Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Are your dancin’ lies a job well done When you’re breakin’ hearts is it just for fun ‘Cause I know I should turn around and run But tonight I’ve got nothin’ left to lose Time on my hands and a bottle of booze And I’m the one that’s crazy ‘Cause I’m crazy for you Somehow all the good ones get away And the nightlife full of color fades to grey And everywhere I go All around this world Well I’m so fucking sick of these crazy girls --Jason Boots, “Crazy Girls” I only write about three women: the first one, the last one, and the next one. Someday it might be The One (neither Barack Obama nor Neo need apply), but I guess it’s not quite time for that just yet. Either way, we travel in to autumn, harvest season. It’s the time when we begin to shut down here in the temperate zones and the poets speak of the world dying to await re-birth in spring. Persephone has begun her journey to Hades’ underground lair and Demeter weeps, allowing the Earth to lie fallow. I’ve come to appreciate fall. It’s not just leaves falling off of trees or, at least this year, constant repetition of the Manic Street Preachers’ “Autumn Song.” It’s something about the idea of that cycle of death and rebirth. I think it’s even more extreme for me this year, since I might actually be doing it backwards. So we have the harvest season, a time to sow that which I’ve reaped. And I have to say, the larders will be stocked this winter. It’s fascinating, though. The last time I talked to the last one was at the beginning of April. The last time, that is, until this past Sunday. The last thing I said to her in April was a lie. It was the whole, “Let’s be friends,” lie that people tell each other when then can’t stand to be in the presence of a former intimate. I walked away, deleted her number from my phone, removed every email from and to her from my inbox, and as May, June, July, and August turned to September, I realized that she’d probably moved and, even though my office is about a mile from where she once lived, it might as well be a million miles from wherever she is now. Still, from the first one I learned that I’m supposed to never want to be around a former girlfriend. The first one was a manipulative bitch, the sort of person I acknowledge I might have had good times with, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what or when they were. Between the first one and the last one there wasn’t anyone who made enough of an impression on my psyche to matter. A date or two here or there, a friend who never became more, you know, the usual. So as September became October and I felt harvest time come around I began to walk the fields. I remembered good things about the last one. I never regretted removing her number and haven’t exactly looked at Wonderphone at any point and thought, “Y’know, I could really use her number,” but I kind of began regretting ending it with a lie. Then I saw her. She said she was happy to see me. I think I said, “Yeah.” Maybe even, “Me, too.” When I met you I just knew that you’d take my heart and run Until you told me how you felt for me you said I’m not the one So I slowly came to see all of the things that you are made of And I piled my dreams and inspirations lead me towards a real love Real love I’m searching for a real love Someone to set my heart free And I thought you were the answer to the question in my mind --Mike Doughty, “Real Love/It’s Only Life” The truth is, I was happy to see her. I was also buzzed, so maybe that was the alky-hall talking, although hopefully not in the en tequila es verdad sort of sense. But in a larger sense, it was just another lie. There’s an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine and Puddy run in to each other at the diner after having been broken up for a while and Jerry says it’s inevitable that they’ll get back together. Elaine bets against it and proceeds to lose a lot of money. As usual, Seinfeld was on to something there. I think that there’s a point between the immediate post-break off with the last one and becoming secure with the next one where the good memories come flooding in. It’s especially bad in my case, since the way I describe that relationship is that we may well have been perfect for each other, but we were horrible together. I’d actually had this thought in the back of my mind back in the day that we’d split off and go our separate ways and reconnect at some future point and it would work because whatever was holding us back would have changed. The smartest thing I’ve done in a while was to walk out without her phone number on Sunday. I don’t know the next time, if ever, I’ll see her again. I don’t think she’ll try to initiate contact with me. Rationalization, especially of the Monday morning quarterback variety, is a dangerous thing. See, it would have been a lot easier if I were still angry. I would have seen her, I would have ignored or avoided her, I would have kept her at arm’s length. I wouldn’t have had to think about things. Instead, and, to be honest, this is still a question that I wonder about, I was forced to wonder if the reason it didn’t work then was because of me. I was profoundly unhappy at the time, I was going nowhere, and I was pretty much angry at the world. At the time I think I summed the my reason for getting up in the morning with something to the equivalent of being able to wake up, stick my middle finger in the air and say, “Fuck you, world, I’m still here.” I think that was the night she briefly thought she’d talked me in to committing suicide and panicked. The lesson, as always, is that I’m a jackass. The thing is, though, she had a really low approval rating among my family and friends. And that low approval rating couldn’t possibly have been entirely due to a mistaken belief that she was the central reason for my general anger with the world. My friends and family just aren’t that stupid. I’m happier now than I was then, too, but the lack of her in my life is, at most, a 10% factor in that. Anyway, I spent Monday and part of Tuesday with one part of my brain trying to talk me back in to it and another part of my brain trying to tell that part of my brain to shut up and feeling relief at my inability to communicate. One of the things that I’ve learned is this: I chose to be a historian because I relentlessly look to the past for answers. There are plenty of good reasons to do this, but there are at least as many bad reasons. The switch from the former to the latter can be subtle and once the transfer has occurred it can be disastrous. So what’s a historian to do? So when you hear this autumn song Clear your head and get ready to run So when you hear this autumn song Remember the best times are yet to come --Manic Street Preachers, “Autumn Song” The speculation lasted until early Tuesday afternoon. Then it ended. It’s simple, really. It’s autumn. Now is the time to bring in the harvest of the previous year, the time to stop looking to the last spring and start looking towards the work of the next spring. The best antidote to the last one is to be aware of the existence of the next one. And even if the next one is just the next last one, she’s another step on the trail to The One. So raise a glass to the past. But keep running to the future. The ghosts of the past cannot become the people of the future; they can only point the way.