Thursday, March 30, 2006

A fond farewell. -OR- A personal matter.

A Personal Matter
Novel by Oe Kenzaburo, published 1964

There was once a famous Japanese author. He had made a name for himself by becoming one of the youngest authors in the countries history to be awarded one of its most prestigious achievements for new fiction, and was seen as a mind to be watched, a person with a future of brightness and wisdom.

In 1963, this author had a son. He was autistic. The son of the brilliant writer, the son of the new face of fiction, the son of the author who would someday earn himself a Nobel prize; a broken mind, borne of the brilliant seed.

So the writer wrote. He wrote himself a book within which he could let his feelings do battle, let his sadness and his love and his distrust and his understanding all come to violent confrontation, so that the fighting need not take place on the field of his own head.

The boy’s name is Hikari. “Light”.

I wonder.

Well, here I am.
From “Firefly,” episode 13 “Objects in Space,” teleplay by Joss Whedon

Within the foundations and the battlefields of our varied lives, there will always be things that remain with us. Varied bits, matching the varied lives, small instances that flit before us in a glimpse, yet somehow find a way to stay inside of us with an uncommon fury, gripping onto our ourselves so that they will never be forgotten. Phrases, images, thoughts. Words. People. Ideas.
Big and small, affecting all.

I’m sure you know what I mean. You’ve all had that moment, where a clingy wisp of perfume, where a single glance from a person that you’ll never see again, where a single line at the end of a book, where all of these things find a place in your mind. Where they alter you. Only slightly, only kindly. But enough.

Enough so that you stand straighter, think clearer. So much so that your you isn’t the you that it was before. These things have a way of lasting.

Like a threadbare couch sitting in a stagnant basement, one which has the power to give you words. Like a single word whispered into your ear, when your body is drenched in sweat, and the word is full of a devastating sweetness. Like the single image of a couple that you have never spoken to, but has lingered in your mind for at least 8 years. Like the patient stride of Studious Jane.

I wonder.

I had a friend.”
From The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., pg. 264

I've been gathering those in my head lately. Little lines, things remembered from the massive conglomerate of useless trivia that takes up my brain power and makes it difficult to remember anything actually relevant. Relevant to the real world, to anything else but those moments that stay there, locked up in my head. But they're in there. And in that case, I might as well use them.

This is something that I’ve been saving for quite some time.

My personal matter.

This is for me. And truly, this is for that friend of mine. This is my goodbye. My fondest of farewells, my chance to purge this sense of wonder that threatens to overwhelm all my other senses. My reminiscence towards someone who moves through life as a whirlwind, even if she’s sitting still. This is me working something out, a last hurrah towards someone whom I might never see again. Someone that I only knew for a short time, one who -- in all honesty -- probably never thought quite so highly of me as I did of them. No one ever does.

But that is of no consequence.

Not to me.

Not ever. Not when I had a friend. A friend who managed to work her way within my psyche, just like the words, just like the ideas. Just like the devastatingly wonderful sound of the rain striking a plate glass window. And to my great surprise, she stayed awhile. It isn’t often that something like that occurs, a changing of timelines wherein Bernstein’s woman with the white parasol stays upon the ferry. A moment that becomes moments.

Once upon a time, I had a friend.

She was nice to me.”.
From Sin City a.k.a. The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller, pg. 157

Once upon a time.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was standing in a place she did not wish to be. She wanted movement, she wanted grace, she wanted a place to be where her feet didn’t hurt, and where hoboes didn’t stop to ask if she’d have sex with them.

It was within those walls that I first caught a glimpse. Like so many others, I walked by, yet another in the endless stream of foot-traffic that clomps in and out of that establishment each and every day, and like so many others, I caught a glimpse. And like so many others, I wished that I could know her.

I wasn’t unique, not with this feeling. As I would later learn, many people had wanted to speak to her, to sing her praises, to run their fingers through her hair. And with so many of these people, she had simply shaken her head with a nervous laugh. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That was the end of that.

Have you ever had that feeling? That sudden desire to know someone, to really talk with them? A sudden yearning for information and intimacy, coming as if from nowhere, a feeling directed towards someone that you’ve never spoken with, and have only barely seen. It happens, sometimes. Sometimes. And yet, when such a sudden situation makes its way into your vision, how do you deal? How do you speak? How do you make yourself known, make yourself separate from the endless torrent that never ceases, even on this very day, while I sit watching clouds roll in? That is something that I cannot know.

But somehow, it was something I managed.

And so it was, that amongst all those other people, standing in a place where I would periodically get shooed away by a portly man named Kyle, I made a friend. She was nice to me. It happens.

