Easy’s Gettin’ Harder Every Day: Iris Dement and Dark Thoughts

Slam the door shut. Ignore the nagging feeling of disaster. Holding two small hands walk to the elevator. Press the first floor with a backpack on my back. Exit the elevator and walk to the door. And walk. Walk down the road to the train station with the backpacks and the children and a healthy dose of fear. Walk and don’t look back. Walk and never think about what the worst that can happen could possibly be. I couldn’t even imagine what the worst would look like.

Train…then another…and one more, conscious of the lack of money in my pocket. We get off at Haneda airport, and fly across the Pacific. I feel guilty for being alive. I feel guilty for running. I feel guilty for surviving. I have a fear of the future, and my lack of ability to survive it, but here I am surviving, at least so far. Surviving, unlike those I loved and will love until my heart finally gives out on me. Sometimes I wonder if those I love will be better off without me, if I am holding them back from happiness and success. I feel like an albatross around the neck of those I love, pulling them towards stormy weather. I have tried. Oh how I have tried, but I fail and fail and keep on failing, and to be frank, I wonder just how much further I can fall.

I’m riddled with arthritis, old injuries plague me from the time before I slammed the door shut on my past, and as far shut as I could get it to go on my marriage. I am still not divorced. He will not entertain the possibility. He will not let me go, and I cannot force the situation because that would mean returning to Japan, which is impossible. I would have to go through mediation in Japan, because if one partner in the marriage refuses, that is what happens over there, and this mediation can go on for years. No. I am stuck in a paper-marriage, to a man I have not even seen for almost eight years and who beat me relentlessly. Great. I can only hope I feel so dark because of this flu which is wracking my body. I can’t even see which direction the sun might come from. I fear I might never see it again.

I often feel like I am not worth the love and effort poured into me by my son and my darling friend-sister. I let myself drown in bad weather and bad thoughts. It is immensely selfish of me. I am tired and untalented. I am old and I am battered by life. Maybe I should say to hell with it all, and just give up, and sit here until there is no more giving to be done, and I have to wave goodbye to the remanents of love that are left. I have been so unwell I can’t even stay awake, leaving the kid without my company in the long dark winter evenings for the last week or so.

It is cold and dark and the year is young. There is so much harm that it can do. It has barely drawn breath yet. People have yet to fully waken from the festive season slumber. I fear this year, I don’t welcome it. I play Iris DeMent songs over my headphones. The Boy can’t bear all that country-infused melancholia. I remember days and smiles and trips and hopes that got smashed by various years that have now passed into the past. I wasted so much time. I wasted so much life. I wasted myself. I am wasted, but not in a good way, not in a fun way. Like Iris sings, “easy’s getting harder every day.” She might have dreamed of running away and not even taking her name with her…but I did it. It is not romantic, it is not easy, it is hard, and it is getting harder every day.

I was not suited to marriage, I was not suited to normality. I was not exactly suited to survival, even. I was built for nights in punk clubs and massive drug and alcohol problems. I was built to write and play guitar, and break rules and live on the outside looking in. Iris sings of a housewife bored in her little mundane existence and sure, I can relate, but that was not it. That was not it at all. My feet stood barefoot on a cold hardwood floor, with the Tokyo deluge coming down in a late summer typhoon. My husband would ask me for green tea and breakfast. My children would be yawning and demanding. I did not treasure their young days as I should have done. I treasure them now. I long for them now. Then the fist to the face. Then the boot to the ribs. The rice was cold. The tea was too hot. The rain fell. The air conditioning was on too cold. Always something. I had to run. I had to run and leave my name, leave my life, leave my damn husband, leave my doomed attempt at fitting into a normal mundanity that I felt was the only route to making the fire in my soul cool off a little. I thought I could fit my square peg body into the clichéd round hole. I thought I could make myself fit, whittle myself down a little, make myself smaller, duller and saner. It was never going to work, was it?

Iris is bored and singing her bored pretty song in that sweet little drawl of hers, but I was fatally stuck. We were not the same creature at all. I guess I am a little feistier than that. I have a little more bite than the mother in her song and my stakes were far far higher. She never made it up to Couer d’Alene , and she sings that there ‘was no chance’ of her forgetting her name. I made it not only to Idaho from Tokyo, but right across this big old land and back again, but not back there. Never back there. I think I have forgotten my name. I have a new one now. A broken shattered City of a name that is about as destitute and fucked up as I am. It suits me. Iris’s flowers died, but my garden is blooming. My cactuses are threatening to burst into bloom, my monstera is doing my proud with its single white leaf flower, little blooms are trying to poke through the winter gloom. I don’t know who I feel more sorry for, me or Iris. Perhaps she should have run, but running is not easy. Running is not easy at all, whatever happens it is all hard and getting harder. That is life. That is time. That is what happens when you have babies and a bad man in the rear view mirror and survival is not just a game to play, but the way life has to be lived day to day. Easy is getting harder every day. I need the sun to come out. I need the storm to stop. I need this infection to stop shaking my body and making my legs feel like the bones are breaking. I need to stop coughing and crying. I need. I don’t know what I need. Possibly I just need to pull myself together and stop this self-pitying jag I am on.

Yes. That is what I need. I need to refuse to let myself fall into despair and fear. What will be will be. When I am finally alone, nothing will matter at all, and I can please myself. I just wish I had done a better job of it all. The best I could, in retrospect doesn’t seem like enough at all.

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