If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.


"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chapter IV.3


The Garbled Communications of Tristan and Isolde Pt. II


20OCT98
God I ache to call her up and talk to her— salvation in her voice. But I won’t. Our stories have come together and I think that there is potentially a very deep bond within. But not this way. I won’t ask her to care. I won’t ask her to be interested. Because it’s just wrong, inappropriate, a breech of protocol; it has to be of free will and initiative or not at all.

She’s hard to talk to ‘cause she doesn’t participate. She doesn’t say much so there is little to no feedback, you can’t gauge if you’re making sense or not or if she even cares. She sits locked in her tower and won’t come out. She says that not much goes on in her head but I don’t buy that.


Trinity

10,000 white cranes
flying across the face of a
Hiroshima son—
can you feel my quantum
love
in the cool shadows
of your mind?


21OCT98
I’m at an impasse— two parts of me going in opposite directions, butting heads and I’m not happy with either option.

I thought there was a way to keep separate what I felt and what has started up again (22THW). But I have a feeling, a hunch, an idea, a gut feeling, something, that if we grow closer that way, if she comes to know me she will fall in love with me. I can’t allow that to happen, especially not by promoting it.

And so the other (extreme) option is to just disappear, for all intents and purposes, from their lives. It just seems that for me to be there, that I taint things, poison them. And yet, I know, feel hunch, idea, gut feeling that our stories were brought together for a definite reason, are meant to intertwine for a while still and that the bond will be deep.

My path leads through her and I’m afraid to go a step further. And at the same time, to turn back is to quit and I can’t do that either. So I sit here miserable as shit, tortured, soul torn apart as the two sides of my fucking head go at it. Nihilism and death vs. asking for help and sounding pathetic— the unhonorable. I wish/hope that she will grok some of this and step in, offering a way out. Maybe this is what I’m waiting for. I don’t know how this can happen though because I don’t think that she even begins to have a clue— I am good at hiding.


From: "Gwen"
Subject: dance the dance till the menace gets out
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 11:06:57

Hey you-

How the hell are ya? The way things are going here, I can't promise there will be snow to ski on when you come out to visit. It’s still pretty darn nice- and I'm not complaining! I put my ski rack on my car just in case... but its just causing me to suck up gas so until I actually have a potential to go skiing, I think I'm gonna take it off.

Ivan bought me the new REM and I've been listening to it all week. Its pretty mellow the first pass or so, but when you get to know the words and stuff its real dark and sad. You'd like it.

So. I got my second exam back and have the third/final exam next Friday already. Then...I finally get a break and can take a couple days off (I think). I feel like I'm doing the 10 VO Coke after-bar techno jam- you feel like you can boogie- you can dance like nobody's business- but look like an idiot just the same. Ah. Stuff is weird with stuff here. I'd quit school to be a leasing consultant- but it turns out that I'm not very good at that either. (I got "shopped" by a corporate scout...turns out I suck).

kkjkjfksfdaklsdasdajl;;fkl;daklfjkafdlsjkals;fdlakfds;jjasklfdaskljdfsdakjsfda

Well, I just wanted to drop you a line. It was supposed to be clever and funny but didn't turn out that way.

So it goes.

Gwen


Dream- Yakuza

There was this girl who was writing this book in a room with hardwood floors, but she was reading it also.

A killing contract was put out on her best friend in the world, this guy.

She was also friends with one of the guys who was supposed to kill the other guy. He was an older man— large, in shape, and covered in tattoos. He was Yakuza.

Because this Yakuza assassin was her friend, he helped her other friend escape to Europe.

The dream was so big and long that I don’t remember much more, only that she went to visit her friend and he lived in a little village with stone and wood fences. The dirt paths were muddy, it was raining. The clouds were low and steel-gray, but the hills were oh so green, just vibrant. He lived with his young son— 4 or 5 years old— and kept to himself. She might have come to apologize, but I’m not sure for what, leaving him perhaps.


10NOV98
There came a point with Kim and I at the end where I knew (as the sun would rise) that I could just let go, walk away and that things between us would be okay. To do so, however, would mean giving up whatever hopes I had for her to understand my hurts pains, and point of view. In essence, I would not get the chance, privilege, or right to feel anything within the bounds of our relationship— once again it was not my turn. And maybe from my point of view at the time, I would not be rewarded or recognized for my services or efforts on her behalf.

I decided to push the fucking issue though, because not to do so would be to invalidate everything I felt; at least that’s what I felt. Was I selfish? Was that the only way to keep my dream/story alive? Did I do the honorable thing? Should I have just walked away? Was there another way that I didn’t see? At one time, I thought I was an asshole for what I did; now I’m not so sure.

I have such an ability for distancing myself from people that they are only left with the choice of coming after me on my terms or turning and leaving altogether. And I can even see this is my daydreams— where things have become so intense, so extreme that unless I can trust in someone else I will end up dead; that death is the only other way for things to end.

I think that the problem is that I keep stuff inside, do the, alleged, “warrior” thing and don’t let on how badly I’m hurting. And then it builds to such a level that by the time I let on, the only choice for a friend is to dive in all the way or not at all. Whereas if I could let on, trust during the early stages, small steps could be taken before things escalate to an all-or-nothing level.

With Kim, I honestly don’t think there was the chance to do that. By the time I knew what was going on, it had already reached the all-or-nothing stage. Everything after that was me trying to ask for help; and when I realized that wasn’t going to work, simply lashing out at Kim and trying to make her feel as bad as I did.

This is the way I fear things will go with Gwen. I know that my story leads through her, in trusting her; yet I am terrified for both our sakes.


16NOV98
Everything with Gwen right now smacks of me and Kim at the end. Fuck! Once again I am wounded and caught between trusting someone and trying to stand between my pain and the other person. Once again, something has happened that had left me feeling betrayed and I teeter between disappearing from their lives forever and finding some way to absorb a little more pain and make a fresh go of it. I don’t know why Gwen didn’t call and it hurts like a living Hell. God, part of me wants to leave a note lingering in my wake as I run like hell. I can justify everything.

When I called Tuesday night, I couldn’t say anything— and I silently screamed at myself to say something, to at least try to bridge the gap, because if I didn’t I would be repeating the same mistake and it would kill me.

That is the reason I called back Wednesday— to try to explain, to say something, to break the cycle. And at that crucial time, she doesn’t follow through, seriously, doesn’t follow through on her word and I don’t know what to think. I’m not far enough out of the old groove to be out of it yet and I can’t see clearly down either path to choose a way.

Every fiber in my body says she blew me off and to hightail it the fuck out of here, that she thinks this is all some kind of fucking joke and that the only way she’ll ever believe me is if I swallow a bullet.

Almost the same, but not quite, is that I have scared her badly and then I’m twice as fucked because if I stay around, I have to be a total fake or risk hurting her more and if I split I still hurt her. The most important thing to me is not to hurt her! I though she was stronger than that. But I don’t know what to believe anymore.

This time I have to let it go, to just let go. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I have to. A little more pain…I can take a little more pain.


Something Has to Give— A
Electric Head Pt.2— White Zombie
(Sexational After Dark Mix)
One is the Loneliest Number— Filter
Rude Awakening— Prong
Nazarene— The Wake
Park Avenue— Girls Against Boys
Like a Friend— Pulp
Barrel of a Gun— Depeche Mode
Duhast— Rammstein
To Have and to Hold— Deftones
Negasonic Teenage Warhead— Monster Magnet
Psychopomp— The Tea Party
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus— Curve

Something Has to Give— B
Electric Head Pt. 1— White Zombie
(Satan in High Heals Mix)
Lost Child— Social Distortion
Long Hard Road Out of Hell— Marilyn Manson
Stripped— Rammstein
Got You (Where I Want You)— The Flys
Dragula— Rob Zombie
Hey Man, Nice Shot— Filter
Engel— Rammstein
The Oaf— Big Wreck
Emerald— The Tea Party
Tuesday Morning— The Pogues
Waste— Front 242


18NOV98— Unsent letter to Gwen
It’s late in the afternoon and I’m having a hell of a time keeping my mind on work, which is so excruciatingly boring right now that cutting the heads off rats seems almost exciting. I’ve been thinking about the last week a lot and Monday night in particular. I want so badly to show you, to convey the god-awful importance of that night; but I lack the words right now— because, in all honesty, it’s one hell of a thank you and I want to get it right because it means so much to me. Maybe one night with some time and a drink or two to shove around…the story will come out.

So anyway, thinking about this last week and it slowly spirals out over the last year and the books, letters, notes, calls, dinners, drinks, sofa, giraffe feeding…and a tear wells up in my eye and a little pit in my stomach opens up and says, “Hi,” ‘cause the first thought in my head is, what have I done to deserve such kindness. I don’t know. And it makes me a little nervous ‘cause I’m not used to this and I can’t help thinking for a second that I’ll get caught and some universal authority is going to be pissed as hell at me.

