A blog about whatever randomosity my fevered mind conceives.

Posts tagged “change

Brought to you by the letter ‘C’…

I know I’m not the only person that does this (I know, because I’ve heard others talk about it before) but when I look back – think back – on my life, there are soundtracks playing over the memories. For example, when I think about the first apartment that I ever shared with Zed – a crappy little place that was only made wonderful by the blindness of new love – there is a never ending stream of Alanis Morissette, Jewel (yes, I had a Jewel and Alanis fad, sue me), Tupac and Oasis songs playing in the background. When I think about hanging out with my cousin (and best friend once upon a time) as a kid,  there are always Corey Hart and New Kids on the Block songs playing over the mental images. Okay, admitting to the N.K.O.T.B. thing is way worse then Jewel and/or Alanis, especially if I tack on a confession about having once even attended one of their concerts, but c’mon, I was only 13! I’m not even going to talk about how I once owned a Joey McIntyre doll, or how I wore a fedora for an entire summer; that’s just way too embarrassing. Anyway, so not the point…  

The point is that when I started thinking about the letter ‘C’ in relation to music, my brain went into overdrive as it tossed out title after bloody title. I’ve been up since six (it’s eight-thirty now) sorting computer files (still working on that, but haven’t had enough time to devote to it yet, so it’s been a REALLY slow process) listening to nothing but ‘C’ songs. Yes, I’m weird… it is what it is.

One of the first songs that came rushing back with a landside of memories was ‘Change’ by ‘Blind Melon’. I have heard this song preformed by a number of different artists, and I have always loved it, but there was a time when it was practically my anthem. When I was struggling to find my way back through the looking glass, I must have listened to this song a million and a half times. I found so much wisdom in the lyrics;

I don’t feel the suns comin’ out today
its staying in, its gonna find another way.
As I sit here in this misery, I don’t
think I’ll ever see the sun from here.
And oh as I fade away,
they’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say,
Hey look at him! I’ll never live that way.
But that’s okay
they’re just afraid to change.
When you feel your life ain’t worth living
you’ve got to stand up and
take a look around you then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.
And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
some ways will work and other ways we’ll play.
But I know we all can’t stay here forever,
so I want to write my words on the face of today.
and then they’ll paint it
And oh as I fade away,
they’ll all look at me and they’ll say,
Hey look at him and where he is these days.
When life is hard, you have to change.

; and it inspired me to keep moving forward, no matter what.

People tend to discern different meanings in different songs, but for me this always served as a reminder that I had no choice but to change; to grow, to be a better me. Anyone that has ever gone through a period of deep personal growth can attest to the fact that others in your life don’t (generally) appreciate the change. At every corner they seem to rebel against it, making it (at times) much more difficult to alter your life. Whenever I felt that was the case in my world, I would listen to this song over and over again, reminding myself that I was the ONLY person I had to appease; I was the only one that would be stuck with ‘me’ until my days ran out, so living for others – or to fit into the bubble that others want to stuff me in – was a ridiculous way to live. Yes, this was one of the songs playing when my #1 life philosophy was born; I am the ruler of my own universe.  

Change – Blind Melon 

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Day 30: A letter to yourself; tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself…

Dear Robin,

Do you remember once upon a not that long ago, when you used to believe people were incapable of real change? Ah, it’s almost sweet when we sit back and take stock of all the things we’ve been wrong about over the years, isn’t it? I mean, you used to believe that you were defined by your inner turmoil, but look at you now; living a life devoid of angst and doing a pretty decent job at it if I do say so myself. It’s interesting to see you that you’ve managed to become so conscious of yourself, whereas you used to just be self-conscious. Who could have guessed that there was a difference, right? Ah, but you know yourself better than most will ever hope to, and you rarely ever hide from the truths anymore, even when they’re less than flattering. Times sure have changed, haven’t they?

