Hey, I said to RK, as I leaned up against him in the back seat of the car.
“Hey yourself,” he replied, his arm around my waist. I swear to Cowboy Jesus I could fall asleep if it wasn’t for the bouncy bounce of the off-roading.
Love you lots, I said. Forever and ever.
He kisses the top of my head, and I melt.
“And I won’t stop licking my astropop ‘til my tongue and teeth turn blue
And I’ll continue to smile proudly
I’ll plant a kiss upon your mouth again ‘til your lips are sticky too
And we can stick together loudly”
Seriously, seriously. There’s nothing better than the sunset in the desert. Maybe when you add some fire – cooked steaks and mescaline, but that’s getting ahead of the game. Holy potatoes I’m so excited to be out here right now. Luis and Sally flew in from Brooklyn late last night, and they picked us up and we skedaddled on out just after lunch.
I blame it on fate. We were fated to be having our oldest friends out for a visit this week, just like I was fated to have the peyote conversation with my new bestie Ria over the Jabbers. It’s just a nice reminder of where we were, compared to where we are. I hope tonight gives me a good look at where we’re going.
You’d never guess that Lu and Sal spent almost a year separated. Or maybe you would if you were better friends. I don’t know about that, we have barely seen them since we relocated to New Orleans six years ago. I feel guilty about how we grew apart, but I feel more guilty about the fact that I don’t feel as guilty as I feel like I should, you feel me?
It seems like that happens to everyone everywhere. You go off to do a thing that’s out of the ordinary, and you start to lose touch with real life. Maybe it’s different when you have kids and a stable, immovable home or whatnot, but I just can’t relate to anyone who isn’t in a life. Any life. Wrestling, music, even just late night entertainment. I can talk to any bartender anywhere in the world because I get it. But put me next to Sal these days where she mentions TPS reports or quarterly dividends and no matter how much I try to be interested, it eventually sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher.
I look at RK’s face during this ride. We’re having a good time, we’re digging deep into our collection of in jokes and old stories, and I can see he’s torn on this trip like I am, having a really good time with some old friends but also feeling strangely uncomfortable. And I can’t speak for him, but the strangeness was at least understandable after I caught Lu’s eye in the rear view mirror.
We’re the Mirror Universe version of each other, and I’m not talking about my fabulously logical goatee.
Picture it: Sicily, 2003.
Or Madison Square Garden, at least. It’s the last show of the year for FWO, and the first match is an untelevised exhibition between Luis Gonzales and Randall Knox, two seventeen year old kids that Ivy McGinnis knew from the old country. I was backstage to watch it, and we were all quickly on our way home like two hours before the fire and terrorist attack.
It was the early aught’s – you had to be there. And it’s sort of intimidating even now to realize that Miss Ivy was legitimately running the show that night, and she was younger then than I am now. Where did I go so desperately un-mature?
But the people who ran the place were more impressed with Lu’s power game than RK’s high flying mat wrestling hybrid, and they reached out. Which was cool until he and Sal were suddenly expecting a kid just a little bit after graduation and they ended up settling for a normal life.
We are what they could’ve been, for want of a little protection or one or two extra cold showers.
And I wonder what it would’ve been like to live that life, but I know I wouldn’t be happy with it. Or if I was, I’d be a completely different person than I am now and wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. I know RK had sort of a similar split screen moment when he was preparing for his match against Angelo because Angelo has his family and he also has his career, And I know RK doesn’t begrudge us not having kids because I physically can’t, we’ve talked about it and he’s said so numerous times (plus he’s got issues with his dad that never really went away), but the what-if game is strong with all parties involved.
Wow. I’d have to stay home with the kids. Join a PTA. Drive a minivan. Drive. Become addicted to Percocet and chardonnay and the pool boy. No thank you, friends.
I’m having such a good time with PRIME Wrestling, I’d forgotten what it was like to have a sweaty, somewhat inappropriate family about. Back in DEFIANCE we had our little group of friends but that fell apart as everyone drifted away, and all of the one offs and little bits since then were… nice and all… but they were always just visiting.
You need a home and you need friendships to really make something yours. Maybe that’s why it was so easy to cut ties with New Frontier and Empire back in the day, it was just me and RK, back to back and balls to the walls. DEFIANCE was a little home, and we got to have adventures with our ragtag group of murder hobos every time out. Too many wrestling companies don’t have that, and they always fall to pieces. I think that’s why I started adopting everyone and insisting that people do things together.
It’s made it a lot easier to build a community with so few absolutely irredeemable twaddlefaces. The HOYT hairballs of the world are few and far between, we’ve got more Angelos and Timos and Ria Besties. And Champeen man, but he’s really intense and I don’t think I’m technically allowed to call him one of my magicals until after him and RK have their match. If they have their match.
I enjoy playing the clown for the PRIME krew, I feel like the peeps appreciate it. Even though we’re not traveling, and even though it’s just TVs and no house show schedule, this can be a hard existence, particularly here in Vegas. Having someone bring a little silliness to the proceedings can help a heck of a lot more than you’d realize, and since I’m naturally silly I’ve elected myself the Court Jester of PRIME. I just need to remember not to be shy.
