Monday emails are always a mixed bag.
Sometimes, they are reminders about upcoming bills you’re not sure you’ll even be able to afford that month. Occasionally, some marketing crap, making empty discounted promises, sneaks through the filters to clog an inbox already in a state of job hunting disarray. But well into the evening hours an unexpected reply hit a phone I had honestly been trying to avoid. Because it seemed like it was only full of rejections.
She said my recent writing “reminded her of…us.” And that scared the shit out of me. Even though it was just two little letters, they still carried a significance I haven’t yet fully mastered. And that left me feeling a long-forgotten panic as questions began to evolve.
It has been forever since I was anything other than a “me;” I’m not even sure I am still capable of carrying my half of an “us.” I worry that I’m too old. Too used up. Too worldly; or too flawed. Taking stock of my meager accomplishments left me painfully aware of just how little I would have to offer someone foolish enough to jump off any cliff with me.
And then I realized she obviously meant it within the context of friendship, that familiar zone of cliché in which I often find myself. “Us” would be too complicated–too…messy. It is a possibility I don’t think either of us are in a position to realistically entertain. Because it’s just too new. Too soon and too abrasive.
Her reply made me want to hide bashfully inside of parentheses. I was hesitant to throw down my usual semicoloned madness. Something about the way she writes makes *me* want to write…clean. No more self-destructive debauchery swallowed simply for the sake of chasing down another story to which few can actually relate. No more comfort sought inside of castaway, temporary hearts. Or superfluous words employed to hide and deflect the threat of my sharper edges.
I became overwhelmed with a strange mixture of confession and admiration. Attraction and curiosity. It bounced around inside my head as I bounced around inside a little blue house all through another flyover overnight.
Shortly before dawn cracked and began to spill out over the snow covered fields of dead corn, it started. The playlist shifted in a more introspective direction. My mind drifted in a direction unique enough to trigger sparks. And for once, it was not whiskey causing that warmth.
I began to wonder what she sounds like when she laughs. If she wrinkles up her nose when she’s focused intently on her art. What her perfume smells like. How she prefers her coffee in the morning. If I would ever be bold enough to kiss her. Or lucky enough to hold her hand while walking alongside the Kankakee.
All those complicating details, the ones responsible for creating bigger pictures, flooded into a lonely Indiana brain. People are so often fond of saying the devil is in the details. But I’ve always thought those tiny devils the most fundamental aspects of personality. Because they are nearly impossible to fake. And they are usually where the next good story is born.
Then I realized I was heading down an ill-advised road. And while I was relieved that for once it wasn’t the harsh unpredictability of a stark Indiana state road twisting me up, it was still significant enough to remind me to relax. And to slow the fuck down.
To just breathe. To graciously accept whatever possibility–however it happens. Because the important things in life can’t be forced. Or so callously manipulated. Sometimes, the best you can do from a whole state away is to patiently sit, trusting from a distance that the universe will make its play.
I may be old. There may be too many embarrassing manuscripts trailing behind me, detailing my many ridiculous adventures and cataloging my countless
sins flaws. And I may occasionally get a little accidental overnight drunk inside an expertly constructed blanket fort to hide from the world. But I do understand that the best things in this life are often the very ones worth waiting for.
So, that is what I will do. Just me and this damn typewriter. We will keep catching the stories. And watching the foxes romp in the snow outside my window. Passing the time, embracingly. Waiting expectantly for that next ridiculous adventure to reveal
Helplessly hoping, while wistfully pondering what magic might lie behind the light of green eyes…