I love that you’ve learned to accept yourself; that you no longer try to be anyone other than you. I remember a time when you wanted to change everything; your appearance, your feelings, you surroundings; but you didn’t know how to escape. These days you’re not even running, and it’s nice to see you take a break.

I love that you’re not sad anymore; that you smile from your heart and not from some strange need to cover up what you’re really feeling. There was a time when I thought you would die without a single person ever really knowing you, but I no longer have to worry about that. I love your laughter – even when you giggle snort – and the honest ring I hear in it. I love that you do it so often and so loud and that you don’t seem to give a damn who might be looking at you like you’re a lunatic.

By the way… have I ever told you that you’re about the nuttiest sane person I’ve even known? It’s true – you are – and I love the way that doesn’t even faze you; I love that you’re probably grinning about that right now. I love it when you sing out loud at the top of your voice and then wink at the stranger watching you from across the street like you’ve lost your fool mind. I love that you’ll break out dancing in the middle of a public place just to brighten someone’s mood. I love that you’re the first one to volunteer to do embarrassing things, and the last one to hide away from looking like a clown… so long as there’s fun to be had in it. I remember a time when you were so busy trying to make it look like you had it altogether that acting a little silly was the last thing you were ever like to do. Funny though, isn’t it, that you’ve gotten your head so neatly together that appearing insane can amuse the hell out of you, but back when you were actually losing it, you were so concentrated on looking sane.

I love that you’re not angry anymore. I think that was one of the hardest things for me to witness; the way you grew so bitter – and even a little cruel – during the initial stages of your metamorphosis. I see now that it was just something you needed to do; getting angry and fighting back was necessary at the time; but I was worried it was going to be a lasting thing, and so I’m quite pleased to see it didn’t stick. I’m glad you decided to let all that rage go, the baggage was getting too heavy anyway, and so long as you were holding on to past trespasses against you, there was no way you could really find happiness in the moment. I’m glad too that you made your amends with those you wronged along the way; I know who you are deep down inside and I think the guilt would have gotten to you if you hadn’t.

I love that you don’t let your fear stop you anymore. I remember watching you shy away from so many things over the years, and now I’m proud to say that just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I still get the creepy crawlies from some of weird shit you’ve done to prove you’re your own master – ugh, remember that damn tarantula? That was gross! – but I’m proud of you just the same. It’s a big wide world out there my friend, and life is short… might as well get in as much living as you can, while you can. Do me a favour though? Don’t go swimming with sharks; there’s laughing in the face of your fear and then there’s just plain insanity… remember; you like living!

I love that you’re a good mommy. I recall you saying that you’d never have children because you were too afraid of fucking them up; I remember how you once completely believed that the chains of abuse couldn’t be broken, but this was just one more thing you turned out to be wrong about, wasn’t it? I have a lot of respect for the way you are with your kids – I know you sometimes worry about your parenting skills, but I don’t. Love is the key, kiddo, and you always have plenty of it to give. All those little tough moments; oh and you’re soon to delve into the teen years, so believe me, the tough times are coming; won’t be so bad if you just stay on course.

I love the way that you’re always looking out for other people, but what I love most is that – these days – you remember to look out for yourself too. I love the way that you love. Back when you used to hate yourself, you only thought you were giving your whole heart, but I’ve seen the truth of it for some time now. It was only by learning to appreciate yourself that you really freed yourself up inside enough to give proper adoration to those you care about, and it was only through learning to respect yourself that you learned to command the respect and loyalty of others.

I love that you don’t see the world the same way as other people, but that you try so hard to accept everyone for who and what they are, despite your differences. I think that’s a pretty decent quality in a person.

I love that when you daydream, you cast yourself as the warrior, the dragon, the queen… you can’t even imagine yourself as the damsel or the victim or the prey anymore, and I find that kind of cool. I love too that in the real world, you refuse to back down. I love that you’ll stand and fight for what you believe in.

