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, February 14, 2012

Chapter VII.3

Confessions of a Frog (prince) Extraordinaire

So…where did we leave off?  Ah yes:

0945 local
It’s been blowing since I got back— no good for fishing. And tomorrow I make the completely unbelievable flight out to San Diego to see Gwen. Never in a million years could I, did I imagine this happening. God knows I dreamed about it; but now is no longer then and I haven’t the slightest idea what to feel…except a pretty damned good certainty that my heart will be racing like mad and both of my feet will likely be in my mouth.

I’ve wanted to babble at her the whole time I was in Afghanistan but for the most part, wisdom prevailed. It’s not that…well, it’s that with the distance, email is bad and even now that I’m back, I don’t have her on the radar aside from a few blips here or there. I probably know more about her days than anyone, but I don’t have a clue what she’s thinking or feeling. I ache to talk to her but don’t even know if I can, will, or even have the right to.

What Happens in San Diego is…Inexplicable

Sitting in San Diego Airport waiting for my flight outta here— this has been the craziest weekend.  Never would have imagined it in a million years… and yet I still don’t have much more than, if that, a clue as to what is/has gone on.

Sitting here with my fingers intertwined and was sad, looking up and realizing that both hands were mine and that one hand didn’t belong to Gwen.

In the Margins (of my notebook):
-The heart and the mind very rarely agree—the heart is obstinate and the mind is stubborn.  As emotions are often not, or misunderstood, the mind wins out, more often than not, when the two don’t agree.  I wonder what my heart knows that I don’t…or is it just crazy.

I Hate Leaving San Diego
He sat there
  his back against a pillar
  sifting through
  the weekend’s events
  as the PA system
  called out departure gates.
He looked down
  at his hands,
  fingers intertwined,
  and realized that
  they were both his—
  none of them hers
  and the loneliness
  washed over him like a tsunami
  there in the midst
  of the glass, marble,
  and fluorescent lighting.

0633 local
Philadelphia Airport
God I hate this place.  The flight out was complete crap— stupid airbuses without the adjustable headrests and the pillow so stiff as to effectively be a lump of wood— a harsh, bitter sleep (without her by my side).

Have to write about the events of the weekend but am not sure where to even start.  Right now, my heart feels like it’s breaking— and it may not be and that feeling may not even be indicative of the situation as a whole, but god it aches right now and I wonder how I got here again and just what the hell I know.

The PA system is playing some unknown classical music right now, not really what I am in the mood for.  I have my Ipod but my computer deleted about half the songs on it the night before I flew out, which of course, is the half I would want to listen to—which leaves me with phrases of Bob Mould’s The Last Night playing in my head, the song playing (ironically) as we drove into the short-term parking lot— not much comfort.

Last Tue/Wed had wanted to sit down and write a bit before going out to SD but just didn’t have much time as there were still (and still are) a million things to do after getting back from Afghanistan.  I wanted to write because on the eve of possibly the most momentous flight I could remember I didn’t feel anything, which was disconcerting.  I wondered how that could be and, for the first time, if this trip was a good idea. 

When I woke up Thursday morning without getting a call or an email back from Gwen am peevishly annoyed and suddenly the trip seems like a hassle and I don’t want to go.  This is further exasperated by the unavoidable fact that she has not called me once except to return my calls, since I’ve been back.  And I wonder…

We’re having drinks down by the sea, after I’ve flown in THU afternoon, and she casually mentions that “the German” likely isn’t going to leave his family to be with her, even after she flew to Germany to see him.  To my credit, I don’t choke or spit out my drink and am quietly quiet only long enough to signal that I am not pleased and then pick back up the conversation like nothing had happened— my head spinning.

Fairly well liquored up, we stop at some hippy grocery store on the way back to her place to get some stuff for dinner.  I run off to the bathroom— I did actually have to piss— to call my sis for advice, only I’d forgotten about the three hour time difference (still messed up from Kabul) and hang up after three rings. 

I’m not pissed, but it’s apparent that there are some fundamental and major differences between my perceptions/beliefs and the ground truth.  Dinner is incredible and afterwards, while sitting at her little table, I ask her, why am I here…if she’s dating.  I was pretty well lit at this time and I don’t think that I was aggressive, mean, or angry but I know it could have been done better.  Conversely, I‘d had enough to drink where I was fairly calm about the whole thing.

She replied that she was dating lots of people and that I was out here because we were old friends and to see where things were between us, if there was any potential future.  A reasonable answer and I backed off some, reiterating that if she was “dating” (there seems to be some play in the word) someone than I didn’t want to get in between or play the one-up the other guy game and that I’d appreciate it if she’d just be straight up with me and not jerk me around.

What I realized the next morning was just how far off my and her perceptions were from each other.  From the time I called her in DEC05, before leaving for ‘Astan, my picture/view, if you will, was that by talking to me and inviting me (after I asked) out that there was a mutual romantic interest on her part— boy do I feel stupid as I write that now. 

Except for the whole day talking and a few emails, we’ve had no interaction in some three year (the last time I saw her) and none really since ‘98/99.  My current view was largely based on these old interactions with Gwen and the little knowledge that came with them, things inferred from same, and I’m sure my hopes and dreams.  On top of that, my understanding, before I left for ‘Astan, was that she was going through some difficult times, and my goal was to try to keep her talking and to be as supportive as I could.

