Saturday, May 10, 2014

It's more than the thumbs.

In an effort to become more human, I have applied to the local junior college. Registration for fall is in nine days. I hope this works.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Understanding Love, 2

Late one night, or early one morning, I told you I loved you.

This was the first time that I remember saying those words of my own choice and not just parroting them back after someone said that they loved me.

You had invited me to spend the night, which was rare for me. Not the spending the night where you lived, but that was usually a group thing; everyone was invited and everyone stayed over. Often I was only invited after people were already there -- an afterthought. This night, though, you had specifically invited me and that was different. That was special.

You had recently moved out of your old room and into a new room to get farther away from your problems. The new room not only had your bed, but a decent couch for someone to sleep on. Even though other people, other friends, were over we barricaded ourselves in your room after eating. I remember being surprised, the next morning, that no one came upstairs, no one disturbed us.

Talking is what we did that night. We talked about books we had both read and went over the things we liked and disliked. We talked about books the other hadn't read and made enthusiastic, but hollow, promises to read them for ourselves. We talked about spirituality and at that time you still sort of believed in a spiritual world; not necessarily God, but something unexplainable. We ranked our teachers and rated most of them as placeholders who just didn't care. We discussed various Dungeons and Dragons campaigns we'd played and decided that what we really needed was to play more D&D. We mocked our friends and verbally ripped apart people whom we didn't care for.

Eventually, as we both knew would happen, we worked our way to your recent split with your girlfriend of almost, I think, two years. I was curious about what had happened from your point of view because I'd heard the other side and didn't completely believe it. You seemed almost relieved to be able to talk about it with someone who thought the whole thing was fucked up and genuinely hadn't picked a side in the matter, but was leaning your direction. At that time it didn't occur to me that you may not have been allowed to talk out the things you needed to talk about because the whole mess with your girlfriend also involved your best friend and sort of, in a sideways way, involved another of your closest friends. You really had no one to talk to at that time, did you?

I'm forever thankful that you weren't looking for answers because I wouldn't have had any. (I probably wouldn't have any answers now.) You just needed to talk, to know that someone understood your side. Any question I asked, you answered. And I tried to be thoughtful; to not just go for the juicy stuff that would have made for horrible, but addictive, television. I also tried to make you laugh because laughter always seems to make horrible things easier.

When you finished, you seemed more relaxed than you had in a while. It must have been a great weight off of your shoulders. You also asked me not to tell anyone the things you said and in nearly 20 years, this is the closest that I've come to saying anything. I still remember some of the stories you told.

Then you asked me about my potential love life. I talked about some of the girls who I had crushed on for a while because they were intelligent and cute but ultimately talked too much and I learned that they were kind of horrible people when I got to know them. From there we talked about the girls at our school and who were, or at least seemed to be, decent people. You asked about my best friend and what was up with that and I told you the truth, that nothing was up with that, but I'm not sure you really believed me. Finally you straight out asked me if I ever loved anybody, that's when I said that I loved you.

And I did love you. I loved you like I loved all my friends. I loved you like I loved my brothers. You were one of the best people I had ever met up to that point in my life, how could I not love you? You thanked me, even though it wasn't exactly what you meant when you asked the question. You said that you loved your friends, too, and it was hard when that love was betrayed. I agreed, but told you that there were still people who cared for you.

Fortunately, we were both non-weepy guys because, looking back, this would have been the point for tears. Instead I moved on the couch and in the process let one rip. Windows were open, only partially as a joke, and the subject was changed. I don't know if you remember any of this and if you do how much, but it was a good and important night for me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Understanding Love, 1

I've heard it -- or read it -- said that if you think you've been in love, you haven't been in love.

Still, I think that at one time I loved you. I think I loved you hard.

I remember thinking about you when you weren't there and feeling happy and sad and a little sick to my stomach. I remember being with you, sitting, and feeling happy and a little sick to my stomach. I remember the rumors about you and your former boyfriend. I remember the day you transformed yourself into a very sad, very insane woman and handed out flowers. I remember how easy it was for you to slide from your social group to mine and then back to yours and how I'd already been rejected by your social group; I could have lived on the outskirts just to be close to you, but that would have been pathetic and I already had so many things working against me. I remember the day you saw the toys I carried around in my backpack and you found it amusing, not in a cynical or cruel way, but more in an I-understand-why-you-carry-these-things way; you understood that I liked what I liked and I used them to get reactions from people. I remember your kindness.

