As I get older I'm finding that life is slowly becoming a daily event where I find myself standing on a dock, waving to all that was and is still dear to me that somehow has taken on the symbolic image of the ill-fated passengers aboard the departing Titanic.
To the casual observer it would seem that there is nothing there but a series of rudimentary life events in the guise of merrily waving passengers blithely bidding me adieu.
But upon closer examination you would discover that it is, in truth, every single aspect of my life pulling further and further away. Things that I have either outgrown or have outgrown me ready to slowly sink, like the a full bellied sun into the bottomless pit of the horizon. My specific and very real past it seems has the exact same fate as the actual passengers of the doomed vessel.
Life, it turns out, is the inevitable iceberg , the one that will permanently sever the arteries that connect me to the things I hold dearest, like my kids. In my mind's eye, foolish as it may be, I still look at my kids and see a two and four year old in an inflatable pool splashing like gleeful seals, snubbing their noses at the future choosing, along with dad, to remain young forever. They will always I think, want to snuggle with me, toasty from the sun, their sweat matted hair doused by endless activity, their rubbery baby bodies limp, warm and tender in my arms as if they are as boneless as the stuffed animals that they cling to as I to them.
I linger there now, in memory, even as the ship has long sailed away. I'm alone on the dock enveloped by the mist of memory.
I hear from my grown up kids now and then, more than now, just like the curt, dot/dash Titanic telegraph missives that eventually met shore. There is not, evidently, much to share or discuss.
It seems sometimes that we're friends and allies and sometimes enemies. I feel on occasion, like I'm England to their rebelling colonies as they forge and insist upon their declaration of I'm a grown up independence and I'm nothing more than mad King George, who is slowly losing his grip on sanity and reality and can no longer enforce the once upon a time immutable laws that they used to follow as if they came from God himself.
I don't mind really, losing my sanity, as I am a writer and I get to reconnect the dots daily that lead me back to some form of mental equilibrium via whatever I'm scribing at the moment.
But losing power and influence is at times heart wrenching. It's hard enough that nature has fully abandoned the concept of nurture when it comes to anyone past 50. TV networks and movie studios blatantly turn their backs on us. They are in the 18-49 business and collectively have decided that they no longer love you or me.
Everyday I go from being a parent...to transparent.
I become a little more invisible; a little less there.
I have to fight my way back, like a Norse Viking, every single day, via what I write in order to openly declare myself still relevant and simply, like the vital Elvis, in the house.
When you are young, your name is on the list at the club and the big burly bodyguard unclasps the velvet rope and lets you in with a shit-eating grin of recognition a nod of respect. But as you start to fade into grey, unless you trick him with plastic surgery, an Abercrombe and Fitch outfit or a good dousing of hair dye, you are going to be left standing in the rain.
That's about the time that your kids become more brazen and even, at times, angry, for all the things that you did not do or did not give them and suddenly the Arch Duke Ferdinand of your life is assassinated and a World War begins.
Your kids, the very ones who burrowed their heads deep into the clay soft center of your heart and helped mold your rubber soul, prefer now to pound away at you with a symbolic Thor-sized hammer, until you burst like a parent sized penata.
When you look into the mirror the image that welcomes you is often a complete stranger: especially in the mornings when your pillowed face gives you the same look as a much older Shar pei. It's odd when your own reflection is a bewildering. It's not like your trustworthy shadow, which always has your back and pretty much stays the same as long as you stand erect and are in motion.
So you have to make friends with new to the world person that you see before you and it never feels quite right, because it simply does not match the framed picture of yourself that is still alive and beaming deep inside the age resistant part of your brain that refuses to yield or consent to change.
We all feel it. Men are not exempt to the Nora Ephron neck. We are just as saddened and neurotic and vein as you women are. We hate that we look like a pet that may have to be put down soon. We hate that we have the same basic body shape as the Laughing Buddha. Just like cars, we go from perky new engines and dingless bodies to leaking oil in the driveway. It's a fact of life. And I think our kids actually hear the sounds of our diminishment and it scares the hell out of them because they know deep down inside, that you are still the wind beneath their wings, even though they would not admit it in a million years---especially if you suggested it because another part of being older is being told how wrong you are at an hourly rate.
