Back before I learned my lesson.
The thing is I feel GUILTY for feeling bad, how's that for neurosis wrapped in circular thinking with a bow made of twisted values? I mean I have absolutely no emotional claim on her, I had a wisp of a hope and it floated away, not a big deal. Nothing wrong went on, just another case of me being socially dyslexic. So every time I think about her or see a mane of hair across a darkened quad and wonder if it's hers or write about her here I feel like I'm being unjust, unreasonable, unfair. Like I've appropriated her to be symbolic and important in my life without her consent. It feels sleazy. But how does one avoid doing that? How do you deny it when someone breaks through powerful, old, entrenched defenses like they were paper mache walls and touches you in a place that you long ago thought you bulldozed and erected an emotional parking lot over. She woke me up from a daze and I never even got close enough to thank her. Not even close enough to merit an excuse before she just stopped writing. I have no rights there, not even those of grief. I am appropriating as an important figure in my development someone who blew me off like dandylion fluff in a typhoon, and how can I justify that. I don't think I can, although some may say that emotions don't require justification. I may say that. That's not the way it feels.
I run through the memories looking for where I slipped up, remembering that warm night on the rooftop where I chatted to some junior advertisor while she talked to some other guy, eating the longing like little shards of glass that cut my insides to shreds on the way down. I remember staying for 3 hours after she left because when she was gone I was able to actually HEAR what other people were saying. I remember a sunny summer day on campus and feeling like THIS was what life was supposed to be with, how the inexplicable joy of BEING was laid out before me like a magical carpet promising untold heights and giddy, dizzying views. I remember the flood of memories back then of time with my father in the woods of Maine where lakes stretch out as pure as they were a thousand years ago and the air is so light and soft it feels like a different substance than the thick polluted stuff that gums up our lungs down here. All the parts of life that I have REVELED in were back in that moment, all the things that were stripped from me like wings off an angel sending me crashing into the harshness of the ground.
Now I remember that last day at the breakfast table, fighting against a man who expected, nay, DEMANDED so much of me. Feeling like he'd never understand me, like I was trapped. Not remembering just what he meant to me until my mother looked at me with an ashen face and tell me that she didn't think he was going to survive.
Nothing seemed real for 8 years after that. It was all just a horrible mistake. My life was one of those marvel "What If" comics and any day now they were going to get back to the REAL storyline, you know the one where nobody's ACTUALLY dead and the traditional order of good and bad were as they should be.
The problem with life is that while you're waiting for that day to come thousands of others slip on by, the sands of time don't obey the whims of mortals and pots CAN boil right under your nose. I found myself adrift and though there were some lights to orient myself towards they were just shards of brightness in the fog. But she lifted that, for a few shining moments the world was VIBRANT again. It was like someone had rubbed me down with pumice, I felt raw and vital and in TOUCH with things. She strode through my clouded state like a colosus the mist receeding in awe of her. And she strode off without a second thought to leave me alone in her wake watching the fog drift slowly back in.
She woke me up and now I'm ready...to do what I have to to find my way out of this interminable gray, but although I'm thankful for what she did I don't want her image in my mind anymore. I want to release her, let her go back to her happiness without idle ramblings of some long forgotten aquaintance infringing on her right to privacy and choice of association. I want to release myself, face the things I can do something about instead of watching the horizon for a glimpse of chestnut hair. I don't want to dance away from the things that remind me, that's not fair to anyone. I want to forget and let go.
But how do you get away from someone who haunts your dreams, who'se privy to a part of you so intimate that even YOU don't understand it? How does one release someone you never even had in the first place? How do you move on without anywhere to move on from? She sucks me along in the vacuum behind her like so much dust in the wind.