Underthecurrent


Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated
June 4, 2010, 2:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

(As preface, this is written at the end of season three, with two more to go while will probably change the horizon entirely and cause a retraction)

Oh Jimmy. Hurtling towards potential career destruction, careless with myself and those around me, I have never been more certain that you are my patron HBO saint. Your best work is institution changing, you are sort of a human catalyst, but you’ll never fit into the pyramid of authority and you’re not doing anything for any particular reason. Little credit will be given, but that doesn‘t matter. There‘s just work to be done and you‘re drawn to the challenge, into the fire. You drink hard and screw around a lot, but still get your heart broken almost every time. You pick loyalty over popularity and honesty over diplomacy, neither of which further your interests. Moral purity and consistency of this kind have no place in social structure. They’re inconvenient in a world of bent-up rules and grey zones.

*

Lack of updates due to unplugging. Turning in the modem. Another step in winding things up.

Flickering obsession with finishing things (Condiments. Bottles of shampoo and laundry soap. Stacks of hardcover books. Almost worn out socks and shoes.), interrupted by a need to pack what should be saved. Two categories mentally box up, the sentimental and the practical. The sentimental can be shipped out, piecemeal, to a new home. The practical is likely largely impractical as the prospect of someday living somewhere easily driveable seems so low. A genuine first in something that seemed standard procedure: relocation.

[As things empty, it’s striking how annoying packaging is. Boxes and bottles. Especially plastic bottles.]

This weekend marks the last chance for major things. All the framed photographs will be wrapped, along with the crystal wine glasses and the lamp in the bedroom. A throw pillow and some afghans. All sentimental. In practical terms, the full set of heavy-bottomed pots and the blender, and the good set of sheets. A few things are tricky – they’ve been carefully collected and are particularly beautiful. An inexpensive wood and metal radio and the heavy candlestick that matches it. A particular simple votive holder with a smooth, pleasing form.

[There’s a strange comfort when things wear out or break. An ipod mini, from exactly five years ago, battery gone, is becoming easier to leave behind. The beautiful but large umbrella that exploded in the windy rain last week no longer needs to be sorted – it served its purpose.]

*

He calls to see if I want to watch the game, I’m already making tea for bed, so he says he has to come over to drop something off. Not flowers, but a plant with flowers.

He is so ready to make the right girl so happy, finally, which the other week he credited to a lot of what he‘d gone through in five on and off and then two really off-off years with me, but more reflects the growing up that’s happened. The past six months have been one of those transitions for him, where life moves you where you’re going to go, like it or not. It’s been rough but there seems to be light, even he can see it now. Still, there’s some worry about who will take care of him.

The amount of time we spend together now marks the full circle of my life in this city. I met him two months after arriving and he’s who I’m probably the closest to three months before leaving. Life has beautiful symmetry.

The things this has provided. First, despite coming off a crap relationship and seriously questioning what kinds of crap relationships I apparently blindly select, he stands as evidence of something purer, some uncorrupted instinct that didn‘t fail. Second, being able to care for him when it was necessary and to practice a kind of deep intimacy has been a sort of therapy for the commitment-phobia.

It’s funny how attraction and sexual tension screw up caring and deep intimacy with all their overtones. Attraction can, it seems likely, spring from deep intimacy, but it is so much harder to get to deep intimacy and selfless caring with unreformed, unexplored attraction in the way. It obscures pure intentions, makes us to present our best-feathered versions of ourselves. It leads to venerability without nakedness, and heroic efforts to act out a fairy tale love story. The former results in too much guessing on both sides — are we being judged, where is the vulnerability coming from. The latter can only lead to disappointment.

And here are two people between which the attraction and tension have been completely explored, who have seen each other gutted and half crazy and ugly and mean. And yet there is complete forgiveness, loyalty and love. It has resulted in a very pure sort of emotional relationship that is markedly different from anything else, something developed over time.

Growing up, my mother always had a strict set of relational rules. Love does this, love doesn’t do that. Love doesn’t put another person down, even jokingly. Love doesn’t keep lists. Of course, all of these things are true. But it always seemed like there had to be more to it. Love isn’t a set of rules, that would make it simply a stronger form of manners. From the closest friendships of my adult life and from this particular love-affair turned friendship, I am beginning to believe that love is not just doing these things but finding a deeper motivation from which they flow naturally. A type of settled relationship that has been tested. The problem is, it’s hard to tell prior to testing which relationships will survive the tests early on, and more importantly, build a strategy and closeness from them. It’s hard to know when that attraction wanes temporarily if what has come to live underneath it is caring and closeness.

At any rate, having such a strong attraction become a relationship that has survived what it has and has translated into mutual respect and a sort of unfiltered honesty gives me hope that some day I will have something like this with someone for life, who I end up sharing a life with.

As this packing goes on, it is difficult to consider maybe never seeing each other again after this summer. He will stay here because he grew up shovelling this dirt and it is so a part of him, as much as the extended family he sees every week who still live within an hours drive of each other.

*

I hate financial planners. I hate financial planners because they have made a strange and speculative industry cajoling people into over-investing so they have more money to manage and thus greater ways of extracting profit. And because they scare me. With their formulas and promises and unexplained ’funds’.

I try to make this equation incorporating all the factors. The ongoing physical decay that is aging, the power of even slight compound interest, the probabilities of disability or injury. I try permutations: if I have someone to split these expenses with (divide), if I have any kids (multiply), or if I have neither and find myself old and alone. And the complications continue.

*

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

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