I love that you acknowledge that wedge of darkness that’s still within you, but that you don’t shy away from it, deny it or try to hide it. You are who you are sweetheart; just roll with it. You’ve lived enough of a life to have earned that little patch of darkness, and screw anyone who says otherwise. Remember that without darkness, light will never seem half so brilliant; two sides to every coin… Who cares if some see you as a sinner and others as a saint – you know you’re both.

I love that you can be funny and serious, deep and shallow, humble and narcissistic, whorish and virginal, patient and impatient, evil and innocent, submissive and dominant, kindly and devious, childish and mature, optimistic and pessimistic, ignorant and wise, sweet and sour… and all the other things that you sometimes are. Yes, I might not come right out and say it near as often as I should, but I do love you; never forget that, my friend.

Now, while I’d love to stay and chat the day away, there are things to do and people to see. Until next time, just keep being you, and stay one of a kind.

Love always and forever,

~Robin~


Challenge Day 29: Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.

There are a few things I’m still working to change about myself, and I think we’ve already touched on the majority of those things in previous challenge posts. Still, I’ll try to answer this one as though it’s a fresh concept. The two main things I’d like to change about myself go rather hand in hand (at least in my mind) so instead of one, we’ll explore the two…

The first is my level of education; I really want to raise this bar. Every time I become interested in something I will learn all I can about it (at least while the obsession lasts) and I’ve managed to teach myself quite a few interesting little things over the years, but I’m one of those people that craves feedback. Not validation exactly, but comment, criticism and advice help to focus my attentions on things I may not even be aware of doing wrong. In order to hone my skills (with most things) I need to be able to see what I’m doing through someone else’s eyes, thus, I feel there are limitations on how far I’m capable of taking myself along the path to enlightenment.

I can’t help feeling like being a part of a class; having assignments, discussions, and someone with far greater wisdom than my own on hand to point me in the right direction; would be incredibly beneficial. At this moment in time, going back to school really isn’t a viable option for me, but no worries though… I am planning on going back soon, perhaps even this coming fall if things work out.

The second thing I’d like to change about myself – and I can’t help but feel that further education would help in this second goal – is in relation to my inner-writer…

I have been scribbling down songs, poetry and stories since I learned to write – no exaggeration – and yet, it is really only in the last couple of years that I’ve even begun to call myself a writer. I always thought giving myself that title was a little pretentious, especially since I’ve not had (or even tried to have) a thing published since my mid teens. The thing I need to change on this note is really in regards to my own insecurities; how can you ever hope to accomplish something if you never try?

Now I really don’t know if I even have the skills to turn my passion into a pay check. Perhaps the universe has played yet another prank on me by giving me more desire than talent, but until I actually try to achieve my goals in this matter, I can’t really know for sure. I hate to admit this, but part of my hesitation might be coming from the fact that if I never try, I can never fail, and thus, the hope remains alive. Oh, don’t look at me like that! I know just how ridiculous the thought is!  

As I’ve pointed out (several times already), my inner-writer is a coward. Since the greater part my personality was once quite cowardly as well, I know a little bit about what it takes to get over and around fear; it’s got a lot to do with being just a little more stubborn than you are afraid, and I am nothing if not stubborn. I am working towards something, even if I’m taking all the back roads on the way to my destination point.   

You guys – whether you’re aware of it or not – are one of the greatest tools I’m utilizing in an attempt to get over my insecurities about my writing. This might seem a little strange since I don’t post my real work on this blog. I am not a poet (at least not intentionally) and I’m not really a short story writer or an essayist either; I am a novelist, or more so a wannabe novelist. Still, the bits and pieces I share with you fine folks is all about baby steps; one foot in front of another will always move you forward, even if it is at a snail’s pace.

Sharing with you guys is step one, and (obviously) this is where I am right now.  Step two is sharing more with the people in my really-real world; and this is something I’ve actually started doing a little more often since starting this blog, and this gives me a little more hope for my inner-writer’s abilities to adapt and grow. Step three will be sending off some of my short stories in the attempt to have them published; I’m so not there yet; and step four will rely a lot on my experience with step three, and involves an effort to find a publisher for my book(s).