That started off well enough, but as the ‘Astan trip got crappier, there was a tendency for me to place her on a bit of a pedestal as a symbol (?): an icon of grace, a shoulder to lean on, the need to feel that there was someone in the world who cared just about you and missed you.  I hadn’t meant to do this and was aware that it was happening, partially, while in Qalat, where I realized that if Gwen didn’t exist, I would have to invent her— if there’s anything flattering here I guess that it’s that I’d want that “invention” to be just like her.

This is what I realized Friday morning and I feel bad for putting Gwen in this spot.  However, the other, smaller, side to this is that Gwen has not been completely up front with me and I’m not sure why.  The other thing, which I almost forgot, was that while we were talking, particularly while Gwen was explaining her position, she was facing me, leaning forward in her chair and rubbing my legs or resting both her hands on them— the dichotomy in the message completely threw me off and would prove to be the norm for the whole weekend.

We cleaned up after dinner and then we were sitting on her couch talking— what about I don’t remember— she was at one end and I was at the other, facing each other.  She started leaning forward and I did the same, thinking (I do remember this) to pass my head to the left (her right shoulder) and that we were going to hug.  Something told me not to break left but to hang on and a second later we were kissing.  I couldn’t have been more surprised…until she told me, “I’m not going to sleep with you,”…

Sneaky Bed
“Are we in bed again?
“How the hell did that happen?”

Yesterday…strange day.  Dropped off bills and a card for Gwen and then went to the mall to try and get my Ipod fixed but walked out since there was a 2 ½ hour wait.  Stopped at the new café for lunch—probably won’t go back—and was just struck by this sudden sense of unreality—like I had just woken up or come to there and all the stuff before was a dream or someone else running my body around on errands.

That whole feeling just carried over to the rest of the day.  Did my “professional” reading and then read some of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  Had put on U2—How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb—having not listened to the thing yet, which only added to the overall levels of perceived disconnect/weirdness.

Later, after dinner, sat out on the deck with a glass of wine, watching the last throes of the sunset and the planes flying into and out of MIA—more U2, more weirdness.  It’s happened so much you’d think that I’d get used to it.

Reading this morning; this books is resonating with me but I don’t know why yet; maybe the loss, my own trip through isolation.  At times it’s like I’m reading my own thoughts and internal conversations on the page; two stood out:

“When it’s a matter of expense versus convenience, the choice is not a choice.  While my mother would have driven forty miles for a half-priced tomato, I’ll pay $10 for it if it means I don’t have to get in the car.  It’s a matter of exhaustion, mostly.  Fatigue loosens my wallet…” (p. 77).

That is exactly how tired I feel after coming home from overseas or even a couple of months working on the road CONUS, like I barely have enough energy to get by.

“We are at an impasse, two parties with the same goal but, seemingly, no way to reconcile our ideas about getting there.” (p. 81)

Not a, possibly, inaccurate statement on the current state with Gwen and myself.  I feel like we are on opposite sides and I hate that, would gladly trade the confrontation and aloneness for team and trust.

Had hoped that she would call last night.  Trying to figure out what “realistic expectations” (for me) are—half not trusting my own judgment.  This morning, she seems so far away and the distance between us great.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been staying busy but often afflicted with this nervous energy which makes me nuts—can’t concentrate, nothing interesting, etc.  Spending a lot of time rowing or riding to beat it out of me and I am sore as hell for it.  I wanted to come home and do nothing and now I can’t, have to stay busy while trapped in this sweet/hellacious purgatory or else I’ll just mope.  Dammit!!

In the Margins:
-At about p. 75 I figured that Toph, the kid brother, doesn’t exist.

Rocky Mountain High…

Starting a new journal
Been quite a while since I last started one of these—at least three years, maybe more, I forget,

And I find myself waiting to fly out to Denver, in a vastly, colossally, different place; one that I quite honestly never would have ever dreamed I’d be in—namely owning (owing) a house, financially secure, and chasing Gwen…crazy!

I just remembered, thinking yesterday, that I have always been a little slower than everyone else in getting places and I can’t help thinking, somewhat ironically, that in the years since I last started a book I have somehow grown up some and for the first time a part of me, though very small, actually feels like an adult….wow, even crazier!

God I miss her!

Talked to Gwen last night, managed somehow to be drunker than I thought—stupid crappy pinot noir—and some of the conversation is gone, but I remember being pleased as punch about two things:  first, she mentioned, with a laugh, how weird this all was, it struck me as a huge, little step for her to acknowledge that; the other thing was that she thanked me for the disc I sent, which, again, although small, she runs the risk of “encouraging” me—which she has studiously gone out of her way to avoid doing.

I had to laugh this morning as I was going over the conversation in my head because she said she was going to the Coconino (??) Music Festival this weekend.  I was instantly jealous and I’m not even sure why—did I want her to stay home and pine away for me, c’mon?  Actually, it’s probably closer to the fact that she’s doing something fun without me, that I wish I was a part of whatever that might be.  In any case, I had to laugh at my ego-centric stupidity because before she told me that, I told her that I was flying to Denver to go to Rob and Wendy’s luau, which she was not invited to, nor would she have come if I had.

I really have to make sure that I haven’t drunk too much when I talk to her—every moment is precious and I can’t afford to lose one.  In addition, I get stupid.  Was fishing last night, asking her how I had changed re Iraq/‘Astan.  It was a semi-legitimate question because I was trying (on some level) to highlight that I was more “mature” than I used to be when she knew me at Pete’s.  In any case, I wanted to read her something I had written while in Iraq but she said no—in her defense, I think she was short on time and I give her credit for talking to me as long as she did.  However, it depressed me, wrongly so, and I can’t afford to be playing stupid games like this, fishing and trying to get her to say something I want to hear.  Jesus, I can be a fucking idiot!!!!  I can see an email apology coming up.