And it’s all the stranger because it comes from someone who is in many ways, still a mystery to me. I don’t know what I could possibly offer in return. It seems that all I have are stories— and a lot of those are not cocktail material. I don’t know what you get in return, I mean other than someone to buy the wine, because it seems that all I have are my stories.

You are an atypical creature, Gwen— (I’m trying to underplay the compliment) a carefully unbalanced (all women are unbalanced, but not many carefully) collection of opposites: wisdom and intelligence, courage and vulnerability, a cutting sense of humor…

I guess what I’m saying, is that if you were to walk out of my life tomorrow, I would (really) only be able to consider myself richer for the time I had.

I honestly hope that you know that I’m here if you need anything, that you can say anything. I don’t expect that you will much; just as long as you know and believe it though. I’ve thought about it a lot and I’m not entirely sure what makes you tick or where you’re going….


19NOV98

The despair was so great that I didn’t hear you say that you were there or feel you next to me.

It all really started a week ago last Tuesday when I just felt so sad. I called Ivan and Gwen, not exactly sure why, and she picked up on the fact I was down— couldn’t of been too hared. And she says that she feels bad when I sound this way and I screaming at myself in my head to say something to her because I know that if I can’t say something, can’t trust her, I will die because I will never trust, never let anyone in again. I don’t really say anything but I feel so fucking bad for making her unhappy that I decide I will try to explain it the next day. Not give her details, involve her in the story, but tell her that it’s going on.

I come home early the next day and sit down to try and write something to email her. For some reason I think writing will be easier than talking. After trying to write for about forty-five minutes I give up. What I need to convey is complicated and not static, I need to have the flexibility to switch things up, to elaborate. I decide to call her.

One of the main things I try to convey is that I don’t want her to get hurt, that I’ve tried to stand between this and her and that that is the most important thing to me. It is valid and true but it is also an excuse because I am afraid of trusting anyone— and once again I have totally missed her saying that it’s okay to talk to her.

I’m hurting like hell and I want to ask for help but I don’t know how, I want to trust but I’ve forgotten how, if I ever knew. Didn’t know and forgot how because seven years earlier I had faced the same dilemma, made all the wrong choices and gutted myself in the process.

She didn’t call back like she said she would. Those were the lowest, hardest, most hurtful says— especially after Wednesday night. I though for sure that she just didn’t give a damn, or that I had scared her off. She forgot; I couldn’t believe it. That hurt. Every inch of my body screamed for me to say, thanks for nothing, have a nice life ‘cause you’ll never see me again.

I was hurt and wanted her to at least realize that. And the only way I knew to convey that would be by making her feel that way, which is what the above would’ve been a good start at. But I did not want to hurt her and the only way I could see that was to say nothing, swallow the pain and hurt and keep it inside. Neither was a valid choice, both led to death.

Seven years ago I chose death. I didn’t know any better and I continued a fine tradition of self-destruction and hate started by my parents. Somehow, in spite of that, I had managed to not kill myself— thanks in great part to the Navy, which got me off that path. But here I find myself right back there at that place, feeling none of the wisdom but knowing absolutely that if I make the same decisions, that my death is assured; and scared as hell to do anything different.

I can tell she’s feeling defensive, which isn’t helping because it automatically puts us on opposite sides of the fence. I am desperate. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I finally muster the courage to say something to the effect of,

“You gotta help me Gwen. I’m stuck and I’m not sure how to get out. Every ounce of me screams to just walk away and say goodbye and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be mad at you. I don’t want to feel this way. Because I know that if I walk away, it will kill me quicker than anything…”

It was probably the first real thing that I’ve ever said to her.

And then a miracle happened. In retrospect, there have been several times when Gwen has said or written something that I have totally missed until some time later. She has a way of slipping things in but it’s mostly my fault ‘cause the things in my head get in the way and I owe her a hell of an apology for that.

But the miracle is that she starts talking, almost to herself, about the events surrounding her forgetting to call and I actually hear her, I know instantly that this is her way of apologizing; and something in my head switches tracks. The other miracle is she actually puts up with my bullshit long enough for me to hear her.

I asked her why she was afraid of me and she said ‘cause I beat her over the head with it, things we talked about. I wasn’t initially sure what she meant and she explained. I ended up apologizing because I realized how I hadn’t given her a fair chance, had judged her based on others and had hurt her in the process. I don’t know what she made of it. I felt bad to see how I had been hurting her.

After that we talked for a long time- she helped me choose life. She’s come the closest to this and I would love to talk to her for hours every night. It’s funny ‘cause there will sometimes be long silences but they don’t feel the least bit awkward to me.

Just in writing tonight I’ve realized other ways that I’ve hurt her and I just feel terrible. I don’t know why she’s hung around. There’s always been this tension between us, like we just keep missing connecting (which I’ll, at least for right now, take most the blame for) and I’ve never seen two people struggle so hard for something that neither of them knows or understands. She really has been my guardian angel.


20NOV98
And once again I am surprised and touched by her incredible kindness. I don’t know what to say. I would swear my life to her. No one has ever shown this kindness to me and I’m in shock and afraid of taking it for more than it is. By definition, this whole area is extremely gray and I don’t want to put her on the spot by assuming….At the risk of saying too much, I’ve decided to make her a tape:

— A
Dear Lover— Social Distortion
Barefoot soldier— Eddy Grant
Southern Cross— CSN
Biloxi— Jimmy Buffet
Long Breakdown— Oingo Boingo
Little Wing— Jimi Hendrix
A New Machine- Part 1— Pink Floyd
God is a DJ— Faithless
Bird on the Wire— Leonard Cohen
Somewhere Down the Crazy River— Robbie Robertson
Insomniac— Billy Pilgrim
Dumb Things— Paul Kelly & The Messengers

— B
Cuts You Up— Peter Murphy
These Are Days— 10,000 Maniacs
Tuesday Morning— The Pogues
Take it Back— Pink Floyd
Someone Somewhere in Summertime— Simple Minds
Am I Wrong— Love Spit Love
Crescent Moon— Cowboy Junkies
Mercy Killing— The Dream Academy
Lost Patrol— Big Country
There is a Light That Never Goes Out— The Smiths
Ripple— Jane’s Addiction

A soundtrack, a message, a meaning? Our lives, stories have collided— can you pick the grains of your life out from mine?


Letter From Gwen
December 1998
Hey you—

I’m sending you books- just like I threatened I would. I sent the “Zen” book to Ivan on cruise last summer…he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life either, (he just doesn’t know that yet). So my point the other night ~ which I think you got but ~ but pissed you off before I could find out ~ was that if working for Joe anybody doing ugly anything puts a roof over your head while you figure out what you want— you don’t get to feel bad about that. And if dissecting microbes or flying planes or building gypsy wagons (if only for a short while) makes you happy— then that’s what you do. If you want to spend your life shooting rubber bands at the stars- you go. I just wish you’d find something that would give you some peace. You’re killing me here. K? Seriously. Sheesh.


02DEC98
She’s tough and sharp, so easy to fatally cut yourself on. Dangerous, not because her experiences are so much broader than yours but because they are so finely tuned. Intelligent, with more than her fair share of wisdom and intuition. All of that will leave you respecting her mightily, but it is her compassion and caring that will touch you like you’ve never been touched before…right to the core of your being. Vulnerable.


06DEC98— Unsent letter to Gwen
I realized that my story, my path progressed; lay in passing through you, your story, your life. And I didn’t realize until later the kind of trust (paramount to a great fucking leap of faith for me) that that would take. For the longest time I balked at the thought, citing “protecting you” as the primary reason. I kept saying, what is it I’m s’posed to learn from her? I don’t know. Not yet anyway. I’m writing BIG ‘cause I’m drunk.

And it seemed to me, that as much as I write and talk I never know what’s going on for you or what’s going for you in relation to all this shit, how you’re doing, what you’re thinking. I could talk to you for hours every single day. And I feel like such a needy ass if I call you twice in two weeks. I feel like such a fucking bastard because if I didn’t let on/act that I was down than no one would know.

I have an incredible letter and polar bear that say so much and yet I wonder if I am supposed to take it on faith because there’s nothing in between the words you send…it’s like you can’t speak. And I appreciate it, god, no one has ever gotten closer to me than you. And yet I need a little bit as we go along— interaction. There’s no interaction when you write and I write back and nothing more is said. Did I fuck up? What?

I feel like a burden to you and I have to wonder if maybe the lesson I’m supposed to learn might not be letting go. I feel like I’m coming across as an ungrateful bastard, that I’m asking for too much. I have spent so much time in my head— I don’t know how to ask in a way that’s appropriate. I’m terrified that every time I say/ask for something you will get defensive, like I’m making accusations…and then I’ve just lost a friend. And everything I’m trying to say to explain just seems to make it worse.