There are a few other baby-baby steps I’m considering at this point in time to help make the transition between strides seem a little less daunting. I’ve been playing with the idea of doing a coffee table photo-poetry book with my sister (not the one we’ve been calling Jade, but my older half-sister; she’s a rather talented (I don’t think I’m being biased here) photographer). I almost did a project like this with an old friend of mine, but he was even more unfocused than I am. Since I don’t take my poetry very seriously, this mini-step doesn’t even seem scary, but more so interesting. I’ll let you know how the idea progresses.

Another baby-baby step I’m considering right now is working with a freelance writing company. I’m a little worried about how much time this could steal away from fiction writing (which is my passion) but at least it would mean getting paid for doing what I so much love doing; writing; and it might be a step in the right direction. Last night my girlfriend pointed out that it would be like starting in the mailroom when you’re really aiming for the executive position; it’s a start. I saw a lot of sense in what she had to say on the matter, but I’m still locked in an eternal debate about the merits/disadvantages in this course of action. Again, I’ll let you know how the idea progresses.  

So yes, there are still things that I would like to change about myself, but the good news is that most of them are within in reasonable reaching distance, and I am making an effort. So long as I’m not standing still or – worse – going backwards, I am optimistic about achieving all of my goals in this life.


Battered

Battered and bruised

Tired and used

She confronts the face in the mirror.

Alone and afraid

Her misery splayed

Her madness draws constantly nearer.

Too many years

A river of tears

And nothing has changed but her heart.

Her infant cries

A piece of her dies

Her soul’s being torn apart.

She’s clouded in doubt

Her time’s running out

It’s a battle to get through each day.

In the world all alone

Her house not a home

But a prison that locks her away.

If she doesn’t go now

And find a way how

She will never escape at all.

His anger will reign

She’ll suffer the pain

And through nightmares she’ll continue crawl.

With her feet on the floor

And her bags by the door

She has endured the final attack.

It’s time to move on;

To get herself gone;

And she knows that she’ll never look back.


That old time rock ‘n’ roll…

In my part of the world, Saturday’s just getting started. The house is filled with that delicious aroma of fresh brewed coffee, the dog’s just been let outside – after doing her customary dance to let me know she doesn’t care much for my sleeping in – and the sky beyond my kitchen window is splashed pink and orange as the sun stretches out its rays with a yawn to say, “Good morning”.

Just a handful of minutes earlier – blurry-eyed and still half asleep – I stumbled over to my desk, plunked my butt down in my incredibly cushy chair, flicked on the monitor, took one look at the plethora of windows – mostly Microsoft Word – open on my desk top, shook my head and turned on my music. I had every intention in the world of sitting here in my private little bubble, sipping coffee with my eyes closed, just enjoying the tunes until the household came to life around me.

The first song to reach out to me was a number from Sia; nice, calm and perfect early morning ambience. The second song was a ditty from Amy Winehouse – quick tap of the skip key – and then Bob Seger bellows out at me, “Just take those old records off the shelf…” and this urges me – no; commands me – to open a fresh new page and start ticking away.  

Ah, and I do so love music; I love fast music, slow music, sad music, angry music, happy music, music with a good base, music with a soft lull, music with that great acoustic sound and music that gets inside and moves my feet even when I didn’t know I wanted to dance…; I love it all, but – in many ways – nothing will ever beat that old time rock ‘n’ roll.

Some of the best memories I have of being a kid played out with a soundtrack of Bob Seger, CCR, the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon, the Steve Miller Band, The Who, Jefferson airplane, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mack, The Doors…. and oh-so-many more… and I’ve never stopped loving (or listening to) each and every single one of them. Yes, I get a thrill when I find new music; I’m always on the hunt for something fresh and original with the power to stimulate me; but I never forget my old friends.

