Romanticization of distance is a swell concept, I think, but it isn't very exact. After all, it's not clear that the distant entity need become more splendid in the minds of the contemplators. The distant one only warps, I think, to fit whatever image such `plators want it to have, or more likely need it to have. For the lost and lonely Girl, Her past beloved would most likely take on more wondrous qualities, qualities to fill Her present lack. But She's neither lost nor lonely, so that's not what happened. For those locked in mortal combat, images adjust to reflect their various attitudes, conscious and otherwise, on such conflicts. Do you need the villain as your enemy, the morally bankrupt, the worthless excuse for a human -- someone the world would applaud you for destroying? Or do you require an equal, a worthy adversary, to lend nobility to the struggle and make the fight "fair?" Or perhaps you see conflict as just a mad mistake, as mass fields of subjectivity unable to connect enough to make their own purposes harmonious with each other's...
...Time it was to feel guilty and sympathetic, to draw on my own experiences so as to live vicariously through His, to imagine exactly how messed up He would be when She finally gave Him the boot. I sat there in Her room, warmed by Her glow, and remembered at length how I had reacted when it happened to Me... I mean the first time, after two-some years of relative swellness (I thought), not the times after, which were just annoying. I remembered all the energy being sucked out of Me over the thirty-second period when it first hit Me, making Me practically collapse where I stood. I was ready to sleep on X-Her lawn because I didn't feel it was worth walking the hundred yards back to My apartment. And just when some strength would start to return, usually in the form of a frothing rage, anger being the body's attempt to assert itself in such situations as still in fact being alive, I would see the face of the situation again and be knocked back into a twitching coma. Or better yet were the times when I was able to keep the anger, to vent it at X-Her even though I knew she was just doing what needed to be done. Those were certainly pretty moments, or rather weeks, as I walked around constantly listening to Elvis Costello being bitter on my walkman until it would start to screw up (as all walkMen do) and become the brunt of my rage. Then guilt, then more pathetic moping, and for the most part an inability to either concentrate or be alone, both of which tend to be useful for actual school work. The constant thoughts of the alternatives... suicide, therapy, getting in my car and driving until the whole Midwest was just a memory -- and then not even that. And SLEEP...
All this I projected on to Him, changing the faces, moving the scene to His (X-Their) house, piling on what I knew of His present already-screwed-up life, until I ended up picturing an approximation of the aforementioned bug-on-the-shoulder... a little too weak to calm Himself, a little too lazy to die. (Jeez. Now I'm quoting songs you couldn't possibly know, as I wrote them.) What are the depths of sympathy? What do I really know about Him? What I didn't know I filled in; I pictured Him in His lab staring at the big scary scientific instruments and wondering if He could use them to drain His plasma, and would that hurt? And making dinner alone, constructing one of His usual convoluted stew-type concoctions, but this time totally heedless of what was being added as He threw in dust off the fridge, piles of broken glass, lemon fresh Pledge(TM). And I was doing this; I was the Scrooge mucking up this lad's Christmas. Fuck Me. Any kicks I might be getting out of this only-slightly-more-than-casual acquaintance are as good as nothing against cost of that pain, that all-encompassing spine-rotting premature-aging-causing oh-my-God-kill-me-please PAIN.
I obviously wasn't dwelling on the fact that He's probably not as much of a co-dependent melodramatic shmuck as I am (was?), and as We fell asleep in Her room I played songs from that dark time in my life, to state His side with the same drama that I had stated mine. This was of course pointless, as I did not tell Her that that's what I was doing (It would have wrecked the mood), choosing instead to draw Her some obvious symbolic patterns so She could connect them in Her own way, bringing Herself to dwell upon Him with my support but without My particular inaccurate visualizations get in the way. I failed completely, so She still felt the burden of defending the abstraction of His interests against the force of My actual presence, and Her consequent guilt and confusion about how strong an advocate She was really being, weighing entirely upon Herself. To be sure, We hadn't actually done anything blatantly illegal, but the most dangerous flirtation, I am convinced, happens within. (<-That kind of line must by law be followed by "...And who could resist my sweet guile?" Thank you.) So so so She..., though more traditionally letter-of-the-law moral than myself, had certainly not been updating Him on every little fantasy She had been having which involved Him not being in the room, as She was not yet convinced that these flirtations with the Other constituted a real threat to Their relationship. Whereas now breaking point was about an inch away and True Lust could no longer be denied its voice.
The next day was for the most part very wonderful, which means I don't really remember it. I woke up slightly before She did, turned on the coffee machine, then sprang back into to bed -- my bed, that is -- back on the floor, taking a step back from the "tremendous inertia that would have moved I don't know where" (end of sitting 35) in the face of my new-found but quickly-rationalized (my rationalization = "Life sucks. Oh, well.") sympathy. I remained half asleep but cheerful, too tired to even consider going to class with Her today, until She was gone, then dozed for several hours in Her afterglow until I was shiny. Shower, Shave, She-think over a warm guitar, and off to type my heart out `till She finds Me and reminds Me that I am mortal and must eat. Yes? You following? You feel suspense building? Ay, much suspense! ...And the sun sets, and grows dark, and evil came to perch a few time zones over... I mistook Her shock for casual everydayness as We walked after Her night class from the computer center where She had just E-mailed, or rather received E-mail, from Him: His response to a comment of Hers delivered earlier in the day while I slept.
"Pretty strong E-Mail, there." She seemed not quite shaken, but certainly disturbed, as if sensing a distant train wreck.
