I was sitting on the rock wall overlooking the fishing boats at seaport village. It was night; the city lights reflected on the water, and two ducks swam in unison and silence side by side. My mind twisted and contorted reality in their wake, and I decided it was a sign of true love. I thought of her, the other one… and it brings so much shame to acknowledge it, even now, so many years later, and again… even now knowing what an amazing trajectory it put my life on after. Two ducks, side by side, swimming through the murky dark waters of the harbor on that early summer night. Together.

Later that night drunk on the thoughts I sent a text message to her about the ducks. The butterflies eating away at my stomach, partly out of nerves, and again possibly my guts refusing to watch me abandon my virtue. She replied, “Am I your Fatimah?”

“Yes.” And I believed it.

The next day was a blur of doubt, anxiety, lust, and passion catalyzed in the sands of crazed love making on the beach and ending in sweaty naked bodies covering one another in the bed–irrationally mumbling about true love and Disney endings. My actions that day setting into motion a series of life altering decisions that rocked the very foundation of everything I thought I wanted, and everything about who I thought I was, and what I thought I wanted.

Over the following month my life unraveled uncontrollably before my very eyes. It was a disaster that I watched unfold, passively, as things went totally beyond my control. The shame. The guilt. The anxiety. The discontent. I could hardly look at myself in the mirror, and I couldn’t face the bombardment of text messages coming from both parties. More and more people got dragged into it, and before I knew it my life really was falling apart. All my friends, the support group in recovery I’d built–it was shattered before me. People were disgusted with me. I was disgusted with me. And so sometimes, whether this is right or wrong, the best thing isn’t to try and fix things, but instead to just walk away, and I did just that; I walked away.

A year later I stood on the summit of Mount Whitney, having accessed it from the East Buttress. It was the most badass thing I’d ever done in my life. I drove all over the country, and I became the person I’d always dreamed of being, and doing the things I could never actually imagine doing but always wishing to do. And then one day it came to an abrupt stop. It was like in Forest Gump when he just decides to stop running, “I’m gonna go home now.”

So again I sit on the brink, the insanity as thick and potent as it’s always been, and I think of ducks, and water, and alchemists, and mountains, and the mistakes of youth that I wish not to repeat as a man. Two ducks swimming through the murky waters of life. I think of loyalty, endings, and beginnings, and I wonder where I stand. What would I do now? What shall I do now?

One duck, navigating the murky waters of life on this warm Fall night. Retrospect is a mother fucker. But I’m even more of a mother fucker. Watch me destroy myself in pursuit.

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