Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Iron Bars

I entered the room feeling awkward. J.Lass's mother handed me one of those rubber bracelets, a la Lance Armstrong, upon entering. She thanked me for coming. I hid in the washroom until more people came.

Soon after, the reverend (the woman whom J.Lass's mother originally contacted to get in touch with me) began the service. She played a video of J.Lass skydiving in Texas. She looked so beautiful with her hair up in a ponytail. And when she gave the cameraman the thumbs-up during the freefall, my right eye started to well up. Then the other. I told myself I no longer felt a connection to her, so why was I wasting everyone's time? I told myself it wouldn't happen. I wasn't that kind of girl. I'm not one for making public scenes. But cry I did and didn't bother to stop. I pulled tissue after tissue from the box for nearly an hour. The spasms in my throat were choking me with dryness. Was I acting? Could I have been faking it? I was afraid I was responding to the magnitude of the event by pressuring myself to behave "appropriately". The emotions were overwhelming, but I still felt like a fraud. Then where was it coming from? What was causing it? It wasn't rational, logic made it so. Wave after wave followed me up to the front as I delivered the speech. Reading those words - however false they felt at the time of inception - made the situation even more tangible. More honest. More real. My voice rose to compensate for my quivering. It slowed down to draw out the memories. It was hard to stay composed. I was doing the reading, but couldn't claim ownership because it didn't sound familiar coming from my voice anymore. This disconnect with my own senses made my eyes focus on the text and my ears on this "foreign speaker", and in effect, mirroring the position of the audience. It was a tortured symbiosis that can only be illustrated as a hall of mirrors effect: I was magnifying my own grief by detaching myself and interpreting the words on the page on another level. It was a double whammy of primary participation with secondary observation. As a result, I irritated my corneas with expensive eye makeup. But I digress: I don't know how else to explain it, I wish I was more articulate. But it was definitely surreal when I realized what was going on.

When I looked up to thank everyone for listening, they all had tears in their eyes. (I prepared myself for that only because I had phoned HaiPhia an hour earlier to get her opinion on it and she was audibly rueful afterwards. "Heck, you made me cry and I didn't even know the girl.") I returned to my seat exhausted, though not quite drained (that would come later). J.Lass's mother embraced me and told me how beautiful it was afterwards. She asked me if I would let her put it on the website dedicated to her daughter. "Take it," I said. "Go ahead. Take it."

So this is what death feels like. I feel so freakin' old.

***

M. Biologique. I was over him. I was so over him that I truly did not recognize his voice on the other end of the line until he said, "It's your papi. I'm downstairs." He's two and a half months ahead of schedule. It's only been three weeks since we last spoke. I didn't expect him to beg for my attention so soon already.

We sat on the couch and shared chocolates and samosas. (And by "shared", I mean he took a bite out of whatever I had in my hands and in retaliation, I forced him to eat crap that had originally been in my mouth, but deemed too gross to finish. Similar to the traditional saying, "Ewww, this stinks. Here, smell it.") I popped in Hombres Armados (Men with Guns, 1997) into the DVD player and we just hung out. Simply enjoyed each other's company and talked. No pressure, no antagonism, no resentment. Even so, his insecurity and possessiveness still managed to poke through at times. (Not to mention his pesky "You're turning me on" remarks.) I mentioned Train Boy, how weird it was that this guy, whom I never noticed during my weekly trips to the cinema, was on the same train, on the same day, in the same carriage, in the seat located right next to me when I went home for Christmas.

"Is he hot?" M. Biologique quickly interrupted. I told him he was very much my type, but that he'd just have to decide for himself.

"But I've never met him," he countered.

I turned my head to face him: "Guess you'd just have to fantasize."

Math Judas says I'm a homewrecker. A what? I'm responsible for his voluntary excursions to my quarters because he's an emotionally stunted coward? I can't deny that we have spectacular chemistry when we're together, but I'm also not accountable for his actions. I don't encourage (nor, admittedly, discourage) his unpredictable actions. Two girlfriends I've had the pleasure of meeting. I've been his vacation getaway through two girlfriends. He's bad, I know he is. I'm just a temporary filler for a very permanent void he's running away from. His woman probably isn't putting up with his shit. Nor should she. 6 ft. Amazon should be angry that he's visiting me before classes. And ever since I gave them both the cold shoulder that day, she should be flat-out insulted at the mere mention of my name. So I assume he never talks about me to her because he sure as hell never brings her up to me. People appear in the room that way. They poison the inspiration for conversation like an apparition wrongly accused of a crime.

But what can I possibly do when he shows up banging on my door? Throw him out? No. It's unrealistic to expect that from me. My time with him was forged on discretion, the experience left me bruised. But I'm not scarred for life. In fact, it was great timing: It forced me to take a hard look at my past before time sealed it off forever. Therefore, he wasn't a mistake, he was a "learning experience." (Oh my God, I've turned into an idiot New Ager. What next? Enya?)

I watched a PBS documentary on neutrinos. "Ah ha!" I said. "They're just like relationships!" (How pathetic is that?) Neutrinos weren't originally accepted in the physics community until relatively recently (last half of the century or so). The only way scientists were able to prove their existence was through mathematical calculations and the way they provoked electrons when they entered the atmosphere from a corresponding direction. In laymen's terms: Although they were invisible, their effects were seen, and thus, their existence could be proven by deduction. So I said to myself, instead of entering a situation then trying to figure out a recognizable pattern through trial and error, why not pinpoint the emotions that are evoked when I am first presented with the opportunity to enter one? Instead of making mistakes because I don't know any better, why not rewire the way my brain reacts to comfortably familiar scenarios? I don't need to have a history of bad boyfriends to know I have a problem with certain people in general. And methinks fighting this flaw early on will help prevent future repercussions. M. Biologique once said, in a fit of anger, how lucky he was that we never got together and I said Thank God for that. (He looked visibly hurt. I was a better actor.) My response resonates to this day. I don't think I would've had the strength to walk away from this pussyfooter had I been officially attached to his ass. He appeared at a time in my life when my self-esteem wasn't too great and he happened to take advantage of that. I'm not proud of myself, but I'm not going to throw in the towel altogether either. Yes, I was deeply enamoured with him (I hesitate to say "in love" since the entire fling was one big con). Though it could've been with any troubled 6'2" American hippie with an organic food fetish. At that point, I was rearing to expose my vulnerabilities to just about anyone in exchange for the possibility of security. And I'm willing to do it again if it means finding that elusive mutual connection humans constantly long for. The risk of pain is a necessary component of being alive. (I read it on Salon.)

The point is, I will not settle for a happy life. I await a good one. (No, I don't know why this guy's still a fixture on my blog if that's what I really wanted. Stop trying to make sense of me. Go away you!)

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