May 31, 2010

Unable To Stop

Hello, my name is Irrelephant, and I'm not addicted to much.

I know, the post title sort of implies that I'm an addict but this isn't going to be me spilling my guts about my drug, sex, gambling or high-speed race car addiction. Maybe next time.

No, this is more in the line of walking somewhere with my head down, not paying attention to anything in the world but my goal, not noticing the cliff that is right in front of my feet until I'm falling, guts floating with fear, and nothing to look forward to but the sudden and violent stop at the end.

I wasn't always the sort of person to hold a grudge. They take too much energy, too much valuable time. Nor am I really the sort of person to stop talking to someone over anger or an argument, or someone to have a grudge held against me but somehow as I've grown older I've had several opportunities to be thus engaged. I've been lucky enough out of the three active non-speaking relationships I've endured to have healed one. One is out of the question, and is a better fit than healing the gap. The third 'fix' came as a fall off a cliff.

I was in Hobby Lobby after a day of not quite hitting my stride. You've had those days, right? The sorts of days where it seems that you woke up a second later than the universe had intended you to, so you seem to be missing everything by just a hair. Nothing seems to work quite right--you miss traffic lights by moments, you seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and everything about you seems just slightly off, not quite in sync with the rest of the world. Like a voice track in an old movie that doesn't perfectly match up, you can follow along perfectly well but the sensation is discordant at best.

The whole day I'd been just half a beat off, but the morning of shopping was winding down, and on the whole we had made more refunds than purchases, so it seemed okay. The Missus and I went to Hobby Lobby to buy some picture frames (40% off, score!) and I needed to pick up a tube of Winsor & Newton Lamp Black oil paint in the big 10 oz tubes I favor. We began threading our way through the packed aisles and I left the Missus at the frames section while I made my rapid way to the lieu.

I headed back to my destination via the model train aisle--I love looking at the tiny N and HO scale engines, the tiny crossing gates, the tiny scale people the height of a fingernail. I circled around that aisle to cast my eye over the scale model aircraft and cars, more out of force of habit than any real buying desire--I've a closet half-full of unbuilt scale models. I circled around another aisle to look at a pretty girl who was looking at the DIY jewelry, and I headed down the paint and brushes aisle, eyes focused on the Winsor & Newton rack rather than the three or four people cluttering the aisle.

Remember in the first Matrix movie when the black cat walked by our heroes, then walked by again, and Neo said, woodenly "Uh...deja vu." Trinity explained that as someone mucking about with the Matrix itself, changing something. I didn't see a black cat, but I should have, because I'm certain the Universe was tugging some strings pretty darn hard to place me there at that exact moment.

I digress a moment:

A brief synopsis. I'd just divorced. I was single, alone, my daughter in my ex's questionable care. I was lonely, scared, unsure. So, I seized the outstretched hand of a friend who lived about 120 miles south, in Baton Rouge. He was single, intelligent, creative, and a good friend to help you forget about your woes. I spent several months of weekends driving down to Baton Rouge to stay with this friend, travel around, ride bikes all over town and country, tour the USS Kidd which he was a tour guide on, and in general try and fail miserably and repeatedly to pick up girls.

It helped me get through a very bad time. That friendship was very like Holmes and Watson, with me in the role of the Good Doctor. He the misogynist, me the lover of women. We grew together, we shared everything. And in synopsis format, when I met a girl we grew strained. There was a threat afoot that he felt would damage us. He refused to put away his hatred of women, and we finally came to a point where I blew up at him and demanded he apologise for what he'd said. He refused, I stopped talking to him.

Fast forward some eight or nine years. He traveled overseas several times with teh military and the last I knew he was in Washington, DC working in a museum. I was living here, making my way.

Until I just about walked over him in the paint aisle of Hobby Lobby. I walked up to the paint, reached down, picked up the tube I wanted and heard my full name called out from about two feet over my shoulder. He had been standing there buying paint brushes, literally directly across the aisle where I was headed, unseeing, focused on the goal only. Right off the edge of the cliff.

