Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Different Kind of Break-up

I lost a friend at the end of 2012.  She didn’t die – she basically broke up with me.  It’s a friend I’ve known for literally decades, but as someone pointed out to me recently an old friend isn’t always the same thing as a close friend.  She has been both at various times, and though she’d kept the “old friend” status all along, in the last few years we’d definitely grown further and further apart. 

The petty, small part that we all have had been tempted to use this, my own personal sandbox, as a place to hash out the whole damned situation.  And if I said I don’t still have that temptation I’d be denying all of the sentences I’ve already typed and deleted in what is only two paragraphs of writing.  Because I’m frustrated.  Because the end of this long, and once important, friendship came in the form of an angry, accusatory, vitriolic email to which I chose not to retaliate.  I took what I had decided was the ‘high road.’  I honored the demand that she made for our relationship to be ‘done.’  I let her have her say and didn’t lash out and carve her down to a sad, quivering, humiliated lump, and I’ll be bold (ok, smug.  Cocky even.) and tell you that I could have.  Instead I just said “ok.”

The thing that most frustrates me about all of it, and which makes this post really hard to write the right way (by which I mean the fair and correct and not evil way) is that I didn’t do anything wrong.  I protected people who were important to me, and kept confidences that were entrusted to me and let my own happiness be at least as important as the happiness of others and for all of this I’ve got more than one person out there considering me evil.  I know the truth of it, and the people who see me through this kaleidoscopic view are not the people who matter to me.  So why does this still occasionally pop up in my peripheral vision and eat at me? 

I’m sad to say I think it’s pride.  It’s years of “she dids” and “I nevers” that I didn’t get to play in this terrifically stupid game.  It’s this final “high road” I took after what I see as years and years of high roads bringing me to the point where I’m on the frickin’ Mt. Everest of damned high roads but which I don’t get to flaunt.  And, most lame of all, it’s this really inherent sense of what should be “right” and “wrong” in the world but which isn’t being those things.  And my need to get them there.  To make the world line up with my view of it.  And to be able to see my actions as being exactly what they should have been, and noble to boot. 

In the last year before this friend stormed off she and I connected with each other maybe half a dozen times.  Certainly no more than a dozen.  So we’re talking one chat or email or “ships passing in the night” encounter a month at best.  I’ve got people that I actually DON’T like that I interact with more.  As far as things I can live without go this friendship is a doozy.  And yet I have stopped and walked through the conversation that I didn’t get to have with her a few damned times since she proclaimed herself “done.”  So, in the end, what this whole thing did more than anything was force me to face some things about myself that I need to keep working on.  Ironically none of them were things with which she took issue, but as it always is it’s not the things that others tell me I should care about that matter.  It’s the things I know I want to improve.

So if my ex-friend were to stumble back on this blog I’d want her to know that I’m working on the stuff I think I need to improve, and thank her for giving me this annoying, niggling view once again on my imperfections. 

Damn her.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Why Do We Blog?

You know about my new man – we’re going to call him the Cowboy.  One of the things that makes me so thrilled about him and us is how many things we see very eye-to-eye about.  We’ve been completing each other’s thoughts and sentences since the first weekend we knew each other. 

Still, one day I mentioned to him that I am “a writer”, (being a “writer” means I am totally qualified to use “air quotes”) and part of how I exercise those muscles is by way of this blog.  He listened, did the “I’m listening” nod at just the right intervals, and didn’t react too much.  Not right then.  But a day or two later he came back to the subject.  Came back with a look of genuine confusion.  And, long story short (“What?  Why?  You know that’s not why we read this blog, right?  You’ve never made a long story short before – why are you doing it now?  Boooo….”), he asked me not to write about him in this blog.

(Yes, I know I wrote about him in the last post.  It’s ok.)

He was incredibly articulate in his request, giving me clear reasons why and never showing any anger or judgment.  But it was clear that at the heart of his request was confusion.  He was, quite frankly, baffled at why I’d want to write a blog. 

(Yes, I’m writing about him again.  Here.  In the blog.  Like right now.  I know.  Seriously, it’s ok.)

He saw blogging as basically “public journaling” – the laying out of my heart and mind and emotions to the entire world.  He worried how he might come across in these pages, especially if something between us were to go south.  Worried that I might take out some revenge by slandering him, or (even worse) by telling an ugly truth. 

(Just keep reading!  We’re getting to it!  I’m not even making the long story that short!  Chill OUT.)

More than that, he boggled at why I’d ever be willing to put my heart and mind and emotions out here in the public eye, where people could judge me, criticize me, try to hurt me or tear me down just because I’d given them the chance and the access.  His confusion lead to a request to protect him, but it also had shades of being protective of me.  I’ll admit I was a little bummed about it because I’d really been excited to gush to you guys about the awesomeness that is the Cowboy and about the cool relationship stuff going on and still to come, but I understood where he was coming from and respected it.  And more than that, it made me think. 

God, I hate that.

The question he was asking made sense.  In fact, the question made way more sense than the blogging did.  Why the heck DO we do this?  Is it crazy to let folks into our inner workings like we do?  Even though I respected his request and considered his concern, my strong desire to get back to writing here was hot.  It was ferocious and nagging.  “Write me!” said my thoughts and feelings.  “Spread me out over the internet like honey roasted peanut butter over a cheesy Asiago bagel!” they cried.  “Don’t worry about protecting yourself!  Wriiiiiiiite Meeeeeee!”

