This is the fifth instalment in a series. If you have a huge amount of time on your hands and you haven’t already read through them, then read the four preceding instalments:
• Richard, Part 1: The Beginning
• Richard, Part 2: The Painful Beginning of the Middle
• Richard, Part 3: The Painful Middle Part of the Middle, Despite the Hot Lesbian Action
• Richard, Part 4: Me and Starcat and Richard Make Three, or the End of the Middle
At the end of the previous entry, I left off with my hanging around in Richard’s front porch, squarely in the middle of eventual traffic. I waited there for a long time. I rolled Drum tobacco and smoked it, picking tobacco bits from my lower lip. I checked to make sure the house key was still under the pile of old plant pots in the corner. I pulled a book from my satchel and read a couple of pages. I considered and then reconsidered knocking on the door or walking into the house, but I was looking for something to tell me what to do. I was so hopeless at divining the reasons behind my own actions recently that I did not even trust myself to knock on Richard’s door. Also, knocking on his door would mean that I would have to know why I had come there. I would have to say something to start a conversation with him, and really, all I knew was that I had been sleeping next to one man and then had found myself sitting on the porch of another and that everything that had brought me there hurt everybody else involved and I wanted it to stop. I think I wanted someone to tell me that things could be okay again. I wanted the equivalent of crying into my frosted flakes and having someone stick a band-aid to my knee.
Just when I was thinking of leaving, believing that Richard had already gone to work, I jolted backwards as he opened the door. He seemed pleased to see me but reserved. He stood back and observed me in such a way that it felt like we were meeting again for the first time. We had been broken up for a little while, so he had a right to his reservations. He invited me into his kitchen and offered me tea. I declined the tea. He asked me what it was that I had come for. I said that I didn’t know, and stood there in the middle of the floor. I refused a chair. I remember prattling on about confusion and things having gotten fucked up for me and I didn’t know why anything was anything or why was I there, and he was grinning at me as though this were all very funny, and we stepped back out to the porch for a cigarette. We sat shoulder to shoulder on the threshold, smoking his tailor-mades. Sitting next to him, something felt as though it were calming down inside my chest. Sitting there made sense. Laughing with Richard made sense. Stripped of all other situations and influences, this made perfect sense to me. The sun was falling in waves through rippled glass, I was wearing my favourite shoes, Richard’s smile spread next to my hair, the tobacco was fresh, his fingers were characteristically interlaced, and it felt like the moment when everything began, the moment when I first sat in B’s kitchen and saw Richard scoot down the stairwell with his fiddle.
This, of course, was simply my way of putting the blinders on. If I focussed on that moment, if I ignored the fact that Starcat was likely still napping and unaware of the empty space next to him, if I ignored my wavering mental clarity, my sexual identity crisis, my ridiculous family, my unemployment and lack of any drive in that direction, if I ignored those things and let myself be absorbed into that moment with Richard on his porch, then there was hope. Richard leaned against me and spoke against my ear: will you marry me? It was at once a shock and the most natural thing in the world. I answered: yes. He had just offered me what felt like the right ticket out of all my predicaments, and I accepted the offer.
I felt redeemed somehow, remade, as I walked down the street twenty minutes later when he had left for work. I made it about as far as one block with this feeling surrounding my head like a halo, my brain awash in a soothing chemical bath, but as I walked further away from Richard’s house, the sensation of rightness faded, and I remembered Starcat asleep in his room. I imagined his sandy hair against his pillow. I knew then that nothing could be right about any of this. This solace I was seeking, the peace of mind I wanted so desperately after creating such a soap operatic mess, could not be found with any of the people I had drawn into my little drama. I had marooned myself.
And did I logically conclude that I had to walk away from all of it and get some mental help? No. What I did do was continue to follow my path of least resistance, floating from moment to moment and obeying the whims of any given five minutes. Starcat and I stopped seeing much of each other at all, because the engagement had kind of put the kibosh on our spending quality time together (I’ve got to be sarcastic, because this part sucks more than the other parts). And then something happened that propelled the inevitable forward.
My memory is fuzzy, but I know I was living in a house with roommates, and it was October, and I walked into the living room to find Starcat standing there with one of the housemates. They were discussing his moving in. Starcat didn’t know that he was in my house until that moment, and we just stared at each other in disbelief. This part of the drama I didn’t even choose. He had recently been homeless, needed a place toute de suite, and this was one of the only places he could find. The universe had picked him up and dumped him back into my lap just when I thought maybe I was free to go about my life as planned. My brain felt like a crumbling building.
You can guess what happened next. It’s so obvious. My engagement to Richard disintegrated horribly and finally ended in November, and not surprisingly, this was only partially due to Starcat's close proximity to me. After I broke it off, somebody filled him in on some of my behind the scenes activities, and he didn’t speak a word to me for almost eight years. Starcat and I stuck it out and lived together for three years, which also ended horribly, but our friendship survived and he’s still one of my favourite people. And I have revisited and revisited the myriad of smaller and larger occurrences that I allowed to draw me along a path I still can’t honestly understand. All this expungement is making me feel worlds better, though, which is a discussion that must wait for another day. Let’s face it, the final breakup with Richard cannot be overlooked.
The Price of Loneliness
– Allan Safarik
All the amusing
I keep to myself
in the telling
in the silence
of the curtains
and the texture
of the paint
there was a spider
here one night
of my dilemma
Self-extinguishing cigarettes may soon be made mandatory in Canada.
Iran refuses to permanently halt its research of nuclear technology.