Sunday, August 05, 2012

WHO ARE YOU?

I am living a scene out of High Plains Drifter, Clint Eastwood's supernatural western.

At the climax of that film Eastwood's character, The Stranger, steps behind the outlaw Stacey Bridges, and as the outlaw realizes his fate, too late, he screams into the fire-framed shadows: “Who are you?”

My friend Smitty has been saying that to me for the past year. It's been that long since the Ron he's known for more than 20 years was replaced — first by a moon-faced man in love, and now by a guy who doesn't have the same interests as his old friend. These days I spend much of my free time on Pinterest, where I'm keenly interested in fashion, shoes and nail art. Smitty would be disappointed, but not surprised, to see that my nails are buffed and painted an almost-black shade of purple.

"Who are you?" he would yell if he saw me right now. "What have you done with Ron Davis?"

The answer is pretty simple. That guy's dead. I killed him.

Not that he had it coming. He wasn't that big of a jerk, and he had some good traits. But the pre-2011 Ron wasn't a very thoughtful person. He hurt people for no good reason and really never made amends. Killing him wasn't premeditated, but it was necessary, and I can't say it wasn't a pleasure.

But his replacement — the guy with the moon face — wasn't much better. He was terribly selfish and he got what was coming to him, and even after the stroke it took several weeks for me to realize that his — my — holding on to hope was not going to cut it. I had to grab peace and keep it close to my chest; no one else was going to give it to me, and it was a mistake to think I needed anyone else to bring it to me. It wasn't fair.

Armed with peace (and a hearty side order of cold skepticism), now comes the Pinterest man. Voices calling, voices crying — and Cash was right, the whirlwind (this one of emotion) is in the thorn trees, scratching the hell out of me as I'm tossed across this new landscape. Facebook doesn't seem as important here and that's a good thing. Books don't seem as important and that's a bad thing. Regardless, it's a chance to be around people after living in a self-imposed solitary confinement for months. It's an opportunity to grow.

It's not that I'm setting fire to the past year and burying the ashes. Even if I wanted to, the vivid dreams wouldn't allow it. But I have no desire to act like it never happened — it did happen, in many ways it was the greatest time of my life, so far, and I suspect the final words of that particular chapter have yet to be written. We'll see. It's all about adjustments and balance. And patience.

Until then I ponder the question from High Plains Drifter: Who am I? Just a guy who appreciates Louboutins and nice nails — a more-sophisticated mature dog learning new tricks, and enjoying the education.

Why am I so sure this version of me will endure? Because I'm not doing it to please or appease another. I'm doing it for me. Selfish, sure, but it's my choice. If others like it, fine; I'm always up for a text party. But I make no apologies.

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