Ten years ago:

There has been a few times in my life where I had expectations that were completely destroyed. I would be breathlessly expecting an event to happen only to have my guts ripped out at the the crowning moment. This happens either when I misunderstand the true circumstances, or when I have blown expectations so completely out of control that it could only result in such a crushing letdown. Seeing Amy come off of the bus was the latter of these.

I don't know what I wanted to happen in that brief moment when she first saw me. Did I want the world to explode into a new shape before my eyes? Did I want her to drop everything and come over and hug me in a way that was so ultimately reassuring that I suddenly achieved enlightenment? Was I looking for some overly romantic sentiment reserved for pop culture legends? Whatever I was waiting for didn't happen. We stared at each other for a brief moment before settling on a hug, and then I started dragging her bags the nine blocks to my apartment.

We were both conflicted and scared and worried about the damage that had been done, so I can understand where she was cautiously distant. We had to talk our way through the knot before we could see what we could make of things. But I couldn't shake the impression that I was critically ignorant about something, and it was going to bite me right in the ass.



So many of my hopes were buried into her in those days. It was unreasonable to expect such things out of our strained relationship, but then I was being unreasonable in all things during that time so this was just another problem I brought on myself. I had thrown the melodramatic blanket over my head, and I was stumbling around trying to bump into her.

We would go around town spending time together, just the two of us and the relationship we were trying to resurrect. The air was constantly thick with things we weren't saying to each other for one reason or another. I would look at her and want to tell her how much I wanted to be with her, but I thought how that might be more than she was willing to take from me right then. Instead I turned it into some kind of game where I was trying show her that I was suddenly wise and strong and show how I had grown to be serious about my relationships. Even in my head I didn't know what the truth of it actually was, so it was just as well that the thoughts jammed themselves before they could even manage to escape.

When we did slide into old habits, it was embarrassing and sharp. She would put her arm around me, and I would look at her and then it would wash over us in a sudden moment and we would retreat to a safe distance away. We would reach for each other across a diner table, fiddling with our jewelry until one of us noticed and burst the bubble we were in. Little moments like this were sprinkled throughout the week, taking us from one sudden moment to another as we didn't say things that needed to be said.

At night I would reach some kind of critical mass and hold her close to me, crying out of frustration and isolation and breaking everything that I was across her back and her shoulders in an attempt to figure everything out. I wonder now what must have been going through her mind while we were laying there in the darkness, trying to hold on to the pathetic soul that left damp marks on her shirt. I wonder if we were both in the same place, or even then we were in our own little shells without any way to truly break though to the other one.

This was the danger of putting myself in her orbit. There was something in her that brought out the worst of my emotions, and played them out all over everything we were together. This reckless compulsion to want her, to want to be with her, intruded on rational thoughts and made me do damaging things to myself. I couldn't see how everything eventually turned to dust in the space between us. While this all seems so obvious now, the circumstances must have been uninterpretable to me when I was in the thick of it all.



She was just starting to get serious about her photography in those days. She would take the camera out wherever we were going, and I would watch her take in the world through the little window in the back of the Nikon and wonder what it was she was trying to do. The entire basis of my knowledge on the subject was a childhood of 110 film and fucking up the sports section in college by not knowing what f-stop meant. She told me it was an SLR and how she had just bought this gizmo or that lens and how it made her feel like she was surrounded by art all of the time. She had me look through the viewfinder and take some pictures, and I would listen and feel like it was just another thing I was going to fuck up anyway.

We spent one day walking along Lake Macatawa, going from the windmill past the scrapyard down to Kollen Park. We stopped so she could take pictures of the metal sculpture and the lines in the parking lot at the civic center. While we were walking together, it felt like I was just another thing that existed somewhere outside of her, and so I was thus a curiosity to be examined and rendered beautiful or interesting or artistic. I was waiting to be given meaning through her interpretation of what I was.

We walked by the small boat docks, and she asked me to walk to the end of the longest one and stand there while she took a picture. I walked out there and stood and waited for her to do her art, hands jammed into my pockets. I looked out on the lake sitting under a cloudy sky, and I wanted more than anything to be whatever she needed at that exact moment. I wanted to be her art, full of something brilliant that she would know on sight but that I would never fully understand. I wanted to embrace that role for her, and be the most interesting or the most beautiful for her. And then I moped back, knowing that I had somehow failed.

Although I didn't know it then, I was captured fully and completely through her lens, surrounded by the landscape and the water and the sky. I was moved onto a negative and then onto paper though little shades of light. I am green matted and framed, hanging in my office. I am on my homenode, contrasted in gray and black. It is me. I am there. It is amazing how those things happen sometimes.



Nothing we did made the week any longer. We used words to describe the hopes we were trying to find a home for, the compromises we were willing to make, the feelings we were trying to fight through. We slept in as much as we could, laying in warm sunlight and trying to extract feelings from each other. We embraced, hoping for something to happen to melt our hesitation. But there was not enough time for that to happen. We were too concerned with what we were feeling, or what we thought the other one was thinking. The task was too great.

She got on the bus, and I stood there watching it leave until it turned the corner out of sight. Then I lit a cigarette, walked back to my apartment, and had a nervous breakdown. I didn't know how to handle what had just happened. I blamed myself completely for all of the awkwardness. I wanted to take back those emotional moments that seemed perfectly reasonable, but quickly turn embarrassing and selfish under the light of perspective. I wanted another attempt at solving these problems, certain that I would totally get it right the second time around.

Of course all of these problems were solely my fault. Any contrary perspective would have been summarily dismissed in the light of what appeared to be irrefutable evidence. Never mind the desperate romantic fallacies my brain kept summoning. Never mind the inability of people to perfectly track the thoughts going on in someone else's head. Clearly I was the one making all of the mistakes. But these lies were so much easier to deal with than the simple truth: things were never going to be the way they had been with her before the breakup, nor should they.