(Side note:  peanut butter on cheesy bagel?  Seriously awesome.  So many yums, many of them very unexpected.  Check it out.  But, you know, later on.  For now go back to reading.)

But why?

I’m putting this question out to you folks who might still read this and who also blog.  I’ve got my own answers, which I’m going to cover here, but I want to know how many of you have had this same soul-searching moment, either because you’ve had it bite you in the ass or because someone who doesn’t have the writer’s bug questioned your reasoning, or possibly your sanity.  What say you, fellow bloggers?  What is the deal with this?

…I let the Cowboy’s request to keep him out of the blog sit for a while, initially thinking I could work within that boundary.  But as time passed I discovered first that the boundaries were making it hard for me to get back to writing because in very short order he had become intertwined in pretty much everything in my life.  And because so much of what I desperately wanted to write about, frankly, was him.  And since the things I’d wanted to write were not easy to negotiate with his request I just didn’t write anything.  Which is why it’s March and I’m just now getting back to this.  (Well, ok, and also life is crazy busy with way too many things to even sleep enough, let alone hobbies and exercise and… ok, it’s crappy to blame the boundary.  But it was still harder.  Or it would have been.  If I’d really tried to writing.  Juggling things is hard!)

In order to figure out anything else I had to figure out the answer to his question.  The first answer is true and obvious:  because I’m a writer.  And writers just need to write.  They also need others to read what they write.  I’m a writer; therefore I write.  See how noble and even eloquent the response?  Full of alliteration and pithy repeatiosity.  Classy even.  I’m embroidering it on a throw pillow as we speak.  Soooo fancy.

But really also crap.

I write because I’m a writer?  That’s like saying “I sing because when I talk it’s really slow.  And rhythmic.”  I’m a writer because I love to write.  You know that endorphin rush that everybody always says you can get from working out?  Running or whatever, and people talk about hitting that stride where suddenly it’s joyous and you’re making energy instead of spending it and it’s better than sex, etc.…  Well I’ve been biking 100 miles a week for 5 years and also kickboxing and recently dabbled in running (except of course it’s not REALLY running if it’s just in 60 second bursts, but it’s a start) and I’ve never had this mythical endorphin rush.  Not once.  NOT.  ONCE.  Not from exercising or running or jumping or…  oh come on, neither have you.  Neither have any of you!  MYYYYYTHIIIICAAAAAAL! 

But I’ve totally, totally had it from writing. 

I’ve had the experience where it’s 11pm and I’m sleepy.  In fact I’m sleeping.  Or I was, crashed on the couch with the TV blathering in the distance, all drooling and mouth hanging open.  Out COLD.  But then I wake up, with some kind of vague idea of something to write about – maybe I dreamt about fish politics or the IQ of paisley or impressionistic madlibs – and I open up the keyboard to jot down the idea.  A quick note, just enough to remind me later.  OK, maybe a couple of sentences, because there’s a nuance, you know?  There’s a gist that I need to get, to be able to do it right later.  And that takes a three to four sentences…  six tops.

And the next thing I know it’s 3am and I’ve written the idea I had, it’s vaguely amusing neighbor idea and four mistreated step-children of the initial idea.  I’m on a roll.  I’m on FIRE!  And I swear to you, I’m flooded with these mythical endorphins.  I write because there’s about four or five things in the world that give me a bonafide rush.  A high even.  And one of them?  It’s taking handfuls of words and phrases and concepts and hurling them all over empty sheets of “paper.”  It’s taking that most frightening of things – the blank page – and carving and scribbling and mooshing and oh-my-god-even-hacking and slashing upon it until it’s a thing.  A story, or an essay, or a letter to an editor of a thing.  It’s my thoughts, cohesively assembled into a readable thing. 

When someone who doesn’t have this crazy-ass reaction to writing (or painting or decoupage - you pick the artistic endeavor) asks you “why the hell do you do this?” it’s really hard to explain to them the “why.”  It’s harder when they see this artistic endeavor as something that could lead to crowds of strangers mocking and ridiculing you and your thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, crushing your soul.  Because the true question at this moment is “why do you want people to crush your soul?  I happen to like your soul, and I want it to stay in it’s current, non-crushed condition, and there is no way I can protect it, and you, if you’re willing to leave it on a busy street corner, naked and unprotected with a sign saying “super-crushable – ask me how!”  They’re worried about you.  They want to take care of you.  And you’re saying “that’s super-sweet, baby, but I’d prefer to dance around with a big, shiny target on my head and my heart.  Thanks anyway.” 

Since the original discussion about the craziness of blogging and the request to please not write about him my new, wonderful partner has done some of his own soul-searching, and he’s offered me an incredibly generous, brave compromise that allows me to write about him here sometimes.  In a normal situation I’d be very impressed with this action.  Knowing how scary he finds the idea of being put out there for public, anonymous, unfair and vicious internet bullying makes this action amazing.  Heroic even.  And in the face of this how can I not at least take some time and thought and think about why I need to be out here, swinging in the breeze?  So I ask you guys again:  Why?  Why do we do this?