High school was not a kind place for me. It wasn't cruel, either. It was more indifferent. I was fat enough and nerdy enough that I put people off. I was smart enough, nice enough, and "normal" enough that no one attacked me, physically or mentally, for being different than they were. I was a place holder, a space taker, to most of the students, probably most of the teachers, too. I was an object to be walked around and a group member to be ignored.

To you, though, I wasn't just an object. You always greeted me, even when I was forced to sit alone in a group of four desks and I spitefully made sure I sat in the desk closest to the door. When, one day, you were rejected by your group and had to sit with me, you liked it enough that the next day you came back, even though there were empty seats elsewhere in the classroom. And you came back the next day and the day after that and each day until the school year ended.

There was a day, when we had a substitute teacher, when we sat at our desks, across from each other, and we talked about The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You had discovered it more recently than I had and were in the process of indoctrinating your friends. Just as the substitute teach came up to our desks you said that the weekend before you had "devirginized" your boyfriend, at the time. The sub said that he and a lot of young men were devirginized during their time in the Army, you turned red, and I bit back laughter. You stumbled and stuttered, trying to explain the movie and the tradition of the lipstick "V"s on a new watcher's cheeks. The sub said that if your boyfriend needed more help with the devirginizing he should join the Army; they have a lot to teach, he said. You looked down and said that he was actually joining the Marines. I snorted. Even better, the sub said. I burst out laughing and a half-second later, you started to laugh, too, still redder than a strawberry.

It was you kindness and your ability to laugh at your mistakes and your forgiveness to me for laughing at you before it was with you. It didn't hurt, too, that you were easily the most beautiful female in our class, if not the whole school. I remember how you kept your hair carefully tucked behind your ear, but when you were concentrating hard it would fall from its place as you leaned forward and the very tip of your ear would poke out of your hair. I remember your eyes flashing in anger at the idiots in the classroom and in joy when I could make you laugh. I remember your smile: your huge smile when you were excited; your sly smile when you had gotten away with something; and your small smile when you were simply content.

I knew that if you loved me at all it would never be the same way I loved you. There was someone, a friend, who was smarter than me, nicer than me, and much better looking than me who you said you couldn't like as anything other than a friend. What chance did a schlub like me have? It was okay, though, because I got to spend 50 minutes alone with you every day we were at school and I wouldn't want to give that time up for anything.

We went to the same school out first year of college. I didn't go hunting for you. I have this thing about social strata and not trying to shake it up and while I knew where I'd end up -- outside and alone -- I didn't know where you would choose to be. I knew you'd choose, though, because you were smart enough and acceptable enough to end up anywhere. I did call you a couple of times, though. Once to tell you a teacher had died, one who I really liked, and you helped me feel better. The other time was to see if you were headed home one weekend because I needed a ride back to school. You were and you did. We also ran into each other a few times and just chatted. Your roommate, who we went to school with, was not nearly so kind.

I held on to the feeling I had for you for a few years until it reached the point that I had to give it up. I was going to a different school and wasn't ever going to see you again. It was hard letting go, but I had to even though it made me feel good and safe.

You were the only person I wasn't in semi-regular contact with who I wanted to see at our ten year reunion. You didn't come. I'm not going to the 20 because once in a room with those people again and just being an object was enough. I've kept an eye out for you on Facebook, but cannot find you. Either you’re not there, or you've changed enough that I no longer recognize you when I see you. I don't know and I'm not going to be concerned about it because it probably wouldn't change anything anyway.

I hope your life is nice. I hope that even if you didn't become what you thought you were going to become you're something that you like. I hope your husband appreciates what he has and shows it to you every day even if it's just by taking your hand for no particular reason and giving it a small squeeze. I hope that any kids you might have got your smarts more than you looks, but I hope they have that same sly smile when they're up to mischief. And I hope that when you think back to high school and that fat guy you sat across from in English it's with fondness.

Friday, May 02, 2014

A Play Question

The part of the play that comes after the intermission is almost always shorter than the part before. Is this because everything used to be written in a three act structure and we keep trying to force that structure into two acts?

Thursday, May 01, 2014

What's this advertising?

I pulled this picture off of an advertisement I got in my e-mail. There's no text, just the picture, among a lot of other pictures. The other ones were pretty clear what they were selling, but not this one.

What is it trying to get me to buy?