"Is everything okay?" Something forgettable like that was said.
"He says if I care about Him at all, I'll get you out of my apartment."
She had finally felt it necessary to tell Him that She was finding me attractive, that She was having to look outside Their relationship for support, and this was His reaction. I immediately clicked into analytic philosopher mode and asked questions like "Is He in any position to give ultimatums at this point?" and "Are you going to accept that as an ultimatum?" I parried and jabbed and parried at every angle that I thought might be open to attack.
She responded to my sharpness with more sharpness. "I'm not going to cross Him for you. My loyalties lie with Him."
Well, if I wasn't going to be living with Her, there was no point in My staying in Alaska at all, as my point was to visit her, and neither of us had transportation. Dammit I would get a flight back for the next day if I wasn't wanted. And no I wasn't giving her an ultimatum. It's just that if by living somewhere near-by we ended up hanging around together all the time anyway, then the spirit of His demand wouldn't be complied with, and if we didn't, then there was no point in my being there, so either defy or lie to Him or give in, but dammit do one of them, and don't pull more of this half-deception I'm-obeying-you-in-what-you-say-but-not-what-you-really-want bullshit. Dammit, if we're going to lie to him then let's lie, and you can tell him I'm gone while we're actually sleeping in the same bed. Dammit.
"Are you using the phone?" She asked.
"No, I can't find the number to call about changing my reservation." I had made a feeble attempt to call this but ran out of steam and lay back half-conscious in a chair next to the phone. She disappeared with it into Her room and shut the door. Many minutes went by, hours maybe. Her roommate came home; DOGS ran in and out; the sky outside the window flickered with strange colors for a while and then stopped. I lay immobile. I considered just walking out, but was slightly too responsible to do so. Finally the energy came back, and I marshaled my forces. She would calm Him down, make Him recant. And even if She didn't, it would be okay. Even if I had to stay at a youth hostel for the next week and a half. And I would play by Her rules and stand the small deception, which admittedly is much different than large deception (being bigger, you see). And yes, I would stand by Her and try to walk the thin lines She needs Me to. Because I care. Whatever makes Her happy. I wrote a song then and there with that title, busting in on Her phone conversation to get my guitar, and then again to get my tape recorder. Whatever makes you happy. Whatever makes you happy. Whatever makes you happy, I will perform. The song started out fairly hurt and hostile, forcing the abstraction of "what's right to do" upon my resentment at being asked to do it, but gradually I internalized it. Just be okay, my Love. Just be okay. I will stay with you in the way you need me to. I finished my song as Duke watched, made Us some dinner, served it to Her at Her post, and relaxed, getting into a conversation with Her roommate which had me defending arrogant hypocrite para-intellectuals as being a much lesser evil than their ignorant anti-intellectual counterparts, because at least the former have hope for a cure, while the latter have to just die off and hope the next generation wasn't too screwed up by their influence.
She emerged in the middle of this and kept generally quiet but not upset as We all finished eating and otherwise taking up space in the living room. Then the two of Us went out to see the DOGS, who for the first time since that awful night were all loose again. It was dark this time, and many of them (including Bear) had already disappeared into the surrounding acres of forest. Buster attached himself to Her leg; Samantha stole some sort of rawhide chew-thing from Sugar Dee which the latter spent the whole of her subsequent energy trying to recover. I turned to Her expectantly.
She speaks: "You are so wrong. We didn't go out that night; I was totally exhausted that night, so we just sat in the living room and you sang to me for a while, and then we talked and that was it, except for us talking more in my room."
"What? So when did I do the stick thing?"
"I think that was a couple days before; you were reacting to your friend telling you that he was getting married."
"What? No. That weirded me out, but not that much. It was the fact that you totally took His side."
The verdict, wherever I received it, was that there was no verdict. He had admitted that His initial reaction was rash, but was still uncomfortable with my presence. She would E-mail Him more tomorrow. She did think it was pretty harsh, though, for Me to actually fly back early. If I had to move out, We'd find someplace close, and if We couldn't find someplace close, I wouldn't have to move out. I still felt that my earlier arguments against moving out made sense, but I merely nodded.
"Did you still want to run tonight?" I asked.
"No. I've got some stuff due tomorrow and it's already late."
"Well, I need to... too much stray energy."
And then She said something... something that's been blocked from my memory, that set me off. Something that made it clear that nothing was going to change, that She couldn't bring herself to force Him to really deal with anything no matter how much She (and I) needed Him to. We had been in the woody area behind Her apartment, but split up to cross around to the front. I just kept walking... down a path to the main road and along that... just walking.
"I had been on the phone with Him, and you asked me if I had mentioned anything about us, and I said I couldn't bear to because he was so stressed about school that I think He was, like, partially crying on the phone. I told you; it was before I told Him."
Whenever it was, I knew We had hit the nastiest part of the Late Middle stage... or was it the End? Stupid-ass attempts to organize my experience. I don't care where in the fricking scheme or the calendar or part of the geography it happened or what in particular triggered it... It was the frigging climax, and it happened. It had to happen. And the barriers were all I could see. Her loyalties are with Him. It doesn't matter what I do, how well I behave, whether I live or die. Fists strike only air. I turned from the road and looked into the forest. The trees were thick and quickly got thicker. I considered just heading straight in, but decided against it. I knew it would eventually open up to some residential area, but I didn't know when. Of course, that was precisely the appeal: to walk straight into where it would be quite possible to become lost, missing... to lie down under a tree and disappear into the night. The wood opened, and I entered.
|© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer||[ Contents ]|