“What I’ve Kept With Me and What I’ve Thrown Away”
I took a quick spin out to Arlington yesterday to set up a Happy Hour for my employees. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “God DAMN INPY, do you do anything BUT set up and attend Happy Hours?!”
Honestly? No. This is it.
Anyhow, this brief reprieve from my day afforded me some nice, mid-day quiet time. During this “I’m working, really I swear” afternoon I grabbed an iced green tea and sat to ponder some of the more pressing issues of the day that were gnawing at my cranium…
The Designated Hitter? Nice innovation or terrible idea?
Seven String Guitars? Same questions.
Who in the name of GOD is making Dane Cook famous?
And, the most important…
Why is it that there are so many aspects of some of my ex’s (OK, ONE of my ex’s) that I can recall clear as day…and some of my ex’s (OK most) I can’t remember seemingly big details?
All of this started because there is one ex, from way back in the day (I’m not feeling creative today, so we’ll just call her J) who told me that she has caught some passing references to her that I’ve made on these very pages. She went on to describe what it makes her feel like when she reads them…kind of a Pollyanna picture that involved sun dresses and fried chicken. (It was funnier when she said it)
When she said this, I immediately remembered this blue dress that she used to wear…and then I remembered that she used to call me “bub”…and then the way that her long thin fingers used to fit in mine…and the way she could shake it like only a suburban white girl could to James Brown (I couldn’t describe this to you if you gave me an hour) at the first “HEY” out of the speakers.
And a million other details….
The point is that when it comes to her, I remember it all. Including how magnificently I fucked her over. Which is another story. (One that I wrote and tried like hell to make sense of…and edited and rewrote and it’s just not there for the telling…not yet) But there are a million details I can recall without going in to a temple rubbing sothisisalzheimer’s melt down.
I can tell you how terrible her handwriting is from the letters she sent me EVERY DAY while I was in the Army…
Or how her eyes would narrow and her mouth would tighten up and pull her lips thin and she’d say “Watch it, Mister” when I would make a comment about the Sox…oh yeah, she was a Sox fan….
Or the full on belly laugh with a repeated hitch that watching MST3K would bring out of her at midnight on her couch…
Or the way she would shrug her shoulders when she was cooking, as if to say “you and I BOTH know that this is not going to end well, so why not”…
But for the LIFE of me…the woman that I dated right after her? I can’t remember her middle name. Nor her parents names. Or damn near anything else except for the fact that she started fucking one of my friends, broke up with me, and he moved in to our apartment right after that. (THAT part, I recall in technicolor. Thanks.)
I can’t remember what Alyssa’s (the psycho Italian) tattoo said, or even what language it was in…
But i can remeber that J had a little lizard that she named Pepe on her lower back.
To just come right out and say it, there’s a story that I am not willing to tell just yet, but it’s been a constant in my life since I was 14. It’s her. J. She’s been there, in one way or another for just over 20 years now. I can’t shake it, and though there was a time I’d have given anything Anything ANYTHING to do so…well, that time is gone. Long gone. There can’t be a blog about ME without there being the story of HER. And it’s coming…in all of it’s “Oh my GOD INPY how young and dumb were you” glory, it’s coming.
She isn’t the one that got away. Rather, she was the one that I threw away. So full of myself and slightly (maybe more than slightly) fucked up that I thought for sure I didn’t need to be tied down…it just had to be that there were bigger and better things out there than the girl next door for a rockstar like ME, right?! And I can still hear her saying “you’re throwing everything away” when I told her I didn’t want to be with her anymore in a parked car behind the pizza place in downtown Hopkinton…and I can still hear me saying “I never wanted to be anybody’s everything.”
God those are haunting words the second you find out how truly awe-inspiringly beautiful it is to be just that to someone. And it only took me the cash equivalent of putting several therapist’s kids through good colleges for me to figure it out. I’m talking the Emersons and Dukes of the world…not the SW Idaho States.
And from the place that I sit now, she looks completely different. J is not romanticized. She is not washed clean of any fault or foible by the powers of time. She is, quite simply, the best person I’ve ever known, despite the fact that I know she’s not perfect. What she meant for me, what she did for me, and what she does for me even now by being my friend from a thousand miles away…there are no words. It was a redeeming day for me when I heard from her for the first time. No joke, no understatement. It was like feeling someone take their boot off my chest after years of being pinned to the floor. But you see, the thing is; I was wearing the boot. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
I wouldn’t be nearly close to as together as I am were it not for her, her love, and her family. I can’t imagine what I’d have become if you took that one piece of my life out. I don’t want to think about it, to be perfectly honest. I don’t think it ends well.
I am blessed, charmed, and so, so lucky to have her in my life now in any capacity whatsoever. I used to physically ache to have her back, but now I am thrilled in the knowledge that she is my friend. When you let go of your ego and you swallow your pride and you say to someone (and I’ve said this before) that you’re sorry (cuz there’s NO statute of limitations on an apology.) which I did with her, and you are met with …well, friendship? It’s not a let down, folks. And if you think it is, then you need to go back and re-read the first seven words of the third line in this paragraph.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Got it now? Good. If I can do it, ANYONE can do it.
Someday I’ll figure out how to tell that story…the story that only a few of my friends know and that kid brother says (in his best parody of me) canonized me as St. INPY; Patron St of Bad Decision Makers. But until that time comes, as I sit and think about the DH (hate it) Seven Strings (hate them more) and Dane Cook (hate him the fucking MOST) I realize that I have always been a lucky bastard.
Even if I have never, ever been able to hold down a relationship worth a god damn, at the very least I had one with someone like J, and she still thinks to email me and takes my phone calls.
Lucky, lucky bastard I tell you.
ADDENDUM: In a dose of Karmic Irony I have been informed that today is indeed (and I almost wish I was making this up) J’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Beautiful.