I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I’m shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one
And no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
So sang Simon and Garfunkel in their 1966 Top-40 hit record, “I Am A Rock.”
"I touch no one and no one touches me." Cheerful stuff, eh?
If you read blogs, you learn stuff about the bloggers. Sometimes you learn stuff you wish you didn’t know. There is another helicopter pilot whose blog I sometimes read. Unfortunately, it is nearly totally devoted to politics and his fierce hatred of Liberal Democrats. He almost never writes about flying. His anger at those he thinks are ruining this country is unsettling. You read his blog and wonder: Does this guy ever laugh? Does he go to bed angry every night? Is every waking minute devoted to thinking about politics and how screwed-up the country is becoming? It seems so. And it seems sad. Because aside from our common interest in helicopters, I doubt very much if we'd be friends in real life.
After you read this post, you may feel the same about me.
I try to keep this blog about flying, and leave my personal life out of it, except when I can exploit it for the numerous humorous fuckups I continually make. But indulge me, won’t you, if I go off in a different direction for a bit?
I’m sort of depressed lately. A couple of months ago, my friend and main motorcycle riding buddy Jacob moved away. Then a couple of weeks ago Matt and Alisha moved up to Atlanta. This past weekend, we moved Gene over to Jacksonville. In what seems like an instant, the people who are closest to me have left. The town seems so empty. The house seems empty. Or maybe it’s my life that seems that way.
Yeah, yeah, I know that if I had a family of my own (e.g. wife, kids, in-laws, etc. or even a dog) I wouldn’t be so down. But I’m a single guy and I hate pets. My friends are my family.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not exactly cloistered in Paul Simon’s womb room above. I certainly don’t read much and I goddam hate poetry. But I do have my own sort of armor. I have flying (thank God for that) and my motorcycle (more on that later). I have my “alone things.” They just seem that much more alone lately. And it sucks.
We pilots tend to compartmentalize. We’re good at it. We don’t let issues from one part of our lives spill over into others. We take great pride in that…that we can put all of our earthly concerns aside and concentrate on just flying the plane. We leave the family arguments and all the other bullshit on the ground. And it’s true. When I’m flying, nothing bothers me. I’m too busy trying to keep from making some huge, stupid mistake, usually. Just let me fly, and I’m happy. I’m not one who drones along in the sky, reflecting on my life and all the things that are wrong with it. On the contrary, when I’m flying, I love life! Some would describe it as being “in the zone,” or “in one’s element,” although they both sound horribly trite and corny, however accurate.
We pilots lie to ourselves that we can do this on the ground as well – that we can bury our emotions and/or not show them. It’s something I’ve always thought I was pretty good at. Learned to be pretty good at.
My life has always been episodic. Growing up, our family always moved around. With a total of six kids eventually, my parents needed ever-bigger apartments. Then as I got older, I went from one phase to another, place to place, never settling down, never wanting to. Friends were…well…temporary. I kind of got to thinking that’s just the way it was. It never bothered me much.
It bothers me now.
Maybe it’s the all of the failed relationships (so many that I don’t even try anymore). Maybe it was my friend Jim’s suicide nearly thirteen years ago. I never told you about that. He was another riding buddy/coworker/offshore mechanic. We were close. It’s a long story – I’ll get to it. Anyway, the problem is that as I get older, I find myself becoming more attached to people. And I’m almost ashamed and certainly don’t like to admit it, but I’ve gotten more emotional about things too. I don’t understand that last bit at all. Tear-jerker movies never moved me. I used to laugh at them…laugh! Not anymore. In my mind, I’m still the same unfeeling, contemptuous, loner bastard I’ve always been. But deep down somewhere, I know that I’m not. Something’s changed. Getting older, maybe?
Now when friends leave it hits me. Hard. Like now.
So, like the amateur psychologists we all think we are, I try to analyze myself…try to figure out why I’m the way I am. Yes, I know I should probably let a professional do it. Because honestly, I have no clue (as usual). All I do know is that my little circle of friends is gone. I do have other friends, yes of course. But I don’t see them on a regular basis – not like Jacob, Matt/Alisha and Gene who were part of the daily fabric of my life…those who I saw every day...those I looked after and those who looked after me...those who were as close to me as my own family and vice-versa. I try to pretend not to care, but I do. Life ain’t very much fun right about now.
In “I Am A Rock,” Paul Simon slowly sings the last ironic line of the song:
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries.
Meh. Maybe I’ll get a dog.