“Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything.” –Ray Bradbury
So I drove to the bank today and took out a bit of cash. The sole purpose for this was to buy a couple of debit cards, the better to pay for my airline tickets to London, England and back again. I don’t do credit cards. A bad experience with medical bankruptcy has left me a bit gun shy along those lines. I might have to eventually break down and actually do the credit card thing, but for now I’m fine without. Except when I want to do something like take a trip and get the tickets online. I’ll be doing my first ever trip to Europe in a few months, heading over to attend a convention and spend a few extra days doing publicity for Seven Forges, my new fantasy novel, and seeing a country I have wanted to see for as long as I can remember. It is a trip that I am very much looking forward to, and it is genuinely a necessity in my eyes. The convention is a chance to do business and cement a few more connections. We’re going to try to work in a few book signings at the same time and, of course, I want to see London.
And as I was driving I got all kinds of stupid and started thinking about life. Really, if I focus on writing or work related stuff my world stays a bit less complicated. I know it’s a defense mechanism, but I’m mostly okay with that as mechanisms go. After I’d picked up the debit cards I realized (speaking of work) that I had taken the store keys home with me. It’s not the end of the world, there are other keys, but it’s inconvenient for the other people there, so I headed for the job and realized that I had to slow down a bit. See, I try not to get to work with tearstains on my face. What? I told you thinking about life is never very wise. In particular I was thinking about England and Great Britain and how Bonnie always wanted to go there. And, damn, just like that the waterworks started.
That doesn’t happen quite as often these days. I guess what they say is true; the pain never goes away, but it changes. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Bonnie. Not too many weeks go by that someone doesn’t ask after my wife. That’s the side effect of working in retail; you forget some of the conversations you have and how many people know little shreds of your life. That’s okay. If they were secrets I wouldn’t share them at all. I have a few secrets, we all do, but by and large they stay close to my withered, little heart. Not that this is about secrets. It’s just about keeping up.
I’m going to England, a place I always thought I’d eventually get to. But until just very recently I never considered that I’d get there without Bonnie. Honestly, I know a lot of couples take separate vacations and the like, but I very seldom take honest-to God vacations, and most times if I could squeeze the money together, I took Bonnie with me everywhere I could. Why? Because I suppose I must be strange, but I always liked having the love of my life with me when I was experiencing new things. It wasn’t just my new thing: it was OUR new thing if that makes any sense at all. I liked experiencing new things with her. I liked that we shared our lives on as many levels as possible, the good and the bad alike. As I have said before and likely too often, that hardly makes me unique, but I remain puzzled by the people who find they would rather not spend the best of the new times (and the worst, I suppose) with their loved ones. And I say that as a confirmed loner. Don’t misunderstand that term, by the way. I don’t think loners always like to be alone. I just tend to think they are often better at being alone than a lot of people. If you’ve ever met one of those people who doesn’t seem at all comfortable in a room full of silence, you know what I mean. I may not always like myself—I doubt there is anyone who isn’t painfully shallow who can claim they always like themselves—but I am always comfortable with myself. I remain, as always, a work in progress and I have at least progressed that far in my existence.
Still, here I am going to England for the first time and going without Bonnie (I’ll be attending with one of my best friends, a fellow writer.). I think I’m okay with that. On the one hand, I’d rather go with her. On the other, I guess I’ll be going for both of us as much as that’s possible. I know that virtually every time I run across a sight I have never seen I will think about her and I will wonder how she would have reacted. How do I know that? Because I find myself doing that already. Or still, of you prefer. There’s a part of me that still says, “Bonnie would like this,” or “I can’t wait to tell Bonnie about this.” Even after a few years there’s that part of me that can’t wait to share with her. So I do, as best I can. And I will when I go to England. When I do the touristy stuff. I’ll be sharing with her as best I am capable. And likely I’ll take pictures, because that’s something she loved to do and that I have always loved doing. Probably it annoys the hell out of some people that I love taking pictures, but there it is. I’m a little weird. I genuinely enjoy looking at photos that people have taken of the places they’ve been. One of my very good friends went to Paris a few years back and I spent about an hour looking over the plethora of shots she’d taken, some with me in mind, of a cemetery and a few of the sites worth seeing in that particular city. I enjoyed the pictures in part because some of them were taken with me in mind and in part because my friend was willing to share a memory with me. I never once said I was normal, people. Just you remember that.
It’s several months between now and the trip to London and the surrounding areas. Still best to take care of some things in advance, so I bought the tickets. They cost a bit, but it’s a business thing and I’ve accrued some vacation pay, so even when I’m off on my adventure, I’ll be getting paid. I rather like that notion. It takes the sting out of spending a good deal more on myself than I’m used to. Yes, it’s a business trip, but still the cost of that trip is close to the cost of a month’s rent and the part of me that was raised to be frugal quivers in dread at the expenditure. It’s a big part. I’m working on it. When I factor in the business I managed to generate from the last major convention, I think I can allow myself a little leeway.
But I digress. What this comes down to is a continuing attempt at baby steps. I’m never quite as comfortable spending money on myself. Not unless it’s a necessity. I mean, when it comes to my clothes, I am definitely a department story junkie. Bargain bins make me happy. All the scandal going on about Abercrombie & Fitch right now? Means nothing to me. I’ve never been in an Abercrombie & Fitch store and certainly see no reason to start. Besides, nothing that particular company sells would fit me. I may be getting into shape, but it’s a slow process and my waistline remains just north of tragic. Again, I’m a work in progress.
Mostly these days I’m staying as busy as I can. I’ll be off in a little while to see a movie with a couple of my siblings. Like me they are often solitary creatures, but now and then we still manage to spend a little time together.
I am moving forward I suppose. Again, as I have said before, the only other option is stagnation and I am not at all fond of that notion. I backslid a bit on the diet control and exercise thing, but I’m back on track now, working out every day and eating for fuel more than for pleasure. I will find other ways to keep myself amused, preferably the sort that don’t cause cardiovascular issues or a serious gain in the size of my pants.
It has been a very good year on the writing front; in part because of the convention I attended last year, the same one that I am attending again this year. In part because a lot of the works I had already been plugging away at finally sold and because, maybe, the publishing field is losing a little of the turbulence that has rocked it so violently for the last couple of years. Or maybe I’m just being optimistic. I’ve been accused of that more than once, hard though that may be for many to believe.
And on a couple of occasions I’ve actually had conversations with women who seemed remotely interested in me. That’s a nice notion. I haven’t done anything actively about it, but maybe sometime soon. You never know.
It is what it is.