Unsent email/letter/quasi-random thought
I know that things have been weird for you/that you have been in a weird place, which I think is to be expected; don’t see how you could be any other way.  I’m sorry for being slow to get it.  I hope that that weirdness will fade and will be replaced with a sense of trust and ease or comfort.

Though I suspect, at least in the near term, it would be the last thing you would do, I just wanted you to know that you can bug me about anything at anytime—after all, it’s what I do.

Somewhere over the Midwest, drinking
Been thinking a lot these days—this shit with Gwen is doing that to me—and I find that I have arrived in a place that I thought I would never wind up.

Forever, a part of me has not wanted to be serious with anyone till I was in a good place.  I remember how guys laughed at me back in 4th or 5th grade, when I had a crush on Jennifer W., because I wanted to save up enough allowance to something with her before asking her out.  I wanted it to be something more than some recess-casual thing.  Conversely, though this will never happen now, was the dream of meeting my soul mate early on, young, and making the whole crazy trip together.  I was so envious of Gwen and Ivan on that account…oh well.

In any case, I now actually find myself, since last NOV, at the former.  I am, in many ways, established—have a place, money, a good professional reputation, and my prospects for work are good (at least as long as this junta remains in control).

It really started to hit me in the spring of ’04 while I was still in Baghdad with Global.  God I wanted my own place so bad, and missed my little place in Denver like hell.  Yeah, it was small, but it had been my place, my querencia.  And that is why I left Denver, had been considering it before I went to Iraq; was just so dissatisfied with the situation there where I had fallen into a rut that I just couldn’t get out of.  I could actually go back there now if I wanted to, because I’ve changed—it would be different.

But anyway, here I am honest-to-god chasing after Gwen—the timing of the whole thing just blows my mind!  Chasing after her at a time when I actually have some stability, something to offer, and maybe more importantly, feel like I do.  I am definitely, at least socioeconomically, more grounded than I was several years ago.  And for the first time ever, actually feel at least ballpark close to my actual age—holy shit!  Never thought I’d say any of that.  And I have to shake my head and laugh because even though I am the “it” here, there’s a part of me detached from it all, watching me reacting to all this and am just amused the hell out of the whole thing.

And the ironic part is, though by now I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess, that I really have no idea how it, any of it, happened.  Small-ball.  I didn’t set out to accomplish any of this, never wrote any of this down as a list of goals, never charted my success or lack of it; but instead, just tried to get through the next day the best I could.  It was a day, a job, a contract at a time—twenty-four hours in a day to jump on it with the spikey boots, as my Aussie friend used to say.

All of this is slowly dawning on me, and it’s making me giddy.  I remember, years ago, think it was the same summer I told my mom to fuck off and road-tripped to AZ because I wanted to see where I was born.  I don’t really remember why, but it was important to me.  I had only a couple hundred bucks and planned on paying all my gas on my Amoco card.  Unbeknownst to me, they didn’t have Amoco’s out west.  I forget exactly where they ran out or I realized that there weren’t going to be anymore, but it couldn’t have been much more than half way.  I just remember pulling into a rest stop for lunch and the terrible weight of that knowledge hitting me—I didn’t know how I could go on, abject failure, crying.  Took a nap, was emotionally exhausted.  Later, listening to Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, I get so much courage from the song—mistook the lyrics for “…my fear is my only courage, so I’ve got to push on through…” (they’re better actually) whatever gets you through I guess— without knowing how I was going to do it, I decided to push on; probably one of the bravest things I’ve ever done—threw myself in the river.  It was an amazing trip, but that’s not where I going here.

Later that summer, I was driving back to WMU from Chicago, where I’d flown into after visiting my dad out in CA.  I was listening to Jimmy Buffett—A Pirate Looks at 40 I think, or maybe He Went to Paris—and hadn’t even hit the Indiana border yet, night, and it just hits me as I’m driving along, like a ton of fucking bricks out of the dark blue, the sky crushing in on my in the anarchy-mobile: I am not who I am supposed to be; that somewhere so far back that I don’t remember, I and the other person I should be separated paths.  I’m just bawling—can’t believe that I didn’t drive off the fucking freeway—pulled into a gas station on the tollway and called my buddy from high school, Chris, ‘cause he was the only one who would understand.  Four months after that I joined the Navy—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ever since that night, I’ve been looking for something:  the cause, the thing/event that split me off from me.  At times I felt so close, others, the search almost destroyed me.  A few years ago, I reached a point where it no longer seemed as important as it once did and I, more or less at peace, resigned myself to the fact that I would never find it, never know.  But not once, until about fifteen minutes ago, did it ever occur to me that I should have been looking for someone, not something—myself.  How stupid can I be?