The reunion was...strained. We shook hands, embraced one-armed as men will do. We talked briefly, but it was shaky, uncertain, and we both could smell the nervousness on each other, like two leery adult dogs who barely remember being litter mates at one time. He asked about the ballooning, he talked about his own gaining of a pilot's license. I stuttered incoherently a bit, his jitters nearly had him climbing the aisle behind him. He told me he'd moved back home, to the little town next to ours, right across the river. I wasn't sure what to say, just smiled and we parted.

I was shaken for the rest of the day. I don't think buying myself a orchid would have helped that day. Hell, being given a two thousand dollar professional Nikon lens would not have set me right. And here, two days later I'm still reeling a little bit. The Missus says it is time to rebuild the bridge. Me, I'm still not sure it would be the right thing, not sure I want to expose myself to the emotional rigors of that relationship.

So right now, I weigh options, like a wizened old shopkeeper carefully weighing out leaves of gold, trembling hands placing first one, then another in the pan, waiting for the trembling balance needle to hit "0."

We'll see, I suppose. Perhaps after I hit bottom, because right now I still feel like I'm free-falling.


Rudi said...

Spooky Time: Tom Petty Free Falling is on the radio as I read this.

Certainly better than I Won't Back Down.

No sage advice past that bit of synchronicity.

Gordo said...

Hmmm, I've got Thinking of You by Harlequin playing.

I've only got one real person who betrayed me badly enough to warrant a complete and total break. I've never run into him, so I can't really say how I'd feel. His crime was worse than being a prick, though.

But, what I think I'd do is keep track of your thoughts over a few days. Do you find yourself thinking of him and the things you did more than before? If so, it might be worth exploring things over a coffee on neutral ground.

meno said...

i hate it when i run into someone am not expecting and don't really want to talk to. Awkward!

I dunno, i'm not sure those bridges can ever be successfully be rebuilt. Prove me wrong.

Clowncar said...

I'd give it a go. Friends are valuable things. More valuable as time goes by.

Anonymous said...

I found your site through "meno" on exactly the same sort of day for me - Go figure !..... I don't think i'll ever find a way to prove her "bridge building' theory wrong though in my sad case ....I'll just enjoy you two in the meantime both do 'Me speak ' I love both of your blogs !!!!!

Jean said...

Here's a thought... he could have let you pass by, unnoticed, and walked away. Might be worth reaching out and see if the tension subsides.
Ponder and go with your gut feeling.

Irrelephant said...

I can't even begin to answer each one of you individually except to say 'thank you,' each and every one for your caring input. It means a lot, and I knew that you all would be here for me. I'll let you all know where I go from here.

And meno, seems I owe you a finder's fee for sending Anonymous to me. :) I'll try to keep my level of quality and frequency up to whatever ridiculously high standards you set for me.

TexasNetWolf said...

My advice? Don't wait to hit bottom... see that random encounter for what it truly is - an opportunity. A chance to reconnect with someone who was important in your world, at one time. The friendship is still there... you just need to expend the effort to "knock the dust off of it!" Who knows? You may find that, like a good merlot, the friendship has actually gotten better with age. (ok, apologies, that wine/age clichè is SO overused!)
Best of luck, Paul.

TexasNetWolf said...

No spammer here... just yet another friend from your past. (Thought the handle would have clued you in right away!?) My advice was as applicable to us two old high school friends as it was to you and you're past pal. And the advice was heartfelt, as this old friend doesn't like to see an old "adventuring companion" in pain.

Irrelephant said...

Oh no, not you J! There was a comment after yours that I deleted. :) Sorry for the misunderstanding. No, I twigged to it pretty fast. lol

And no, no pain, just...some confusion, some need to talk it out in a public forum just to see what happened. I decided that in his case the drama and the effort was too great to rekindle that friendship. Right now I've a LOT going on, and honestly that certain friend takes a LOT of energy that I simply don't have.

It's good to know I've got an adventuring companion out here in bloggerland, too. :)

TexasNetWolf said...

Hahaha!! That's better... [Just like old times, eh? Miscommunications et al! ]

I completely understand about your energy-sink... funny thing, I always found you and the time I spent with you completely the opposite! The ideas and contemplations that flew between us always fired my synapses...

Ok, this is starting to sound too fru-fru!! I'm off to do something manly... like load some magazines for my assault rifle or sharpen a hunting knife.

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