Saturday, May 30, 2009

So, for no other reason than because I don't have to be work until three tomorrow and Zack is already asleep, I find myself poking through my old hard drive and reading old AIM conversations. The folder I was in seems to house conversations from early to mid 2002; that is, the second half of my senior year, and a little bit of post-graduation stuff.

So, what was going on in my life?

Well, I wasn't reading them in any chronological order, just clicking the ones that had interesting titles, but here are some snapshots:

-I had just started at Burger King, and the job was not yet killing my soul.
-My key group of friends were the Auburn boys, minus Jeremey who was NOT speaking to me...
-I know this because one of the conversations I read was on a screenname I created to talk to him as someone named "May". He was nice to her, but extremely aware of the possibility that it was me.
-I was dating Jeff but falling in love with Chad. Or, in a later conversation, I was dating Jeff but getting my heart broken by Chad. Or, in a later conversation, I was no longer dating Jeff.
-Zack's only appearance in these conversations was at the end of one where I told Elorza I had a "date" with "the psycho who walks past my house every night."
-Mitch and I were in the midst of our extremely short-lived friendship, in which I e-mailed him everything in these incredibly long letters, and he would tell me how brilliant and fascinating they were. He was all kinds of charming and attractive, and even then, I had a penchant for guys who were younger than I.

A few things are striking about these conversations I've read. For one, so many of the people I had the conversations with are about are people who were incredibly important to me back then, but whom I probably haven't spoken at all (or, in certain cases, more than nominally) for years on end. Mitch, Nick, Jacquie, Aaron. Others are people that I like to credit myself with keeping in my life, but with whom I definitely can no longer claim to be as close: Chad, Jeff. I would say only two of the relationships mentioned have remained or strengthened (Elorza and Jeremey.)

I found it really saddening to read how freely and easily me and some of these people were trading "I Love You"'s-- I don't remember when those words got harder for me, and maybe they didn't overall, maybe just little by little, with each individual. When I look back on the history of my willingness to use those words, I have a sneaking suspicion that it was disproportionately influenced by one gentlemen whose presence in this folder of conversations was notably absent, probably because the crest of the wave that was our relationship came six months to a year after all of these. He is the one person that I tend to credit for changing the way I interact with the majority of people, the one person who made me more self-conscious than anyone else. I haven't lost complete contact with him, but I find myself waiting to have something worthwhile under my belt, so I can go back to him, as an equal. Back to him and show him I still am what I marketed myself to be in the first place.

When I think about the relationships that were strengthened over these intervening years, it occurs to me that they are the ones that have the least in common with that one. These are the relationships to which I bring no hint of pretension, no posturing, no real holding back. My relationships with Jeremey and Elorza have so much seniority over my relationship with this other person-- Yeah, it's Casey, okay, let's stop being vague-- that his effect on me couldn't change them. Elorza, in particular, I think about as being someone I can go to and say anything, be as pathetic as I need to be in that moment, and it's okay, in the long run. When I exercise this right, it quite frequently isn't pretty, and he is not, not, not the type to cater to my insecurities, to pander to me in anyway. Quite often, that leads to me being hurt my him, to me being incensed that he wouldn't just make a compromise, just once, (who am I kidding?), for me. When this happens, I'll generally stomp away for a while. But when I come back, it's never with a sense of shame...or, at least, it's never with a sense of shame that he, in any way, contributed to. And things are back to being pretty square.

With Jeremey, well, more often than not, he's the one with no pride. My relationship with him is more giving than my relationship with other people, and I like the way that makes me feel about myself. I want to be there for him, always, no matter what kind of bullshit either of us puts the other through, and the nearly fifteen-year-track record shows that that's really not all that unlikely. But the same thing goes-- dealing with all the insecurities he's had over the years-- all the "Does this make me a horrible person?"s, and the "Tell me what you really think"s, these have earned me the right to say what I need to, should there come a time when I have to be selfish. If I need to call someone and I'm balling my eyes out to the extent that they have no hope of understanding my words, well, it's probably going to be him.

I love these two men-- and how strange to call them that word just as we are on the cusp of it really, really being true-- as deeply as I can imagine loving anyone; yet, I still have a great deal of love for nearly every name mentioned in this post. The part of me that has been affected-- adversely or otherwise-- by Casey is reeling with discomfort that that word should appear so many times in one run-on sentence in my own writing. The part of me that's unaffected by him looks on to try and gather what's different about the way I express it with these two people than the way I do with those with whom my relationship has faded in it's luster. Do I tell these two I love them? Yes, maybe not as often as I would have been compelled to a few short years ago, but yes. Do they tell me? Well, they each have, but it's not an easy word for either of them. But when I think about them, well, as much as it has been sometimes, that's really not the point now.

The difference between these two and the rest is that, words or none, I believe they love me. I don't spend a lot of time questioning it. Wondering if it's out there, in the universe, unspoken.

On with it.