And where I’m going with all this—getting back to the point about being giddy—is that what is sinking in, is the knowledge, the knowing, the understanding, grokking, that the arcs of the one life split into two have reconnected and I have become the person that I was s’posed to be and lost all those years ago.  I feel reborn, like a butterfly, endless potential.  It will be slow going at first—still sloughing off old ways and habits…

The crazy thing is that I have no idea how I got here, none, none at all.  And the even crazier thing is that I believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now—this knowing—without you (Gwen, as he surreptitiously slips into a different tense), your impetus.  You, you have made me (sorry for the cliché) want to be a better person—bear with me (as you roll your eyes; I can see you doing it :P).  Admittedly, there have been other factors at work—coming back from a year in ‘Astan to a place you’ve barely lived in, it is easy to make (major) changes, no grooves have been created, and in a situation like that it is actually as easy to make many changes as it is to make one; nothing breeds success like success.  But, before the change, you have to have the desire, the impetus, and the thought— aka, Gwen

But there’s more:

In mythology, and I don’t just mean Greek here, in myths/stories of the soul the protagonist often journeys to a nether region, synonymous with death, in search of a cure or a knowledge or something.  The myth is the collective story of all journeys for self-knowledge/discovery.  However, once the hero has obtained his “pearl of great price/wisdom” he must return to the “land of the living” to complete his quest.  If he does not he will be trapped forever—neither dead nor alive (me for the last thirteen years).  The kicker here is that, and I could be wrong, it’s been a while, in order to return he needs to be recognized, what he has risked and accomplished.  Often, though not always, it is a woman that does this, fulfills this role.  Don’t ask my how, but I knew, have known, that this would be the case with me.

When I told you that first nigh in San Diego that you understood me like no one else ever had, I was serious.  I don’t know if you ever meant to, or were even aware of it, and the last thing I wanted to do was put an additional burden on you—great, now on top of everything else, I’m the “only one who understands”  FN Recondo.  And back in ’98, because there was obviously no chance of us being together, that is exactly what you represented—understanding, salvation, recognition.  I screwed that up pretty good though.  I’m afraid some of that thinking carried over with me on my visit— ’98 being all that I had to work off of.  I am sorry and have been slowly getting my head straight and caught up.

After seeing ya though, it really sank in that, although understanding me is a plus, it is not the main reason that being away from you is driving me crazy—hell, I don’t even understand me half the time, why should anyone else?  And yet, the fact that you found me the least bit interesting, attractive, whatever—could see me that way even if a crazy long-shot— was so affirming even if you could hardly say anything.  I didn’t even realize it at the time, how much of an effect it has had on me…am only now realizing.

I can’t explain it, not in words anyway.  You make me crazy.  When I got my 50” plasma TV the picture was so incredible that I immediately wanted to watch all my old movies again.  I hate to compare you to a TV, but you, you make me want to do everything again—with you.  Each day that passes what I am not by your side is an agonizing hell.  It doesn’t matter what “it” is—could care less—just to be by your side: your laugh, your smile, eyes, body.  I’m burning with the fever and the only answer is more cowbells, er, Gwen!

You were right of course.  Thanks for talking to me as long as you did last night; you’re an angel and I’m sorry I was a bit of an ass— the last throes of the old habits of someone I used to be. 

Confused yet?  I am.  Will write more later when I get the time (with much revising).  Hope you have a great weekend.  Did you get a cowboy hat?

Holy crap—

I am lost somewhere between Purgatory and Hell, Heaven and somewhere; ironically, somewhere, yet nowhere.

Been reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (AHWOSG) for about an hour and it suddenly hits me, maybe, why this book strikes a chord with me—I already wrote it.  Yeah, dude has done a better job, artistically, and he has been paid for his endeavor, but the fact is, Twenty2 the Hard Way was written long before, and, to date, has been far rawer and hard hitting.

The revelations just won’t stop coming…lost, it’s not entirely the screwdrivers’ fault (always drink screwdrivers on flights to help stay hydrated), but I have suddenly (just on this flight) felt so lost.  Want to talk to Gwen— bad idea— maybe just to touch base.  Really want to talk to Tom.  Feel like that night when I tried to walk home from Jackson’s Hole and he paged me and sent a cab to pick my lost ass up.

The levels of unreality so high, feel like I’m fading away.  Must be a small version of what it feels like to stand in front of the gods—complete annihilation of the ego.  I feel like a ghost.  Fortunately, the stewardess just brought me another drink so I am at least as unreal as her—and the drinking, well, it will either help ground me, an anchor, or barely worsen the current strangeness.  Shane should be able to help, but not like Tom.

And normally—hah— the surrealness would probably not affect me so much, except that I don’t want to lose Gwen.  My ego means far less to me that it may once have; but her, she is singularly spectacular.  Fuck enlightenment—to gain everything and lose her (figuratively or metaphorically) would be like being given the answer to life (42) and forgetting to write it down before you passed out.  A bad analogy to be sure, but that does not lessen the fact of it—my life without her is…largely irrelevant.

Have had to switch up the music—Rammstein—need something firmly in contact with the earth.

So, it’s not my drunk-ass handwriting, at this point, but the turbulence.  Christ!  Have been on trips where I felt less mind-blown.

Malkovich, Malkovich.  Everyone on this trip, er, plane, aside from the stewardess’s is me.

And then there was this terrible, horrible thought; that having realized so much, I would then die on this fucking plane, the pilot having warned of turbulence before we took off.

In the Margins:
-Stoopid crappy pinot noir and the last, sad throes of someone I used to be.
-The realization of infinite possibility while physically located nowhere—God, Einstein would eat this up.

Good time at the Spot with Karna and Shane last night.

Still feeling unreal; nothing to do but just ride it out—don’t try to fight it.  Wish I was home so I could get on the rowing machine and work out some of this crazy energy.  I want so badly to talk to Gwen but she’s at the music fest and I don’t know how good of an idea it would be to tell her all this now.  But god I miss her.

Called Tom when I got into Denver, waiting for the train at my terminal, didn’t think he’d answer but he did.  Poor guy; told me that he’d lost his mom about fifty minutes earlier.  I felt so bad for him I was damn near crying.


