[I remember the conversation we had right the day after the last time I wrote like this.
and I still don't know how I feel about it all. but I'm taking my time.]
It's been over three months since I've written like this. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Regardless, I just sent an email to Lachelle at, what is it...3 AM? She'll be the only one who knows the circumstances under which this is being put to paper. Or screen. Whatever.
I don't know where to next take your story. You wouldn't even begin to imagine the things that have happened over the last few months. And not just relating to a specific, singular relationship, but just in general. The masses at which I've wept, the words I've tried to throw into stanzas, the books I've devoured, the passions I've subdued. While I've always been a man of restraint--this may surprise anyone besides you that actually reads this--that aspect of my character has really been pushed into overdrive in 2010.
The last time I wrote like this, this guy that I've never really liked (but always respected, against all odds) that went to high school with me left a really nice comment about how good of a writer he thinks I am. Thought I am, anyway; he hasn't left one since. No skin off of my back, but even so, it was so strange that, of all things, a slightly inebriated plea to a consciousness that could only exist metaphysically (if not divinely), but, regardless, beyond any realm of understanding in which I can claim existential certainty.
And somehow, right now, listening to Morphine for the first time in months (I know I'm doing okay if I can listen to Morphine without getting either sad or aroused; I'm failing, but I won't say at which), I want to reach out. I've been neglecting you, I think. Just that one story that was so many different sorts of bullshit, exact quotes combined with fanciful flights of wishful thinking that I threw into a white box instead of actually performing. I'll never say which is which--anybody that was actually there will certainly know, of course, and Corey even left an appropriately (and deservedly) snarky remark about it--and I don't think anyone even wants to talk about it.
Hell, even people that weren't there, people who have commented about nearly everything else I've ever written (and you know who you are, and you know how much it means to me), completely ignored it. It was bypassed like a closed freeway exit and I don't know why. I honestly thought that something so polarizing, so dripping in melodramatic, operatic intensity, one of the few things for which my writing, such as it is, can always be counted on, would get some massive reaction. Even if it was just people calling me out on my bullshit (which would've been totally fine, considering the fact/fiction ratio in it), I figured I'd get some kind of reception, negative or otherwise.
The only person that's ever said anything about it (aside from Corey) was Kelsey, who offered some incredibly supportive statements regarding the depth of feeling she perceived. And as much as I sort of just let the whole thing pass by (I haven't written about you since, really), that whole piece meant more to me than I initially even knew. I was certain that I had figured out a way to crack the whole narrative shell of that whole thing, the life-changing and -defining experience that I couldn't quite deal with at the time, halting myself years later to try and penetrate. I always read interviews with screenwriters working on adaptations of classic novels and without fail they mention something about "cracking" a particular book/character/whatever, and I felt like I finally had. I thought that writing what should've happened, rather than what did happen, as I had done in every previous installment, would be enough of an apology for my lack of action where, I see now, I wish I would've placed some of this righteous indignation that's been building up for so long.
I talked to Lachelle for a while tonight and it was a bit of a revelation. On low self-esteem days, on the days where I'd rather just pull the covers back over my eyes and have ice cream for lunch and drown my first-world sorrows in (well, now it's diet) Dr. Pepper, all I ever really want to do is have an appreciative audience (I think that's probably what made me love her at first, by the way; there's nothing more beautiful than someone that wants to know what you have to say). We talked tonight about Ocean's 12, James Ellroy, the health benefits of spinach, and relevant methods of preparation. And it was nice to have someone listen to me. She gives a shit, you know? Not everyone does. Some people are excellent at pretending they do, but this is someone that calls me, that answers my questions, that follows up after 3 AM phone calls when I just need to hear the voice of someone whose opinion of me is higher than goddamn Kilimanjaro. She is someone that, after all of our history and the complexities and subtleties and nuances of our relationship, loves me. And she is one of maybe five people I think really, truly knows me, in a way that others have tried (and that I've tried to make them).
