Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Sarah, I don't think we should see each other any more."

She jumped when I said that, like she didn't know I had just been standing there for 10 minutes trying to figure out exactly how to approach the issue. But I had, and she knew I had.

It was going to be a difficult issue, one that I knew could break her heart, leave her scarred for life, if I didn't approach it just the right way. It had happened to me before with women. If you didn't know exactly how to break this sort of news to them, anything could happen.

"Oh, Dave," she said, looking up from the paperwork on her desk she'd pretended to occupy herself with. "I didn't see you there. How long have you been...uh...standing there?"

"I know it's hard for you to accept," I continued.

"What is. What did you say a minute ago? I didn't hear you."

"Don't make this any more difficult than it needs to be."

"Don't make what any more difficult?"

"I don't think we should see each other anymore."

And then it happened, like it always happened. A stunned silence. The truth, when finally dropped on her lap like a living, breathing bomb had knocked the speech right out of her. Left her dazed and confused and dumbfounded.

"Dave," she said, when she was finally able to compose herself, "we haven't been seeing each other."

"I know, and that's my fault. It's work partly, I suppose, I've been super busy lately with, you know, all my work stuff. But even when I do have time on my hands, I just don't think to pick up the phone. You're just not on my mind quite the way you used to be. Maybe we've just grown apart. I don't know how these things happen, or why..."

"No," she said, continuing her denials, "what I mean is that we're not actually seeing each other. We're not dating. I don't even particularly like you, to be honest."

"And I don't like myself very much right now either, Sarah. I know I'm being selfish. I know I'm looking out for me here, and not thinking about what you must be going through, but sometimes you have to live for yourself. Sometimes you have to do what's right for you and not for everyone else around you. And this is what I need to do. For me, Sarah. For me."

There was a crazed look in her eyes. It looked a bit like terror, and I'm sure she was only thinking of how bleak and grey the coming days and weeks would be, threatened by the thought of spending her evenings alone in her bed. But she didn't show it anywhere but in her eyes, I'll give her credit for that.

"Uh, okay Dave," she said in a voice that was rock steady, showing none of the turmoil of emotion that must be bubbling underneath it is. "If you...uh...think that's what's best. Then. Okay."

"I'm glad you understand," I said. I reached out to take her hand, but she pulled it quickly away. I suppose any contact at this point would be torture for her at this point, knowing it would be the last time we made contact. "I'd like it if we could still be friends."

"Yeah, I'm not sure that would work out."

"But we have so many memories of good times together. I'd hate for us to lose that."

"Well, maybe they're just better off left as memories."

"Do you want to come back to my place after work tonight? One more romp in the sack for old times sake?"

"Uh, no. How about, if I ever see you again I'm calling security. Deal?"

God, why did they always say things like that? It totally ruins the moment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"There plenty of loneliness in the world. I don't know why we have to seek it out and horde it up..."

On some level, nearly every piece of fiction I've ever written has been about love and / or loneliness.

This is not because I believe that all great works of fiction require a love story in them somewhere to appease a certain type of audience, or to help illustrate the protagonist's growth. It's because I believe that all great works of fiction are ultimately love stories.

I often feel that I have hundreds or thousands of tiny fragments of stories or ideas that are jumbled up in my head, waiting to gel into something greater or grander eventually. More often than not the little pieces never gel and instead fade away and are forgotten as days and months and years pass by. And it's a loss, because many of those fragments were pretty darn good on their own.

So I have begun making the effort to post a fragment of some kind on this blog each day. It's an excuse to write, which is good, and it's an excuse to get a fragment out of my head that very likely would have just vanished, and that's also good.

And because I believe that most stories are essentially love stories, you're going to see a lot of these fragments dealing the subject of love. Or loneliness. Because I'm pretty sure that the two things are wrapped together so tightly that you might never be able to tell one from the other.

In a sense, even this post is a fragment, as it gives me the chance to finally release an idea from my mind -- the notion that love and loneliness are tied together. It also gives me the opportunity to say that the reason I think all great stories are essentially love stories is because, deep down, I am a romantic at heart who likes to believe in happy endings.

It's just unfortunate that I am also a cynic who, while liking the idea of happy endings, doesn't think that they happen anywhere near often enough.

