This morning I bent a rainbow. Red came out and cured my hardening eyes. You came in focus for the first time in years. The word you didn’t say was “friend.” That has always been a problem with you.
He used to say I’ve saved his life so many times by writing and talking with him. We shared a love of writing, especially poetry. I have a long appreciation of correspondence between writers, and I was just delusional enough to think he thought of me as a writer. We split the cost of a plane ticket so he could come here and we could visit with each other. He got the ticket, snapped to his closeup, and announced his epic tour, where he would visit his esteemed craftsmen and hold them close in grand existential camaraderie of what causes true writers to write. To suffer. To bleed. To keep it real but also not so real that it’s not real, and make it plain, too; because no one can understand complicated blood. Out they came, led by great fanfare and praise wrapped generously around their minds and pens. I wasn’t in there. Odd, I was just trying to visit with my friend and agreed to read here, and drive him to the next city over, where we could visit the International Rooms! I love that place. I helped him figure out who he could contact to try to read with and where.
Our relationship shifted as he got re-involved with his ex and wandered into psychosexual territory. Hmm, what can I safely talk about here and still give some privacy…how about the Oedipal Complex mentioned in his bio? That’s a psychosexual stage of development, and I don’t need to hear about it unless my help is sought solving it. The reminders of his prowess, also widely shared in email; I was embarrassed for this woman when I read it. I won’t go into the one that hit me the most, out of privacy, and the need to keep that dissonance out of my subconscious. By the time he looked at following this love—a big one—while dating others, including one half his age who seemed to need elder energy (martyr), I was unable to process any more. I argued that this was confusing behavior if he wanted to get closer in the relationship he had flip flopped about but was currently in flip mode. That his claims of her jealousy may come from this kind of uncertainty. He practically wears a sign that says: Emotional Instability Coming Soon. And carries a prop sunset he can ride off into, while a broken record plays on the bakabaka jukebox. Whiskey, cigarettes, Camaro or busted pinto; Camus on the corner sneezing from the cold; contagious snot flying through the air to infect anyone who gets close.
That was in early July, one of the last times it felt like we were friends. I wrote the next day and apologized profusely for my intrusiveness and truth-bomb spinout. I shouldn’t have been on the phone that long in the land of dissociation. I didn’t want to relate personal things, but I did and apologized. I don’t like seeing women treated poorly, and even now when he speaks of her, it is with a one-sided view of heartache. But what do I know as a bailing tour partner? A show skipper? A bad Uber? When he writes, he lumps me in with her: the two of you. Except I’m a cited as a stranger, not a former friend. Not sure if that means I am also trash? Class is gonna class.
Back to that phone convo, he didn’t talk to me for about a month. I’m ok with friendships that drop off when things get busy, but I’m very tired of punishing silent treatments. They are destabilizing; I use my mental energy to wonder how I can make things better or get anxious it’s all over. I’ve had so much loss and am trying to work on that grief with therapy. Covid hasn’t helped, except that I’ve outgrown loyalty to relationships that see my time and effort as the actions of a doormat. I accidentally texted him during this long sulking stretch, to which he implied my text was no accident. This took me back to our previous conversation where Romeo got a text from a girl who pretended to accidentally text him, then he went on about how she wanted him, and further how three women at that same reading wanted him. What the actual what.
Tour was October, that was July. I take my close friendships very seriously and this one became confusing and weird. Meanwhile he’s all BADDA-BING online and everyone is his Brotherrrrr. That’s also the last time he acknowledged me on social media, to like a picture. He never once liked any of the writing I was finally starting to post online. I texted him about this and he replied not to send him heavy texts. Our last email was in August and he knew I felt estranged and not into further investing any of my leftover aorta into whatever was happening here. This wasn’t the friend I’d really gelled with and loved. He’d already pooped on the plans I made for us to hang out at the International Rooms—didn’t think any of it sounded like fun…not fun? YOU’RE NOT FUN. The he’s coming at me with “boundaries” he must have discovered while giving a one-sided view of how I figure into his problems. I could have told him, but that was not the game happening here.
Life goes on. I enjoyed being yelled at after I came in from a week-long shoot and was rushing to prepare for a family dinner and birthday party. It wasn’t scary, just another push-and-pull. There was another round of him paying me back for not being available by saying he could pencil me for a talk the following week, while he acted like Mr Popular and Mr-Available-To-Talk-Anytime to others online. He knew I was out on this bad idea long before he came here. He’d traded the ticket I bought him toward a ticket from Portland. And the Athens things he secured through a friend of mine. Acting like he didn’t know I was not participating and stranded him is just annoying. Played me from the start. Now he’s got the t-iii-g-h-t hookup in my town with our mutual friends, he can have them. I have friends but not a lot of time.
I did apologize that it went down that way. I miss him, but he is destabilizing for me, and life has been easier without weird tensions and paradoxes. I’m not a bored person, and giving my time to an important friend is one of the most valuable things I can give. It hurts, but I’ll survive. What I’m not sure about is why he’s writing about me so many months later. He blocked me. Sympathy? Clearing his name? I don’t believe I tarnished it, unless someone needs a talking to. Is this so I’ll be jealous that he’s involving his inner circle into celebrating his book release? Great. Is that the final circle of hell?. Or is there an even closer circle where you get to help him with his aspirations, give pep talks, and send clips of writing and music after he lets you know you’re the trash enemy. I still can’t tell if that was directed at me or the lady he loved.