There are two things about being left after a very long relationship that people don’t tell you about. The first is that the pain you feel is actually physical, manifesting in the body somehow. The second is that to get rid of it, to become whole again, you actually have to not only get over the person who left, but also shed layers of yourself in order to become something new, in order to heal.
Kiefer Sutherland was always an actor that spoke to me, he was one of the few actors that was always somehow “mine”. Maybe it was as simple as getting a teenage crush on the bad boy vampire back in the days, he has always been handsome, but there was always something more to it.
There are people you genuinely just feel at home with, school comrade that always felt like your kind of people, even if you didn’t know them very well, workmates that always just felt like they were in your corner, somehow. Stranger's you meet that somehow just seem like your people. For some reason Kiefer Sutherland was one of the few celebrities I always felt belonged “in my corner”. I didn’t see all his films, only saw one season of 24 and I didn’t follow his career especially well, but he always felt like a friendly face each time I happened to see him.
A few weeks back I had an idea for a short story (it’s turning into a novella, I think) and to set the mood I watched the movie DARK CITY, which has been a favourite of mine since I saw it in the movies back in ‘98. I always felt that it was one of his stronger roles. And thinking about this I looked him up on Twitter.
The first thing I saw on his account was an ad for a gig in Gothenburg, which is three hour drive away. I didn’t even know he was a musician. So I put his album on, the internet is a great thing and RECKLESS & ME started playing. I continued writing.
Now anyone who knows me knows I’m mostly a metal head. This is country music! But it floored me. It touched some core in me, and reminded me of the Big Sur, a place I felt very at home in.
So I looked for tickets, but they were all sold out.
Too bad, I thought. But then, as if this was meant to be, someone showed me a place were I did get a ticket and the next morning it arrived in my inbox. So I went from not knowing he was a musician to having a ticket to his gig in just about two hours, or twelve if you count the time it took for the ticket to actually arrive. Do you believe in coincidences? Are they something you can believe, or not believe in?
I drove off around one o’clock looking forward to the drive. I had all the time in the world. I ate on the way, relaxed and listened to his music. When I got to Gothenburg I quickly found the venue and parked the car so it would only take me about three minutes to walk and there I was. I walked around, took a few photos and felt connected to the universe.
Then the show. It was a rather small venue. No cover band, and when they started playing they fell right into it. Amazing showmanship, great music and so much energy and joy it was impossible not to be swept away. He had these little stories about some of the songs and how they came to be, sharing of himself in a way that artists sometimes do - especially when they're passionate about their work.
And there was one thing he said that hit me pretty hard. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, but something happened in my head as he was singing that particular song. (I think it was the song Going Home) He told the story of it and said that cliché (truth, in other words) about it being impossible to go back home.
This often occurs to me. It is especially tangible when you move far away from the place you were brought up but it’s not just expats that feel this sense of not being able to return to the home they once had. We all experience this in some form, even if we never leave the place were we grew up. It’s not that we can’t go back to the place where we used to live, it’s the fact that it has changed beyond recognition. Time has transformed it, morphed it into something new. And slowly time has changed us too, even if we don’t feel the change from day to day it’s there, all the time. Time does this to everyone, even people who stay put and so we start to miss all the things we used to be, the person we used to be around certain people, in certain places. We miss phrases, eras, people, anything that vanishes or changes, and most things do.
Time changes just about everything and therefore we fall apart. Relationships fall apart, grow in ways that wasn’t foreseeable. In the aftermath of a divorce you spend time agonising over what was, feeling such pain over the loss and the things that are no more, you spend a lot of time grieving, not only for the person who left, but for that piece of yourself that will never be the same because it died with the relationship.
But as I stood there I realised that I’d gained something, an inner peace. I’d regained a part of myself I hadn’t known had been missing for so long. And I realised that I'm feeling good. It’s over, and the now is a good place to be. I’m home again.
Time is funny that way. It takes away from us, but it constantly gives back too if you just pay attention.
Time heals all wounds, they say this for a reason. Time tears us apart too, one cell at a time, everything changes, and there are no happy endings and we’re inherently not made for this change time pushes down our throats. We’re not made for it, we suffer through it, we want things to stay the same, we crave the “same” only to realise that it’s not only impossible to achieve but undesirable as well. And we're constantly chasing that thing that gave us that good feeling "back in the days".
I’ve come full circle. I’m fine. I’m happy in my self, in the now. I’m happy to just be. I’m married to the now, not to the future, nor the past. The past is always there, constantly within us and so you can set it free.
It occurred to me as Kiefer was speaking of Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash, or maybe it was while they were performing the song, Agave, that I realised this. It occurred to me that I am home, wherever I am, at home in myself.
So maybe we'd be happier if we just forgave time its transgressions, remembered that even if it is relentless and demanding, that sometimes it gives back and if we look carefully, maybe it even brings us home again. Because it is possible to go home again, you just have to find it within yourself. Maybe if we forgive time it’s shortcomings (all puns intended), then maybe we will be better prepared to handle the things it throws at us. It sometimes even gives back things we didn’t know we’d lost.
I almost felt as if the world was moving its wheels for me, the wheels of time turning to show me that there is still a little magic left in the world, and that if the actor I always felt was “in my corner” could suddenly turn up a musician, a great one that absolutely fills me with joy, then maybe anything can happen? Anything at all?
It felt a bit magical. So forgive time. It tears you apart, but it builds you up as well and it gives you these moments, these moments of pure joy and the trick is to be at home then. The past is always going to be there, but the now is constantly passing, don’t miss it.