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Bad things

You’re a great person, but I should stop here

Haven’t been in town for a few days. Decided that it might be nice to get away, which, when I think about it, is a funny notion — because all of the things I want to get away from are impossible to escape. I can’t step out of my body, can’t leave it behind in the city. A story I wrote recently, called Clean, sums up this idea pretty well:

You’re still the problem here, the uncontrolled variable. Doesn’t matter how fast the miles speed away it’s still you in this car, you and your busted-up brain, your checkered forearms, the pushovers you call hands. Much as you want to, you can’t just leave yourself behind. But, hey, maybe this time will be different, maybe this’ll be the weekend to reminisce about years later — the weekend Johnny-Boy finally got himself straight, didn’t relapse in his sister’s bathroom.
 

Important to point out here that I am a writer, which is another way of saying a liar, and though I share the same name as the guy in this story, I do not have a heroin problem. My forearms are as flawless as the wind-driven snow. But where I wrote this piece from is real and true: the underlying emotion, this tendency I have toward self-hatred, this desire to get away — all of that is very true. But something WF said last night bothered me. She told me she felt like she had been wrong about who I was, that the person I projected through my writing did not match the person doing the writing. Because of this, she felt as if she did not really know me as well as she had originally believed. And maybe that is my fault. I inserted myself into this story, Clean, and I also narrated it from my perspective, in my voice. It’s the second time I’ve done this, the first being a story called Get Well Soon, and in both I am essentially talking to myself. And because I have sometimes written from such a personal place, maybe I am guilty of posturing.

That was just one of the things WF and I discussed last night. It had been a few days since last we talked, mostly because I said and did some things which angered her, and then last night I, for whatever reason — maybe because I was tired of feeling like an asshole, or maybe because I love to hurt myself — I asked her to be candid for once, to just really let me have it, tell me all the ways in which I’m a fucking loser and an idiot and an insensitive jerk. And, bless her beautiful little heart, she did.

Some of the things she mentioned weren’t true, of course. She called into question my generosity, noted how my recent comments about editing her manuscript for free were all strangely within the context of another discussion about medical bills and needing a ‘hand-up’. I won’t lie and say I didn’t have a motive; I did, as I’ll explain in a minute. But the motive wasn’t greed, and seeing myself painted as some kind of money-grubbing creep out to scam writers made my stomach churn. Rather abruptly I understood what she had meant by another earlier response to mine:

Me: Kind of like what you said in that very first message — why put up with all the grief if you’re not getting paid to do so?

Her: Why do anything if you’re not being paid, right?

So, watching our discussion spiral down into places I never wanted it to go, I sent her a return message wherein I laid myself open, told her how I felt about her and explained that my generosity was in large part due to just being fucking nuts about her. The conversation doesn’t really get that interesting afterward. I sent the message knowing I’d be shut down, rejected, that our back-and-forth discussions (which had been ongoing since the first of April) would soon end, and that’s pretty much what happened. I’m kind of bored recounting it here, to be honest.

Got a variation of the standard “You’re a great person, and don’t worry — there’s somebody out there waiting for you.” Though maybe I am being cynical, and more than a little unfair. She was a friend. But she’s also in a relationship, and her man should be proud because she did exactly the right thing in shutting me down on the basis that our on-going correspondence would be cruel to me, considering my foolish emotional investment and her inability to reciprocate, and disloyal to him.

I think it was kind of inevitable. I fucked it up because I couldn’t keep my emotions reigned in, and now there is nothing. Probably won’t go back there anymore. I changed the password on my account to some long string of letters that I have no hope of ever remembering, and I logged out there for what will probably be the last time.

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