Thinking about this girl again, not even out of love, or desperation, or regret, just new insight gleaned from the same old memories.
Passage from my favorite work of fiction of all time:
How does it fit together? Maybe it doesn't.
I think I, finally, fourteen years later, get it. It's 6:24 in the morning as I write this and I have been trying to sleep for hours. Thankfully, I don't have to work today. Sadly, I'll be wasting a day off recovering from being up this late.
There's something about my childhood, I don't know. I was precocious, but, somehow, it didn't work out. The expectations of others were numerous and vague. Somehow, my intelligence placed upon me some set of responsibilities that were never delineated, that I could never satisfy. Somehow, I was always expected to be something other. I had so much "potential". For what, specifically? If I was as smart as everyone thought, perhaps I would have known to ask that question. The problem I'm describing, though, is the lack of an independent self that could conceive of asking such a question.
I think I wasted a lot of time running towards and away. Always in the context that others had created for me. I never even really bothered to figure out who I was, what I wanted. There was like this thing. That existed outside of myself. That had nothing to do with me. Is there a word for a gift that can never be possessed by the purported recipient?
When I wonder: what connected me with Sarah so deeply (and, surely, more deeply than she ever connected with me)? It wasn't her beauty. She was beautiful (and may be still). But rather, it was her beauty. It had nothing to do with her either. What she looked like, what people perceived of her, the context of what she said, what she did, she could never truly convey herself. Her beauty became a prism, her true self distorted and refracted, clouded, unknowable. "It's such a gamble when you get a face". And she knew it. How could she not? How could I blame her for seemingly sleeping only with men who didn't care about her? How could anyone who wanted her for anything other than her beauty seem honest?
Compliment me on anything but my intelligence back then, and I would't have believed you. I would feel you were trying to manipulate me.
I had to give up my apartment in DC on November 1, 2005. There was the described drunken night at some point later that month, and a phone conversation the next day, me, pacing, smoking cigarette after cigarette, in the backyard of my parent's house. Autumn. The yearning eroticism of a sensual wind, leaves acquiescent.
I wrote that she accused me of only wanting her physically. Maybe now I know what to say. Thirteen years too late. All I wanted was a chance to see the text behind the font, and to share with her the loneliness of the dispossessed.
I don't think anything would be different, nor would I deserve differently, had I said those words. I simply hope she has grown to be a person who could believe them if they were spoken.