Tag Archives: complicated

Boxed In

7 Jul

sturm and drangThe envelope arrived unbidden. Tangled with grocery store circulars and an infinite supply of enticements from local dentists, the red rectangle semaphored false comfort. A new movie! Tear, tear, rip, open, GASP! Crumple, papers falling to the ground, heartbreak-induced coma achieved.

It’s a movie that capital H-E chose. He watched it one night and said you should see it. Gamely, you added it to your queue, forgetting it instantly, and then months passed before you finally returned another DVD and triggered the unleashing of this horror. This condescending, pretentious, and self-absorbed depiction of a breakup that you can’t even finish watching because it’s so bogged down with “Pity me, pity me, I’m a complicated artist who couldn’t treat a beautiful woman well enough to keep her, so she left me, and now I am wretch, but I crave the status and inspiration that accompanies misery, so leave me alone to die here at the side of the road.”

Clicking “stop” and “eject” in rapid succession, and then quickly and determinedly sealing the return envelope, you storm to the mailbox and send this last vestige of romance gone wrong back to the fury of its origins. Away, away, ye harbinger of all that made it impossible for him to love you. Apparently he really wasn’t over his ex, and this damn movie was his sweet succor.

But worst of all is this. You can’t relate, in any way, shape, or form with the crummy protagonist in this film. It’s been so damn long since you broke up with anyone who left any sort of aching vacancy in your life, you can’t empathize with someone moaning, “I don’t want to love you anymore.”

The agony of loss is lost on you. And you wonder, is your heart dead? Is that why the Gentleman has yet to trigger any trembling? But in truth, you’re just adjusting to the tempo of a life not dictated by the whims of the broken-souled. Good people treat each other well, and the turbulence subsides. What you often mistake for passion is actually the push-pull of withholding versus need. And that horrible movie could have been your life. But instead you’re opting for the next film in the queue.

Collect Them All

17 Jun

peabodyHe was standing there so tall, so tall against a backdrop of themed entertainment. Leaning back, arms crossed, pressing into concrete to extend the distance between us as much as the laws of physics would allow.

“I’m simple. I’m just simple. I like complex people, and I like having them around. But I’m just a simple guy. I just want a house, a happy family…” and he shrugged into the distance.

What prompted this declaration was my gentle request for elaboration on his statement that “creative people are obsessed with time.”

We were reading the first of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets under the ugly outdoor lamplight of a terrible Orlando bar. Biding our time until this trade show night would fade into another trade show morning, we tracked NBA finals scores and discussed literature.

Lightning flickered over dark patches of swamp between parking lots and chain restaurants. I unwound my own arms and tried to stand with open body language. Tried to look way up there into his eyes and ascertain why he was suddenly telling me that I am complex, and that he likes having me around, but ultimately finds me repellent.

It took a few days and then the wise observation of a friend to roll a thunderous revelation to answer the lightning. I wasn’t the repellent one. He was feeling sheepish, didn’t have an answer, couldn’t further the discussion, froze up, and then claimed simplicity by way of cover.

But it’s not simplicity when you are able to describe the interior inhibitions that make it difficult for you to walk into a room, or how you would never let Hallmark dictate plans to see your family. You are finicky and precise, and you can’t stand how similar you are to the little bespectacled over-thinker who looks up at you now.

And a real, audible sigh presses me past it. They call me complex, and they pull away, because they cannot stand their own unacceptable complexity. It’s so unpalatable when a girl is clearly troubled by overstimulation that dissipates her strength and forces her needs to the surface.

“You can’t turn it off, can you?” He asks, turning an invisible switch by the side of his head.

I only nod “no”.

Neither can you. But you will claim simplicity to make it clear that I am the strange one here.

I am too complex for the single ones. But I am infinitely appealing to the married ones bored by simplicity. What the tall one doesn’t know is that a married one is sitting nearby, actually watching and waiting for me to collapse to the ground so he can pick up the pieces. It’s what he promised right before the tall one walked up. “If he leaves you here, I’ll come get you and make sure you get back to your hotel. I can do that for you.”

And thus trapped between the gaze of an obsessor and an aloofer, I live the lines from Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

I walked away from that wall with the tall one that night, back to a hotel bar to watch the last quarter of the NBA game. He stayed up with me, sipping bourbon, until just before his early morning flight. He gave me a real hug goodbye, and smiled at me more genuinely than I’ve seen in a long time. He requested a text missive to let him know that I was safe in my hotel room. But in the morning, I requested pickup of my pieces just the same. Sometimes you want someone to want your complexity. Even if they can’t do anything with it.

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