Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It was pages of a notebook with scribbled red writing.

If I had to track it back to where it all really began to go wrong, I guess, upon inspection, I'd have to say it was there.

Tucked into a drawer, I believe, in a green desk in my room.  The largest, if I'm not mistaken, on the bottom.  I'd written it weeks before, maybe in a study hall at school, and she'd seen it.  She'd seen my quick, harsh reaction to her glancing at it, she'd heard me forbid her to read it.  I may as well have told her it was the holy grail.

I don't think she ever intended to find it-- I could be wrong, I suppose, but I believe it was an honest mistake.  And who could have controlled their curiosity once it was in their hands?

So she read it.  Alone, in my room, while I was gone.


There's this thing I understand about myself now, and must have understood even then.  These tiny seeds of doubt get stuck in my mind, and they grow and they grow until I commit them to words.  Then, often, they dissipate.  It's a tendency that has lead me to have to confess some thoughts that I wish I never had to share-- and doing so, I regret, has done some damage to those who have had to hear them, sometimes.

But these doubts, I knew I could never share with her.

I knew it wasn't worth it.  I knew they were the children of confusion and fear and societal pressures, I knew they were more about how I thought I should feel, than how I felt.  Most of all, I knew they weren't important enough to be spoken, and I knew that she was too important to hurt.


"When I was young, I knew everything..."


So I wrote them down.  In that damn, red ink, that made them so vulgarly conspicuous, so easy to see at first, so easy to remember when she saw them again-- red, like a target.  Red, like the burning, destructive flames that they were.


People I've related the story to have told me that she was the one who should be sorry, that she invaded my privacy, and that I had every right to express myself.  At the time, I thought they were so short-sighted.  The reality is that I hate written hateful, hurtful things on paper, and was careless about it, and she suffered for it.  She suffered more for it than I ever would, more than I could ever predict she would. I apologized then, I tried to explain.  But there's only so much damage you can really undo.  What a betrayal-- to cut into the beautifying glow of early love with ugly words, to make someone doubt every time you tell them how you feel.

Privacy? What a trivial idea, in the grand scheme of things.

Then again, I'm suffering along with her now.  So maybe I add the privacy thing along in the list of things that I try not to be me mad at her for.

It was the beginning of the end in the short term-- when it ended, she made me feel like I was the one being rejected, because I never knew just how completely I had made her feel rejected in the first place.  At that age, I couldn't comprehend what I had started.  When she lied and told me that everything that had happened didn't mean that much, I believed her.

I believed her, and after a harsh, broken-hearted time, I started going on with my life.  And she, who ended our relationship with a lie, never had the opportunity to believe anything clear.  All she knew was the red ink of my doubts versus the blank ink of a hundred notes passed between us that told her I felt just the opposite.

I guess she spent the next however many years loving me.  I don't recall that I knew, clearly, back then that that's what was happening.  I don't believe I ever understood, and even now, it's hard to fully grasp the damage someone takes being rejected by someone who doesn't know they're rejecting.  The attraction never really dissipated, and things happened.  Maybe we were both fighting to be validated by the other-- both of us had been hurt.

I don't know.  We were kids.  We were stupid.  Both our hands were stained with that damned, red ink.


"We tried to wash our hands of all of this..."


About a million things happened between then and the day I had to write my final note to her-- a lot of them contributed.  But, rereading the last of our correspondences now, I can see the red letters between the lines-- she wrote of things that happened in our past that she never really got over, things that we would have to work on when we were done with this break that we were on for reasons that were supposed to have been unrelated.

The truth is, nothing is really unrelated.  It's a domino effect.  For a brief time, one summer, I gave her some of the confidence that she'd lacked all her life; then, all at once, I took it away and more.  You don't just, get over that.


"Now I'm guilt-stricken, sobbing, with my head on the floor."


So now it's, I don't know how many years later....twelve, thirteen.  The girl I was closer to than any other in my life, for most of the life that I remember, is gone.  Because of a series of mistakes we made before we could begin to understand what the hell we were doing.

There were a lot of factors.  There were things that she did that angered me, anger me now.  They aren't worth talking about, not now, not with this beautiful song playing in the background and me feeling this melancholy longing.

It came down to a decision on my part.  I don't know what to say about what I why I made it-- that I was hurting more deeply than I could make her understand, that I was trapped in a fight where I wasn't allowed to throw a punch, that all of my instincts were telling me to do things that could only make everything worse.

What I can say about the decision is this: I lost one of the best friends I ever had.  I miss her...not quite every day, because, by sheer force of will, there are days that I avoid thinking about it.  I love her, I always will.  I often wake up from dreams about us finally being friends again, when I do sleep-- and I have doubts, enormous doubts, that keep me up a lot of nights.  Doubts-- we all know what damage they can do.

I have doubts about my decision, and they get stuck in my mind, and they grow until I commit them to words.  Having done that now, what I can say about my decision is this:  If I had to do it again, I would make the same decision.

It was the only one that was right at the time.  It was the only thing I could do, given the circumstances-- the adult thing to do.  The thing that caused the least amount of damage for both of us.  Because I caused enough of it already, all those years ago.


"For the life of me, I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins.  We were merely freshmen."




On with it.

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