This is the fourth instalment in a series. If you haven't already, read the first instalment if it so pleases you, and follow that up with the second instalment, if you can take it. Oh, yeah, and then read the third instalment.
Would you believe that writing about this period of my life has given me nightmares? My dreams are filled with anxiety, a sense of loss, and physical things keep breaking down. In one dream, the arm on the glasses I wore back then snapped through, and I could not afford another pair; in another, Richard turned away from me in dismay, his ugly jean jacket slumping forlornly along his shoulders; another had me sobbing inconsolably for some unknown grief that I could not bear. I tossed and turned last night, struggling for warmth and less twisted blankets. I wanted the grief in my dreams to quit. I am glad that I am getting to the end of this soon. It is likely not clear to anyone other than me that this is difficult for me to write out or why I should be revisiting this bit of my past, so I would like to thank my regulars for bearing with me. When this whole mess is typed out and filed away in the archives, my posts will be about much nicer things like puke in my nasal passages, my highschool-boy-in-chess-club haircut, the ridiculousness of my latest art project, or the mad conversation with the old man drinking free tea.
You must understand that I am not presenting this in a perfectly linear order. What I am about to write about and the content of the past couple of posts are actually all intertwined and overlapping. It would have been a futile endeavour for me to try to explain the whole thing from one end to the other properly, because it has been too long and the relationships between the different elements are complicated, so I disentangled the pieces as much as possible and have chosen to lay them out as simply as I can one at a time. I'm also terrible with facts, to which Starcat will attest, especially after reading the following...
I met Starcat in my twentieth summer somewhere in between meeting Katya and becoming engaged to Richard. There was an instant attraction, and not unlike what happened with Katya, I floated along with the currents and tides of the situation, allowing myself to be swept along without a thought for Richard unless one situation bumped directly into the other. It was like I had several different lives that I was living at one time, as though I was several different people. For Richard, I was the doting girlfriend; for Katya, I was the coy friend; for Starcat, I was the desired woman of another.
Starcat and I met one night when I was out with Richard having a few drinks with friends. Richard, Starcat, and I ended up hanging out at the house of a mutual friend, Y. Richard wanted to go home, but I decided that I would stay, and Richard, being no fool and quite well aware of the tension between Starcat and me, looked nervously from one to the other of us. I assured him that I would be fine, which was not an answer to the question his eyes were posing, but I had just jumped into another river, and he could run along.
Starcat and I spent the rest of that night until the sun came up walking up and down either side of the river, talking as if we would never again have a chance to know each other, and holding each other somewhat timidly. As we neared our respective homes across a bridge just as the morning light was weakly entering the sky, I knew this was no small event. I knew that the only way I was going to avoid anything further happening with him in the future would be to never see or speak with him again. I also knew that I wasn't going to avoid him. I was in love with two people. By the time I reached the door to my apartment, I was disastrously unhappy. I could not rationally box my way out of the situation I found myself in. I was living my life based on the emotions of any given moment, and I felt like I was careening out of control
As the warmer months marched on, my friendship/obsession with Starcat grew. And so did my relationship with Richard. The closer Richard and I became, the more spending time with him became difficult, because my guilt was raging more and more loudly with every passing day. It was becoming very clear that despite my feelings for Richard, I had to leave him. I knew that he was planning to eventually ask me to marry him; there was no way that I could stay in the relationship with everything I was hiding, and there was no way the relationship could continue if I confessed to my feelings for Starcat. Starcat and I never slept together while I was with Richard, but our strong feelings for each other were enough of an obstacle. This was no way to treat a boyfriend who loved me enough to take care of me through an extended schizoid episode and to forgive my first betrayal. I told Richard that we were over without telling him about Starcat. Partially, I did not want to add insult to injury, but I was also avoiding the difficulty of telling him the truth. So many larger and smaller lies had built up that the only way I knew to deal with them was to run away from them. My lack of coherent explanation for my reasoning behind the break-up confused Richard, and he didn't really understand my decision, but he accepted it and told me that his door was always open.
Whether we were apart for a matter of days or a couple of weeks, I don't remember, but the last afternoon of our initial separation is so clear to me, even eleven years later. Starcat and I had fallen asleep on his bed in the afternoon, and when I woke up, he was still fast asleep. I said his name softly a couple of times, and when he didn't stir, I gathered up my things and left his house. The sun was dazzling, and my sleep-weary eyes could barely stand the glare from the sidewalk cement. I remember my satchel weighing hotly on my left shoulder and the soles of my sneakers burning my feet with the heat they were absorbing from the ground. I felt like I was lost, like I didn't know my way around or where to go despite the fact that I had lived in the area for months.
The next thing I knew I was sitting in the cool shade of Richard's front porch smoking a cigarette and waiting for something to happen. Bereft of enough reason to choose a plan of action, I had put myself in the middle of eventual traffic. I knew that he would come through his front door at some point and find me there. We would talk. Something would make sense. Something about leaving Richard didn't feel done yet, and I knew that I couldn't make any decisions for myself until I knew why it didn't feel closed enough for me to move on. I should have stayed as far away from him as possible to save him the grief that would be inevitable if I stuck around, but I didn't have the sense to do that. I didn't seem to have any sense at all.
Oh, my freaking lord, will the navel gazing ever stop?! Apparently, not yet. I have a fifth instalment yet to go, because I obviously find my bellybutton lint ever so fascinating.
- Carl Sandburg
Here is dust remembers it was a rose
one time and lay in a woman's hair.
Here is dust remembers it was a woman
one time and in her hair lay a rose.
Oh things one time dust, what else now is it
you dream and remember of old days?
Whatever happened to the snood?