Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I saw Andrew -- Rich Kid-- the other day, drove out to Lisbon and we went for a walk down by the river and talked. The nice thing about people you don't see very often is that you get a chance to revisit in conversation all the greivances you've long since exahausted with your everyday friends. I chose to treat him like the kind of friend I am selfish with-- there are those I am selfish with, and those who are selfish with me. Rather than going through the almost impossible torment of maintaining a give and take relationships, I've decided perhaps it's best to have give relationships with certain people, and balance it out with take relationships with others, assuming happily that they've got a giver on their other end to complain to about how I'm always taking, thusly continuing the cycle. If I'm wrong, well, hell. It's not my fault they broke the chain.

I have -the- most beautiful give and take relationship going on right now involving what, perhaps, is the only remaining venue for truly give-and-take relationships-- e-mail. The starry-eyed Meg Ryan to my cynical Tom Hanks, Nissa gives me something to look forward to at the end of my day-- sometimes a long tale full of excitement or incite, sometimes just a great line or two to play over and over in my head throughout the following workday. And always an excuse to hunker down on this here reclined, get all cozied into my laptop, and be the writer that, god help me, I truly am. Some of my best work is e-mail.

I should point out, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, that I think Nissa is beautiful. I love her voice and the things that she says and the way she looks when she says them. I can be brazen in the admission of this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that a month-and-a-half long hiatus from this little watering hole of mine has all but gas-chambered my readership, but a better reason is that I'm married. Marriage gives me a more defining idea of which things are just doe-eyed admiration and which are true and pertinent. Or at least, that's what I've got them all believing. In reality, Nissa could drive through me like a wrecking ball if not for some pitiful focus I have on a wedding band and a man who I still find truly beautiful. Oh, and she's straight. There's that.

Still, there's nothing impertinent about her.

I was driving along 196 on the way home from dropping Andrew off the other day, and stopped at the intersection with what becomes Maine Street at an impossibly long light. Looking over, I see a car pulled to the side of the road in the opposite direction with two police cruisers behind it, seemingly from two different towns, or perhaps one was county. The car is an only somewhat beat-up 60's mustang, or one of those cars reminiscent of a 60's mustang, primer-grey in color. The driver is a young girl, her hair back in a ponytail, her head hanging and hard to see. Two cops were leaning on the back of her car, ostensibly discussing what to do with her. I couldn't help but be reminded of dreams I always have where I do something bad and it just keeps snowballing until it seems as though my whole life has gone wrong, then the feeling of relief when I wake up is incredible-- one such dream of mine, the first, was when took my parents car for a drive, back when I was, oh, I don't know. Way too young to drive a car, anyway. In the dream, it was all a terrible feeling of panic, as taking it out around the block somehow became me getting lost in it, trying hard to find my way home, all the time having no idea what I was doing and always fearing a glance from anyone around me who might turn out to be authoritative. When that happened, when they would approach, I think it would be the fear and anticipation that finally jarred me awake. There, safe in reality, my conscious self would reassure me that it was all a dream, and within fifteen minutes or so, I would be asleep again.

Looking over at this girl, all I could think was that she wasn't going to wake up from this. I looked at her, couldn't look away, trying to determine her age. I was trying to make myself believe she was something like 17 and the car was her's or a friend's, but I knew it couldn't have been true. The way her head was hung-- something like shame or confusion, but neither, something deeper and stranger. And from what I saw, all that time I couldn't look away, what I saw of her face and the way the police were talking, she couldn't have been more than fourteen. Staring harder and harder, I realized finally what it was I'd been trying to put my finger on: She looked just exactly the age that I feel, most of the time.

And the light turned green.

My latest incarnation of that dream is that I'm driving from the back seat, leaning uncomfortably through the two front seats to hold the wheel. Sometimes with my feet. I pull it off okay, but the whole time I'm totally panic-stricken, and it occurs to me somewhere in the middle that I have no idea why I tried to pull it off at all. Without much effort, an analyst might say that this is a dream about transition: feeling like I should still be youthful, and sitting in the back of the car, but forced to take the wheel and be the adult, however unprepared for it. It is about the anxiety I feel in every day life, now that I'm a pseudo-adult. I'm at an age few of my friends will ever have to really experience-- their version is an age where they've got this perfect transitional phase: being out on their own but still financially and collegiately backed by their parents. Still having a life centered around the safety and order of school life, but each year they've got a few more options, a few more variables. The traditionally educational part of college, I've found, is secondary-- this is to adulthood what pre-school was to childhood. They're learning the ABC's of balancing their checkbooks and buying their own underwear. They've still got people collecting their crayons and making them put up their chairs at the end of the day. They're not learning secondary education or accounting or bio-chemical engineering. They're learning to use the fucking potty.

Me? I'm working a shit job, bouncing checks, and straining over the center console to grab at the wheel with my big toe. But I wipe my own ass.

On with it.


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