in myself.   

During the weeks and possibly months after the woman that I lived with moved out, had I been a different person, this would have been the time to have abused substances.  Believe me, I was in such pain from this experience, that I was destroyed inside.  I felt as though someone had taken a baseball bat and swung it as hard as they could targeting the glass menagerie of my heart and internal organs, and they all lay shattered as hanging shards with no hope of reconstitution.  Any person who had an inclination to take a drink, smoke dope, snort blow, or insert a needle, would have done it then without passing "Go" and without collecting a hundred dollars if they had been laden with the painful feelings that were weighing on my entire body.  But I didn't, and I never would have.  I'm not someone who would put poison into my body in order to feel better, or jump off of a building, or use any other vice to end the pain.  Somewhere deep within me I have always had the sense that as long as I am alive, I will always have the possibility of making a better life for myself, and watching the sunset on a tropical beach somewhere, hearing the ocean surf hit the rafters under me as I lay in my beach house.  Anything and everything is possible.  This, I know to be inborn in me.  I came into this world with this.  And it was reinforced from having come from virtually nothing with my biological parents and knowing even at age four that I could survive by myself on the streets while my father was passed out from whiskey. 

But those weeks and months after she moved out from me were literally terrible for me.  I was working as a Production Assistant on,"Boy Meets World," at the Walt Disney Studios, and during my very long working hours, I remember going into the bathrooms in the Zorro production bungalows and sobbing inconsolably.  I had lost the woman that I loved.  I recall one day when I had just delivered some lunch and noon-time production reports to our Sound Stage 2 crew of the Walt Disney Studios lot.  I made it there without breaking down and crying.  Upon leaving the stage, I was walking back to the production bungalows, relieved that I had kept myself together for the fifteen minutes needed to do my work on the sound stage, and then as I was walking back down one of the faux Disney lot streets, I started balling because I thought that no one was around and I could let some of it out that I had been holding in.  It wasn't the happiest place on earth for me that day.

Then, to my horror I realized that the stage manager of our production had exited the double-doored sound stage doors right behind me, had caught up to me, and was walking to my right.  She sensed right away that I was crying, and had heard about what had happened to me.  She stopped me, put her arm around me, and said, "You'll make it through this, Fred."  I thanked her and we went on.  It was very kind of her to have done that just then because in her assurance, I extrapolated that she, like every one else, had experience their own heartbreaks in the past and understood what I was going through.  The stage manager's name was, Lynn M. McCracken, and she is someone who to this day played an important role as a casual observer in helping me know at the time that I would indeed make it through the pain.  It was like having someone way up the ranks give me a stamp of approval that I was a good guy and that I would be fine in the end, which was in stark contrast to how my departing partner had made me feel.

But to finally get to the gist of this story.  During times when I was alone and without much stimulation, such as when I was sitting on a bench somewhere, or walking by myself outside, or the worst, stuck in the little loft that my girlfriend and I had lived in together, but which she had since left, I would go to this very strange place in my head.  It wasn't a hallucination or a delusion; I'd be willing to go as far as to call it a dissociated state of meditation.  It was simply a place my mind would drift off to for lack of better distraction.

The place was in the middle of the Arizona desert at night, looking almost straight up at the cold stars in a clear sky.  It was a surreal place because it was as if I was actually standing on the sand and gazing up at the last possible hint of blue crescent twilight conceding to a black starry background over a barren wasteland of loneliness.  I've thought over the years of how I could describe the experience to someone.  The only thing I could think of, which still seems mild to me, was for a person who always had spent Christmas Eve's with the good cheer of their close family and friends for their whole life to be suddenly deposited deeply into the middle of a mountain range alone on that night, and with nil warning.  I think that this experience is what later peripherally inspired me to compose a short story called, "The Inmate Out Experiment," which can be found on this blog site.

In my desert, it was as if civilization itself had dropped off of the horizon and I was there cast off as a lone human being under a vast, eternal universe.  The atmosphere was either warm with a summer evening breeze, or it was very cold, as if in the midst of winter.  I experience both of these conditions there in my head during my psychic visits.  And the feeling I had inside was of utter desolation. 

And in the abject desert silence that I would experience with each visit, whatever warm or cold wind that might be moving across the sands would literally blow through my body without regard to my own mass as a physical being.  I was unprotected and exposed to the elements of the unbounded cosmos.  I would continue to drift off to this place for the first few months after the break up, and then my visits gradually became less frequent. 

I believe that I had a very strong reaction to my girlfriend's leaving me hastily because I have some issues regarding my biological mother who abandoned me both physically and emotionally when I was very young.  So the experience that my girlfriend, the first woman who I had ever had a long, ongoing, intimacy with, put me through by virtue of her surprise exit from my life was magnified by this earlier experience.

And as for my mind's choice of location:  I am pretty sure that I conjured it up in relation to a place my girlfriend and I had previously visited.  Maybe a year earlier, we had gone to visit her relations in a small town in Arizona.  It was a town in which her grandfather worked for the government.  And somewhere either in her gramma's and grampa's small town, or during our nighttime travel to or from there, I had surely glimpsed at and been impressed by the clear, starry nighttime sky there and had filed it into my memory banks, which I obviously drew upon later. 

I have to think that the place that I would go to in my mind during that period of pain was a location and a means for me to represent the loss that I felt from my former girlfriend, and also tangentially connected with harmonic shades of emotions from my early childhood, experienced and presented in a visual way for myself.  As odd and distasteful as it would seem, somehow this very stark, calm place I went to helped me cope with that pain.  But when I think of that place even now, it feels as alien to me as it did back then.  That's a place and a pain I would rather not revisit too often again, and yet, as with so many contradictions in life, my mind slips back there every once in a while as if still being perplexed by it all.

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