The people who I consider my friends— I love more than life itself. They are what keep me going and get me through my days. If I were hooked on heroine I would never ask a friend to shoot up to understand my high. If I were suicidal I would not ask a friend to put a loaded gun to their head with their finger on the trigger to get a good taste of my reality. If I were me, I would not ask a friend to step into my nightmare so they could hold and comfort me. Maybe there is a big difference between these, but I take it so seriously that I don’t see much of a difference.

And so how do I convey to you what you’ve done, how you’ve touched me, what it means? How do I say this would help me a little more?


From: "Gwen"
Subject: Happy Birthday?
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 12:36:26

Hey-

I meant to give you a call last night- but we had some snow yesterday (finally!) and it really mucked up traffic. I didn't get home until close to 10:00 and didn't know if you had gone out or had to be to work today or what so I didn't want to call that late. Ivan worked late last night (past midnight) so he wasn't good for a phone call, either. I vaguely remember him coming home and saying something about a satellite dish (?) but hell if I know what he was talking about. I've been pretty short on sleep lately... in fact I haven't been home before 9 pm yet in the last few weeks and those cat naps in the car really aren't getting me through the day. I'm having horrific dreams about isolating DNA and strange, complicated experiments so even when I do sleep- I still sleep "lab".

I have another one of these crazy tests on Tuesday- but with 3 classes this quarter I'm a little further behind than usual so I'll be doing some big-time cramming this weekend. We're looking into renting a 2br town house about 10 minutes north of where we live now so that I can quit my job at the apartment complex. They're not pretty- but they're cheap and it would free up some time for me. The big question is when and how? Moving is a royal pain in the ass.

So. I hope you had a good birthday, old man. Did you get my cards with the baars and gaters on ‘em? I'm thinking of dropping conventional email all together and going with those. They're just so way cool.

Ciao
me


Dream Crazy Sisters and Cliffs

Last week, one night, I dreamed that Gwen had sent me a letter about everything I had wanted to talk about. It was thoughtful and meant a lot.

Anyway, I walk out of some house up on a cliff and Gwen/Meg Ryan (what a combo huh?) was in a pair of coveralls working on this old blue beater. I don’t say anything to her but sit down on the ground by the left front wheel.

There’s a small metal box with a bunch of spare parts in it soaking in gasoline under the car and I start pulling them out one by one and examining them. My hands are getting greasy but that’s good.

I don’t know what the hell Gwen is doing so I don’t offer to help. Neither of us says anything and there’s a mild tension between us but it is OK/good.

After awhile, she gets up and goes inside to get something. After she’s gone a van pulls up and her crazy sister gets out. I’m like, fucking great, ‘cause now she’ll take up all of Gwen’s time and attention. The van pulls away as the sister starts walking towards the edge of the cliff. Then she disappears and I think that she’s fallen over the edge.

I jump up, running as fast as I can and make this huge leap, hoping that I can catch her. As soon as I jump though, and go sailing over the edge, I hear someone scream, “No!!” behind me— Gwen. I realize, too late, that the sister hasn’t fallen over at all and I look forward towards the ocean some two hundred feet below and hope like hell that I have enough momentum to carry the beach and make it into the deep water.

I hit the water feet first and somehow manage to make it back to the beach, but there is no one there to see if I’m OK, if I made it alright.


14DEC98
Talked to Gwen last night. Had planned on brining up what I had talked with Kirah about. But after hearing how busy she’d been and that she had another test coming up I decided that she probably didn’t need that on top of everything else. So it goes. It made me feel so terribly alone and lonely though— like my heart would break.


18DEC98
This jotted in my journal (in Pensacola for Wendy’s graduation from OCS), not sure who wrote it, the writing doesn’t look like mine…Bonnie’s maybe?