Oh yes, it happens. It happened. And yes, I made other friends during that time. Not many, no. But some. Some of those friends I still speak with, and some of them vanished completely. Some of them make sarcastic jokes at my expense, and some of them I have never met in person. Some of them I would leap up and drive to at 3 am to give them a book which I thought would make them feel better.

But none of them. None of them affected me quite like this.
And the truth of the matter is, the reason is hard to say.

It’s sickening/ How comforting/ The privacy of the mind can be
From “How Much Longer,” lyrics by Max Collins, performed by Eve 6

It’s not that I don’t know why, at least to some degree. It isn’t truly difficult, not when the person in question is intelligent and open, sometimes giving and sometimes reserved, sometimes joyful and sometimes very, very tired. Not when the person is one who has a quality that draws others toward them, sending their thoughts into a fray akin to an ocean in a storm. For some reason, this friend of mine is one that is loved by all. Even when she doesn’t want them to.

But it’s the reasoning that I’m speaking of, and my own reasons are my own. As with so many things, I’m not quite sure what they are. I know they’re in there, awash amidst all the others, churning in the aforementioned stormy ocean. Yet that doesn't make them easy to see. Even when they’re easy enough to feel.

I wonder.

Why would anyone want to cry for me?
From Dance, Dance, Dance by Murakami Haruki, pg. 5

I wonder, as I remember. I remember moments, times with you, my dear friend.
I remember moments, sitting outside, letting rain fall on our heads as we chatted about so many things, even when some of them amounted to nothing at all. I remember moments, running inside, carrying groceries after I gave you a ride to the 99 cent store. I remember moments, moving through the night, as you tried to talk emotions out of me, even as I was clamming up.
I remember moments, when I was alone, and you called me out of the blue for no reason other than to talk. To me.

I remember moments when you wanted me to leave you the fuck alone.
Sometimes I didn’t, sometimes I did. I never claimed to be particularly astute. For that, I apologize. Even when I don’t. Does that make sense?

Who knows. Call me overly-sentimental, call me a witless prat, call me whatever you want. Whatever is said, whatever is laughed, it will not, can not change my love for my friends. That, I do not wonder. I know.

Is that what freedom is?
From Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, pg. 156

Did I, do I, love this friend of mine? Of course. As a man with a small amount of friends to begin with, all the friends that I truly have are ones that I would happily do anything to support, legal or no. If they really need it, they will get it. A friend is a friend is a friend.

Was I, am I, in love with this friend of mine?
I could have been. It would have been the easiest thing in the world. If only she had wanted me to. But you see, that’s how friendship works. So many people have come to me, partly in jest, and partly serious, asking me if I was hanging out with one of the best friends that I had ever had in order to enact an elaborate scheme to get into her pants.

Thoughts like that make me too damn sad.

I’m overly sentimental. I am indeed an asshole. But I will never be that much of an asshole. I have a friend. That much is enough. Let that be the end of that. And so on.

The stuff that dreams are made of.
From “The Maltese Falcon,” (by way of William Shakespeare) a film by John Huston, released 1941

So it was, that I had a friend. A good one, a great one, a grand one. An honest one, a free one, a wonderful one. Once upon a time, the friend wanted me to go someplace with her. She wanted me to join her and her boyfriend when she moved on from this place. She wanted me to live a dream. And oh, how I had wanted to. I still want to. But I know, I never will.

Because this friend of mine has dreams. She has ambitions, she has talents. She can dance. She loves to dance, she was trained to dance. She dreams of dance. And once upon a time, her dreams came true. She danced on stages big and small, viewed by people, one and all. She danced here. She danced there. She taught others, she reprimanded others. She danced.

She was living her dreams.

Until she came here. A place where she couldn’t dance. Not with the freedom she wanted, not with the talent she had. A place where dreams come to die.

So it was, that I always knew that she would leave.

Because honestly, what monster would command the dancer not to dance?

…but who shall command the skylark not to sing?
From The Prophet by Kalil Gibran, pg. 55

Who indeed?

Who would cry over the loss of one who goes forth in search of their happiness, their contentment? Their dreams? Who could deny their friends the pleasure of such a thing, even when it hurts? Even when your head screams at you as you sit in the dark, or when your eyes grow moist as they stare at the clouds, hoping for the brilliance of the rain to come and wash you clean.

Yes, there is sadness. Yes, there is regret. Yes, there is writer’s standstill, and yes, there is frustration. Sometimes. Sometimes. Sometimes. Way of the world. Right?

I’ll probably never see my friend again.

So it goes.
From Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., various passages

At least, that’s what the realist in me says. For this happened, once or twice. A friend was had, a friend was lost. A friend was hugged, a friend walked away. A friend, or two, vanished into a metaphorical mist, never to be seen again. Not by me.

