Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Some They Crawl Their Way Into Your Heart, To Rend Your Ventricles Apart

Let's just get this over with; now's as good a time as any. I'm really wary of taking the wrong tone with this post -- it's not my objective to antagonize, though I probably will whether I intend to or not. At the same time, neither do I want to dull what is still, for me, something of a ragged edge. So all I'm going to do at the outset is emphasize that this is only my perspective on things, and I have no doubt whatsoever that some -- or to be precise, one -- will strongly object.

But fuck it, it's my blog. And I record everything else here, with the careful exception so far of anything about this. But there's no reason to avoid it anymore.

Up until a couple of weeks ago I had, at least nominally, a friend I genuinely loved. That hasn't changed, except that he is no longer even nominally my friend. Which is really only an adjustment towards the truth, since I don't think he's really been my friend for a long time now -- he hasn't acted much like one, in any case, and frankly for the last six months he's been a complete dick, barely disguising his impatience with me and my presence. But finally he said as much, and so it's done.

When I first met him, almost exactly two years ago now, he was so totally different a person, or at least different to me -- he was warm, gentle-natured, engaged in amazing work and unusually aware of the world around him, and seemed to interact with it out of curiosity and love. The first phase of our friendship was marked by surprising ardor and enthusiasm on his part, to the point that I was a little overwhelmed in the beginning. But it was fun, and enthralling, and easy to fall into. It felt like a big piece of my life snapping into place. And I was so happy to have found him, whatever he turned out to be.

Since then, the friendship has gotten gradually more and more difficult to navigate. There was never one single moment when everything changed, it was more of a slow decline. It's not as if he didn't warn me that it was coming -- on my last birthday, he practically said as much. When I alluded to "next year", he responded, "if we're still talking to each other next year." At the time I was taken aback -- why would we not be talking next year? What did he expect would, or even might happen that would end with either of us refusing to talk to the other? And yet, not even a year later, I find that he's gone. And while I could probably rattle off a list of likely excuses, I don't think there's any real reason at all except that he was done with me. I've certainly made mistakes, and I have real flaws, and more than once I know I annoyed him (though no more than he annoyed me, which was beginning to be a lot and often.) But I know I didn't do anything to deserve such complete alienation. And I strongly suspect that whatever excuse finally served to sever the friendship in his mind, if it hadn't been that, it would have been the next thing. Because where you're looking for a reason, you can generally find one.

The person I know now is moody, withdrawn, condescending, often cold, over-sensitive to any perceived slight, seemingly not doing much with his immense talents on his own behalf, resentful, angry, and enthusiastic only about the parts of his life that grant him escape. That's how it looks to me, anyway. I acknowledge that I don't have the ideal vantage point, but I don't think I'm wholly imagining it, either. He insists that nothing, nothing whatever, has changed. I think the changes are so blatantly obvious that either he's lying -- either he was lying then or he's lying now -- or he has managed to convince himself. Maybe it's both. Or maybe he is the same person, and I never understood the real nature of the mind in front of me. That's the possibility that distresses me the most.

The difficulty for me is that there have always been glimpses of my original friend in there, and that's the person I grieve over having lost. That person is the reason I put up with, frankly, epic heaps of bullshit, hoping to make contact again. Maybe it was always a hopeless pursuit; maybe that person was never real, or at least never any more real than the person I finally did lose. But the memory of that person breaks my heart and brings me to tears whenever I think about him. The loss of the person I know now brings, if anything, relief. And it's hard to sort out those two conflicting realities when it's all the same person in my mind. And yet I catch myself thinking of him as two occupants of the same mind. So there's also a lot of confusion.

I don't mean to cast blame. I made the choice, very consciously, to hang around even when things started to suck. As soon as I met him, I knew I was giving him license to be a source of either happiness or sadness, and while I wish it hadn't ended this way, he never made me any promises and I'm not arguing with his departure. There's life before you meet people, and then they're there, and later they leave, and then there's life without them again. The net loss is zero.

But seeing him go felt like being torn open.

My first reaction once it all finally collapsed was despair -- why bother with people? Why bother with friendship, with loving anyone, with trusting them, why bother with letting them into your life? If this is what you get, can it possibly be worth it? His big thing right now is rationality -- which in his mind is closely tied with masculinity (meaning that I, being female, am inherently irrational and thus inherently suspect.) And there's a strong impulse to agree with him -- if emotions result in this kind of pain, surely it's better to simply get rid of your emotions? Put them in a box, put the box on a shelf somewhere in the back of your soul, and forget that you feel. It would be liberating. You'd never have to fear being abandoned, being hurt, being rejected, being left behind. You'd be safe.

But for me, that's impossible. I can only be the person I am, and that person loves. That person loves wholly, deeply, and irrevocably. Even if I could give that up, even if I could turn it off, I wouldn't choose to do so. And if he's decided to cut off the influence of emotion in his life, including those of us who attempt in whatever small ways to inflict our emotions on his sanity, then that's his choice and I won't attempt to dissuade him. But it seems to me that he's cutting out a big part of his humanity. Rationality and emotion aren't an either/or, mutually exclusive proposition. If I live a life of shifting tension between the two, then that's something I have in common with every other human being who's ever lived. Including him.

We each only get a short time to stand on the surface of this planet and look around and know that we are. The universe doesn't care about us, doesn't even register our presence. Whatever came before no longer exists; and whatever we build for the future, however robust our legacies and monuments, they will eventually collapse into irrelevance. All we really have is right now, this single moment, when we can choose to act with fear or with love. The only sources of comfort and meaning we have are the others who share the brief time we have, the people we find ourselves next to while we're here. The people we know are the only place where our existence registers. And the one thing I've learned from the people I've loved over my life so far is that there's no such thing as love lost -- giving love to others doesn't diminish one's own supply, it increases it.

I really did love you. And even if you didn't care about me at all, even if it was only ever an illusion that I was gullible enough to believe in, I'm coming away from our friendship with more love than I had coming into it. And for all the fucking heartache, it was still worth it.

At this point, I expect the response I'd get (if he were responding) is that none of what I've written is true, that I'm an irrational woman inventing a distorted version of reality out of my own faulty thinking. He would probably say that all of this exists only within my own mind. He would point to this post and my having written it as further evidence, proof that his reasons for sending me away are correct. And maybe that's all true.

But I don't think so.

For me, at the end, the only question left to answer is: even if I'd known then how it would feel now, would I still have let you in?

My answer was always yes. It's just a fucking shame, is all.

PS: I still think the photographs are amazing. I thought so before I knew you, and I still think so now. And when you take more, I'll know that the guy who was my friend is still in there somewhere. And I'll hope that he's happy.

Update: I've pulled the link to his website, not because I don't think y'all should see his photographs -- I think everyone should see them because they rock -- but because I'm trying to conceal his actual identity, and that's the one link that someone who knows neither him nor me could follow to find out who he is. So I'm severing that link. I'm considering pulling the whole post, because things in the comments have gone off in a direction that I neither anticipated nor wanted. But I haven't decided yet. And it's not like anyone actually reads this blog anyway.
4:30 PM ::
Amy :: permalink