The moment has come
The moment has gone
Some days remind us more of where we’re from
We wait to play but at the end of that
Day the moment is gone
There are times in life when you have
To make a choice
The moment has gone
Did you see it did you feel it probably not
The moment has gone
I wait for the moment to be gone
~~~~
Too bad


02JAN99
Colorado Springs
It snowed last night. Not a heavy, wet snow but enough to leave a thin white frosting over all the grass.

I’ve been reading Walk on Water by Lorian Hemmingway and it reverberates in my so powerfully it brings tears to my eyes and makes my soul ache. But I don’t what the boogeyman is, what I’m fighting, what dark destructiveness is within my soul.

The fear and depression hit me New Years Eve on the ride back from Denver. It took me totally by surprise. I sat in a corner of Gwen’s kitchen and quietly cried last night. Gwen sat by Gigi’s kennel the whole time, not saying a word. When I finally stopped she leaned around and asked what was wrong. Slowly, I told her what I remembered. All she said when I was done was, “Do you really think there was anything you could’ve done?” The rest of the night she kept her distance.

I watched the sun set about twenty minutes west of Dallas— it was a flaming, blaze-orange-red till it sank out of site and it looked like someone had spilled merlot on the horizon and then tried to mop it up with the scattered clouds overhead. I’m sitting here in DFW waiting for my connecting flight home. I miss the mountains already— tall, silent, placid, reassuring. I’m hoping that writing will ease the pain, the hollow in my heart but I know it won’t.

I cried on the plane— for myself. It’s a hard thin to realize that you have no home, no family, no friends to turn to, that you are spiritually and emotionally drained and running on empty. Gwen broke my heart. I thought I could trust her and I don’t know what happened. I don’t think that she will come after me, stop me.

There was a place where I felt secure, centered, where I grokked that there was something more, deeper for Gwen and I than I could see. I don’t know how to get back to that place but I have to believe in it because if I don’t it’s all over and I have to believe that if anyone deserves a break, a chance, I do.

*****
God I hope so bad that there is a message on the phone or an email from her when I get home. Why is she so damned important to me? The depth of this goes far beyond some stupid crush. I feel connected to her at the soul and I don’t understand why we keep missing each other. I worry that it is something that I’ve made up, imagined— a need to believe in something, to not feel alone. But I don’t feel that that is the case. It’s hard to keep a good perspective though because I’ve hurt so much recently that I’m afraid of it skewing my judgment so that I don’t entirely trust myself.


13JAN99— Letter to Gwen

“So this goes back to my point about arguing about things we’re really not arguing about…I don’t know how you feel about it, but these conversations-gone-awry trouble me. I get nervous and I never know if I understood what I think you said…”

Gwen,

I find myself at a crossroads with regard to our relationship. And as I come to realize how much it means to me I find myself increasingly afraid that it will not survive our misunderstandings. Because of this, and some personal realizations I’ve come too I wanted the opportunity to voice a few thoughts.

As things stand now, I have no idea where you are or what your feelings are. I do not expect anything in response to this, though they would be welcome; this is not an attempt, a ploy to elicit some kind of response. Neither is any of it meant to be taken accusingly, as finger pointing, or as blame. All I can do is say what is on my mind and whatever happens happens.

Please know that none of this has been half-assed or spur of the moment. I have tried to put as much thought as I could into each sentence, none of it has been easy, and if it says what I really want to then it will be the greatest thing I have ever written.

Ever since we began tentatively talking (about more than the weather or my Carmex I mean) I have felt completely at ease with you, a bond—as if we were friends in a past life, if you believe in that sort of thing. And maybe this was more of a sense of where we had the potential to go then exactly where we were at. I don’t know. All along though, I have talked around the edges of the things in my head, my thoughts, my feelings. This was due to several things:

1. Newness. In spite of my sense of bond, there are just some things that you don’t go around blurting out, especially to people who are rather new friends and that you would like to hang around long enough to become better friends. My head is full of those kinds of things. And god did I want to blurt them out. There are so few people that really come close to understanding me, and you felt like one of those people and it made me crazy to want to talk again after so many years of just shutting up rather than trying to explain to those who didn’t understand. A compatriot, maybe that’s what I’m trying to say.

2. I didn’t want to hurt you, which I was sure that I would eventually do somehow. Many of the things in my head were not exactly pretty or nice and a great deal of them scared me and I had/have no idea what they would do to someone else.

3. In the last three months, as things have become very difficult and painful for me, I was terribly afraid that you wouldn’t care, that I would spill my horrible guts and you wouldn’t say anything and act like nothing had happened.

4. You’ve been so busy. I didn’t want to be a burden, an added problem at the end to the day, the, “Oh Christ! Not him again!”

5. I’ve never felt like I deserved to have someone listen and care, and I could certainly never ask for that.

I can think of several time at least, when you said or wrote that I could talk to you; that if you couldn’t talk to your friends than they weren’t, they were acquaintances. And, even though I wanted to talk to you so badly, for the most part I did not. And, looking back, I can see how that might hurt, how it would come across as saying that I don’t trust you: don’t trust you not to get hurt, don’t trust you to care, don’t trust you to have time; and I guess that’s what it really does say. I feel as if I should apologize but I don’t even know if you’ve ever felt that way or not.

And even though you’ve said that I could talk to ya about anything there were times I’d try to start a conversation and you wouldn’t say anything, wouldn’t answer questions, basically nipping the conversation in the bud. It’s like talking at you, not to you. Letters and e-mails went unanswered and unmentioned and I didn’t know if I’d made you mad or none of it meant anything, or what. There was hardly ever any interaction, feedback—almost every time I talked to you it seemed like I was just trampling over you and all you could do was remain quiet until I had gone away.

It seemed as if you never said exactly what you were feeling or meant, so I never knew generally where you or I stood. There were no reference points to gauge how I was doing, if I’d gone too far. Finally, the only thing I could see was the distance between what you had said about friends and your actions. I decided not to bother you at all, trusting that you would call or something when you had the time and things were better.

I could sense you, your concern (Your letter and poems, and Mr. Baar) but I couldn’t hear you, see you. The only time you guys ever called in some three-odd months was the night before I flew out there, and I’m like, “…god, what have I done now?” And then to sit there in the kitchen and tell you what I did and you not say anything and then act like nothing had happened. That really hurt like hell. I don’t even know how I was supposed to feel or act after that. All I could think of was putting distance between you guys and me before I fucked up again.

I don’t understand what’s happening. All I feel is distance between us and that’s not good for me. I don’t want to put words in your mouth but I don’t really know if salvaging this is important to you. I don’t know what you’re thinking or feeling. All I know is that it is important to me and I’m not happy with how things are because it’s hurting me, and for once I don’t deserve that.

It has been said that, to understand to quick is to misunderstand. And I can’t help feeling that this has been true in some respects for me with you. I feel that I have signed off to quickly on some things, preventing me from seeing/hearing what, in retrospect, has been painfully obvious. I can’t begin to calculate the potential damage that this has done and I am at a loss at how to go about reestablishing the trust that has been so carelessly thrown away.

I don’t know how all this sounds, I’ve tried not to sound harsh because I don’t feel harsh. I’ve been sitting here saying to myself, “Christ, what you want to say to her if this were your last night to live? What would you try to convey to her? What would you want her to carry on? What would you want to be remembered for?” And maybe I don’t have to think so hard, cause it all comes down to this— Gwen, you are such a magnificent creature—full of intelligence, humor, juxtaposition, wisdom, irony, tough and compassion. You are truly one of a kind and a credit to your species. I have know many women and you are one of the very few that has the guts, intelligence and love to know where you want to go and the courage to go there—regardless of what might stand in your way. I can’t even begin to tell you how rare or special it is to know a woman who knows what she wants, believes in herself, and has the ability to attain her goals without selling herself short or compromising in what she holds dear. You have managed to touch me in such a way and it has been a pleasure and an honor to know you. DO NOT STOP till you have all your dreams securely in your hands. I will always be your biggest fan.

If nothing else, remember that, take that with you.


22JAN99
What follows is an honest attempt to balance wish and reality and would be an ideal reply from Gwen to the letter I sent her.

Hey you,

I was surprised and disturbed to get your letter the other day. I’m a little speechless and not sure if I understand everything so bear with me if I muddle through this a little.

Let me first say— you are my friend and I do care a great deal about you, maybe more than you know or realize.

I meant it when I said you could talk to me; so many times though, you would call and not say anything. I didn’t know what you wanted me to do. After a while I felt a little hurt and just pulled back, figuring that you would say something when you were ready to. I don’t think I honestly realized how much you hurt and maybe I’d of been a better friend if I‘d have pushed you to talk instead of pulling away. I don’t know.

I don’t want to lose you as a friend and it scared me to hear you say that you don’t know where we are at. We can work this out.

For the most part, you are not like anyone else I know and I have to be honest, sometimes you make me a little nervous because I know that you are deeper than most and I never know what you’re thinking. Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve kept some distance. You’ve never been inappropriate or overstepped any boundaries.

New Years Day…I feel terrible about New Years Day. I hope you can find some way to forgive me. I don’t know if I was angry or scared or shocked after what you shared. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to make things worse for you. Looking back I can see how you would think that I hated you. I wish so badly that I would’ve said something more.

I know that the last few months haven’t been easy and I’ve been so damned busy with school that I don’t know which way is up anymore. I don’t mean that as an excuse, it’s just the way things are. I don’t want to lose your friendship and I know we can get through this, but we need to talk or nothing will ever get fixed. I’m going to call you in a couple of days when I get a break. I wish you were out here ‘cause we really need to do this face to face. I am looking at seeing if I can come out there over spring break but I can’t make any promises yet.

Please do trust me that I care about you and that I have no intentions of letting you slip out of my life this easily. K? K.

Gwen


02FEB99
So I call Ivan last night and much to my surprise, Gwen answers. God, what do I say? We jabber shortly about nothing and I ask if Ivan is there. She says I can reach him tomorrow night.

