you know, i thought about the last line of the last blog post. i just wanted to clarify something. the last summer that i stopped talking to my friend, who was then my boyfriend, it was wretched. i thought i was going to cease to exist. the pain of walking around that summer was crushing. i couldn’t figure out how to breathe. everything made me think of him, and every time i thought of him, i felt pain. sometimes it was searing, but most of the time it was the long, dull ache of what i’ve termed the mattress of grief, just slowly crushing me — making it hard to ever get a full breath. making my vision dull and making it hard to think because my brain wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
see, while i identify as a recovering alcoholic, my very first addiction is to relationships. to people. i have a lot of very solid and rational ideas as to why this is. i could regale you with psychoanalytical theories about my childhood, but all you really need to know is that i’m a product of an imperfect home, dysfunction and disease, and it made me someone who’s ended up to think or believe somewhere in my psyche that people will be the answer. something outside of me will be the thing that makes all those unsettled parts of me be quiet. that i’ll finally stop being afraid. that i’ll be able to be the person i really know i am and want to be.
this of course, is as faulty as expecting liquor to make me smarter, stronger, faster, better or more sexy. it just doesn’t work. like liquor or drugs, it may even work for a time. but then, it stops working and i’m left even more of a wreck than when i started. but that’s just the background; the set-up for who and what i am. where i come from, if you will. so you know the context for some of the the things i write and why i think and act the way i do. so you don’t chalk me up as a psycho or someone who is completely useless and lame.
so, the first summer, i was pretty much a mess. we hadn’t even dated that long. three months max? but i hadn’t even been in “a relationship” since a few years prior, having fell headlong into something terribly unhealthy, “falling in love” with someone who was sick and shared my own diseases. often in the same ways. i had just steered clear of that whole thing. i was in no hurry to run back into anything, lest i fall into something unhealthy or back into … something … really … addictive. this time, it seemed i had found a really good guy, someone who was into me as much as i was into him. however, after we were no longer dating, it was clear that relationship addiction was not something that was in my past. the fact that i was so horribly devastated by the loss was clearly an indicator that i had fallen too hard, too fast, and i was left reeling — how would i ever manage to get this thing right? not to mention, was everything we felt and said a lie? i was determined not to ever get hurt like that again.
six years later, i still haven’t been in another relationship. i haven’t really even dated. that sounds awfully pathetic to my own ears. and i feel like i’ve fallen farther down the hole of “i don’t ever want to get hurt again and i don’t know how to do this thing so i just won’t do it at all.” but said boyfriend and i finally managed to become friends again, something i had lobbied for for years. it was a good lesson; it showed me who we really were. it gave me the opportunity to really get to know him — the chance i didn’t really get while i was high on dopamine and kisses and sex and springtime mania (literal; i was struggling with manic-depression at the time). the chance i could have never managed over a period of three months. it gave me the opportunity to see how we really interacted with one another; the way we communicated and the way we communicated terribly. but it also gave me a chance to see how we could fix that communication and all the scars and wounds and character defects that spawned the mix-ups and the confusion and the hurt feelings.
in all of that, it gave me the chance to see him still for who he really is and who he really was and love him still the same. finally, after months of denying and pretending and just pushing the whole thing off, i had a quiet moment where i admitted to myself that i loved him. honestly and truly. i knew and always admitted that i loved him like i did all my friends, which is still a pretty expansive kind of thing, but there was a part of me that refused to acknowledge that i loved him — for fear that he’d run off and stop talking to me like he did that summer six years ago.
and while i knew that this love was unrequited, there was a whole lot more to all of it than that. you can’t come together with two broken pieces and expect there to be a whole. there’s lots of things i think about the whole situation that i can never prove. but i know that it’s not the same this time. i know that when i think about him, i don’t break inside. i miss my friend a lot. i wish i could call him up and tell him about paul mccartney. i wish i could tell him how i lost my friend here in chicago over what, i don’t even fucking know. i wish i could talk to him about stupid reality tv. but it’s not the same. i don’t cringe when i hear the shins. i don’t die inside thinking about rufus wainwright. i don’t want to walk slowly out of a room and cry to myself when someone talks about rogue wave. it’s not the same.
i wish i knew for certain that he missed me. i think that’s the thing that always pains me — is almost a mini phobia of mine. that people will forget me. i have the exact opposite thing with people in my own life, so i think that’s why my fear looms larger. i don’t forget people. to a very large degree, once you’re “locked and loaded,” i don’t forget names, i don’t forget faces. you’re in the ongoing rolodex of people i’ve got stored in my mind. i guess there’s something to be said about the fact that i use that terminology, but it’s true. there’s always a moment where someone becomes imprinted in my brain, and forever more, they’re just in there.
it’s also strange that elsewhere in this brain of mine, there’s lots of gaps and holes in my memory. where there should be information about people, places and things, i’ve got vagaries or no memories at all. incidents that other people remember with crystal clarity, i can’t recall if you paid me. i’ve got snapshots, postcards and slideshows of my past floating around in my mind, and sometimes i think my mind just makes up things to fill in the gaps; things that often turn out not to be the recollections of reality of others.
but the people? the people i remember. even when i don’t need to have the same kind of relationships with them anymore, i still wonder where they are, what they’re doing, what happened to their lives. even if i don’t want to keep in touch anymore, i still have a repository of memories that linger even when the other feelings have changed and faded. but i’m convinced that everyone is going to, has already forgotten me. that i’ve passed off the scene, out of their lives, and they’ve gotten rid of all cellular memory of me. it almost never comes to pass that way, but it’s still something that i live with, something that nags at me. fortunately or not, it always seems to be the opposite and i leave quite an impression on people, one they’re not likely to forget.
so, i know he remembers me. i know he must think of me *sometimes.* i know he must want to talk about stupid reality tv or some show he saw or some pictures he took. i also know that he probably, deep down, must want to tell me other things. more important things. i know these things somewhere in my heart. at the best, i know i’m not forgotten. and so, i go about my day, and do my best to not text him things or write him emails. it’s hard. i suppose if he reads this, this counts as some sort of communication. he wins. he gets to know i’m thinking of him.
but here’s the clarification, long way ’round. i read the last line of that last blog post and i realized it sounded much more awful than i really feel. yeah, i miss him. yeah, i wish we were talking. but, the sadness of this summer has come from so many sources. i’m not sitting around nights pining for him and some long lost love i feel. what i’m mourning is the idea that our friendship isn’t worth fighting for. and it’s not just him who’s pulling anchor and deciding to sail for higher seas and faraway shores. so, it’s that. that idea that he doesn’t even want to come back and say that he wants to find a way to figure it out. that there’s something essential about the way we are that he doesn’t want to see slip away.
but, it’s happened before, and it’s happening again. with him. with my platonic girlfriend, KG. with the city of chicago, maybe. i’ve most certainly been on the other side of it, too. more than one time. things wax and wane and sometimes disappear entirely. i’m not dying. but i’m not living, either. that’s nobody’s fault but my own.