I'm not sure why it is that loneliness and loss and desperation seem to be in the cards for so many of us, whether that's simply a part of the human experience, or whether it's supposed to teach us some grand lesson about how the universe is cruel and we are all, ultimately, alone. I'm also not sure why I have learned to allow myself to feel content in this state of loneliness and loss and desperation I tend to find myself in, but it's here that I am the most comfortable, and here that I always seem to find myself returning to, even when alternative options present themselves.

It's a danger to become comfortable in anything, I suppose.

These pieces that will appear here in the days and weeks and, should I be so lucky, months to come are fictions. They will take on a variety of forms -- letters, stories, rants, monologues, short plays, anything that comes to mind really -- and will, for the most part, be about love and loneliness. And, like most good fictions, there will always be a hint of biographicaly fact in them.

The trick, for me, is not letting on to which is the truth, and which is the fiction.

Monday, June 20, 2005

You are cordially invited to dance through my dreams

Psychologists tell us that dreaming is an important part of the sleep process. That unless we receive the right amount of "rem" sleep, that we are tired and irritable and not at all at our bests the next day. And that in order to receive that correct amount of "rem" sleep we must dream each night. And not just once! Sometimes two, three, maybe even four times.

With all this dreaming going on, with all this access to fantasy, you'd think I'd be having the time of my life while visiting neverland, but no such luck. My dreams are clearly so ridiculously ordinary that I can't even be bothered to remember them when I wake up in the morning.

So I'm inviting you, oh dearest one, to come and visit me in my dreams.

We can do anything you like. I'm not fussy. We can take a walk on the beach at sunset, or have a picnic in a park, but because it's a dream we're not limited to those sorts of silly, ordinary, day-to-day activities. We could just as easily brunch with Jesus or Einstein, watch the sun rise from Mars, or go swimming in a lake of lager.

And if you'd prefer doing something on the naughty side...well, I might pretend to be shocked at first, but deep down, I will have always known that it's what you wanted, and I'll be open and receptive to anything you suggest, even if it involves leather and/or rubber. Particularly leather.

I know it's not quite as good as the real thing, but I'm willing to accept this second-best substitute and can only hope that you're willing to do the same. An RSVP is, of course, appreciated, but not necessary. Feel free to drop by dreams uninvited any time. I'm sure we can find ways to entertain ourselves.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It ain't love, but it ain't bad.

He sits on his porch and watches the sun set with a glass in his hand, and two bottles to his left. It isn't a rum and coke every night, but it's what was in the house tonight, and it's working its magic well enough on him.

He watches the sun slither into the horizon every night, but not because he finds it a particularly attractive or inspirational sight. Only because it signals the end of yet another day.

If you asked him, he wouldn't tell you this. He's not even really aware of the fact anymore, he's felt this way for so long. And it isn't that his days are that awful -- he doesn't have the best job in the world, but he's content with it most days; he has his health; his parents are getting old but they're both still around, and they call him once a month to see how things are -- but only that they've been somehow sapped of meaning.

Not that he knows this either, really. They've been sapped of meaning for so long he can't remember what it was like before.

Sometimes the sunset is particularly spectacular, and he finds something inside of him stirring to life. Whether it's the part of him that, for just a few moments, remembers what it was like before everything turned grey, or the part of him that in the raging heart of the burning sky is inspired to make tomorrow a better day, makes little difference, because the feeling never lasts long. He pours himself another drink and the feeling drifts away, along with all the other feelings -- good and bad.

He's never thought that he might have a drinking problem, because he never really drinks a lot. He'll have a few glasses and watch the sun set, and once the sky is dark he'll leave the porch and watch television for an hour or two before bed. And yet, this ritual on the porch, those few drinks while the sun sets, is the most important part of his day.

Because it's the only thing he really has to hold on to. A ritual that, in its regularity, gives some sense of meaning to his life.

The liquor doesn't love him. It doesn't care if he lives or dies. It doesn't want to make him happy or hold his hand or kiss him on the forehead or take him to the most beautiful places in the world.

But it does help keep him warm. Which is a far cry better than everything else in his life.

Friday, June 17, 2005

"I should go," she said, looking at her watch.

Outside the sky was alight with an agry sunset. The clouds were on fire, bright vibrant, but only minutes from disappearing in the night sky.