Flight just took off for ATL—first leg of trip back home.  Ate a late brunch at Dozens with Rob, Wendy, and Shane and have only wanted to take a nap since—the couple of screwdrivers probably didn’t help any.

Did I mention that I miss Gwen?  I do, badly.  And I wish like hell I was flying west instead of east.

Had a great time at the luau.  Everyone was surprised to see me and I was really glad that I made the trip.  The look on Lisa’s face, the first person I saw in the door, was priceless.  Both Rob and Wendy were tickled pink, as was the Possum (dog).

I don’t want to say that it was odd, because it wasn’t, but it was different.

In some ways, I became the unofficial guest of honor; though that’s really not entirely correct either, the prodigal son?  I don’t know, but it was both the same and different than it was before.  I largely tried to be low-key for the most part, not talking too much about myself of ‘Astan or anything, partly for them but mostly for me—it really didn’t matter so much where I’d been or what I had been doing, only that I was there and we were all enjoying ourselves.

I actually talked to Lisa for a while about all this crap that was going on.  She is so cool that I knew she’d understand, or at least believe me, and yet we were close enough where she wouldn’t be overly concerned, think I had flipped or lost my mind.  It meant a lot to be able to talk to her—I just needed to say it all again, even if in an abbreviated form, just to reconfirm it all so that I didn’t think I’d lost my mind.

I have always liked the movie Beautiful Girls—Uma Thurman, Timothy Hutton, Natalie Portman—and have always been a little wistful as I have never had a place that I have left and could go back to—ever.  And yet, that’s what this trip ended up being to a small extent, though I really wasn’t thinking about it that way until I got to the luau.  And so, in that regards, I was sublimely pleased during the whole party.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen him twice since I moved to Miami, or not, but Shane seems to me exactly the same.  Bill dropped by after the Nuggets game, which surprised the hell out of me.   I’m worn out though, too much stimulation, which all started FRI on that flight.  Just need some time to be still and let it all sink in, sift through it all, put it into perspective.

And after telling all this to Shane and Lisa, each time it only confirmed that much more to me how crazy I am about Gwen and how right it is, even if it is going to take some time.

Talking to Shane about how he felt after his divorce—I feel worse about my relative lack of situational awareness when I visited Gwen.  I was on the right track when I left in DEC but somehow lost that along the way.  God, some of the things she must be feeling, going though…Of course, ultimately, I want to date (being a little less than completely honest here—want to spend the rest of my life with her) her, but if I can’t do that without also being there for her along the way, feeling that she can trust me, talk to me, I won’t have done a very good job of any of it. 

And right now, because she’s not talking much, all I can do is make educated guesses and try to approximate.  My new working model/analogy is that she is my newfound and favoritest atom—MissAsium.  I haven’t yet given her an atomic # because I am still in the discovery/research stage.  The very real implications of this are that, much like your basic chemistry/physics, I do not know, at any given time, where her electrons are but can only determine a rough field of probability—some of which is based on unscientifically collected information that is up to eight years old and may not longer be partially, or completely true.  Further, to wit, my motives, though honorable, are suspect and are sure to taint any observations.

I want to go at her pace, but not entirely sure what that is; and it occurs to me that she will likely let me know—I told you I was an idiot.  I don’t want to scare her but I don’t know where the line that I shouldn’t get near, much less cross, is.  How much is too much?  Can I tell her about this weekend?  I think she plays a couple of critical parts in the story but does she want to know that?  The whole story, as badly related on the 28th, is highly personal and revealing about me—does she want to know any of that?  Do I tell her on the phone, try to write it all down in a letter to her, wait till I can see her?  If she doesn’t feel comfortable talking, do I even want to tell her?

Going back to the whole “being oblivious” thing when I visited SD—it just kills me that she may have wanted to talk about something and didn’t, didn’t say anything, was possibly nervous because it was obvious that I was not on the same level.  Fuck!  It’s her not talking that makes me nervous.  Yet, at the same time, she did talk a lot about her and Ivan in SD.  None of that bothered me—only the “German” thing, which I’m still not sure I understand, and the not talking.  I hate to think that she felt that she was on one side and I was on the other.

And the crazy thing is that I know I can’t fix any of that, only be aware, make my amends, if possible, and change my behavior accordingly. I know that; I feel calm, sure, and wise in a way I never have before…and I really don’t know how or why.

Unsent Note—
Honestly, I have no idea what you see in me—why you agreed to let me call you, come out.  I have no clue what, if anything, I have ever done for you.  I really don’t even know that I have been that good of a friend.  And in contrast you have been nothing short of an angel.

In the Margins:
-I’m worried that no one else is worried about her

Your Mind is a Terrible Neighborhood

So much for feeling more grounded/secure re Gwen.  Last night, to me, feels like a disaster—so much for being bold.  Woke up in the same funk that I fell asleep in.

Got off the phone (with her) and felt terrible—like I’d never see her again, just terrible…Christ!  I want so badly to talk to her yet don’t want to scare her and have no idea where that line is—just need to trust myself.

Have also realized that, I may not have been playing straight “small-ball” but trying to slip in an occasional swing for the seats— something written or said that instantly changes her mind/makes her see/realize.  After talking to Shano, I think that this whole thing is going to take a long time and I can do more to win her over by pacing her rather than impressing her.  But god, it’s killing me.

Feeling much better today—back on an even keel.  Realized that this stuff is me, largely, but I’m not entirely sure because yesterday I really felt like we were on opposite sides of the fence, that I was the enemy, and today I don’t.  That needs exploring.