So I call the next night and she answers again and mentions that Ivan has unexpectedly walked outside. We babble for a minute and then I ask her what’s up. She goes off on me saying that I was an ass the entire time I was there, then she asks me what I want from her.

I tell her I didn’t want advice. That if I had been able to talk to her, I wouldn’t have expected her to understand totally, but to understand enough to believe me, to not be afraid. I guess wisdom would be one way of saying it, or a reality check— but then that even sounds self-centered, utilitarian. This is a question I’m asking. Almost immediately she says she has to go. She sounds like she’s almost in tears. I don’t understand why. I don’t know what I said this time.

*****

I am surprised at the level of animosity directed my way and I only wish I’d known of it sooner so I could have done something about it instead of letting it fester for a month.

I have always felt at home with you two, a sanctuary. But I have always felt like the rotten egg on the block because you guys have a fairy-tale life and mine’s been anything but that— there was always the underlying fear/truth that I would get caught on the wrong side of the tracks and revealed for the bastard that I am.

I would like to apologize for my behavior when I was out there last. I honestly never expected thing to go the way they did for me. My in ability to bury things better or to feel comfortable talking to you only served the increase the distance, alienation, and confusion between us. I take full fucking responsibility for that. It doesn’t surprise me that you think I’m making this shit up. Hell, I probably would if I were in your shoes.

I mean Jesus, how could I expect you to know how much I hurt unless I told you? How would you know which nights I sat here with a loaded gun only thinking of stopping the hurting unless you called and I told you? Hell, I don’t even expect you to believe me now.


02MAY99
I called Ivan and Gwen’s last night. Ivan was working and Gwen studying. There was a lot of quiet on the phone. Normally quiet between Gwen and I doesn’t bother me at all, but this was uneasy. She said she wasn’t coming out to see me, that she had to study.

We talked about things that didn’t matter. I’m not going to call them again and I don’t know that they’ll call me. After last night it seems pretty evident that I’m not welcome in their lives— I don’t know how else to interpret it.

Talking with Kirah Fri night I said that I really didn’t understand what happened the last time I was out there. Gwen was mad and then seemed hurt and supposedly Ivan was mad. But usually, it seems to me, if you see your friend really down and hurting you’re concerned and worried about them, not mad at them. And the only reason I can figure Gwen being mad for is if she was expecting something or some vastly different behavior from me. I don’t know.

I wonder if we’ll ever talk again, pick back up our relationship. I believe that we will but it will take a lot of time. But it’s also not hard for me to imagine that too much damage and hurt have been done and that we’ll never speak again. I hope this is not the case.

I guess to get right to the point, I have believed for a long time now that Gwen and I would be together very closely in one way or another someday. I could feel this knowing in my/with my whole body. I’ve never wanted to say it though because of the implications, especially if I was wrong. I didn’t want it to be wishful thinking. And the thing is, I still believe it. And if it’s true, then all I can do is trust that feeling and that things will work out somehow. It feels like she is my soul mate.


Dream- Spooning, Cause and Effect

Lying in bed with Gwen, kinda spooning— she’s in front of me and my arm is over her, maybe holding her hand. She is tense, uncomfortable. We are talking about whether or not we should talk about the events/things/whatever that led to the split in our friendship.

She is saying, “I’d rather not talk about it because it has already put distance between us. It already did this to US, if we talk about it (again?) I’m afraid of what it will do to me.”

The thing though is that we can’t be talking about whether to talk about what came between us or not because her statement would then be, “we can’t talk about what came between us because talking about it was what came between us in the first place.”

The distance between us was the effect, something else was the cause of that— the cause and effect cannot be the same thing; you can’t have the effect come first.

So I’m not exactly sure what we are talking about. She is afraid of something and I don’t know what or how to be there for her. Even though she is right next to me I feel very small, alone, and distant.


Things to Come

I dreamt that I
was sleeping
that I’d been
dreaming my whole life
of waiting for
a woman
with lips of warm, crushed velvet
and a mind
like cold steel.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chapter IV.2


The Garbled Communications of Tristan and Isolde Pt. 1


So, there I was, lost, adrift, and quite happy to be a rummie. Minding my own damn business and not bothering anyone when I invited my good buddy, Ivan, and his wife, Gwen, down to Key West to my folk’s place for the weekend of FEB13-16. They had been incredibly kind to me and let me crash a week at their place after I got out the Navy and was getting settled. Ivan and I had worked together on the cruise and I met Gwen for the first time the day we got back. They were leaving in April for Colorado.


Anyway, as I remember, it was Saturday the fourteenth and the three of us were walking east on Duval on the south side of the street. Ivan and Gwen were walking in front of me and Gwen was directly in front of me. I had a fantastic buzz going. I looked up and saw a drunk bum stumbling towards us, right at Gwen. I don’t think that Ivan noticed him. I merely stepped up and around Gwen to her right, stepping up and between her and the guy, passing him to my right. I did it for the most part without even thinking about it.


I turned a little to my left to check that Gwen was okay. I’m not sure if she had noticed what had just taken place or not. And in that instant, the goddamned universe whacked me over the head as hard as it could with the proverbial 2 x 4 and I saw Gwen in a way that I had never seen her before. At the risk of besmirching the word, I was in love, staring at my soul mate. Is there such a thing as love at first sight after four months?


I was in shock and turned around and kept walking. My heart was in my throat. This cannot be fucking happening is all I could think; over and over. How could I possibly fall in love with my buddy’s wife? I don’t want this, where did this come from, God she is beautiful. And through it all, was this crazy, non-logical sense/feeling, almost as if someone were whispering in my head, “Be cool, be cool, and things will work out.”


I don’t remember much more of the evening as I set about drinking with a whole new purpose, to forget and deny. Alas, it didn’t change anything and she was just as beautiful to me the next morning. I was a wreck, my soul’s seeming desire right in front of me and yet a million miles away. How could this be happening? I didn’t ask for this, want this, how could this have happened? And yet, my soul screamed for her and I could not, did not want to let go. I had tasted something in that split second and it spoke to things that I had never known that I had been missing. And now that I was aware, I could not pretend otherwise. The apple had been bitten, if unwittingly.


I’m surprised how little I wrote of it at the time, almost like I was afraid to lend credence to the whole crazy thing by putting ink to paper. And the rest, well…


“So then, God’s will be done, whether death it be or life. For that drink has poisoned me sweetly. I do not know what the death of which you tell is to be, but this death suits me well. And if delightful Isolt is to continue to be my death this way, I shall gladly court an eternal death.” (Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By, p. 160)


Journal 17FEB98

Been going out of my head in a most severe kind of way since yesterday; all weekend really, but severely since yesterday.


The clouds were low and gray Monday morning and the air was heavy. A sense of expectancy hung heavy, left over from the night before. It felt like a cross between the summer of ’92 and sometime back when I was a kid, Riverside maybe.

*****

I sit here and say to myself, but I can’t feel this way! I’ve felt similar to this before but it ended, how can you be sure that this is it? But love, or falling in love isn’t an absolute, it doesn’t happen once for good and all. It’s a phenomenon, like the weather, I guess; certain causes/stimuli give rise to conditions that can be explained/predicted. What am I really saying? This is so important, the stakes are so high that I cannot be involved haphazardly.

*****

I’m going to beat my way around this bush ‘cause I don’t want to come flat out and say it. I do but I don’t.


There are so many dynamics— I just hope that I’m confused.


So many times, so much, I have been defined, myself, by crisis. I feel like Wolverine with Cyclops and Jean Gray.


Little Fin

And I lead you

to the edge of the Black Forest

to see the Beast

wired to the tree there—

no longer to stalk my dreams.

The way your eyes shone

in the headlights that night

as we drove north

hands on the wheel

smiling

softly your gaze.


I would dream you a million stars

in a lifetime of summer afternoons

and fire-fly-lemonade evenings

burning in the night

if only you could stay,

for just a while.


Journal 22FEB98

And I can’t explain it, because Monday I was crazy about her, chock-full of emotion. And Saturday, I am so very much more calm in comparison. And it makes me wonder. If I feel something I want it to be what I feel, not some God-knows-what unconscious part of me crying wolf. So what am I to think? What is the bottom line, the standard? I feel betrayed by myself somehow. Not that my life is ruled by my emotions but I look to them as pointers, inside information. And I’m afraid now “not to be in love with her” because it would mean that I’m as whimsical as the breeze.


I don’t think that my feelings for her have changed but just…I don’t know; those couple of days were like a wake-up call, somebody jerking you around by the neck. And as I sit here writing all this, I realize that I have to trust in myself, in the Great Tao, or all is lost and I will be divided against my self forever.


Dream- Stonehenge Dame

She has shoulder-length brown hair and wide, deep green eyes and a smile to die for. She lives by a ring of trees that looks like a Stonehenge. This accounts for her peculiar quirkiness. She has the ability to mesmerize with her voice. I was lying on the floor on my stomach and she was talking and it was like the most sensual, erotic backrub I’d ever had.


Her mother wasn’t sure she approved of me and picked me up in a whirlwind and threw me out on my ass. I think she did it though ‘cause she really likes me.


She has sisters but I’m not sure if she’s the youngest. She’s younger than I am but she’s so mature and wise. She understands me.


We were horsing around once and I accidentally broke her collarbone. I picked her up and carried her out to my Jeep in my arms and took her to the emergency room. Some other people were there, her friends. She fell asleep and I walked down to the beach. I felt like shit for having done that to her, I was half-asleep and half-awake. She came to me in a dream, like a ghost, to tell me it was alright. She climbed into my lap like a slinky cat and made love to me by the sea.


Journal 24FEB98

Your emotions…what the hell are they for? I feel betrayed by mine. A week ago I was so completely overwhelmed by her that I could hardly sit still, like I was on fire; how was I going to go on without her in my life? Now it’s like nothing in comparison. Was it just a giant slap to the head to get my attention or just the weather or some chemical imbalance?


I don’t understand my emotions. I’m an expert at manipulating them but I don’t know what they mean. I have no workable perspective, no definable scale. I mean, what is love? It’s somewhere on the other side of hate, you can’t be good at one without being good at the other. I know so many people who love what they hate (or love to hate) and I think you can only truly hate what you love— all of which implies intimacy, but more on that in a minute.


