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Refuge for the rational.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Reminder 

I came across a letter today that I’d written a few years ago. It was addressed and stamped, but for some reason, I’d never bothered to mail it. I had written the address out with a tight and controlled script—apprehensive, careful, but attempting to appear casual and even hurried.

I opened it, and I read it, and though it’s somewhat applicable and poignant, I don’t remember what motivated the obvious feelings of injustice that influenced its writing, nor what could have prevented it from being sent to its rightful owner. I guess it was just a selfish endeavour, and the simple task of writing it was enough to quench my desire for sticking it to my ex-friend.

I guess she was kind of a bitch. I loved her, but she had a narcissistic complex that rivalled even mine, and as usually happens, the assumption that one knows everything distracted her from the fact that other people sometimes have good ideas too.

We’d have what we called “adventures”—trouble or mischief that I’ve been as of yet unable to create with any other person. It used to trouble me. I felt lost without the anecdotes that supposedly made my life so interesting, until I realised that everyone has those stories; they all take the same turns and end the same ways and everyone considers their little cloistered corners worthy of the haunting that can only happen in the most special and dramatic of situations in literature, and in films, and I guess in life.

There were no love stories. We tried to invent them, but they would always collapse on themselves within a few weeks and we’d be off and on to the next conquest and the next urgent and desperately meaningful narrative. It was just a way for us to feel close to each other, close to the people around us, but just 'cause you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there. And in the end, they weren’t. That isn’t meant to be nihilistic. They aren’t here, and that doesn’t really mean much.

I ran into one of them a few weeks ago and I was unsure of what to say. He seemed happy to see me, and indeed at the time it had been his prerogative to continue the drama within which we had somehow embroiled ourselves. It was funny, because my friend hated him. And he would start shit with her and then profess his love for me and say something like “can’t we all just get along”. When I saw him, I didn’t know what to say. Not because I truly didn’t think it would either be kind of touching or funny to catch up in the trendiest bar in the city on the night I’d chosen to wear the most revealing dress I own. I’m not really sure what it was—I momentarily considered pretending I didn’t recognize him. We stood there for what became an increasingly uncomfortable passing of seconds and then I broke into a smile and gave him a hug and cut the hello/goodbye short as quickly as possible. As I was walking away I realised it had been an inappropriately short amount of time. Obviously, he had wanted a stop and chat. I tried to find him later to say I was sorry and how are you doing, and the rest of it, but I felt as though an introduction between past and recent acquaintances was too much like staring my old self in the face. It made me uncomfortable.

I guess the reason the letter didn’t make me uncomfortable was because there were no witnesses. There was no one there to tell me that I’d changed or that I still looked the same or that it was good to see me, whilst searching for some kind of familiarity or fraternity. There is no date, so I have no idea when it was written, except that it had to have been over four years ago. I say in the letter that I “currently find myself in pleasant circumstance” (how patronising), and given this time period, I was either lying or delusional. Delusional is probably more accurate. And this should be some clue as to why I’m uncomfortable with facing my old self. I didn’t change so much as attempt to abandon a mania that constantly threatens to return. I don’t fear running into familiar strangers so much as I fear the alliance with a person who wasted four years of my life. She lingers over every re-acquaintance as an embarrassing spectre of theatrical folly. And people are never credited with having the ability to change. So, when you run into them, all they remember is who you were, and it doesn’t much matter who you are. Deadly penguins indeed.
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