"You won't," I said. "You're having too much fun."

"I have to work in the morning," she said, but the smile she hinted at told me that I was right.

"I do too."

"And you're not leaving?"

"I'm having too much fun," I said. "You're having too much fun. We're both having too much fun. We're having too much fun together. Why go someplace less fun to do something less fun?"

"I'm gonna regret it in the morning. So will you, I'm sure."

"I'm sure I will," I said, lifting my glass in a toast. "Regret when the time comes, but never before." I drank it quick -- a touch more than a mouthful -- and caught the waitress' eye. She smiled and nodded.

"Shouldn't we have learned our lesson by now? Why do we do this to ourselves? I'll be a mess tomorrow."

"And will it matter the next day that you were a mess the day before? Will it really make any difference three days, four days, a week later, if you're a little hung over tomorrow?"

"I'll be more than just a little hung over..."

"A month from now, will it matter if you're more than just a little hung over tomorrow? No. It won't. Whatever we do now, it doesn't really matter six hours from now. Sex hours from now will be six hours from now, and there will be dozens, hundreds of other things that will define that moment in time. It won't be this moment right here."

"So why bother with this if it's not going to matter six hours from now?"

"Because," I said, as the waitress set our drinks in front of us, "for right now, this is the most important thing in the world."

She takes her drink casually, without a thought. "That sounds awfully nice, but if you strip away all the pretty words all you're really saying is that you're here because you have nothing better to do."

"Why is that a bad thing? Shouldn't we always be doing the best thing that we could think of doing? Why should you feel lessened because I have nothing better to do, because spending time with you is the best thing I could possibly think of doing."

A hint of a smile showed again, but it only toyed at the corner of her lips. "Yes, you're right, that's nice. But how much of it is really that? And how much is it just not wanting to be alone?"

I thought about that. I wanted to tell her that it was all about who we spent time with, and not just spending time with whoever was handy. But I couldn't because I wasn't completely sure that was the truth.

"I don't mind being alone," I said. "Most times people are a hindrance. They're dumb and they're boring and they laugh at bad jokes, not because they're funny, but because they hear the sound of their laughter and are reminded that they're alive. Most times I'm better off without people. So most of the time I'm at home, in a house, with walls a and surfaces and structures, and there's no warmth, there's no blood surging through any of it. I can laugh at as many jokes as I want to, but not even the sound of my own laughter can really remind me that I'm alive. At times like that, it's not that I think I'd be better off dead. It's that I think it wouldn't make any difference if I was."

My words settled over the table, and we sat in silence for a few minutes, each of us nursing our drinks to give ourselves something to do in that midly awkward moment.

And then I said, "It's not so much that I mind being alone. It's just that I wish it wasn't so goddamn lonely."

"I'll drink to that," she said, and we did.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dear Ms. Mother-of-the-woman-of-my-dreams

Good day, ma'am. You don't know me, but the reason that I am writing to you is that I am madly in love with your daughter and would like to ask for her hand in marriage.

I know this might seem a little old fashioned, but I pride myself on being both a romantic and chivilrous gentleman, as comfortable with tradition as I am with the 21st century.

I also know that your daughter is, in fact, still married, which might make this request seem a little odd. But believe me when I tell you have given this an enormous amount of thought, and I have decided to ask for your daughter's other hand.

In many ways I feel that this approach, as untraditional as it might be, will suit me better. The traditional hand of marriage, defined as the hand adorned with the ring, is the left, and while I have no actual bias against lefties, I haven't always gotten along smashingly with them. Also, I myself am right-handed, and might find an easier time if I were to receive your daughter's right hand in marriage.

Not to say that I wouldn't love your daughter's left hand just as much if it were available to me! Please don't think that. I would love every part of your daughter equally, left hand or right; eye, ear or nose. Even that weird lumpy kind of thing that she has on the side of her neck. What is that, anyway? No, nevermind, this isn't the place to ask.

In closing, I want to assure you that I adore your daughter with all my heart, that she is, in fact, the woman of my dreams, and will love and cherish her until the day I die, should you find yourself willing to grant me the honour of her hand, either one, in marriage.


PS: Should it turn out that neither hand is available, I'd be willing to negotiate the possibility of marrying one of her feet.