Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The problem, as I see it, is ambiguoity: for any given situation, the answer is different. There is no hard-and-fast rule whether virtue is to be found in letting go of what hurts or fighting for what doesn't. Romantic movies spout different morals to this end: The Mexican's somewhat famous morale is that, between two people who love each other, you never reach the point of "enough is enough", but you get the sense in the movie that they just might reach that point anyway. In Casablanca, she turns and leaves the man she loves for a more promising future, but you can't help but think she should have stayed. Romeo and Juliet stay together forever through all costs, but the costs are high. More and more, romantic comedies are featuring a new kind of love story: the kind where a couple loves, changes each others lives in a meaningful way, then parts amicably; these stories, The Breakup and Prime to name a couple off of the top of my head, end on a new kind of resolution, where there's a scene at the end where they see each other and smile, pleasantly, acknowledging their mutual past and bearing no ill will. It's not exactly happily ever after, but it's all some of us dare to dream of, anymore.

In California, we had a "talking circle" every day before massage class began, where we sat and shared whatever was on our mind; things of significance, things of insignificane; a lot of west-coast touchy-feely crap, really, but when in Mariposa. There was a somewhat creepy older man there, Chuck was his name, I believe, and no one really liked partnering up with him very much, touching and being touched by his leathery, backwoods skin, but in a group we managed to get along with him pretty well, poking well-meaning fun at the weird things he said, and he learned to take it in stride. One day in the circle though, he said something that didn't sit well with a lot of the people there: he began telling the story, very casually, of a woman he had loved years ago, a relationship which had ended badly, and how he'd spent every year since then, twenty or thirty or so in all, trying to get her to just talk to him. It was clear that, for the life of him, he couldn't figure out what made this strange, or why she'd stopped accepting his calls. The reaction of this was something of an uproar; a lot of people had a lot of opinions. One woman, Pauline, started lecturing him in the all-knowing way she must have used on her kids about how desperately important it was for him to let go. I didn't like Pauline particularly before that, and I especially didn't like what she had to say. My anger came out, at first, in twisting hands and stifled grunts, and as the people to either side of me tried to offer their support and quiet me, I couldn't take it any longer. I got up and walked away, breaking the circle, and the unspoken rule not to walk away when someone else was speaking.

What I couldn't put into words them was not that I agreed with Chuck, in particular, that he was doing the right thing in clinging to the love of this woman, but that Pauline had no basis in which to assert he was wrong. No one in that room had the right or the knowledge to say whether what he was doing was foolish or wise, whether it would end badly; whether it would be worth it if it did. Despite the way it looked on the surface, I sided slightly with him, for my own reasons: this was during the longest fight that Jeremey and I had ever had, the one that lasted more than a year. I had gotten use to people telling me that I needed to let go of my love for him, gotten used to my own, steadfast reply: Jeremey and I, we could last through anything. Maybe he wouldn't take my calls, maybe I'd shed enough tears over him to drown an ocean. But Jeremey and I, I were sure, would be the truest kind of friends, forever.

Tonight, he was the one I called when I learned that once again I'd been lied to by the person I hate being lied to the most. I wasn't wrong in hanging on to my love for Jeremey, and it's good that I wasn't: there are friends I tend to give to and friends I tend to take from. Jeremey is one of the latter, but in a situation where I know I'm going to fall apart, I tend to choose to take from the givee's: if you're going to be humiliated by your tearful vulnerability, it's preferrable that it be with someone who's own tearful vulnerability you know well. While I was on the phone with Jeremey, the subject of our discussion beeped on the other line, and asked me to meet him for dinner.

Ambigouity is one problem, maybe even the problem, but credibility, or lack thereof, is another: when lying becomes a pattern, the truth becomes this distant...I don't know. I don't know. But the reason I don't know is because of the sheer distance of the truth. What I do know is this: those cartoons where the character in the dessert sees a mirage and begins to shovel the sand into their mouth because they believe it's water, that's credible. One might wonder why the brain lets the heart believe it's drinking. The reason of course is this: the brain knows that when survival is nearly impossible, and the priority is keeping things as painless as possible, hope is more important than water.

Standing in front of my mirage, I resolved myself to swallowing the grainy liquid he offered up, knowing that once he drove away, I'd be coughing up dust. The thing is, it's no longer even really a quesiton of whether or not he is lying to me. It's a question of whether or not I can bring myself to believe him.

Whatever the truth is, it may be too distant to matter anymore. Ambigouity is taking hold, and I don't know whether to fight for the truth or for what I want to be true, to give up entirely or to just try and believe. I know, for sure, two things: I'm tired of writing this, and I need a drink.

On with it.