Open Diary, 8/5/03
I have not been writing. I have not been spending time with my friends. I have not been sleeping well. I have, by and large, been in full avoid mode. Through books, video games, and television, I can manage to keep myself out of reality long enough that by the time I march off to bed I can collapse into a fitful respite quickly enough that my brain has little time or energy to wander anywhere beforehand. Because that's the goal. The less time the mind has to wander around in its new favorite playground, the more time I can spend ignoring the real world and the glaring inconsistencies between that psychic paradise and the physical world I sleepwalk through every day.
And my definition of paradise isn't even that far-fetched. Currently, all I want is to be able to afford to go back to school for another two years. Then land a job, get into a graduate program, and land a better job. That's where paradise is waiting for me. At the end of school. Paradise includes a job as a librarian, a publishing house that takes my writings, a moderate home in a mid-sized city, a daughter, maybe a dog. And her. It's that last part that tends to keep me up at night.
I would argue vehemently against any implication that I am suffering from the effects of infatuation or a crush. What sort of crush waits six to eight years before establishing itself as such? And why now? The trip to paradise includes two more years of solitude at the bare minimum. And who's to say what can happen in over two years? I'm willing to wait that long. In a way I already have. It must be going on four years now since I noticed she wasn't just one of those "gurl" creatures but an attractive, funny, intelligent female who I would like to spend more of my time with.
I've always been cold, so maintaining my silence in the face of her and her long-time (even then) boyfriend wasn't a particularly difficult act to keep up. And it helped that everybody knew I was also hovering in the wings for another attractive, funny, intelligent female (I think the two of them were the only ones who really fit those three criteria in our high school). Of course, she also had a boyfriend. With whom she's since broken up. We tried. It didn't work, which I take full blame/credit for. She's been with her new boyfriend for nearly a year. They're very happy together. I'm happy for her.
But the act of indifference was an easy one to maintain. Most of my life has been spent in the role of one persona or another. A natural side effect is that I can act very, very well. My counselor points to an early childhood where I was required to play the part expected of me rather than experiencing the carefree attitude that everybody wishes they could go back to. I honestly feel that I never had a real childhood. So, from that early age, I knew how to shut down the emotional systems that nature had so foolishly placed into me and play the part I was given.
As a result, of course, I grew into an unfeeling, cynical teenager who did not speak much nor open himself to anybody. Ironically, I was very well liked by most of the student body. And the close friends that I did make are still very close to me today. It is painfully difficult for me to make lasting friends. I need to hold on to them. Which is a new feeling, really. Before my dreams always involved living alone, away from the world, my only interaction with it being a job and the purchasing of requirements, such as food, to living in a cottage out in the woods.
This was before her. She changed all that. Now my home is not only in the city, but occupied by people besides me. That's a remarkably radical shift. Could I go back to the way I was before? Yes, probably. I could very likely turn the emotional spigot, which currently seems to be set to "Niagara," back to the off position. Cold is a place I have a lot of experience with, and it's always overjoyed to bring prodigal wanderers back into its icy embrace. The ability to return is not at issue. It's the desire to do so that I have to wrestle with.
I don't want to go back. Cold is a place I have been. I've done that. It's a safe, easily defensible position that makes the resident nearly immune to any emotional assaults or storms. It's also very lonely. But you don't realize that until you're on the outside. The catch is that nobody starts there. Everybody has to have been on the outside before they voluntarily go into the cold. So everybody probably knows the downfall of both sides. The pain of dancing in the fire and the loneliness of standing outside the flickering light of the flames. It's possible that the only thing that brings people back into the inferno is the loss of memories of the pain from the last burns. Scars may never truly heal, but they can be effectively covered by clothing and cosmetics. Out of sight and out of mind.
She's on her way out of the fire just as I make my way to step into it, seemingly for my first excursion out there. I've told her how important she is to me. I've danced around the topic of spending more time with her as only a skilled actor and diplomat can dance. I have avoided telling her that I love her. She's just begun nursing a particularly painful burn, and I don't want to aggravate that by sticking her with my cares, my burdens. Goddess willing, I would stand in the way of anything that came to harm her. My skin is thick. I couldn't hide my scars if I wanted to.
At least it is on the side I keep turned to the world. I'm finding that the side of me facing her is distinctly less guarded than I had expected. From anybody else, the proclamation that I know nothing of love and that everything I think I know of it is wrong would roll right over me with less disturbance than breath of wind over a rock. But from her, it stings. And I'm not used to being stung. But how can I argue that? Technically, she's right. I've never been in a serious relationship before. I've been out doing my cold thing.
But something is still there, lying dormant inside me, because I know for certain that I did originally have emotions or I would not have been required to shut them off. So what do I know? I know that she is the only person I know who can sting me at all. I know that when she tells me of the times she was suicidal, or anorexic, or hurt, that I'm moved closer to tears than she is. I know that when her fear of the dark begins to present itself, I want nothing more than to take the place of the stuffed animals in her bed and hold her just so she can sleep soundly knowing that she is safe. I know that the brightest moments in the past months of my life have been the times she's smiled at me. I know that were she to ask, I would do everything in my power to provide.
These things I know. These things I hold as truth.
You probably won't read this. You'll probably never see these few, insufficient words that I scratch out in an attempt to calm the tempest inside my head and reclaim my lost quietude. If you do see them, it might be harder on what relationship we have than if I had kept them to myself. But, inadequate though they may be, I need to say them. I've done the cold thing. I've done the silence thing. If I'm damned either way, I'll at least feel alive doing it.
Lead me on. Toy with me. Play me. Just don't tell me I don't understand. And don't tell me no. I love you. Nothing you do will change that. Nothing you say, can. I will still be here, watching, waiting, tugging at you, knowing when you step out of the cold and back into the fire.
And then we can dance.