"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Grasping the Knife Unawares
sor-row Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English sorow, from Old English sorg; akin to Old High German sorga sorrow
1 a : deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved b : resultant unhappy or unpleasant state
2 : where this story is going to eventually lead
It was sometime in the late winter or early spring of 1980. And if I had only known what would happen in the years ahead, if I had only seen... I would have done anything, anything, to avoid it.
If only I had something else to do that afternoon, and had not gone to the student center at school. But I did.
If only her hair had been different and not so captivating. But it was.
If only she had seen me for the monster I was. But she didn't.
All tragedies begin with a moment of innocence, and it was that moment.
I walked into the student center that afternoon, bored out of my mind. Maybe I would play some video games or pinball. Maybe I would flirt with the girl behind the concession stand like so many of us always did.
I saw a friend of mine in there, his name was Steve. Steve was a freshman and a good guy to know if you were like me. Steve was a local kid and always seemed to have some cute girls hanging around even though he was no real great shakes himself.
A few weeks back he had introduced me to a girl that looked just like Tanya Tucker (back in her pre-Kris Kristofferson days, total knockout) and I had taken her out a couple of times. And again, here he was in a booth with a group of girls.
"Hey Steve," I said, walking up and taking a seat.
One of the girls in the booth was really striking. She had this beautiful face, all innocent looking, huge eyes, and it was made all the more striking by this very continental hairstyle she had that was shaped almost like a pyramid, very avant-garde. It looked terrific, exotic. Delicious.
"I'm Cliff," I said. That is, in my experience, the best pick up line I have ever found. Not that there's anything special about the fact that I'm Cliff, understand, but it's so obvious and truthful that it cuts right by that initial awkward phase in the conversation. I smiled broadly and charmingly, and looked her right in the eyes.
"Hi, I'm Debra." And no, that's not her real name. I can't use that here. So we'll use Debra.
I wanted that girl the moment I laid eyes on her. Maybe it was the fact that I was just bored silly and still confused from my Christmas break. But I took aim with both barrels and let rip.
She never saw it coming. It was shooting a songbird with an elephant gun.
Within a week, we were boyfriend and girlfriend.
Debra was a true innocent, she really was. Inside of her was a fervent desire to please others with no thought for herself. And, even though I had pulled myself back from the brink twice in as many months, the predator in me was still very strong. It was not long until we had a very codependent relationship.
She wanted to please me so badly, she almost never said no to anything I suggested. It was as if she wanted to be able to anticipate my every need and desire. I led her down pathways of debauchery that she never asked for, nor did she deserve.
And still, somehow, she remained at her core an innocent. She loved me with an overpowering consuming love.
At the same time, I was beginning to become bored with her. There was no excitement. She was, relationshipwise, hardly more than a slave. It was even to the point that I could make a face at her and she would unconsciously make the same face back, like a mirror. I would smile, she would smile. I would pout, so would she.
I wanted out. So I began treating her badly in any number of ways, trying to get her to leave me. She responded by loving me even more, and trying even harder.
It was obscene. And it hurts me to even remember it.
This is, of course, only the beginning of this story. There will be more to come shortly, and it gets darker as it goes.
Tragedy does that.
It will take everything I have inside me to write this whole tale down, but it needs to be written. Please excuse me if I do it in small pieces. Today, I've set the stage. Next time, we'll move the pieces.
The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.
Alfred North Whitehead