In There Somewhere Is Self-Forgiveness

May 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

Herself wasn’t what I had hoped, whatever that was. Hope jumped into the confusion and marshalled the minions to subdue reality while my mind replaced it. I wanted someone to care about me. She was not that someone, though I would not let myself believe it, as if she were my last hope, the last woman in the kingdom on whose foot to try the glass slipper. But I was a beastly prince. I had never invested so much of myself in another and never been returned a bigger fool. I couldn’t imagine a greater unfairness. I determined to exact justice from her and made myself the bigger fool and the most beastly prince until she left me with no one to hang my delusions upon. Sifting through them as through Charles Foster Kane’s treasures is a penance but moreso a responsibility–to myself if not to her. In there somewhere is self-forgiveness.

Not Too Old

April 17, 2012 § 9 Comments

After Herself filed out of his office with our supervisor, I was left to take a bit more thrashing from the big boss. He said to me after the door closed again, “You are too old for this.” I pitied him at that moment: Had he ever felt for someone the way I felt for her? Had he forgotten or long since chalked up love to an immature impetuousity? a phase to go through between this age and that age? Then you get married, make a go of “reality”–grow up. I’m not too old for anything, including making a fool of myself. Did his wife tell him he was too old for that affair? I’m not a child–the birth of my children saw to that–and my needs are not childish. Neither is there a statute of limitations on acquiring them. Am I too old to make a mistake? to be frustrated and to express it? to apologize? Too old for any of that is old enough to be dead. I have burdens enough. Why carry a headstone around?

Don’t Mention It

April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

The last postcard I sent was when?…last April? Not to her house, or even the mail, but to her work in a book packed in a plastic bin marked GL for Glen Allen with a lot of other books marked the same. I don’t remember what book it was, except that it was one I’d read. On the back of the card I wrote only “She is nothing like you,” a reference to a Frightened Rabbit song, not a person. She wouldn’t know that, but that was part of the joke. I don’t know which card it was, either, except that it was a Quint Buchholz and was cat or book themed. There was no guarantee she would see it–no guarantee she would have seen the other three–but it would be easily found by whoever unpacked the bin over there. Glen Allen receives our branch’s bins in the morning, so I’d be sure the card arrived on a morning she worked. I didn’t sign them–you kidding?–but she, and only she over there, would recognize my handwriting. That’s a long time ago now. I no longer goad her or solicit her attention (though I still want it), for the same reason I don’t mention her at work: I’m supposed to be over her. This that you read is the postcard now. Don’t mention it.

My Level of Commitment

April 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

As I crawl from under the foot of the self-imposed tyranny of that so-called love and stand erect, I bear myself a bit more comfortably in going forward back into the fray. Flirting has become fun sport, yet remains so only so long as I do not consider the end to which it is often the means. I play much of that sport on the circulation desk at work, with any female patron that can raise my eyebrows. Encounters are usually brief, just long enough to play one point, which can be evenly volleyed to a satisfactory draw or double-faulted. Winning seems undesirable. What is to be won? What do I really want out of this? I want to know that I can hold serve and return one. I want to know that I’m attractive. I want to know that I can express my attraction to someone without eliciting fear or ridicule. I want more–companionship, compassion, sex–but am not confident in my ability to reciprocate. For now, the game’s the thing. It’s my level of commitment.

The Power In Humility

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Principle, right as it might seem or be, can still be shaky ground upon which to take a stand. A right to do something is not a duty to do it. Discretion can be too little considered. Rational rightness makes of itself righteousness with a blindly ironic twist of rationale into morality. Where irony prevails, recognized or not, true rightness is excluded. There I stood, Emperor of Righteous, resplendently naked in my meticulously woven cloak of rightness, proclaiming my “every right” to averted faces. What I say now clothes me in my humility, embarrassed over what I displayed. Whatever of my rights I felt at the time to have been trampled upon in the proceedings against me had been merely superseded by a moral duty I would not acknowledge. The principles I stood upon were kicked out from under me by the truth: the pain I’d inflicted. The resentment of my punishment as disproportionate to my crimes recedes as understanding accedes. Sometimes I resent that, too. I can’t recognize the power in humility.

Rare Is the Balance

March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Friends are hard to make and harder to keep. Especially if you define them as strictly as I do.  I have three friends. I can talk to them about anything. I can ask of them any favor and feel neither sheepish nor guilty about it. I trust they would do the same of me. I trust that they care for my well-being as I care for theirs. This might sound like family, but with family it is an obligation, whether willing or not. The bond is not of one’s choosing. I’m excited to find someone to whom I feel I can relate. It usually doesn’t last–the excitement or the relationship. Neither of us can accept all we need to accept of the other. We can relate to certain interests but cannot reserve critical judgement of the other. The last I heard of one such acquaintance was, “Don’t judge me,” after I couldn’t agree that some black people looked like apes. Some patrons I see and talk to quite often at the library, but where are they outside that world? I live far from where I work. It is not my community. Connection is about what we are willing to  receive.  We start with what we give, hoping another will receive it and reciprocate. Rare is the balance.

I Need a Disease

January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Not all the library’s stories are in the stacks. Like any workplace, we have our dramas: The son in South America; moving parents into assisted living; going deaf in an ear thanks to a viral attack; deaths; breakups. A lot of sympathy, condolence and concern. Mine was not such a story. Mine was entertainment to coworkers, so I was not disturbed with anyone’s concern lest the tension of the narrative be dissipated. I was on my own. Herself, being the victim of my attentions, was given the commensurate sympathy. Every heroine needs her dastard. All the attention this dastard got was censure. I need a disease.

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