But acknowledging that you didn't really know me, and that it's solely my fault--you sure as hell tried--makes me want to defenestrate my keyboard.
I finished re-reading Preacher. It's probably the twentieth time--if there's any exaggeration in this statement, it's under-exaggeration--that I've gone through the entirety of the nine-book series, but I needed it. It's usually a twice-a-year thing, but 2009-2010 saw me reconsume it like it had an expiration date. I always talk about the moral virtues of Peter Parker, but Peter Parker, by his own claims, is passive. He may fight capital-E Evil from behind a mask, but Jesse--jeez, Jesse--he takes on God himself when he believes he has perceived injustice. He fights God Himself because he doesn't think that He has done right by us. And, like Lucifer in Paradise Lost, there's a noble honor to that that flies in the face of both reason and rhyme.
Moods like this make me soooooooooooo stream of consciousness it's like reading a Hubert Selby Jr. novel, an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone (except for that newly short-haired girl in my Modern American Lit class who won't just SHUT THE HELL UP), and I'm sorry I don't know how to better articulate these things I want someone, anyone to know. I'm sorry I'm not someone who lives in a world of clarity.
That may have sounded sarcastic. Sorry. Didn't mean it to. My tongue is about as goddamn far away from my cheek as it could possibly be. The last month has found me positively dripping in sincerity. Everything that's gone down--I won't go into specifics, but it's been a lot--has functioned as a very direct test of my own morality. What matters to me? What're my priorities? If I have to pick between justice and mercy, where do I fall? Do you punish someone you hate or do you protect someone you've loved more than air?
I don't know. And I don't know if I made the right decision(s). I don't know if I ever will. I'm sure I'd end up regretting my decision had I made the opposite choice, too, but, as I'm fond of saying, spilt milk and all that. I made my choices, I took my stands, and I'm gonna live with them forever.
And that's okay, I think. I had an experience in Oregon that I haven't told anyone about. I can't think of more than two very specific people I'd want to know about it, anyway, and my communication with both of them is, at this point, strictly digital, but I refuse to tell this story unless it's in person. And that exclusively-digital nature hasn't even been my decision, either. But there's nothing I can do about that, I guess, and that's okay, too.
Because all that matters is how well you walk through the fire.
I wrote something I wish you could've read. Even if you had read it, though, it probably wouldn't have made much sense. You weren't around for the relationship it concerned, and so were accordingly spared the fallout. But that whole debacle changed me in ways I'm only now beginning to realize. Ways that I still doubt I could articulate if I had a gun to my head. These are things that I, with my rudimentary linguistic abilities, can scarcely acknowledge, let alone expand upon.
And, like everything else, that's okay. It may not be how I would prefer things to be, but there comes a point at which you can do nothing but throw your hands in the air and hope that people will see what is so obviously clear to you, what's inches in front of your eyes and the eyes of so many others. What's well-known by the people that truly, deeply care. In ways that deserve italics.
I'm getting something published in a few weeks. Of all of the things I submitted, I'm still sort of surprised that they picked what they did. And not because I don't think it's good--frankly, it's probably among the best things I've written--but I can only think to gauge the importance of a relationship by the quality of the writing it directly inspires. If that's an accurate rubric, then boy oh boy am I screwed. If there's truth in my assumptions, in my measurements, then I honestly can't imagine what I'll write about now.
Because no matter how many characters and situations and road trips and smoky bars and hypotheticals and two-page adorations and piano keys and tints and regressions and two-steps-back-one-step-forwards and hesitant Saturday afternoon lunches and reluctant publications and weareus's and self-imposed evictions to eastern Oregon and reflective examinations and unpunctuated lists, you're still gone. And you're not coming back.
I keep wondering what I have in common with James Ellroy, what it is that draws me to writing like that.
And I think it's the ghosts.
But I just want there to be life.
And I don't know why it seems like I'm the only one.