I used to think I knew what love was. I honest to God loved Kim, but now I don’t know what that entailed, what it felt like— like knowing that you once did ride a bike but not exactly knowing how you did it, the specifics. And there were times when I was with her where I wondered how I knew? What did any of it mean?


What are the ingredients of love? Respect, attraction, trust, compatibility, friendship? Bla bla bla! Just more words that are defined by more words with more meanings and so on. What the fuck does any of it mean?


Intimacy is trusting someone enough to let them inside your head, you heart, your soul. That you can be exactly yourself, not the mask, that they will be honest but not overly critical, that they will be gentle, non-judgmental, understanding and empathetic. God, more words…


Untitled

Saving her emails: sometimes responses

to mine, sometimes unprovoked

like watching the seasons

pass over the still and silent sea.


From: "Gwen"

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:08:23

Subject: Re: Hey...


Ok then.... about your email from last week- I'm not ignoring you, I just didn't want to send a knee-jerk reaction all by itself without a considered response attached to it. But it turns out that both responses are the same thing~ AND~ if you're going to take my answer(s) personally, that is, to beat yourself up with later or to beat me up with later because I said them about you (but not about you~ about your argument) then just delete this now- I'm not arguing about the argument and its personal ramifications besides. That's my disclaimer. Don't think that I don't know that it won't do any good.


That said- accept duality. It exists. It works. It’s not up to you to resolve everything to clear and precise detail. Hey. Who the hell is the logical thinker here anyway? If you're so damned right brained then why is it that you need to analyze and (damn- lost the word. All that studying for the GRE went right through my fluff) dismantle everything, for that matter, everybody? Hmmmm? And…what makes you think you GET TO KNOW anyone to the point where you've got them figured out? You might know people very, very well. I think you know most of your friends better than they know themselves, and its because you put in the time and the effort to get them figured out- most people wouldn't bother- but my point here (and I do have one, or more) is that I don't think anybody GETS to know. That and you need to accept that there will never, never, never, never, not ever, never be one answer to everything. Never. Not going to happen. Never.


That's my two cents for today; and darn early in the day too.


I'm reading this back now and it sounds harsh. I don't mean to be vicious, but I do mean to be assertive and direct. Get your ass out here so we can talk :).


Gotta run, K?

me


Journal 18MAY98

This thing with Gwen has got me down. It seemed that I had quit thinking about her and then the latest thing comes up. I don’t know why it is, but we just can’t seem to find a common ground. And I know that part of it is my fault just because I won’t be 100% honest with her because I don’t feel that I can. I don’t trust her enough to trust me to be totally honest. I don’t feel that I’ve been invited across the unspoken boundaries that I perceive between us.


06JUN98— Unsent letter to Gwen:

Gwen, Gwen, Gwen …


I once caught shit for saying that I couldn’t have a serious conversation with you, a lot of shit as I remember, in some stupid Mexican restaurant/bar with Ivan and West. But, you can’t have serious conversations with people who accuse of you of premeditating them. The gap between my grokking of you and my understanding is so huge as to make neither worthy for points of reference. What you imply hints at unplumbed depths, what you say is stark 2-D. I wave and smile— “later”. What else can I say? Goodbye Ice Princess.


From: "Gwen"

Subject: No pictures!

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 19:24:54


Hey you-


My stupid ‘puter won't open your Pete's picture. Maybe it needs rum first?


Did you get my buffalo/brain cell joke?


Things are same old same old here- except my good friend Ivan seems to be missing.

I haven't seen the boy for weeks. He's taking me to McDonald's tonight, though.

Whoo-hoo!! Dinner out on the town!!


Give everybody a poke in the tummy for me, K?

K.

C ya


Gwen


26JUN98— Unsent letter to Gwen:

The last time I talked to you for about forever…it all used to be so easy; I was just me— lovable, laughable rummie. Nothing to worry about except where the next drink was coming from. Now, I wander around lost because I don’t have a direction, a plan, a destination. And how could I— trapped in a holding pattern? The only two directions: forward/ingress or departure…and I seem stuck at the failsafe point.


Frustration. I owe you an apology that I’ll never be able to explain lest the (terrible) truth be known, guessed, insinuated. I have listened without hearing— substituting me own thoughts and projections for your words. And yet, it’s not just me. We continually “just miss” connecting. But maybe that is the unpardonable sin, the bridge too far.


Feeling Mountains

So often

these days

I see mountains

whenever I drive west.


10AUG98

Colorado Springs:

Ah god, where to start? A lot has happened in the last two days. I need to shave.


So many impressions, swamped by them. Inundated with insinuation, it’s all almost too much. She has done such a good job of hiding; I cannot begin to find a path to where she is. I am totally at a loss— which doesn’t happen all that often. And I don’t think that I will discern it on my own, I truly don’t. The path will only ever become clear if she chooses to reveal it to me, which I can hardly being to speak to.


The other option, one that she would sometimes have me believe, is that this is it, all there is, that there isn’t any more to her, nothing secret, nothing hidden. It’s all too pat though, too neat, too scripted for me to believe.


Journal 14AUG98

I must be losing my mind…looking at these pictures from some night at Pete’s. There’s one where I’m talking and she’s listening. I know we were talking at least semi-serious. She cares. She cared back then. And now the weird part…the rest of the pictures— it’s like she knows and is taunting me. Not badly, but because I don’t remember, because I haven’t remembered for so long. What does she know? What is she waiting for?


Journal 21AUG98

Interesting thought— for so long, felt like I’ve had to stand guard between people I care about and some dark, unknown part of myself. But maybe it’s not myself I’m standing between but something outside of my self— a general darkness of life.


I’ve said or repeated that you don’t choose who you fall in love with. But, you can’t say that and also say that, in one way or another you control everything that happens to you.


From: "Gwen"

Subject: Re: What you said...

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1998 20:06:39


Okay. Stay with me here. You said something along the lines of being friends was weird because we really just met and that you felt bad about "dumping" on me and that you shouldn't rant on and so on and so forth and I was replying with the pitch/throw stuff meaning that if you can dish it babe, I can deal- and that you were smart to realize that occasionally I tend to over-react and not process thoughts well and just generally miss the point entirely and have done so in the past and it has landed us in more than one argument (only we really were just bickering about the same thing and no one was going to win because we were both of the same opinion, but both of us just wanted to win one and it just got away like that) So. Sometimes when I write stuff like that I answer your retort for you and then comment on my perception of your reaction. How's that??


So this gets back to my point about arguing about things that we're not arguing about. And all I was saying is that I am going to make a concerted effort not to argue for the sake of argument…only when absolutely necessary. I don't know how you feel about it but these conversations-gone-awry trouble me. I get nervous. And I never know if I understood what I think you said and was never good at giving advice anyway- but you're not ever really looking for any and all I can do is break it down and then I get it twisted up and then I put it back on you. That's the way I work. So far- that's managed to isolate me from about every friend I ever had, except the ones that get it and didn’t blow me off.


Journal 24AUG98

For the most part, don’t think Gwen will like Twenty2 the Hard Way. Not even totally sure what I mean by that.

--She won’t like it aesthetically as a book/story?

--She won’t like it ‘cause it brings up her own things that she’d rather not think about?

--Won’t care?

--Won’t understand?


There’s a small, quiet, voice though that says she will like it very much for some reason or other and will respond to it.

*****

Kicking myself some times. How many times have I babbled and carried on that, “this is/might be the one,” only to have it end up nowhere near, feel like an idiot, feel betrayed by my emotions? But how the hell am I supposed to know, especially in this circumstance? Yeah, I’ve probably jumped the gun, but all you can know and sometimes say, is what you feel and hopefully that you acted the best you knew how/could.


Funny I guess, away from Gwen, I don’t want to say I’m devoid of feeling for her, but most noticeably is the absence of any kind of fear or terrible ache/longing that I have so often associated with love (?), romance (?).


Dream- Kilo of Children

I was walking though the Kennedy (CV-67), twisty-maze-ish, tight P-ways— wires and pipes running through the overhead and numerous unnamable boxes jutting out from the bulkheads.


We were traveling through some canal, the Suez perhaps. Suddenly I am in the water maybe half a mile in front of the Kennedy and they are going to GQ stations ‘cause one of the lookouts spotted a periscope in the water off the forward port quarter. Between me and the Kennedy are two subs on the surface, boomers, and they both have their missile hatches open. The one on the left is a US boomer and it launches two missiles that go up maybe one hundred feet and then crash down on the other, enemy sub, sinking it.


Near me, to my right, an LA class SSN makes an impressive emergency surfacing, shooting out of the water and crashing back into it like a breaching whale.


Next, I can just make out the silhouette of a sub underwater coming right towards me. It surfaces under me and I am taken prisoner, below decks as it re-submerges.


The crew of the vessel are all children— thin, gaunt, eastern European looking, and not one over eighteen. Some of them look like they might be five or six.


The captain is around sixteen years old, give or take— thin, gaunt, but full of confidence and self knowledge— a Peter Pan to this crew of his.


I’m hustled down a narrow P-way, standard naval issue. From out of every nook and cranny these kids are coming out to look at me with wide eyes.


I’m telling the CO that according to the Geneva Conventions I am a prisoner of war and must be treated accordingly. He replies that I was found in the water, that I must be a spy, and THAT is how I will be treated.


I’m left in this room and this young girl comes in. She can’t be over seventeen but she is attractive. I don’t think we say anything to each other, but she leans over and kisses me (out of curiosity??). She has put herself at great risk by doing this ‘cause she’d be in a great amount of trouble if it were found out that she had done this.


After that I went to take a shower in this tiny head and was naked but I didn’t care.


Journal 31AUG98

Talking to Bob last night at Lynch’s and he asked me if I loved her, the same thing Dave asked me Sat night on the way back from Pete’s. My answer was better Sunday though.


I said that I still wasn’t sure enough to seriously use the word (love) in a sentence but that, if the situation arose honorably, I felt (and this is based on incomplete and not totally accurate info) that I would be happy spending the rest of my life with her. Not totally romantic I guess, but it is a starting place though.

*****


Note I wrote inside Gwen’s book—


Up until five minutes ago, I was full of wit and wisdom just waiting to be jotted down here. But now I can’t think of a damned thing to say, the music is annoying as hell, and I feel as witty (and wise) as a turtle on roller-skates.