You see, music holds magic for me… There are songs that have the power to bring me back to moments, and full ages in time in a way that no photograph ever could. While there are plenty of memories from my youth that I could happily live without, the ones with music are not amongst those I’d be willing to part with.

In my house – as a kid – when the music was playing, no one was yelling. When the music blared, there was no violence, no crying, no fear… those were the happy times. Those were the moments when my mother smiled and danced… the moments that me and my siblings felt like real children, and the moments that served as balance in my life long before I understood just how important balance was. Those moments were likely the reason that music would eventually grow into being such a vital part of my life…

And I’m not exaggerating when I say that music is (vastly) important to me… or that it has been for a very long time. In my basement (should you choose to look) you’d find a collection of more than 300 records (for you younger folks, those were like huge, vinyl CDs :P) even though I haven’t had a working turntable since I was maybe twenty or so. You’d also find boxes (many of them) filled with old cassette tapes and CDs, and even a box full of old Walkmans and a cute little, pink cassette player with New Kids on the Block stickers plastered across it’s face…. things I continue to drag around with me even though their purpose has been extinguished by the dawn of the digital age.

These days, I’m all about the digital… but who isn’t, right? The only thing that would cause me as much personal damage as losing my years of writing would be losing my collection of music; this is why I do backups in triplicate.

Currently I have a collection of music that borders on the insane. I have all those bands that they like to overplay on the radio, I have artists that a great many people have never even heard of, and genres you’d likely never find mingling together anywhere else. It’s not a rarity to find me listening to a collection of show tunes while cleaning house, or listening to Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Bach or Chopin with my eyes closed and a pen poised over a piece of paper while I wait to be slapped in  the face by inspiration. I’m the kind of person that likes to crank their tunes and sing along, dancing around my house – all alone if need be – and it doesn’t matter much who’s around to witness it. On those rare occasions that I get caught out and about without portable music, I’ll sing to myself… this often garners me funny looks, but more often I get smiles.

Unless I’m in a specific mood, I let my whole list play on a continuous shuffle so 2Pac is followed by Blind Melon who’s followed by Bob Marley who’s followed by Journey who’s followed by Marilyn Manson who’s followed by Johnny Cash who’s followed by Garth Brooks, Megadeth, Nirvana, Pink, Yukari Tamura, Juliette Lewis, AC/DC… ah, and then there’s always that old time rock ‘n’ roll, and no matter how old I get, or how much my life changes, this music gets down deep inside and makes me sing. It makes me dance (while still sitting in this case) with a huge grin on my face. It touches a place inside me that I’d otherwise believe extinct, but does it in such a positive way that I’m thrilled to know it lives on. Yes, it is a direct link to my youth and innocence, and those early moments of my life that I like to revisit.

I just thought I’d share.   


Challenge Day 12: Something you never get compliments on…

I don’t know if it’s just the way my mind is working this afternoon or what… but this prompt seems just a little vague. I mean, I never get complimented on my blue eyes or blonde hair… I never get complimented on my Martha-Stewart-Like domestic skills or my flawless level-headedness… Obviously there are a lot of things I never get compliments on, and likely never will. This leads me to believe that the prompt wants me to discuss something I don’t harvest praise for, even though I sow the seeds in the expectation of admiration.

Really? Oy vey!

Okay folks, we’ve been stumbling together down the path of my past since nearly the first moment I struck fingers against keys in an attempt to create this page. Those of you who’ve been paying attention so far have likely heard me (read me) compare myself (my personality) to being like that of a coin; there are two sides to coin that may be entirely different, but have found someway to coexist. This whole challenge prompt just brings up more of that for me.

By now it’s likely clear that I have moments of aggravating narcissism twined together with flashes of utter (and I’d like to think charming :P) vulnerability. You may have even said to yourself, “Self – there’s no way this chickadee is like this in person… someone would have her committed”. I would then have to assure you that my apparent split personality disorder is something that’s obvious (to those who know me best, at any rate) in the really-real world, but as far as I know, no one’s fitting me for a straightjacket just yet.

