Receiver

I have decided my novel is actually three novels. Never Get Back is now the Never Get Back trilogy. The third installment will take on the full line from the song as its title, which I only ever went away from because there’s already a book on Amazon with that title, but I think that one’s a nonfiction book and anyway I still like it enough to use it. I Don’t Care if I Never Get Back. That’s book three. The second book is inevitably The Old Ball Game, which is about as fitting a title for that section of the story as I could ask for. But what to do for the first.

First I was tempted to go with Take Me Out for the first book, sticking with references to the song, but I’m having trouble imagining how that applies to it, which, being the first, is the one I’m trying to complete now and start sending off to agents. I have just tonight maybe come across another one that I like, but I don’t want to record it here. I don’t want to burn that bridge, or jinx it. It’s an oblique baseball reference, still, though there’s not a whole lot of baseball going on in this book.

It’s not baseball season anymore, though, is it? I mean it is, but my two favorite teams (and my pathetic fantasy squad) are out of contention, and so I’m clap-slapping the dust from my hands and moving on. Last year my good buddy back home in Ohio put together a fantasy football league, which I agreed to participate in despite not having followed professional football for half a decade. I managed a rather mediocre sixth place finish, but this year I’m much more prepared. Our draft is today, and by all accounts the best strategy is to take a running back first, if you can help it. Everybody says to do this. You need that good solid running back to build the rest of your team around. They’re the most reliable source of points, they accumulate more practically every time they touch the ball, and they are going to get touches because even in today’s pass-crazy, gunslinging offensive schemes, you still have to run the ball once every few downs to keep the linebackers honest.

All the same… I have this overwhelming impulse to take a wide receiver first. Could throw a wrench in the gears, shake up the whole system, make everyone else scramble around, trying to figure out what strategy I’m playing. Of course there’s the possibility that external reasons that could force my hand, like what if the first seven or eight or nine picks are all running backs, and the next best player on the board is actually a wide receiver, but alas, it’s my turn, and I don’t have my stud running back yet. Is it still crazy to take that receiver? Many would say yes, but sometimes you need to do things like this, to make the move no one expects you to make, even if it seems doomed to fail. It’s good for you, probably. Right? Keeps you on your toes as much as everyone else. Sometimes the danger is for the danger’s sake alone, there aren’t any good reasons besides, nothing but your own internal scale of necessity, like to stay the course and play it conservatively and go the sane route would upset that unseen precarious balance, it would tip the scales and drive you insane. Maybe. Feels like it would, at least. You could ask a hundred people what you should do, and they all might say what?? no way, you’re crazy, you can’t make that move right now, at this time in your life, are you serious? and all you can say back is like, I’m sorry, man, I have to. It’s like I don’t even have a choice in the matter.

Nothing more tedious than predictable unpredictability. 

I’ve received several comments from people I don’t know since this journey with Alex started. I never know how to respond, so mostly I don’t, but they always are worth the effort they took to record them, I promise you. I want so much to be able to talk to people who don’t know me, to make contact like that. So if the comment starts, “You don’t know me but…” I’m already hooked.

I suppose I should offer an update: Alex is done with his oxygen, done with his monitoring. Often I will hold him facing away from me, sitting in my palm, reclined against my chest, and we’ll do laps around the center wall between our kitchen and living room, while the bottle warms or to calm him down or just because. We’ll do laps like he’s driving an Aaron-car, and I’ll make the appropriate noises. Vroom-vroom, and such.

His laser eye surgery was a success, by all accounts, by which I mean the one account, the doctor’s who did the thing. His follow-up chart, where he makes notes and draws on a little circle representing Alex’s retina, showed looped squiggles all around the borders, like the hair on a Charlie Brown character. It turned out this stretched-out Slinky pattern was not shorthand for something, this is the line he drew with the laser inside my son’s eyes, this is exactly what he was going for, and, upon reviewing his work, could see the evidence of, still, and was pleased with what he saw.

I didn’t let myself think about it much before the surgery, but I suppose the laser really is just a focused beam of light, i.e. a pinpoint of heat, intensified with mechanical precision at the perfect spatial coordinate to give the doctor egress into the eye, passing through the lens and cornea and junk, the wave crescendoing only exactly where it needs to, like a magnifying glass catching the sunshine that will burn a leaf or an ant or the back of your brother’s neck if you’re sneaky, but you can wave your hand beneath it at a different elevation and not feel a thing. The squiggle pattern, I’m assuming, was probably for the mathematical redundancy of it, in case the laser didn’t perfectly burn a particular cluster of cells enough to stop them from growing all gnarled and out of wack, in which case there would also be another burned line either closer or further away to maintain coverage, as it were.

I’ve been pondering the concept of love a lot lately, what it is, how it works, and a thing I keep coming back to is a lesson I’ve learned from one too many break-ups, which is that Ed Sheeran is not correct. ‘Give me love’? No no no. I mean, that’s fine and all, but what really hurts when the relationship crashes and burns is that you’re left with no one to receive love from you. You don’t get to perform the act, the motion, the presentation anymore. It’s a pointless existence. You’re left without a purpose. You start to forget things, like which ice cream flavor you like most, or the current day of the week.

My boy, you are my purpose. You will be a receiver all your life. I just want to make you aware. You don’t get much of a choice in the matter, either. As long as I remain a sentient, extant participant in this human comedy, I will continue to lump your plate full to capacity with the mashed potatoes of my devotion. Your heart will never go hungry. I promise you that.

2 responses to “Receiver”

  1. Aaron, thanks for sharing your family with us!I love the blue/white art that goes with this essay. Are you an artist as well as a writer? Inquiring minds want to know!

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  2. Oh my God. I’ll buy the damn book regardless of name. That last part, the receiver part, you just caused my throat to close with emotion. The last year of my dad’s life, as he was slipping into madness, I lived with him and my mother and my life had a new-to-me purpose, kids grown and unmarried as I was. When he died in hospice after 33 days of not eating, my purpose was gone. It was awful. It took a year before I felt as if I could love anyone again. I didn’t understand why until you said it.

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