I mean, today, while looking for something else, I read an old email and it was obvious—at least then—that she doesn’t hate me.

Couple of lessons learned:
            -Can’t read too much into anything
-Cannot let things get that bad
-Must not make any decisions on writing/talking to her at these times

So, have also realized that, in this case, years of writing may actually be a detriment.

When you write to explore you have to be completely honest, put your whole naked soul out there for you, and possibly others, to see.  And yet, in this instance, complete, hard, honesty may not be a good idea all the time.

It has also occurred to me that since she agreed that I could fly out that night, that I  have pretty much taken it for granted that us being together is a done deal—if I didn’t screw it up and jump up and down on it with the spikey shoes.  I don’t think I’ve said as such but may have insinuated as much or let something slip, which would be just terrifying to her—god, it would be to me if I were in her shoes.

Went back and reread Twenty2 the Hard Way yesterday—wanted to take another look before I sent it out to Lisa.  Had figured it would the better part of at least half a day.  Took an hour—of course, I’ve read it (too) many times before and could blow through it, but it looked much thicker than that.

I also suspected that it would suck, really suck—just one long, incoherent, stoopid, raging rant with no point other than its own meaningless fury.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t suck and was actually much better than I though it would be—who would have thunk it?


So, wake up about 0345 or something—god only knows why—and can’t go back to sleep.  Thinking about what Nerd had said earlier in the afternoon.

I had said you have to trust your heart—that your heart doesn’t steer you wrong, that if it did, how could you trust anything.

She replied that your head and your heart had to agree (and we’re speaking about relationships here…and what love is)—that sometimes people want what isn’t good for them.

I agreed, but now I’m not so sure that I agree as much as I did yesterday.  Your heart is pure, is drawn to beauty, what is good, etc., even if battered and scarred some.  I don’t think the heart knows fear, but the mind does.  Ego= consciousness that enables you to interact with your environment of you/not you.  Heart= sub, or maybe über, consciousness that allows for interaction with the Tao, metaverse, whatever.

Anyway, lying here wondering because what I had largely written in Gwen’s book earlier was that my heart was “pro-Gwen” but my head was not.  This is wrong though, or at least overly simplistic because now, my head/mind thinks that Gwen is a perfect match for me in many ways.   So I wonder, how can I sit there and tell Gwen, as well as other people, believing it totally, that I have a least a 100 reasons why we shouldn’t be together, when in fact, I can’t think of one?

And it hits me, it’s not that I can’t think of a 100 reasons why we would never work out, it’s that I can think of at least 100 reasons why I don’t ever deserve to be with someone/anyone like her.

Where does this voice of hate and denial come from?

I haven’t always felt like a monster and I don’t think I even felt that way until after Kim and I broke up.  I put my whole life on hold for her when Colleen killed herself.  I threw myself on the fire with no regard for my own wellbeing to spare her what I could.  And when the worst of it had passed, I assumed, expected, that there would be some time for me.  Funnily enough, there wasn’t and my expectations, my needs were unreasonable, unbecoming, and really rather bothersome.  I didn’t deserve anything and I was left alone, lying in that graveyard with Colleen.  I was mad with the pain and said anything I could to try and make her see how she had hurt me, to come back.  Of course, I was instantly sorry but the words had been said, the damage done, and I was a monster.

So how does this voice make me feel?  The following example will suffice:

I’m half asleep on Monday night and Gwen doesn’t feel like listening to me say a lot of nothing over the phone and innocently enough tells me to go back to sleep.  It’s not how I wanted things to go.  For whatever reason, she sounds angry and short to me and this voice goes, “now you’ve done it.”

Honestly, I don’t know if she was angry or not and I can’t imagine why she would be.  And the kicker is that the voice insidiously continues on (like my mother is right there in my head), “You’ll never see her again.  She’s leaving you,” and god only knows what else.  I am in an instant panic, heart literally racing and in my throat.  Just as instantly, I feel that all hope with Gwen is lost, that I will never be able to get her back, that she won’t even remember me fondly, or respect me, and that I will not be able to live without her; while simultaneously seeing her in an antagonistic light, as a foe on the opposite side of the fence that I have to protect myself from, as if this were somehow her doing. 

This leads into one of two generic day-dreams/fantasies:

  1. Some near-catastrophic crisis/incident occurs to me which causes her to come back and love me.

  1. I suffer, psychologically, somehow managing to carry on while she cavorts about with her life having fun till a final contact is made before I am to depart on something akin to a mission (Iraq/’Astan) of no return, which makes her realize the errors of her judgment and her love for me.  Now though, she will have to suffer through our separation while I’m going on this mission that I may or may not come back from.

So there it is, at its core I would say that is a fear, stark terror panic actually, of abandonment and being unlovable, undesirable, etc.  I have to believe that the majority of this has come from my mother, with maybe some thrown in from my dad for good measure.

Where to start?  Woke up this morning with a headache (imagine that) and a little sad that I wasn’t winging my way back to SD; that I hadn’t gotten the complete vote of confidence—which wasn’t expected anyway—but largely feeling like a very large, crucial, important step had been taken.

I called Gwen about 2330 and we were just talking about nothing in particular—laughing—and I don’t remember what she said to bring it up but I replied something along the lines of, why are you so afraid of me?

She replied that she wasn’t and I replied, “Yes you are.”  So I see an opening and tell her, “Truth or dare?”  We’re both laughing and the mood is light, though there is a little expectant tension.  She waffles, trying to dodge the subject, and finally picks dare.