The best part of losing your hearing is sometimes you don't hear the nasty shit that your kids say and that is a blessing. Brain hum thankfully often turns into hand clapping Beatles songs, random thought or foggy daydreams and does not suck actually. It's like suddenly you're a kite taking flight, sailing, far, far away, into the clouds that dot an otherwise seamless Gatorade blue sky.
Day-to-day is hard. We live with our life partner: discomfort (both physical and emotional). Things like bulging discs or bunions do not simply go away, like in childhood magic healing times. The thing is what we really need is to be the child sometimes. We need to have sweaty heads that get to burrow deep inside our mommy and daddy's soft places. We need someone to shush and assure us that it's going to be okay.
But that's just another ship that has sailed. One of many in our fast escaping fleet.
My dad died when I was just 25. My mom when I was 52. So I have been on the orphan track for a few years now. And all I seem to do now is suit up for battle in oxidizing armor and try to survive one more day.
Don't get me wrong: life is not terrible. I get to write whenever I want: a reward for 30 years of writing service in the Hollywood wars plus I have the most amazing friends who help to support me in all possible ways as I them. Friendships deepen and mean more of late. I seem to care more passionately about everything and often find myself almost insanely empathic.
When the Yankees lose I often wail like a recent middle eastern widow.
And as for my kids? I feel like the only way to get closer to them is to let them go and stop trying to pry myself into their lives like I'm trying to open a giant crate of daddy love.
I pretty much treat life like it's an all your can eat buffet at the Sizzler. I graze. I pick. I luxuriate in the few things that taste sublime. I try to stay away from the TV grid because it looks, to me, too much like the Metro North train schedule and I fear that instead of watching Dexter, I will somehow wind up in New Haven.
I don't watch reality shows (other than Survivor) because I identify too much with them: all that public humiliation at the expense of others. I Kindle read. Book and newspaper and magazine read because the touch of paper still thrills me and makes me feel like I was part of the process.
I like to play with pens which to me is a form of CPR because I feel that now that some schools are no longer teaching cursive, so pens are just a click away from certain death.
The hardest part of all is watching things that were once important to me become, almost instantly irrelevant. Johnny Carson. Bob Hope. John Lennon. George Harrison. Anything made by Sony, the bells of the Good Humor truck, the purring of a telephone dial, a human being operator on the other end of the connection, the click of an old remote, the sound of trying to tune in a good FM station, the sound of gabby radios on the beach. It's like all that was personally sacred was nothing more than pentimento. It's like God has wiped away his original intent in order to get to the trendy, this just in, schematic drawing of life. Man makes plans, cosmic architects laugh.
So no matter how painful or challenging, it seems that I will have to re-paint my own personal canvas, my own life, while quietly mourning all the lovely things--which was almost a Twinkie---that are vanishing by the second like falling stars and soldiers and the hand of your child when you cross the street.
I often wonder if future generations will care about anything that I cared about if they only read about and not experience them. I am grateful that everything I loved was not preceded by an "i." There was no iwalkman in my life because back then companies like Sony did not openly consider me a small "i" the way that Steve Jobs did.
And maybe that's what the battle is all about; the one that I fight every single day and night.
I militantly refuse to become a small "i."
I am a devout "I" who will not see "i" to "i" with anyone--not my kids, not my readers, not the people that I sell scripts to. I am "I" just like The Man of La Mancha and "I" will continue to wear the badges of my personal accomplishment on my sleeve like the proudest of scouts. "I" will be defIant. "I" will not go softly into the day or night. "I" will be like all the LGBT armies that have fought, rightly so, for equality and marriage. I've seen pictures of way older lesbian couples,well into their 80's and 90's who got married after being told: sorry: you don't exist for decades. "I" will look for things that will InspIre me; make me feel passionate and alive. And "I" for an "I." In the end: that's all there is: and you know what? It feels great: and eventually, some day, may years from now, I will get to eat dinner at 4:00 at a really good price.