Many times I have found that it is easier to talk to strangers than to people you care about, simply because you don’t really give a damn if they understand what you’re trying to say or what they think of you when they walk away. Often I’ve found myself trying to say something to you while not saying it at all


I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say here and even if I was, I’m not sure I’d say it. No hidden meanings, just that I care and hope you like the book. If you do, Joseph Campbell has written a great deal about mythology, the collective unconscious, and what not, that is very interesting. In any case, hope ya like it and that it doesn’t put you to sleep.


From: "Gwen"

Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 22:15:28 -0600

Subject: Re: I'm a loser, baby


Hey you!


I just went to check my email and had 10 ka-trillion messages piled up, turns out I don't check them any too often anymore since I’m back to being a scientist and all (for whatever that's worth).


Well. I got your very serious message and I can just see you sitting there typing and squirming and pushing your drink around and making that face you make when you're saying stuff like that. Just to confirm- nope. I don't live in your head. It's all you, buddy.


I think you give me a lot more credit than I deserve in the thinking area. Lots of times I go to think and not much goes on in there. Honest to god- thinking can be tough. Sometimes I can think all I want and not get a thing out of it. That's the truth. (ptttpth :0)~ )


Ya know- I'm gonna go ahead and pick a bone with you and that there bone is this...it is OK to unload on your friends, else you go nuts. If you can't unload on your friends, then they ain't (your friends, that is). Ok? Bone 2: You ARE a good listener, and if I feel as though you aren't paying attention, I'll let you know. Ask your good friend Ivan about not paying attention and hearing about it later. :0) I'm not a religious gal, but I've put in that man for saint hood. You should see me. I'm a mess. And~ I'm a crabby mess. You wouldn't know me anymore. Well. Maybe ya would. Bone 3: I was going to tell you that it really isn't so necessary to be so cautious about what you say, considering we're all friends here and I should be able to handle whatever you pitch without throwing a fit, but if I were you, past experience would dictate otherwise. Good call, no, really, I promise I'll stop analyzing everything word for word and twisting it up and spitting it back all wrong. It's really not good for either of us.


OK. That said, I finally figured out that you are not @aol and that would be why my emails from school come back all of the time. I was writing to tell you about my hero, Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Now, I don't know WHY, after reading 20 zillion journal articles last week, I decided I didn't have enough to do or enough to read so I went to the library and picked up a little novel called Cat's Cradle and I am going to the store sooooon to get you your own personal copy. Here's a little excerpt from like, the first chapter:


"The trouble with the world was," she continued hesitatingly, "that people were still superstitious instead of scientific. He said if everybody would study science more, there wouldn't be all the trouble there was."


"He said science was going to discover the basic secret of life someday," the bartender put in. He scratched his head and frowned. "Didn't I read in the paper the other day where they'd finally found out what it was?"


"I missed that,” I murmured.


"I saw that," said Sandra. "About two days ago."


"That's right,” said the bartender.


"What is the secret of life?” I asked.


"I forget,” said Sandra.


"Protein," the bartender declared. "They found out something about protein."


"Yeah,” said Sandra, "that's it."


My hero.


Anyway. It turns out to be my answer to "What I believe." I was so excited I sent my email to the wrong damn server. I'm a Bokonist for sure, and I'm thinking about having it put on my license plate. Ha!!


So. Sorry for not responding sooner. You probably think I'm avoiding you but really I just didn't look at my email for a while, that's all. Ivan is a super good buddy, as well he should be because it would really suck to be married to your arch enemy or something, but it's nice to "unload" on somebody besides him every once in awhile. Besides, he doesn't really understand or like Kurt Vonnegut, and I have a feeling you do.


School is ok but the drive really, really sucks- even if you sleep through most of it. Things are going as well as being expected in the lab. I haven't done anything yet that I don't have to do over. That's why they call it RE- search.


I have a cell phone now. I usually keep it on when I'm not in class or way, way busy. Ok.


Alrighty?

Ok then. I will catch you later.


"Send Chocolate"

Gwen


06SEP98— Unsent letter to Gwen:


Gwen,


Here’s what I was really trying to say:


This is just going to come out— in not particular order and that’s the only apology I’ll make for the rest of the time.


The problem doesn’t lie with you but with me and what I’m willing to risk. And with you guys right now, it hasn’t been that much. And what I mean is, not that I don’t trust you, ‘cause if I didn’t we wouldn’t even be here talking about this, but that (without being too melodramatic) I don’t think you know what you’re getting into. All of this goes much deeper than I think you see and I can’t/won’t ask you to be my guardian angel (so to speak). It has to be voluntary. I used to play games to get attention when I was younger and I hated it ‘cause it cheapened me and made me feel like my dad. So, I’m always looking, checking that my intentions, statements, or actions are honorable and that I’m not luring someone into anything. I don’t want to hurt you guys and since Kim, I ‘m all too painfully aware of how good I am and how easy it is to do so unintentionally.


And that probably brings up the question “what the hell is all this that is so serious and that you’re so afraid of?” Well, if I knew the answer to that, all this would be a moot point.


There’s a part of me buried way deep down that is just so dark. I don’t know what it is or why it is. It is deadly serious and protective. Its darkness comes from the feeling that it has done something so terrible that it can never be forgiven for what it has done, nor ever be loved by anyone. It is a picture of a small boy standing watch over his dead puppy whose death he is not responsible for but has assumed. He has forsaken every joy in life and growing up to stand guard over his fallen friend, killing anyone who ventures too near without the proper air of respect— his watch words are duty and honor.


That is the metaphor that feels the most right. Psychologically I think it represents something that I know or did that I have buried in my subconscious. I have posted a guard over it because subconsciously, I fear that to learn the truth would kill me. In trying to understand that was going on for me seven years ago I just labeled it as “the/my Beast”.


The self-loathing and hatred is so intense sometimes it threatens to consume me and I don’t even know for what; what sin I must repent for, seek salvation for. There is hope though, this kid secretly hopes that someone will come along (me) that can right this terrible wrong and restore his dog to life, thereby abdicating him of his sin and his duty to remain trapped in time. If it were not for this hope, I honestly believe that I would not be alive today.


I carry this hidden inside and, for the most part, I think I do a damned good job of not letting on. Sometimes though, it leaves me feeling so wounded and alone. Beauty and the Beast seems the best metaphor for me because, secretly, I feel like the beast— trapped, hideous, dangerous and with time running out.


Maybe you can see now why I’m so damned cautious about letting anyone get too near. Unless you know what you’re getting into and what to possibly expect I don’t see how you can’t end up getting hurt. You have to have some idea and choose to go on anyway, because the only way you’ll be able to go on, to be of help is to risk everything about yourself, to be painfully honest about yourself. You can’t just sit on the sidelines with this one and comment on the action. In your own way, you will become as involved as me.


I want so desperately to ask for your help, because for some reason I don’t understand, I know you care. But I won’t because I don’t think it’s fair to you, and on top of all that, I’m left with the strange feeling that you would end up knowing me better than you would Ivan…and I can’t ask that.


Dante had Beatrice accompanying him in his descent into hell. I can’t do this by myself— or maybe more aptly, this quest can’t be completed by an individual alone. And for reasons that I can’t explain and might not even know, the counterpart has to be female.


And now it’s starting to look like I’m walking around trying to find someone to play Dr. to my patient, savior to my sinner and it isn’t that at all. Just to have someone to listen, who cared, and who wouldn’t judge me with my own eyes.


From: "Gwen"

Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 11:44:29

Subject: I'll hold you to that drink


Hey.


I am going to barrel through that this weekend and I will send it back to you on Monday. It fits in a priority mail envelope so you should have it in a few days. Alrighty?


I promise that you'll get it back- even though I managed to uphold the stereotypical girl thing and it is in a pile of things to read and hasn't been read and it wasn't going to be sent until it was, but I understand you want it back and I'll get it back to you soon, K? K.


Letter From Gwen

27 September 1998


Ok. I am finally returning your book. You’ll notice I did not feed it to Twitch, although I saw him eye it one day and drool a little. So I sent some other stuff with it, mostly the journal you forgot (you Target victim, you) and the new book I love ~ which you might not want at all, but I have sent it just the same.

I’m good like that


So, I wanted to thank you for sending me “22” and letting me read it. I liked it. I really did and I’m not just saying that. You’re a good writer ~ but I think you know that already. I think— nope, I know damn well that it takes balls to write that way ~ well, to write it down at all is hard. You- you have the ability to write down what you think + feel + tell about where you were and there’s nothing special about that— what you do is bring someone else there ~ and that’s a gift. And it may torment you- but it’s your gift and there are lots of people, including myself, who only wish to be so lucky as to be able to tell things in a way that will make other people think and understand.


So, I’ve been thinking about you lots and I’ll admit I worry about you some ~ but not as much as I used to. And whether you like it or not ~ it has been seen fit that we meet + become friends and here we are. Some strange place, huh? I don’t know why I feel the way I do about you. I don’t know what draws me to you, or what it is I’m supposed to do for you, or what you’re supposed to do for me. God knows you’ll never be able to call me for advice. In case you didn’t know— I give shitty advice. But I hope you never again feel like you’ve been a burden to me, like you’ve said too much, or can’t say what you think. I would hope to be a better friend than that.


So it goes.


Did I fumble that up? Yes. No. Oh god. No. I meant all of it.


Let it go— the

smashed word broken

open vow or

the oath cracked length

curse— let it go it

was sworn to

go


let them go— the

truthful liars and

the false fair friends

and the boths and

neithers— you must let them go they

were born

to go


let all go— the

big small middling

tall bigger really

the biggest and all

things— let all go

dear

so comes love.


Journal 30SEP98

And I read her words

her trembling naked soul

and I know in the most sacred (part/of) my being—

that I will dark, ignoble, repentant/guilty/maniacal/

misunderstood/ and solitary

that I will love her 4ever

that nothing (anyone has ever believed in)

could keep me from her side

that time and time again

I would/will rise 4th

2 commit the highest atrocities

and (commit the) deepest sins in her name

that I would cross any distance

surmount any barrier

and suffer any fate

to answer her call