These divisions in my character, I believe, are the result of what happened when – after I fell apart – I reconstructed my person from bits of scraps and second-hand parts. If you’ve ever rebuilt an old car from the ground up, you might have found that while the engine now purrs like a kitten, there’s still a strange rattling in the heater vents. That’s me… I run pretty smooth these days, but there’s still a few strange rattles that will never entirely go away.

Now, when I was younger I used shy away from compliments; I needed validation, but compliments made me… I want to say anxious but that’s not quite the right sentiment… let’s go with uneasy; and I had this way of never meeting a compliment head on. Someone would say something like, “You have pretty hair,” and I’d respond with, “I was thinking of shaving it to see if I could pull off the Sinead O’Connor.” Yes, badly constructed jokes (that nearly no one got) was my way of meeting praise.

These days – now that I’ve got my grown up pants on – I’m a little less uncomfortable with compliments, but I still (often) either avoid responding to compliments directly or use my slightly off-brand humour to blow past them. They don’t make me as uncomfortable anymore, I’ve just never really learned how to properly accept (and in some cases, trust) them.

You see, I no longer need validation (when it comes to most things – writing not included) and I don’t sit around making mental lists of what people do or don’t praise me for. That’s what made today’s prompt seem almost impossible to answer directly. However, as I’ve sat here babble-typing, I’ve come to realize (about two seconds ago) that there is something I’d kind of like to get credit for, and that’s my ability to adapt. Once upon a not that long ago, I did not possess this ability, you see; change scared the ever living shit out of me. Big and tiny alterations alike were something I went out of my way to avoid; I neglected software updates on my computer just because it caused me mild anxiety to have to adjust to even the slightest difference in the way things worked and/or appeared – that’s how bad it was. I’ve gotten over that – for the most part – (though I still often neglect computer maintenance because it interferes with things I’d rather be doing) and I’ve learned to embrace rather than avoid change. I personally think this development is pretty damn cool… but no one’s ever complimented me on it. To be realistic, I never expect people to praise me on this… hell, 95% of the people in my day-to-day life never even met the person I used to be, so how could they even guess at the person I once was and draw distinctions?

They can’t… but I can, and since I’m able to see what they don’t, I think the only logical thing to do now is to give myself a pat on the back and say, “Well met, ol’ chap!”


Jay

“You look exactly the same,” he says.

It’s been a third of a lifetime since we last seen each other. Physically, he’s changed a lot but it takes me barely a moment to conclude that the changes are only skin deep. He smiles and gives me a little wink – that deadly combo that used to be my own private kryptonite – and I’m more than a little pleased to find that it’s lost its potency.

I smile a secret little self-satisfied smile and he mistakes my expression as evidence that I’m still susceptible to his charms. He takes a confidant half-step towards me, reaches out to put his hand on my arm – he always did like to establish contact early – and says, “You really do look great.”

It’s been a third of a lifetime since we last seen each other. Physically, I know I’ve changed some, but deep down – where it counts – I’m an entirely different person. I don’t tell him this, or any of the dozen or so other witty remarks that suddenly pop into my mind. Instead I let my smile widen slightly and say, “It’s good to see you Jay.” It’s a lie. A mutual friend warned me that he was in town and had been asking about me and I’d been hoping to avoid him. I wouldn’t have even come to the party if I’d known he’d be here since I worried that some small part of me would still be hung up on the guy.

First love is one hell of an addiction to beat.

But there we were, face to face, and I felt nothing of that old obsession. There is a part of me – the responsible, no-drama-allowed part – that tells me it’s time to say ‘goodbye’ and slip away. There’s another part of me however – some horribly wicked part – that senses sport on the horizon; she wants to play.

