Wednesday, November 14, 2007


It’s not often I am touched by the words of others. At the risk of sounding shallow myself, I tend to find mere words just that - shallow and without the force needed to move a soul already weighted down by the realities of life. That makes me sound grim but don’t be fooled, I am not grim. Just at this point in my life I have seen and heard and read and said billions upon billions of words. Words have to work hard to impress as their power wanes over the lengthening years. They batter my rocky surface unceasingly but still I remain firm and unyielding.
It was the words of someone important to me that rent the surface. Not simply because they were well-written, but because it gave an insight on how this friend is structured mentally – emotionally even - and how they came to be who they are. A mystery I’ve often secretly tried to solve. It was interesting to see the reflection of the adult that I know in a story about them as a child which I can never know. It filled in an incomplete tapestry that I had been painting in my own mind, pieced together from clues that I pick up littered along the path of our friendship during the short time that we have known each other. I feel safe to say that after what I learned, my painting was far from accurate. Not in the way that a child’s painting is accurate in spirit and concept but not in the details, but rather inaccurate in the way you might try to draw a cabbage and it ends up being a boot.

All of this got me thinking about how I came to be, and my own childhood and what events might have shaped me. It made me ponder my qualities and where they came from. There are some things about myself that I would proudly claim as my traits. There are also many that I am ashamed of and work to be rid of. Just like everyone, I imagine. It’s no secret (to myself at least) that my friend has a certain intensity of spirit and will that I not only admire but am slightly envious of because it is something that I lack, and unlike other qualities I may lack, I am AWARE of this one. It makes me wonder why this aspect of my personality did not develop like I feel it should have.
She cites specific adversity in her childhood; moments in time when facing challenges and turmoil that things became clear and she realized truths about the world, about herself. I don’t know that I can pinpoint any such time in my life in either childhood or my adult life. For not being a very mysterious person, I remain a mystery only to myself; I don’t yet know who I am.
I had a great childhood where the worst thing that ever happened to me was falling out of a tree and nearly dying from drinking tea made with contaminated water. They were bad times, to be sure, but not exactly emotionally scarring. My memories of being a kid are all pleasant and for that I am certainly thankful. I have a fantastic mother that cannot be matched, and any failings of myself as a person are my own. She was a single mother for a good majority of my life and she worked hard to raise me and prepare me for the world. Yet somewhere along the way, a few important lessons were missed. And I wonder if everyone with these qualities had to suffer adversity as a child to really grow into this type of person? Is there not another way? Is it too late for me?

I’ve felt a growing sense of…unease the last few months. There is a dread in me that has usurped my heart when I was looking in another direction. Comfortable in its new home it occupies its time by sending a feeling through my body that I can only describe as desperation. I have begun to feel ill-equipped for my life; for work, for relationships, for many things. And I can’t help but feel these missing attributes are part of the problem. What opportunities have I missed due to my lack of boldness? Have I missed out on something amazing because I did not take a leap of faith? It's an issue I've tried to focus on but it's tough to catch up when you're so far behind.

And this makes me think about relationships, one of the areas where my lack of directness is painfully obvious. I’ve written a lot about relationships lately. That is of course relative as I do not write much of anything these days. It’s a tired topic, I know, but it’s something that has been weighting on me. Only in recent years have I realized the truth about myself when it comes to relationships. It’s simple; I am a loner who hates to be alone. And for a while I was okay with it all and I thought that being on my own would be ideal, but every day I find it less appealing and every day I am reminded of what I am missing. I suppose that means I’m not a loner anymore.
There is no problem in realizing a need in others. The problem comes from not taking any action to remedy the situation. I will hold back taunt like a coiled trap and only spring after it is too late.

I have three weddings to go to in the next 5 weeks. I couldn’t be happier for my friends, but as I arrive to the weddings to watch people I’ve known for years give themselves to someone else, and as I watch our mutual friends arrive with their wives and new children, I feel empty. I am usually able to take great solace in joy in small things, but it makes me feel like the things in my life are insignificant. As I endure a barrage of "why are you still single", I am speechless because I'm not sure what the answer to that question is any longer.
I’ve been living for myself for so long and I’m at the point I want to put effort into someone else but I didn't really realize it until now
. If I can be honest, I wasn't capable before. Oh, I pretended I was and for a while I fooled people. I certainly fooled myself. But it wasn't until recently - and I'm talking mere months - that I think I really had the capacity to understand how fragile such relationships can be and what a responsibility it is when someone puts their faith in you. I miss that strong faith being put into me; it's a vast responsibility but one that I miss carrying. It opens up levels of intimacy that you can't really substitute. I miss the intimacy of being able to share parts of yourself that you can't even reveal to your closest friend. I think I might even need it.

My new found clarity is not a skill I can put to the test however. I've mentioned this to a number of friends, but I've been on more dates in the last few months than anyone should ever have to suffer through in their entire lives. I've seen some pretty unappealing sides of people. And as I meet more and more individuals, I am learning that the people I really find the most interesting are already in my life. Taken and off-limits, but in my life.
I find myself drawn to those that I think can break me out of whatever shell I have sealed myself in. I cannot decide if this is an insult or a compliment to them. I used to be drawn to the meek. Now I am drawn to the adventurous of spirit. But the spark I may feel from this draw usually amount to nothing but my frustrations. My sparks are ever one-sided. And that leaves me powerless to change things. I am not the type of person people leave someone to be with. But then, I don't wish to be that person. I want to be the guy picked for other reasons. For my sense of humor, loyalty, or simply that I feel right to someone. But I'm not that person either. I don't have an allure or hook that people look for. Not that I know what they look for, I merely know that I lack it. So I watch from the outside as the men in their life make mistake after mistake, time and again, and I wonder how many chances he will get and what it is she sees in him. And I ponder if I can perceive so many mistakes from such a distance perspective, how bad is it on the inside? I watch from the outside waiting on a chance to make my own mistakes. I won't fool myself, I'm a man like any other and though I try hard, I will make mistakes. I am full of imperfections, but I will make weapons out of them.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I toss and turn sometimes...

