Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Ghost" By the Indigo Girls plays. For what feels like the hundredth time, I load the website that represents the only evidence of him that I will allow in the same room with me. I click on the "userinfo" link, and I'm there, staring at it, again. A picture I modified, along with the caption:

"Thanks, Linda."

My name. Written by him. There...indefinitely, until he takes it down. And it stays there, unflinching-- a little conversation between he and I that replays every time I read it. He thanks me. I cry.

It feels, every time, like it's happening right then. I hear him acknowledge me, say my name. He probably hasn't given it a single thought in a year. But that's how it feels.

I have this thing about my name. I'm always afraid, when I'm a conversation with someone I'm interested in, someone I like or, god forbid, love, and when I'm getting some degree of reciprocation-- I always expect on some level that they don't know it's me they're talking to. I remember feeling it with Mike daGomes, on the phone, at the end of freshmen year, I think it was. I'd been in love with him forever, since I'd known him, which would make it since the first grade. He'd known it as long as it'd been true, but, as always, there was no reciprocation: friendship, nothing more. Until that year-- that one month, really. Suddenly, it changed for him, I don't know why. I was the same, I think, but he and I were hanging out more, in a group with Jill and Heather and Torrie...and one day, he was just...interested.

And for, I don't know, two weeks, maybe less, we'd have these long conversations on the phone, and he'd say the kind of cheesy romantic things that can paralyze an awkward freshmen girl who'd never been kissed-- how good it felt to be on the phone with me, listening to me breathe, how nice I looked in certain shirts I owned. I remember I'd be on the phone with him, drowning in the deliciousness of it all, and when suddenly he'd say my name, I'd be jolted, shocked almost that I wasn't just tricking him into believing he was loving someone else. I remember sharing that fear with him, once I realized it, and I remember him assuring me that it was crazy, that this was for real.

For real until his teenaged moodswing hit, and out of nowhere he fell for the other girl who wanted best friend, at the time. Without ever discussing it with me, he'd moved on from me to her, and when I was left wondering why he was avoiding me in the halls and the calls stopped coming, it was a mutual friend who had to tell me.

"He's been crazy with guilt, and worrying about how to tell you. Honestly, Linda, he's been chain-smoking over it."

I remember that, at the time, that was little consolation. Now, though...things have changed. They're married now, Jill and Mike, and for years, I haven't harbored and resentment towards the way they got together. And it's nice, I guess, to think of someone...worried and guilty at the thought of hurting me. Someone who wasn't left unphased by the loss of me...of us.

Of the things we would say to each other. The things only I could appreciate in you, only you could appreciate in me.

Maybe no one will ever know you the way I did. Did you ever stop to think it wasn't just the girl you were losing, it was also the things in yourself that only she understood? Okay, so I was a mess for, like, ever. But we finished each other's sentences. Gave each other knowing looks when we understood some irony that no one else would acknowledge. You'll never find anyone to argue with you quite the way I did. To look at you and lose her train of thought. To share your passion for passion, to share you disgust with the lifeless quality of life, to slam you against a brick wall or put you in a headlock.

Or will you?

The more I think about it, the more I know what I really fear is that just anyone could fill my place. Anyone could ignite that spark in you that I thought was only mine, while mine forever go unlit: it's you who's irreplaceable. And did you ever know my name?

You'd hate this verbose emo shit. I guess it's a good thing I banned you from here. Nothing will ever stop me from hoping you're still reading, though. I'll never stop wanting to continue this indirect, imagined conversation.

That's the problem with this song, too-- this one line: "There's not enough room in the world for my pain." I wouldn't even have a problem with it, but he wouldn't be able to stand that kind of egocentric pity. I hear him scoff at it every time I play it, and I have to ignore it, because it moves on so quickly to words so poignant and true that I can't believe even he would be able to deny them:

"Now, the Mississippi's mighty
But it starts in Minnesota.
At a place you could walk across with five steps down.
And I guess that's how you started,
Like a pinprick to my heart,
But at this point you rush right through me and I start to drown."

There's some parallel I want to draw here, between the song and that line and me. How he could always appreciate the parts that were poetic and well-conceived, but then emotions started to rule, and I'd lose all ability to express myself in any except the most base and obvious ways, and I was nothing more than a ruined song. I don't know, there's a better way to say it. But it's only appropriate that I can't figure out what that is.

I can't tell, though, if it's the little things like this that are what I've lost, or the reason I've lost them.

That probably didn't make sense.

I wonder if you'd understand.

On with it.