Thursday, July 22, 2004

Not for McSweeney's

I love the way blogging has re-fired my engine for writing. But I'm still working out the kinks of it -- it's been idle for a bit. I've been writing -- in a lot of ways, I've never really "stopped" writing since I started nearly thirty years ago -- but I haven't been trying to "really write" for quite a while. Until lately. Of course, trying to "really write" is a fool's ego-trip and, while I know that, I am also a fool. Some writerly folks' engines purr like Porsches lined up at the light ready to race to the winner's circle, while mine is just a beat-up old Chevy jalopy sputtering at a stopsign along this meandering fool's journey. The best thing I have to say for it is that it keeps on going. Even when I neglect the maintenance. And that's a damn fine thing to be able to say, in the end, I think.

In any case, accepts submissions for "Open Letters" from folks with better cared-for, and naturally smoother-running, engines than my own -- a few of you who've stopped by could probably get one accepted. I'm not ready to try that. Nonetheless, I have one to write, so I'm posting it here.

An Open Letter to the Remnants Lingering After a Not-Fully-Successful Exorcism of a Old Obsession:

Dear Wounded Obsession:

It makes no sense that you haven't just given me up yet. I'm not hospitable, I don't think. I try not to be. I've taken as many steps as I know to boot your sorry butt out of my psyche, yet you linger, a limp mass of whimpering misery, pulsating ominously -- regrouping, I suppose, for your next stranglehold.

Listen, this waste of humanity you hold onto like some savior of my soul, is an asshole. Everyone else can see that. He is cowardly and crass and thwarted, critically. He believed, really believed, that the extent of his responsibility for his actions and professed feelings was acknowledging that he wasn't going to take any responsibility. He looked you and me right in the face and said it. As though that were honor. I think he might even have believed that was honor which is even MORE frightening.

And you, you just trip along, insanely believing that someday he'll know and feel and regret his failure to reach out for something that could have been sublime -- which more likely, would have been catastrophic. Even if that ever happens, I'm never going to know about it. And I'm fine with that, I really am. It's just you who isn't.

I get over him and fall in love with my real life, my now life, and you pull the emergency brake so violently that everything I've tucked away so neatly into the closets and gaps of my heart and mind, comes tumbling out, crashing about, paper and knickknacks and memories, hanging in the air until they settle, a mess like a tornado hit spread throughout my whole internal world.
And for what? Why must we keep doing this? What is the appeal of having to pick through all of that again? All the slights and wounds. There are so many more slights and wounds to dress and rebandage than anything sweet to stroke and hold. I grant you, there are some very sweet things to hold. But the slights and wounds outnumber and outmatch them pitifully.

To put it gently, you are not constructive.

Listen, I think he's someone somewhat decent, who got hard breaks, and made bad choices. He certainly, occasionally, had his moments. But he is just not a good cause for you. There's nothing worthwhile in this ridiculous pursuit you refuse to give up. Maybe I just don't understand what you're after. What is it you want? What is the payoff price? What will, finally, get you to go?

How do I evict you? You don't seem to be accepting the notice I've posted. And I haven't figured out who to contact to get it enforced.

What IS the unfinished business here? I do not understand. Really, now, some eighteen year old girl is getting her heart broken by someone just like him this summer. Just because he's dumb and young and without the ability to allow himself to love and be loved by someone who actually fascinates him in every way, whose view of the world and herself is infectiously redemptive but requires his equal engagement. He'd rather be with someone, or someones, who spread thick sunblock over his ego and id so that no light can penetrate. That's just the way he is, the poor fellow. Just because he's a sad example of a man, someone who didn't have a good man to teach him what it means to be one, to demonstrate the opportunities it presents for a life that's more interesting and rewarding than simply surviving. Wouldn't you rather have a fresh start, someone more willing to indulge all this drama and chaos? Go find some other poor girl who's just beginning the long roller coaster journey of loving someone unworthy.

I feel sorry for him now -- Does that help? Is that the goal? It seems like your goal is to make me feel sorry for myself -- do I misunderstand?

I've got such a better life now than I could ever have had with him. Why don't you want that?

Please answer. I want this to end. I want you out. I'm so tired of this. It's time for him to stay in my memory boxes, tucked away, an important chapter in the construction of me, but a closed one. He's a closed chapter. Can't we please move on now?

Sincerely yours,
The Increasingly Unwillingly Obsessed