I’m aware of a lot of eyes on us in that moment; people love a good scene after all; but I’m not overly concerned by the interest. There was a time when I used to daydream about this – about a reunion with Jay – and in at least a few of those fantasies I would paint an epic scene that would have made all the little drama mongers gape in awe. That time has passed however, and at the moment I’m just sort of playing things by ear.

Jay suggests we find somewhere a little quieter to chat. He wants to talk, and though I’m not overly interested in what he has to say, the wicked little imp within, is. We end up settling on a couple of lawn chairs on the back deck. There’s a few people lingering about, but none of them are aware of our past and so we are of little interest them.

Jay’s sipping some foreign beer from a bottle and I’m nursing a Mojito. I’m intentionally drawing to his attention to my mouth every time I brush the straw with the tip of my tongue or lick my lips. There are about a million subtle little things that a woman can do to tease a man’s interest, and though I’m not typically big on playing games, for some reason I can’t seem to stop myself tonight.

As Jay talks about his life since we last knew each other, I’m feigning undying interest. I keep looking up at him from under my lashes, smiling shyly, laughing at all the right moments, demurely reaching out time and again to briefly touch him – all those little things that I remember he used to like so much. And he’s responding – I can tell – though he doesn’t seem to suspect that I’m doing any of this on purpose.

He tells me about his failed marriage – I’m not shocked to learn it was his penchant for infidelity that brought it to an end – and I’m careful to select the appropriately empathetic words when he looks to me for comment. I frown sadly when it seems fitting, and lay a reassuring hand over his now and then because it seems to be what he wants.

At one point, I think I see something like vulnerability in his eyes and the more rational part of me almost regains control. Then he switches topics rather abruptly. “Hey,” he says. “Do you remember that time we made out under the stage at the Dayglo concert?”

I remember leaving the concert after catching Jay making out with that weird Star Trek girl we went to school with… that’s enough to get the imp back in the game.

“I remember,” I purr.

Clearly satisfied with himself – and completely unaware of his error – he sits up and swallows down the rest of his beer in a single gulp. Knowing his eyes are fixed on me – but pretending not to notice – I wrap my tongue around the tip of my straw and draw it into my mouth. When the drink’s gone, I slowly stretch and take off my sweater. Underneath I’m wearing a rather tightly fitting top with a plunging neckline – I really hadn’t intended on wearing it without the sweater, but Jay was always a big fan of cleavage and the imp wants to make sure he’s paying apt attention.

There’s no questioning where his eyes are focused when I look back at him, but he has the decency to glance away and then quickly excuses himself in order to get us a couple more drinks.

While he’s gone, I’m trying to figure out what exactly it is that I’m up to. I’m not attracted to him anymore and I certainly don’t want to sleep with the guy. I’m not even angry with him after all this time – or so I think – so getting him all hot and bothered before saying ‘dasvidania’ seems a little peculiar, even for me.

I’m still no closer to discovering my motives when he returns. He hands me my drink and adjusts his chair so that he’s sitting directly in front of me. He sits and gives me another of the old one-two combo; the smile and the wink; and again I thrill at the knowledge that it does nothing for me. Still, I smile back a little coyly before taking a sip from my straw; for whatever reason, I’m going out of my way to make him think his charm still works; maybe I just want a chance to reject him even if settling the old score doesn’t make a lot of sense.

We chat idly for a time – he does most of the talking like he did back in the day and I’m glad for it; I really don’t have a lot to say to him. After awhile he glances around to make sure no one is in earshot and says, “I have a confession to make.”

My sensible side cautions that this could be very bad, but the imp insists that this could be absolutely perfect. I’m not sure who’s at the wheel exactly, but I smile a little nervously and motion for him to continue.

“I came here to find you.” He says. He’s gotten extremely serious all of a sudden, and his voice has dropped a couple of decibels. “I don’t just mean the party… I mean I came to town to find you.”