The truth question would actually have been harmless enough—had planned on asking her what she meant with her “you don’t think I’m a monster” comment from an email she sent while I was in Afghanistan; but she picked dare, which surprised me.

There was more laughing as I stumble to phrase the dare right, having initially worded it in my head as a dare to myself—stupid!  When I finally get it worked out I said, “I dare you to have dinner with me tomorrow.”

“No way,” she immediately replies, “I’m not going to Miami.”

“Who said anything about Miami?” I come back.  “I’ll fly out and have a late lunch or early dinner with ya and fly back that night.”  However, she still says no.  She asks if I am mad.  I say no, how could I be.  And somehow that segued smoothly into the whole thing about needing some feedback from her from time to time, to which she replied that she understood.  Not long after that we said goodnight and I fell asleep immediately.  Not sure what time it was, but it was at least past midnight.

About 0030 the phone rings, waking me up, and I see that it’s Gwen.  She says that she was thinking about what I said and wants to tell me where she’s at—that wasn’t quite what I asked for, but who’s complaining.  She says she’s trying to consolidate or figure out her relationships, that she has been dating a while/a lot and enjoying herself; that there have been a lot of losers and some that were good; and that some she thought were over keep popping up— “the German and someone in LA(??).  At the time, I was left with the impression that she wanted them to stay over, but now, I can’t tell you why I was left with that impression or even if it is correct.  And finally, she added that she didn’t want to be with me, or anyone, right now.

After she mentioned “the German” and the guys in LA, she said, “This probably isn’t what you want to hear right now.”  I don’t remember what I said, hopefully something affirming and supportive—but she was right.  However, I can’t be mad, even if I wanted to.  I wasn’t sitting on her doorstep the day she decided to start dating, and to even think that I would come to mind then is laughable.  I have the feeling that she probably worked with at least the last two guys and they were there with and for her at a time and in a way that I could not possibly have been, even if I hadn’t been in ‘Astan.  Yeah, it makes me a little jealous but so what—that’s just the “longing” talking.

The fact is, I have to believe, that she needs to do this, like physical therapy, to get to a place where she’s happy and herself.  Hopefully, when she does, I will have said all the right things—god knows I’ve tried and meant to.

I asked her about the “monster” comment anyway, really wanted to know for sure what she had meant and felt.  Surprisingly, she answered—said that it was a good and a bad thing.  Bad because one day she loved someone and the next he was gone, but good because all her friends, at least, told her that it had been bad and now she was free of all that, but yet she still felt horrible and wondered what the hell had happened, etc.

I told her my monster revelation—have no idea how it went over.  Wanted her to know that she wasn’t alone, that although there were differences, that I understood, at least a part of where she was at and how she felt.  During the course of the story, she did say that she could see that I had grown. 

Towards the end of some 45 minutes I said, “This all means that you still want me to call you, right?”  She said yes, quickly.  There was more, of course, but that was the core of it.  Sitting here, now, I hope I was listening, that I didn’t miss anything in the hurry to say what I wanted her to hear.  I don’t think so, but…

It was a good talk and hopefully, now that some things have been established, it will be easier for her to open up and talk. 

After we hung up, I called her back two or three minutes later, “Yes?” she sounded exasperated.

“The flowers were ordered before all this.”  She just bursts out laughing.

“Good night.”

The last couple of weeks have certainly highlighted something I knew but didn’t think too much of—that, at times like these, I tend to think waaaay too much; analyze and overanalyze the living hell out of everything.

It occurs to me that that is probably a function of the fear of abandonment I talked about a couple of days ago—a defense mechanism—that having gone through some that I began to analyze everyone’s words when other indicators show the potential for abandonment.  It gets to the point where I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the other way around; everything guarding against, focusing on the signs that the individual at hand is, or is not, secretly intent on leaving you.

Was thinking the other day, if I could go back, what would I say to myself, myself back in ’98-99?  Don’t do this?  Don’t do that?  Blah, blah, blah?  It occurs to me that I really wouldn’t give any specifics (er?)—we are marked by the battles we fight not the ones we avoid.  So, I would say something along the following to my younger, hurting, and confused self:

You already know all the answers; they’re in your heart if you listen, though sometimes others may have to assist you in unlocking them.  Things in your life, the bigger plot lines at least, happen for a reason and Life will take you where you need to go to learn what you need to learn to be who you are to be—your heart knows this, trust it.  If you should not, and pull a Jonah, the lesson will be that much harder.  Your head is for doing arithmetic, avoiding walls, and not much else.  And finally, you don’t have to know the way, only believe that there is one.  Everything else is just details.

Trying to find an analogy for all that is going on here—I am separated from the woman of my longing, my affections.  She is either besieged in a tower or fighting along her Path.  And, as much as it pains me, I cannot rescue her…and maybe can’t even help her, at least not as much as I would like because, for her to get where she’s going/needs to be, she has to do this largely alone.  God, it makes me frustratingly crazy.

Unsent Note:
Years ago you wrote something to the effect that something had seen fit to bring us together but that you had no idea what you were to do for me.

The same, I don’t know what I am to/can do for you.  However, at least in part, I can answer your question.  At the least, you have, and are, helping me…learn, grow, be-come a better person.  At the most, you are, or I am, the other half of my/your soul.

For as good as yesterday started off, it has been a very hard road since then.  You’d think that being aware of that stupid fucking “voice” would be enough to thwart it—funny, ‘cause I did too.  I won’t live like this:  held ransom, terrorized by something that isn’t real, at least not in any sense that most understand the word.