I was nowhere near accepting that. I was too busy stumbling through my emotions.


Notes on a life in exile: A retrospective
Previous: March 10, 2010 <|> Next: April 2, 2010

Chatting with my friend on IM led to him saying, "I did not realize you dont like blonds, you spent a long time cuddling with one at the spearmint rhino."

This amazes me for a lot of reasons. I mean my friend has only been to Las Vegas a couple of times, so I'm sure his going to the Spearmint Rhino is more memorable than the blur of times I've been. It's kind of amazing that he remembered the type of girl *I* was hanging out with, though.

My response is that what a woman looks like is not as important to me as what she says and does.

Speaking of women, I kind of have a new writing assignment. The man I've been dating....


Well I was thinking about it, sure I could just say "my friend" or whatever, but really what I decided was that I'm not very fond of euphemisms. And I think "dating" is a euphemism for hanging out and hoping for sex. So in that regard, I'm NOT dating this guy, unless you count that we both would rather be having sex with some nice woman than hanging out with each other, but that's only because rarity breeds value. If you take away the sex part though, you could say I'm dating my friend. Today we had a TV date where I watched Dexter (I have a habit of checking to see where my links go...I noticed that Dexter here on E2 currently has a writeup where it mentions a third book is in the works. Let me say that I read all three books, the first two were excellent and then he jumps a big laser beam headed shark in book three, if you ask me, do not read further than book two) and then we watched Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara.

John Lithgow is amazing. As was the season 2 opener of Nurse Jackie. If Edie Falco was only a twenty something Asian woman, no one I know could possibly have any complaints about this show.

So my "date" ends, I don't want to go into the details, but suffice to say I didn't want to go home. I decided to see if possibly the most amazing waitress I know was working. The place she works is conveniently located between my house and my friends, so I stopped on in.

Short story not spiced up at all, (sometimes you should just use a cliche expression like "long story short" even if it's not accurate) I went to leave and told her I was off to blog. She asked what I blog about and I then suggested I write about how amazing she was. Then she told me to print it out and show it to her. I cleverly disguised the fact I don't have a printer by getting her e-mail so I could send her a link. Obviously it's not so clever, anymore.

She is amazing. From the first time she served me, when she fully admitted that she was the one who forgot to order my burger with no tomato, to this last time when she gives me her email she obviously set up when she was 12. Amazing. She loaned me not one, but two books. Amazing.

I'm the kind of guy who is all about TMI. No one really wants to hear about my clone, or when I stopped feeling guilty about masturbating growing up, or pretty much anything I can (and frequently do) think up that's a little weird. So if I were to describe how this woman physically looks, well I don't want to sound negative, but no good could come of it. Even if you are fascinated with what goes on in the minds of men, using a specific woman as example of all the little details I file away can only serve as further testimony to just how creepy I can be. "I don't have any boundaries, that's my problem." --Margene from Big Love. Let me just condense it down to a nice little line.

She looks amazing too.

But most amazing of all is how she shattered so much of my bitterness. I was trying to be as rational as I could one night explaining how I thought women were all basically looking for things I couldn't provide currently. I could be wrong, but it seemed to me she was genuinely annoyed at someone making generalizations about women. As if I was trying to put her in a box. Amazing.

Maybe I was just projecting, and maybe that was just a response to her saying at one point, "You are worse than me right now...so jaded," but I didn't get the message of how bad I was, but rather the message that she thought herself bad.

So there you go. On to another writing assignment.

Mr. Positive says I should write about games. He knows what I love. Interaction Junkie, I tell you. If Mr. Positive or jeep were on right now I'd be playing Dominion instead of writing this blog. Dominion is a card game that Rio Grande Games put out in 2008 that I can play with my friends online thanks to Brettspielwelt. Literally, "Brett's Game World" in German, I have described Brettspielwelt (or BSW) as the best thing on the internet. I've played so much Dominion, Puerto Rico, Carcassonne, Ra and my all time favorite, Caylus and it's all completely free. I've heard (complete hearsay) that games actually pay to be on BSW, and it is good advertising. My friends own Ra, and they started playing it because of BSW.

Mr. P. gave me what amounted to a pretty grandiose assignment. The question was basically if games were going to save the world or destroy it. I wanted to talk about the dream, though.

Back in the day when Magic: The Gathering only had a handful of expansions and Richard Garfield taught my friends and I how to play Robo Rally, Mr. Garfield had a dream. He dreamed the gaming industry would surpass the movie industry. When console gaming did exactly that, I wondered if Mr. Garfield counted "single player games." He seemed to like interaction.

I mention all this because pretty much every time I play Dominion with jeep these days, we use Skype to talk while we play. The joking and talking about the games is almost as good as the games themselves. Basically I think technology has gotten to the point where you can have a great time playing games online with your friends. Is it as good as live gaming? Well certainly not having to shuffle a million times during the course of a Dominion game is nice. You can't accidentally cheat when playing an online game. There are what we call "tech errors" that are annoying. These are mistakes caused by clicking the wrong thing that makes a move that would just never happen in real life.

One of the articles Mr. P. showed me led me to read another article about gaming where it talked about how console gaming had the social advantage over computers because you could sit on the couch with your friends and play. I've never owned a console besides the original Atarii my parents bought us for Christmas so long ago, but I've played Legend of Zelda and heads up Tetris with people on their systems. It is nice and fun and social. There is the interaction that I love so much.

I love interaction so much I don't think I need games, or sex, or any specific type of interaction. It's all good. So thank you for your feedback, thank you for your writing assignments, and thanks ever so much for all the sex.

I just have one more question: Do you think if the waitress started reading this she made it through all that crap about gaming to get here where I mention her again?

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