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December 18, 2004


The odd thing about it is that I can't exactly figure out what it is about me that puts people off so much. Nor can I determine if the lack of attention I feel owes to my own offenses or the defenses of others. I only know that when I feel as though there should be someone sitting across from me telling jokes and drinking something cold, I am alone.

This is a continuation of an itch in my head begun in the past 30 hours. It has taken up residence anew with discovery. This discovery might be recovery, but I am only doing so tangentially just in case. Just in case a broken heart never mended.

I missed the end of the short story read by Russell Banks on This American Life. That's because I'm dedicated to a different set of interests at this point in my life. But many years ago when I was confirming within me, a sense of purpose in writing and gunning up my courage to go where that purpose took me, I had a muse and an inspiration. She has a name of course, LBT, but what I remember most about her was.. oh there were so many things. What I remember now is the laugh, the machine gun rapid speech, her love to tedium of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, her NYU sweatshirt, her leather jacket and her purple pad of truth. She was like that, of course. She gave you a lot of hooks upon which to hang memories - she bristled with mnemonics. She was a garden of forking paths upon which I stumbled and pleasantly got lost.

Time and distance are cruel to life experiences. They make you lie to fit the joke. If the time and distance are long enough, the details fuzz up just enough to produce a dissonance which makes enemies of friends. And so it's difficult to know what to say when speaking of those you never see any longer. What you remember becomes what you care to remember. Not only does truth not serve mankind, but mankind does not serve truth. We use each other when it suits our purposes. So I cannot tell you the truth about her. Chances are, only she can remind me. This is why I am treading lightly.

Cleaning up my Outlook, I found her in the snow. Google pointed me straight away and as her face downloaded, I knew. Someone could read my face, as if I were in the morgue or checking the rogues gallery. I identified her immediately, a smile of recognition unmistakable on my face.

The last time she walked away from me I cried. I cried in the way one cries for drama. Not because the thing is happening to you, but because what you are experiencing is so perfectly sad. It was the end of something remarkable and there was no going back. Our intentions and directions were permanently at odds where once they were so beautifully entwined. The sense of loss was palpable. It was Monterrey.

In recent months I have heard of her triumphs third hand. And someone who bothered to forward me the e-mail disappeared when I replied. I wanted to see the face, hear the voice, know the work and experience the results of 13 years growth from a dark anonymous corner and wonder what might have been. But it was not to be. The normal channels were readjusted and contact required an alternate path. I could have worked that way, but the dismissal I took as a sign. You are not welcome this way. I don't know, I may never know. Not knowing was prickly painful. I swallowed and moved on.

But today I think I know where she is, and the flood of names of people on her living room floor reciting Harlem Renaissance poetry is coming back into memory. The videotaping of each other writing. The manic ferocity, the tender quiet, the whole extremity of it all seeps through the ages past. See me? This is my gaze off into the mists, the inevitable twisting of my mouth into a forlorn smile of memory: the Digital Underground soundtrack, the shouting at Arlen Specter, the cuban chicken, the mental giants, the two beliefs. So I'm going to mail off this entry to that email address so she can look at me. I'll always be her ex-boyfriend and I think that's pretty damned cool.

LBT, thanks. Without you I would have never focused with precision. Without you I would have never worn a leather jacket. You embraced my rebirth and let me know I could roll like that.

Posted by mbowen at December 18, 2004 02:31 AM

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