Sunday, January 15, 2012

Small Change

Well, here we are, two weeks into the new year, and I realize I have yet to post a single blog. It's a little remarkable to me, but it's abundantly true: the one flaw in 2012 thus far is that the words have been coming painfully slowly. The right words, that is. Lots of words have come, but they meander into what are ultimately empty rooms, devoid of furniture or fixtures, curtains or wall hangings, any signs of life whatsoever. But, as a wise man recently pointed out, that's the truth about writing: most often you start out writing in order to find out what it is you're trying to say, and you keep hammering away at it until you find your way there. An inelegant way to arrive at something you hope will be exquisite.

Indeed, as I say, it has been an outstanding two weeks. I've been reminded of the difference between being fortunate and being lucky. Fortunate refers, ultimately, to an ongoing condition, the state of having much in your life that keeps you steadily moving forward. Lucky, though, that's something else. Luck is fleeting and capricious, and when you find yourself on a streak of good luck, treat it right. I like to think I'm doing just that, and hope it'll stick around for a good long time.

This essay, though . . . this essay is kicking my ass. There's no easy way to write with compassion about someone for whom you feel no affection. That's the bad news. The good news is that, if I can pull it off, it will be something worth reading. I could take the easy way out, tell myself it's not that important and simply move on to something else, but that would be a lie. Sometimes you have to write a love letter to the enemy because the only way to understand the war is to recall the days of wine and roses that preceded it. There is one thing and one thing only at stake here: making the case for why this particular girl mattered so much once upon a time, I was utterly lost when she went away. What could possibly have made this girl so goddamned special?

Of course, nothing is ever that simple. She was as much a victim of horrible timing as I was: she arrived in my orbit as I was already in swift decline, broke and desperate and fading. Somehow, though, she chose to bestow the crumbs of her affection on me of all people, and here's the thing about a girl like that: when you watch guys all around her being made completely stupid by her charms, and she chooses you among all the others, that's pretty much irresistible. Up to a point, though, what she was choosing was relative safety: I was much older than anyone she would actually be with, plus she had a boyfriend who was Mr. Fucking Wonderful (so-called), plus all she really wanted was to strip-mine my mother lode of knowledge and experience, and to bask in my unconditional devotion. I didn't realize that, obviously, or if I did, I wasn't willing to admit it to myself. Either way, I told myself I had it covered. I assured my friends there was nothing this girl could do that would send me over the edge. I believed that in part because I'd already been through the wars with a woman, one I loved deeply and to whom I was unerringly devoted. What I went through with her I wouldn't wish on anyone, not even the handful of people in this world I despise. She and I have made our tentative but lasting peace, but there were dark days that, well, if they didn't kill me, I believed I'd be hard-pressed to imagine anything that might. And then I met the last girl.

I want to be fair. It matters to me. I have friends who would spit in that girl's face before they'd so much as offer her a grudging hello. They wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire -- but they might do so if she wasn't. And I get that -- I've certainly felt that way about people who have hurt my friends. Still, it's no good. Nobody I could feel so much for could ever possess enough evil to deserve that. The truth is, I gave her power she didn't know how to wield -- or, more accurately, she didn't know how not to wield it. That's on me. She did some heartless, careless things, made some shitty choices and behaved like an abject coward -- and that's on her. Nonetheless, I still need to make the case for why, at a very particular point in her life, she was worth someone as fucking fantastic as me falling in love with her. And right now that's really, really, really difficult. But goddamit, I'm going to do it because if I don't, I don't have a story. And if I do, it'll be the story that changes my life. That ain't no small change.

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