Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Smitty took one look at my disheveled hair and rumpled appearance and summed it up in a sentence:

"You look like Einstein after a hard night of ciphering."

Which could mean a secret or disguised way of writing. A code. Or perhaps the meaning of the word is in the archaic: doing arithmetic. Or maybe it means a zero.

The weekend, and I am with the boys: Smitty and MIT, Mayor Dan and Dr. Nate and Aloha Don. We are playing poker. I am in a daze. It feels like I have been staring for hours into the heart of a blast furnace. A large purple-black splotch sizzles in the center of my vision. Although I cannot see them I know my eyes are unfocused. I'm in the place inside my head where I'm trying to solve an unanswerable question.

"Supawire," I said, evoking the trademark on the new dartboard in Tim's garage. Always solicitous, Smitty offered me a place to sit. I thanked him kindly, but no, I need to stand; if I sit I may be lost for the rest of the day and night, and I must not do that. Not yet.
First there must be confession: Fathers and brothers, forgive me. It's been so long since my last confession, I forgot how the sacrament of reconciliation goes. Does that mean no absolution?

Next there must be penance: Hail Mary, fulla grace, help me win this stock-car race.

MIT and Smitty understand. They've been watching me walk in this dream state for quite a while. "Almost two years. Fuck, man," Smitty said. "And it went by just like that." For him it did. For me it has mostly been an excruciation — minutes lingering for hours, days taking months to complete. The only exception has been the time spent in her orbit. It refuses to stand still, or move with any speed slower than a flat-out sprint. The pace has only accelerated in the past year, as she and I have tried to create a relationship that has no handy label or instruction manual.

(Or maybe it's just me doing the trying. While the muse sometimes professes to me emotions resembling love, she is careful never to use That Word. Always acutely aware of the air around us, I refrain as well. Come to think of it, I often edit myself in her presence. Much of the time it's because I'm not sure I want her to know what I'm feeling in my heart. Some of it would edify her. Some of it would mortify me.)

So we've been friends, of a sort, for a year now, and it has been glorious — the ability to maintain a relationship, the accomplishment, the knowledge that emotions mattered and still matter, even if what was is no longer there. Truth: It is strange. And it has put me in a curious dimensional warp, with life lived on two poles: I compare each week to a whip in the hands of a master. Monday morning is, for me, the slow unspooling of the cord. The fast, startling crack of the leather tip breaking the speed of sound — that's Friday, when there's an off-chance I might spend time with her.

Of course I still love her. Of course she does not. So what do I want? Why do I persist?

I want her to see that some things are bigger than the people involved. I don't know why I fell for her — much of it still makes no sense, but there it is. She rang my bell and she continues to move me in a way that's not about physical attraction or sex or puppy love. She moves me to my core, resonates in the stillest places of my soul. Many days I wish she did not. There would not be such tumult.

Neither would there be so many revelations. I feel like Paul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road. I am blind no more. Turmoil and the occasional agony for the chance to see, to really see? Is there any question of choice?

No more thinking about it. It just is.

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