"I don't think I've ever loved anyone that I've lost as much as you loved her"

This is what my friend told me and I realized that it was something I never wanted to hear from anyone. It makes the reality too real. My friend - one of my few that I can have more than a superficial conversation with - said this in what I expect was a tender tone.

We speak on a lot of subjects, and I'm kept on my toes, and introspective. Recently discussion about the admirable depth of character of fictional individuals from films took a wildly different direction. I can't exactly recall the path we took but I believe it began with film that lead to disturbing events in our lives that turned a corner to disabilities and diseases; the video about the poor girl born with no face, or the man with a bacteria "much worse" than the flesh-eating virus (his wife stayed by him the whole time and even after the disfiguring...and that makes me smile that she did), and a friend who is quadriplegic. We wondered about how much someone had to love life to keep fighting when something like that happened. I think we both may have shuddered a little when we didn't know if we had that much. This expanded into broader topics of age and the various mysteries of the world (universe even) that plague our mind time and again.

I like to think I don't fear aging. I hate my birthday, but not because I'm getting older. I sometimes make a fuss..."if i lived my life again I'd be almost 55" and I feign wobbling legs and dismay. But this false dismay I show because I feel like that it is expected of me.

So here I am very aware of my own mortality but not horrified by the idea as perhaps I should be. I think my outlook on life was supposed to change years ago when I learned I wouldn't be here forever. My curiosity of what comes after is too great I think. Not so great that I chase it by any means, or am in a rush, but not so small that I wail at the thought of "the end". Or so I say; fast forward in time to when that moment comes and perhaps you will see me fighting tooth and nail against old age, or whatever claims me.

It's funny; thinking about aging, or the enormity of existence, the vastness of the just doesn't make me fret over mortality, infinity or eternity. And mortality and eternity go hand in hand for me. Forever is a long time after all, and all I've known of existence this whole time is now and me ... what would it be like in a world without me in it? Not because I'm a great mover of events or important keystone of our current age...but just because I've never known a world in which I didn't exist.

It's an odd feeling to think of a distance time when no one will even know you existed. But while is fills me with strange emotion it doesn't scare me. It's watching friends and especially old loves move forward with their lives that does. Frankly watching it terrifies me.

I've had two loves in my life. Two people that I would without a doubt give up everything for; give my life for. They've moved on. In their world, I've all but faded away. In their world, I might not exist any longer.

It was a long time ago, but she was a huge part of my life. The biggest part, really. And vice versa I like to think. I like to hope. Her words at the time certainly made me feel that way. It - she - was one of those gifts presented to someone too young to appreciate it and care for it, and I shattered it. Anyone who knows me knows the regret I still and possibly will always hold over that.

I understand the concept of forever. Can I really grasp it? Probably not. Yet forever doesn't seem long to me, despite the fact that, yeah, it's probably pretty damn long. It's going to continue to pass without anyone being able to stop it and just like the years already gone by in my life, it will be past and over before you know it. Yet knowing I'm never going to be with this person - her - again, possibly never even see her again, makes "forever" seem like exactly what it is. A very, very long time.

I can picture the past. Rome, the Mayans, the Boston Tea Party...there is a nice chronological map in my brain that lets my imagination see those place, those people. But the thought of a single lifetime without seeing someone that was so important to you make those historical places seem merely over a river in time, but your life without them is a vast ocean of it. It makes you wonder if the people who are in their lives now, those people who have replaced they really appreciate what they have? Do they realize that while they are there, taking her company, friendship and love for granted, that you have been doomed to an entire existence without even a moment of that again? I like to think they appreciate it like they should. But I know they don't.

We tried, I like to think, she and I. The friendship route. It was too hard. For both sides. For me because it makes old feelings that I keep buried (as best I can) flare up. For her, possibly the same, but also because, if any of those ancient feelings still reside, it fills her with guilt, to even be reminded of that time, after having moved on to love another.

And here we are. Being in the other's life is too rough. So we'll cross paths here and there, now and again. Maybe for a few more years. Eventually we'll come to the day when any manner of communication with the other has been lost and while it is an easy age to find someone in, neither of us will try. And soon, if not already, the stories about the other will be forgotten and the few that remain will no longer start "one time my first love and I..." but rather "one time this person I used to know..."

Our relationship will end up much like the relationships of my family. Of the way I picture my grandmother before she met my grandfather...what sort of long gone love lives on within her memory? Before my aunt met my uncle...what was her first love like? Does anyone know she still sees his blue eyes in her dreams?

And finally one day the only connection she and I will have will be in the imagination of a young offspring, like I once was. We will be a distant, blurry figure in their minds when they try to imagine an impossible time when their parent loved someone else, and just as quickly we'll be forgotten by them. They'll never even know our name.