Oh, she’ll probably return. Despite the degree of discomfort and discontentment, there are ties here, ties that bind, ties that will pull her back. Her laughs. Her loves. Other friends. Such things will cause her to return.

But not to me. Which honestly -- I suppose is just fine.

Because I still have my memories. I have my moments, I have my times of regret, as well as those of happiness. I have moments where I helped her, alongside those when I annoyed her. Memories of smiles and frowns. Of sickness and health. Of good ideas, and bad ideas. I have places, I have reminders. I have things which are mine, and mine alone. Which is more than some can say.

And I have stories. Always, the stories.

It’s the stories that make it real.
From Transmetropolitan issue 41 “There is a reason,” by Warren Ellis

A story, then.

The day before she left, I managed to find her in a coffee shop. It’s the place that we would hang out, sometimes where I’d be silent and she would read, or where we would sit outside, me lighting her cigarettes so she could smoke and I could smile. It’s actually where I’m sitting right now. And out of the top of my field of vision, over the edge of this glowing screen, I can see the setting for this little tale.

A friend was sitting there. She was sitting with another friend, who was also indeed a friend of mine. The three of us sat, we talked. They talked, I listened. I threw in a word or two, but mostly it was the pair of them, happily speaking of phone calls and drinks, of nights since passed and those yet to come.

And there I sat, taking it in. Breathing in the situation, looking everyone in the eye. And smiling. I was smiling, then. It happens, sometimes. In any case, this other friend left. So there we were, just me and her. Sitting quietly.

She was glancing through a book that I had given her, so I took that moment to stand up and fetch myself a refill on my cup of coffee. I was short on change, but still carefree, so I asked my friend if I might have 15 cents to make up the difference. Refill get.

When I returned to the table, she had received a phone call, so I left my steaming cup of chicory resting before her, and took my leave to go use the facilities, that dingy little room at the back of the place that never ceases to be adorned with crumpled paper towels. I washed my face. I left the water there, if only to cool my fevered brow. When I left the commode, the entire room filled my eyes.

She was gone.

That damn near stopped my heart.
From “Changing the World in Japanese,” an essay by Tim Rogers

A room full of people, but lacking one person. A world outside, where people sat and smoked, laughed and talked. Yet missing the sound of a certain kind of laughter. A small world that was just too damn sad.

A world where I stood there, staring at the steaming cup that rested upon a table, with no one guarding it. A world where the last words I had spoken to one of the greatest friends that I have ever had consisted of five words. “Do you have fifteen cents?” A world where she said nothing.

What a world.

And then, as if from nowhere, she appeared. Coming forth to give me a second chance at a goodbye. A last hurrah, a last moment where I might let her know how much she means to me. So we sat. We talked, a bit. We drank our drinks, and I ate the final piece of the croissant that I had been neglecting for at least 20 minutes. Until she had to go.

As she was stepping off, she said to me that she might be going out for dinner, or something that evening. Maybe going to a bar, maybe a place with lots of people. Not my cup of tea. But still, she might call me to go. And then, she began to walk away.

Until I ran outside behind her. She stopped. And quietly, we hugged.

It was wonderful. We stood there, tightly gripping each other, her head resting gently against my shoulder, my face close enough to her head to gently tease her hair with my breath. We stood there, hugging.

And she whispered something to me. Nothing complex, nothing that would change your world if you were to hear it. Nothing shocking, really. But what she said meant something to me. It meant quite a lot. And because of that, I choose to keep it with me, if only for awhile. This moment, those words are mine. Simple words, coming together. They mean something.

And as we stood there, small drops of rain began to fall lightly on our shoulders.

Where we’re standing right now, in the ruins of the dark, what we build could be anything.
From Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, pg. 293

That was the last I saw of her. After that moment, she turned and walked into the distance, wisping away amongst the gray of the afternoon. She’s gone now. Is that it? Is that the end? Is that the end of this story, the final battle on the plains of my mind, winning the war, decimating my sadness?

I don’t know. But if that is it; if that is the end of this, and I never see her again til the end of days, I must say…a damn fine end it was.

So here we are. My friend, I love you. I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss your laugh, your face, your fingers, your mind, your thoughts, your ideas, your words, your pictures, your boundaries, your goals, your ideals, your dreams, your insomnia, your stillness, your focus, your smile. Your fweckles. Your pale, pale eyes. Good lord, your eyes.

Live your life, wherever it may be.

Is this a key to immortality? To purpose? Moving speeches from moving lips as we move through space (but are lost in time)? Does it matter?"
From “Round n’ Round,” by me, Philip Horrell, pg. 8

I wonder.

Sayounara, fweckles.

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