~~~~~~

her choice of words— so apt/selections-

cuts right through my defenses 2the

last one

piercing my heart like a cold dagger

and I cry out in loneliness and pain

salvation, understanding/has never been so close

and yet so far away.

*****

At the risk of sounding wise, I have been drawn from my protective shell of self-sworn ignorance and ineloquence. And I can assure you, that, while I wasn’t looking, it disappeared forever. I only meant to get drunk tonight and scribble down the dirty secrets of my dark insanity in an effort to understand. I never expected to be touched in such a way as to remember the stars and cools night breezes in my hair.

*****

How could I have been so fucking blind?? She gave me the key to the tower once and I didn’t even fucking see it. She said it all to me, every single little bit of it and I missed it all, every single little fucking bit of it.

*****

You words, a telescope into the distant celestial of you.


02OCT98— Unsent note to Gwen:

I so badly want to talk to you, forever, about everything. But I’ve been holding back (it’s okay this time) because it’ll all come out garbled— like trying to taste a drop on your tongue in a waterfall. I will wait till I can put something together that accurately parallels my thoughts.


And now that I say that, that was one of the most striking things about what you sent— the amount of thought that went into your words and your selections. The power of that thoughtfulness lent it all an air of sincerity and compassion that would not have otherwise been possible.


After talking to Kirah, I was ready to pull chocks and wave goodbye. I could feel the darkness coming on again, signaling the approach of the Beast. I could not bear the thought of dragging you into that and had decided to cut my ties to the minimum; thereby hoping to protect you and Ivan, who I love so much. Your words though, stopped me like a bullet through the heart and made me wonder.


You cannot put into words

what you do not know

you cannot know

what you do not understand

you cannot understand

what you have not experienced

and so whether you meant to

or not

you put into words

something I knew and understood

making me realize that we have had

experiences that were similar.


04OCT98— Unsent note to Gwen:

Every time I read your words it makes my heart tremble to fly as your soul brushes mine. To know that every word, every though so delicately laid within and carefully penned onto supple paper was meant for me, just for me, makes me dizzy with ecstasy.


I seem to recall writing or saying to you once, “…the things we would be able to talk about if we could just come out from behind our walls.” I couldn’t honestly say though if you wanted to step our from behind your defenses, if I was supposed to even know of their existence, if I was intruding. In my own careless way, I ‘m like a kid sometimes; where something will catch my mind/curiosity and I’m off after it without a thought. And eventually, suddenly, I’ll look up to see where I’m at and go, uh oh, I wonder if I’m supposed to be here, seeing what I’m seeing?


I know I’ve said it before, but I live a great deal in my head and most people don’t even begin to fathom what a big place that can be. And although I don’t necessarily pride myself for it, I have developed quite an extensive array of barriers to keep others out and myself in.


Ever so slowly, since that night when I told you you don’t have to worry about having a serious conversation with Gwen…because you can’t, I have been inching/sliding/tiptoeing/crawling from behind those defenses. For some reason that I still can’t even begin to fathom, I want(ed) you to know/understand me. And what is even weirder/stranger to me is that I trust you implicitly, like I’ve known you forever.


I’ve been hesitant though, more out of the fear that I couldn’t justify laying a trip like this on someone you care about for any reason. In fact, the reason I asked for 22THW back so abruptly was because I realized that it’s not over yet; and at that point I was considering to what extent I needed to cut the ties between us, to serve as a buffer. And then your letter came…


Dream- Poems and Failure


I’m in a building mildly reminiscent of the animal building at summer camp and the aquarium in Key West— however; the place is supposed to be an art museum and is celebrating Mexican Appreciation Month— really, no joke.


Anyway, I’m in there with Gwen and we are a bit distant though I’m not sure why. Somehow I feel I’m responsible and this is supposed to be my apology.


This place does NOT look like an art museum. In fact, it looks more like the kinda place that you pull over for on the highway, miles from nowhere, and it has a sign outside that says something like, “See the Oddities of Nature,”— really third rate. I think there were even bales of hay to sit on inside.


There are several display cases out in the center of the main hall, really cheap— Scotty’s home lumber and Plexiglas— not even painted. I want to show Gwen this one display ‘cause her poem is in it, written on a nice piece of heavy bond paper in beautiful calligraphy.


But it’s not there— sadly, her poem had nothing to do with Mexicans and was taken out. Once again, I feel like a complete jackass!


09OCT98— Unsent letter to Gwen:

Jesus Gwen,


What did I say this time? First this letter where you say that I hope I know that I can talk to you and then when I call I can’t get a word out of you (which I really haven’t been able to do all along) about anything. Did I misunderstand something? Did you mean to say that I can talk at you but you reserve the right to remain silent? I might as well just talk to you in my own head.


I don’t know what’s going on and it’s making me nervous as hell. All of a sudden, and I do not know how at all, I find myself back in the exact same fucking place I was with Kim in ‘91/’92 and it is scaring the living hell out of me.


I didn’t know then how to say, “I hurt, I need your help,” and I don’t now. Furthermore, it goes against my own fucking code of honor to ask for help; and even if it didn’t, there is no way in hell that I could even justify on any grounds bringing you into this.


And now I’m stuck— I can’t talk to you about this, if I tried to explain we would only end up arguing and I’m afraid of that, I could send your letter and poems back but that would only hurt where I don’t want to, or I could just disappear out of your life— and that might hurt, but I think it would hurt the least of all.


I don’t have the energy for this. Not for this and trying save myself, not unless you are somehow tied up in the latter and I just don’t know. I just feel that I’m going to have to risk/bet everything I have to get through this and what we have now is so damned important to me, if tenuous, that I would rather give it up completely than risk it and lose it.

*****


Walking out of work it hit me that this isn’t about some stupid crush. There’s something deeper and I don’t understand. It’s all a complicated dance and not a very graceful one at that and I don’t know, can’t see where it’s leading. We seem to be locking horns all the time and I don’t understand why.


Journal 12OCT98

Thinking about Kim and myself the other day and I saw things in a slightly different way.


I thought that I could make everything all right for her through the sheer effort of my will. After some time, this alone would have been enough to make her mad, it ignoring certain facts about grieving and being more concerned with alleviating the suffering rather than supporting the growth of the individual. In any case, it began to make me mad because here I am busting my hump to try to make things better and it’s not working so I feel she’s ungrateful and bad/impotent because I couldn’t make things better for her.


Add to that that I have totally ignored my own grieving which is piling up on top of everything else. It further makes me mad because, in the relationship, she get’s to be the “needy” one and I don’t— her grief is more real, more important than my own. And as if that wasn’t enough, my whole fucking life— a sea of shit and bad ju-ju’s has kicked down the door and is damn near drowning me.


I didn’t know how to ask for help. Didn’t know how to show her how much I was hurting…and how could I? She was already going through a suicide; what kind of bastard would I have been to add my own problems? If I had been a better man, perhaps, I would have kept my silence and walked away. That at least would have been honorable.


And what ended up happening was that I half tried to call out to her and half tried to swallow my anger and keep my mouth shut and all that came out were angry, hateful words that pretty much put the nails in the coffin of our relationship. It’s funny, I guess, I really didn’t understand it all till I saw When A Man Loves A Woman.


And now I find myself, it seems, in almost the same spot with Gwen, though our relationship is nothing like mine and Kim’s. And I am again at a loss for to explain or understand what is happening or why. Once again I couldn’t keep my fucking mouth shut and I still don’t know how to ask for help; not that it matters because I can’t justify on any grounds asking someone I care about to take on this burden.


Journal 13OCT98

She said, “Could we continue this later?”

I called last night and

no one was home

she will not call tonight

I will never call again.


Journal 15OCT98

Sept. 2nd I wrote, “When the time comes, you will know the words.” At the time I couldn’t have told you why I wrote it, only that I liked (the implied meaning) it.


For the last two weeks I have searched desperately, vainly, for the right words and have continually felt let down by not even having a sense of what they were. Despair. I was willing to make one last-ditch effort at trying to explain to Gwen before leaving. If she still did not understand, the only options I could see were to (continue to) hurt her by berating her with subsequent attempts and hating her for not understanding or to walk away in silence. And honor dictated that I choose the latter. This was the mistake I made with Kim. The situation isn’t exactly the same here but it feels like it.

*****


“Silly boy,” she laughed, “our stories are so intermingled that to try to run from me would be like trying to kill yourself.”


“I know,” he replied, glumly staring at his shoes, “I almost did both.”


She looked up quickly, concerned, “I…I didn’t know it hurt that much…”


He laughed quietly to himself, “How could you?”





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