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.

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