Will write more on this but first need to write down some words of encouragement, wisdom, and strength.

The below are excerpted from Richard Bach’s Illusions (any errors in copying are mine):

Your only obligation in any lifetime
is to be true to yourself.
Being true to anyone else or
anything else is not only
impossible, but the
mark of a fake

Your friends
will know you better
in the first minute you meet
your acquaintances
will know you
in a thousand

teach best
what you most need
    to learn.

There is no such thing as a problem
without a gift for you
   in its hands.
You seek problems
because you need
their gifts.

You are
never given a wish
without also being given the
power to make it true.
     You may
       have to work for it,

Every person
all the events of your life
are there because you have
drawn them there.
            What you choose
            to do with them is
            up to you.

Don’t be
dismayed at good-byes,
a farewell is necessary before
you can meet
               And meeting
               again, after moments or
               lifetimes, is certain for
               those who are

The mark
of your ignorance is the depth
of your belief in injustice
and tragedy.

The Sound of Frog Hitting a Wall


SAT started off well enough:  writing on the deck in the cool morning with coffee; saw some cardinals, a woodpecker, some blue jays, loads of fishes, a big tarpon, and a manatee—it really was a banner morning.  But then started getting restless—nowhere to go or anyone to do anything with  and then that damned “voice” set in and brought along the panic with it.

Eddy ended up coming out and we played 13-14 holes of golf but it was too late to finish.  Read most of Robert’s Ridge and had planned on going to Shuckers for dinner but was too tired—thank god. 

Woke up SUN morning still feeling like shit.  Went over to Nerd’s to feed the critters and took Suki for a walk; felt a little better.  Went to the Bagel place for breakfast and started feeling worse again.  Came home and took a nap and then went to South Beach.  Listening to Bob Marley on the way down took my mind off of things for a while.  The beach was stupid crowded and I didn’t stay long—watched some volleyball and drove home.

Had realized earlier in the day that I was still confused as to where things were with Gwen and me after FRI night’s conversation; namely, that when I had asked her why I was there, she had said to the effect, to see if we had a bigger future down the road together.  If this was the case and she wasn’t afraid of dating, as I had originally thought, than I should get the same chance(s) to see her as anyone else—that as long as it continued, it should look like two lines converging, over time/space, instead of just running parallel, which was what was currently going on.

So, came home, had a couple of cocktails, and then hit upon the idea of playing pool—best of 7—with this damned “voice”, winner take all.  I won the first three, angry; it the second two; and then it scratched on the 8 in game six.  Quoting Robbie Robertson, “…When you find out what’s worth keeping, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away…,” I showed it (the “voice”) to the door and told it never to return.

Tried to call Gwen but no answer.  Several other phone calls and then managed to get a hold of Gwen but she was busy and would call me later.  Watched Mad About You till 2330 and then went to bed.

Gwen called me somewhere around 0000 and I don’t know why I didn’t answer.  I woke up at 0100 and called her.  The first words out of her mouth were something like, what are you doing up?

I knew what I wanted to say but just fumbled my way horribly through it—I was all over the place.  The only thing I can say is that it had to be obvious that it wasn’t rehearsed and that it was sincere.  The whole conversation took about an hour and boiled down to me saying, “It’s not that you’re afraid of dating, it’s that you don’t want to date me.”

“Yes,” she replied.

I was appropriately indignant and angry—didn’t yell, didn’t raise my voice, go on the attack, etc.  I told her that she had been leading me on, which wasn’t fair.  That the one thing I had asked her that first night in SD was not to jerk me around, which was exactly what she was doing.  She brought up that we were friends and I said, “No, we’re not.  I have pages of emails and in all but a few, I have no idea what you are thinking or feeling—you are a mystery to me.”

A couple of times she called me “dear”.  She sounded frustrated, almost like she was being forced to make a decision she had hoped to not have to make.  At one point, towards the end, she told me, in a quiet voice, that I was a great snuggler.  I replied that that really didn’t do me hell of a lot of good.  I have no idea why she used “dear” or said that; they just don’t seem to fit with anything else she was saying.

I asked her, not as a joke or to make a point, to put herself in my shoes, to help me out—what was I s’posed to feel, think, do?  She didn’t say anything other than, “I don’t know.”  There was a long silence and she finally said, I don’t know what else to say, or, I don’t have anything else to say tonight.  “Okay then,” I replied, “goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” she said, and I hung up.

The thought that was in my head as I hung up was, well, we finally got that out of the way.  There was a sense of relief.  I woke up thinking/feeling the same way.

I was happy with how I handled things.  It was the right thing to do and it had to be done if I was going to have any self –respect at all.  I don’t know what will happen now—either she will contact me or she won’t.  In any case, if somehow this relationship moves forward, it can only do so because this conversation took place.  There is some small satisfaction in having been in this situation and done better than last time—Kim—but knowing that I might very well never see or talk to her again hurts, is bittersweet.

There has been a deep pit in my stomach all day and a quiet sadness.  But it is not overwhelming, there is no panic, and I know that it’s not the end of the world.  I am suddenly, acutely, aware of all the times I think about her in a day, and each time is a little pang, a little knife-twist in the heart—her smile, her laugh, her quirks, everything. 

I don’t know.  A part of me can see her contacting me this week…and a part of thinks I will never hear from her again.  My heart knows what it knows and I still trust it, though I have no idea how we will get from here to there.

“There is a path from me to you that I am constantly looking for.” ~Rumi

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