Not a huge ask, I haven’t felt shy since we first left New York. But I think it’s good for Angelo and Nate and Timo and Brandon and The Doctor and The Bestie and and everyone else I’m forgetting about to be like, “Okay, Cally is here and Cally is Cally, so I guess everything is normal.” I just really want to give something back to these guys to thank them for making this feel so much like home.
My heart still races after thirteen years at something as simple as eye contact with RK.
He’d never say so but I know he’d prefer that some of the things I talk openly about with everyone would remain just for us, but he knows I’m an open book, and that I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve – I have no sleeves so I’m just full frontal-ing it with how I feel and think. It’s one of the many deals he’s made with himself to get through this thing we call Life With Cally.
I hope he always feels that way, because he’s the best part of every one of my days.
“Throw your hands on up, and I’ll cherish all the freedom I ignore
Throw your hands on up and I’ll celebrate this life that keeps me poor
Throw your hands on up and I’ll throw my cares away”
“Oh, we learn each day’s a killer
It’s on our faces, look around
But we’ve got to hope it makes us stronger
So just burn that white flag down”
There’s nothing like the sunrise in the desert. I’m tempted to wake up Rosie so we can enjoy it together, but she needs her sleep. All three of them do, for that matter – hallucinogens are a hell of a thing.
I don’t mind playing the chaperone – I made a choice when I signed with PRIME that this company – the mission – is what matters. It took until about thirty seconds after the match against Zion to realize that while I can still go in the ring like I’m twenty one years old, the day after the match is a harsh mistress, all too eager to remind me that I’m not. Not anymore.
It’s a deal a lot of us have had to make with ourselves as we get older – what matters more, the work in the ring or the partying and celebration of the lifestyle? World Championships and immortality can be behind either door, but on a long enough timeline, you’ll find a sharp divide in the post-wrestling life of the athletes that are able to live after the curtain closes and those that can only exist.
I was never that big on excess anyway, so I’m not missing much.
Is it just me, or does coffee taste different when a breeze is the only audible sound?
It was good to see Sally and Luis, but I don’t know when the next time’ll be. There wasn’t anything specific – there’s always been sort of an unspoken agreement of non-confrontation between us. I feel like Lu resents the career I’ve been able to build for myself, like, we came up together and worked the same gyms and wrestling school events, why did you get a break while I didn’t? And I get the idea that Rosie and I went out and had all the adventures that Sally couldn’t, because when you’re a forty year old woman with a twenty one year old son, some doors do close.
Ironic that this happened just after my match with Tom. Two separate weeks, two separate parts of my life, two glimpses of what might’ve happened with just one little twist.
They’ve got their positives, sure – but neither of ‘em are my life, and in both cases, it’s not Rosie that I’d be with. Might be Rosalyn Callasantos by name, but with kids in tow, or an office job, or any instance where she’d censor herself for unprofessional behavior? That’s not my Rosie.
I do wish more things could be just ours, but I love her lack of a filter. Mainly, I think, because while most people who say they’re just blunt and honest and don’t have a filter use that as an excuse to act the jackass, Rosie is so innocent and naive that she truly believes everyone she talks to has the best intentions and considers her just as good of a person as she considers them.
It’s funny, this is a woman who’s been mugged twice, robbed at gunpoint, harassed at the job, propositioned, followed home, and had her skull cracked by a professional wrestler, and she’s never lost her faith in people. I should be glad that most of the PRIME roster that she interacts with fall into the ‘decent’ category, and the cultists and egg bandits of the world pretty much keep to themselves, so the Jabber app seems like it doesn’t do any harm.
Even Ria. Ria, who I wouldn’t trust to turn my back on in the course of a match, I somehow feel like, despite her grumpy exterior, would probably be the first one to spring to Rosie’s defense if I wasn’t able.
This place feels more and more like home as the days go by, between managing to carve out a spot where we can exist, grow, and thrive, and having the opportunity to be in the mix for the Universal Title in and of itself. The motivation is different, but equally powerful no matter who my opponent ends up being. Brandon’s the consummate workhorse, the ‘one that got away’ if you will – and I’d love to take another shot at fixing my mistakes. Jiles is an arrogant bastard that would only get more arrogant with the belt around his waist, and that kind of superiority complex is just begging to be taken down a few pegs.
Would you look at that, self-reflection without any mescaline. Apparently, it’s possible.
“Make it take an army to back you down
Cause life’s marching on, it’s not waiting ‘round.
So get up, get off it, and break some ground.
Make your own Revolution.”
“I seriously need to wash my hair,” says Rosie. “I wasn’t going to today but it smells like another world, and also the desert.”
I leaned my face into her hair and took a sniff. Smells fine to me, I said. She laughed.
“You’re such a guy,” she says. “With no hair at all.”
And she ruffles my closely cropped head.
Hey, I said.
“Hmmm?” asks Rosie. I catch Lu’s eye in the rear view, and he gives me a tiny nod.
Love you lots, I said.
She snuggles into me closer. “Forever and ever,” she replies.
It’ll be a few hours until we’re home, but the break fades behind us and the world quickly comes into view.