Monday, January 24, 2011

Blood and Fire

There's a text message. It's in the middle of brunch. I'm staring down a big mug of coffee, I've conquered it twice, but thankfully, sleep isn't in my near future. I feel the phone vibrate into my thigh.

I wonder if you didn't call me because you didn't have the balls. I wonder if you know that if you were here now, I'd take you down a notch, and it would be pretty fucking ugly. I wonder if you think you're justified. I wonder what the fuck you think I'm going to say, or why the fuck I should wait to say it. I wonder if you remember my looking at you, dead in the eyes, and saying that I always stand to lose in this situation, so at least warn me. It's all I asked. 

I wonder if, as usual, I'm overreacting. I might have been built of fire, and I tame it, stoke it into a work ethic and a drive to finish school and the strength I need to be a rock. But I've got a temper, too. I've got a nasty streak, and it may be hard to turn on, but it's cold and searing. I have to move past the initial explosion, think through my response. I have to decide whether to cry because I lost a friend or scream because I think you pulled an asshole move. It seems like every time I'm losing a good friend, it's because I make an easy target. Because it's easier to blame someone else when you're unhappy. 

I'm flashing back two years, next month, and I can't even tell if I'm pissed at you or still pissed at her. I don't know why I still carry that scar, why it still hurts, why I even still think about her. But I do. I wonder how she is. I wonder if she's happy. I wonder how things could have gone down differently. I wonder how someone could have burned me so badly -- she wasn't a lover, wasn't even someone who had been in my life for that long, relatively. 

I wonder what the underside of this bus is going to look like. I wonder if I'm angry because I feel like you've set me back six months emotionally, but the truth is, I won't give that to you. I won't give that to anyone. It's easy to say that I'm still hurting. It's easy to say that I'm still unsteady. It's easy to give all the answers that sound good on the tip of my tongue, and it's hard to explain how the complexity really plays out. 

I remember what Maggie said, wrapped up in the bed at Easton, when I was talking about you. She liked to talk about people who are "in integrity" or "out of integrity" in their relationship, in themselves, in their lives. It was a phrase I'd never heard before, yet it stuck with me. I remember riding on the train home, watching the autumn leaves whipping by, with her head in my lap. I thought about you. I thought about New York. I thought about the pain I had carried all the way to Albany, and I did what I had been doing all weekend -- I took a breath. A really deep one. I came back from Easton with a very different resolve, and though I went with many, many questions, I came back with the concrete answer to only one -- what to do with you. 

I've made a lot of mistakes when I was single and a lot more when I was in relationships. I stayed when I shouldn't have, I left when I shouldn't have, I gave up agency and acted like an asshole and picked a stupid fight and walked out. I shut off. I should have yelled back. So many moments. But the big decisions -- the breakups, moving cities, school, jobs, moving in together -- I can say I always made with a clear conscience. I always made them with my girlfriend and her needs in mind, but I made them knowing that only I would have to live with the choice. Only I had to be at peace. She wouldn't wonder "what if," and I wouldn't resent her for whatever I chose. Somehow, it's only the little, everyday things I fucked up. Yet they add up, I suppose, building into walls. Building into unnecessary bullshit. It shouldn't have taken me this long to learn, but I realize now, I have learned. I won't make this mistake again. 

I don't resent you. I think your choices were, at times, poor. In all honesty, so were mine. I should have kept my mouth shut. I think you can't have your cake and eat it, too. I get what it means to be confused. I get what it means to be lost. I get what it means to struggle. At the end of the day, it's your heart, and you've got to learn to listen to it. Fuck it. I'm done. I hope you find what you're looking for. And hopefully, I'll run into you in a few months, or a year. But right now, I just need to walk away.

Oh, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't think first. I'm sorry someone else had to get hurt. I'm sorry for my complicity. But I'm not sorry you don't know what you want -- because no one can give that to you. I don't know much else, but I definitely know that. 

That's all I have to say. 

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