Sunday, April 20, 2008

PERSONAL: Earthquakes shake more than the ground

I had a really bizarre experience today, and without telling too much, I wanted to write it out quickly while it's still relatively fresh in my head. It's affecting me deeply, and, I think, it's part of the growth that I have to feel. My co-worker blames it on the Earthquake. She said that the earthquake was the combined force of thousands of peoples lives coming to a point and then shaking the earth and bringing everything back down... like a giant boggle board. Everything was strange and confusing for everyone, and now... it's settling back down into place.

Like the Earth said to so many people, "You're lives are fucked, so I'm going to shake shit up and make it ok."

I got a call from a dear friend of mine whom I have seen once in the past year and a half, since his DUI. This friend of mine -- and I'm masking even his initials, XX -- and I used to do a lot of bad things together. I mean, we had a great time, but alcohol was the least of our worries and there is a lot of darkness, now, surrounding our friendship. But, you must understand, he was still a dear friend and I still love him.

For anyone who has been through their own form of darkness, you know that there are people that you pick up and then cast away as nothing more than trash as you muddle through it. But there are people that despite their own darkness, you know are your dear friends. And you know that, one day, you will be part of their light. I believed that XX would be both... he would be part of my darkness and part of my light, and I still do believe that. However, he disappeared from my darkness before it spiralled out of control in the last year as he, himself, was being forced into his own attempts at reconciliation with his life.

Thus, we'd only seen each other once in the last year and a half, but we had kept in touch via texts and phone calls, and that was kinda ok since we were going in separate directions.

But he called me today, and he sounded despressed. Though I usually ignore his requests to come to the bar with him, as I know where those end or I simply can't make it, I decided to go because he sounded down and I wanted to be a friend. I had not set my eyes on him in a while, and I believed that things were getting better for him. I had to see him, and I wanted to see what was up, be his friend.

I arrive at about 715 or so, he's been at the bar since 500, and he's sloshed. I mean, sloppy sloppy drunk and falling off the bar stool. He shouts my name and runs to me and throws his arms around me and I am genuinely happy to see him, though I am disappointed that I was unable to connect his depressed state on the phone with what is clearly wastedness to the highest degree. He's had a whole six pack in two hours and he's wasted. Immediately, I wanted to throw myself out of the bar. I push him away for a moment and hug a few friends in the crowd -- to the point of telling some people that I've deleted their phone numbers, apologized for the late night calls/texts, and I now feel I'm on better terms with than I was before. Thank you, RA, for understanding. I really appreciate the forgiveness. But I went to go sit at the far end of the bar with XX and his friend. Upon a request of the definition of their friendship, the explanation for this really unattractive, dumpy looking guy is not surprising -- "oh, we go out, get some party, get fucked up, mess around, and he drives me home."

Oh. I know that guy. I have been that guy. My head says "get the fuck away from my friend," but my mouth says "nice to meet you, thanks for getting him home safely." (Fucker. But I'm not being judgmental... we've all been there.) That is the extent of the conversation dude at the end of the bar and I have.

I'm a social person, and I flitter around a bar saying hello to everyone, dispensing witticisms, kisses and hugs with reckless abandon -- my friends say it's an annoying trait, but it's really useful on a good night out, you know? In fact, that's why XX and I were such good friends. The few of us would go out, meet lots of people, meet up occasionally at the bar or on the patio, but, essentially, not really see each other throughout the night. But I came to hang with my friend this time, to see how he was doing, and I had a water in my hand, and he was wastedly careening through the bar.

Which was OK, because sitting next to him was depressing.

We make a break for the door for a cigarette. I joke with the cute couple next to me, with whom I have been lightly flirting and both of whom have been lightly flirting back (this is, I understand, an experience unique to gay bars -- the ability to flirt with couples and expect a positive return on your investment), not to go through my shit but please watch my bag. XX and I are out the front door and cigarettes in our hands in minutes. Mind you, we are not alone out here, but he begins to bring up the darkness. Some serious darkness, memories and emotions and actions and situations that I think I have begun to contextualize as my history, but in this setting do not appreciate.

I try to bring something else up, and he mentions his sling. I change the subject, and he comments that it's a shame I'm not a top. I try to talk to him about some of the things going on with him, and he makes the comment that he hasn't been laid in a while. And around and around and around it goes... I text CF the simple message: WOW -- and then I make back for the inside, where at least I think the other people will distract him.

Mind you, it's been thirty minutes, and this is, formerly, one of my best friends. I can't be here, I decide, but I hang on a few minutes longer. I am trying. He sits back down next to me and our discussion, after he shares a few photos from his recent trip, turns to ... the weather. That's right, kids. Best friends for years, god knows how many joint experiences and life changing events we've been through together, and we have absolutely nothing to talk about. It's empty and it's cold, and I'm sitting in a bar on Sunday evening with a wasted friend next to me, a glass of water in my hand, and I see myself.

That was me. At one point, I was in that bar stool. Regardless of whether I went through the same actions or anything, I was with him, and, therefore, that was me.

And I knew, then, that I didn't want to be him anymore, and, for the sake of my own sobriety, I couldn't be around him anymore. So I left forty-five minutes after I walked in the door.

Do I feel like I abandoned a friend? Mildly. Voltaire's words -- ringing of karma -- came to my mind: Every man is guilty of the good he did not do. But I was not there to berate him. I know I had to leave, for me this time. To stay is to perpetuate, because he ordered another one thinking I was going to hang around. Had I stayed longer, he would have kept drinking. Hell, he might still be drinking. But I wasn't going to stick around and find out. It was painful to watch and it was too much... the whole scene was bizarre and comical. I needed to get out, and I did. I left XX alone in the bar with that guy and his favorite past time -- running around and being a sister to everyone.

And I made the decision I couldn't be a part of that anymore.

I hugged him before I left and planted a kiss on his cheek. I told him I loved him, that he was my dearest friend, and to call me if he ever needed anything. I squeezed him a little tighter. I think he interpreted it sexually because he grabbed my ass, but I hope that, in a moment of clarity, he'll know what I'm talking about. And I'm not saying that I'm going to always be the best person to come to. But, you know what, TM&J have been two of my strongest and most stalwart supporters, and they fuck up just as much as I do.

So, XX, should you ever read this, which I doubt you will, I hope you know who you are and I hope you heard what I meant when I hugged you.

I do love you, with all of my heart. I just don't want to be a part of that anymore.

And I'm sorry.


Thus, the Earthquake shook up my life. Moments after, I reconnected with an old friend whom I met randomly on the street who let me retell this whole story to him -- and he genuinely listened and genuinely heard and offered the most amazing analysis ever: you need more boring friends. It was a beautiful thing. I feel lifted by that interaction. I've been riding the bus all weekend, and the meditative moments I get on the bus make me feel calmer, though I am exhausted.

The Earthquake picked us all up, told us our lives were shit, and said "here, try again... find the meaning in these scrambled letters."

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