My initial response to this admission is mistrust. Jay was always proficient in the ways of charming women; I know, because I used to fall for it time and again. Of course, that was then and this now; now I’m nothing if not proficient in detecting bullshit, even if he doesn’t yet know that. Still, I’m not really sure how to respond.

He says, “I owe you so many apologies, for so many things. I was such a fuck up. I was going through a lot of shit, but that’s a lousy fucking excuse for what I put you through. When I left, I really… I really believed that you’d be better off without me in your life.” There’s that flash of vulnerability in his eyes again. “There hasn’t been a day of my life when I haven’t thought about you, y’know?”

There was a time when I would have given anything to hear him say these things, but now his words serve only to fill me with guilt and annoyance. I hate guilt, and I thought I was long past being annoyed by this man. All at once I don’t care what the imp wants or doesn’t want; I should have listened to my sensible side from the start. I foresee myself now on the verge of something I’m pretty certain I want nothing to do with, and even the imp seems to have lost interest in whatever game she’s been playing at.

I desperately just want out the situation.

I stand up – pausing briefly to put my hand on his shoulder – and say, “I forgive you Jay” and than I start towards the back steps. He catches me before I reach the stairs and turns me around to face him. “Please, hear me out.”

I don’t like myself very much in this moment, and I definitely don’t want to hear what he has to say, but I stop anyway.

“My whole life, I’ve treated women like shit. I never mean to do it, I don’t know why I do it, but I know I’m a complete asshole. Maybe I’m more like my old man than I’d like to admit, but I don’t want to be that guy anymore.” He seems to be struggling to get the words out, and I can’t help feeling that he’s being sincere. “After my ex kicked me out last year, I started thinking about everything I’ve ever done to hurt the people in my life. I really have fucked up a lot of shit… I’m truly sorry for a lot of what I’ve done… but I have never regretted anything more than I regret hurting you.” He heaves a long suffering sigh and adds, “I really did love you, y’know?”

“Jay,” I say as calmly as I can muster. I’m bordering on the release of a dangerous storm of old emotion and I want to be away before it breaks. “I really don’t want to do this, okay? I forgive you. It’s done. All right?”

The look that’s painted on his face is not one he’d been capable of back in the glory days of our youth. No matter how many times he came back to me pleading for another chance – not even when he forced himself to shed a few tears for emphasis – he’d never had this look. I could handle him still being the whore he’d always been, I could handle him wanting nothing to do with me at all – I’d made peace with that a very long time ago – but I couldn’t handle this. I didn’t know how to handle this.

“Please,” he says, and his voice has a quaver in it. “Please, just consider giving me another chance.”

Some strange mating of anger and exasperation sweep through me the moment he utters the words “another chance”. If he’d chosen any others I might have been able to hold it back, but he didn’t. “Go to hell Jay,” I growl. “I don’t need this.” I twist out of his grip and start down the steps.

He matches my speed on the descent, and just as I reach the grass he grips me by the shoulders and turns me be back to face him again. “Don’t do this,” he begs. “Don’t go. We could start again from scratch. We were meant to be together.”

That does it. “Fuck you Jay!” I twist out of his grip again and take two steps back, scowling at him. “We were kids Jay… that was a long time ago. Did you think you could come back after all this time and we’d… what? We’d just pick up where we left off? We’d just wonder off into the sunset together and have some sort of fucked up happy ending?”

His head hangs –defeated – his voice is low; almost a whisper. “I just thought… I thought we’d get the opportunity to find out if we could have a happy ending.”

I gape at him.

“I loved you, y’know.” He says it so plainly this time that it seems to lend strength to the words.

I’m trembling slightly and I know my eyes are wild, but I can’t yet seem to regain control. Every word he says just serves to further irritate me. So much for ever getting over your past, I think somewhat bitterly. To him I say, “You never even knew me Jay. How the fuck can you say you loved what you didn’t know?”

He’s shaking his head in denial as he says, “I did. I knew you, and I loved you… even if I did fuck it all up.”

I’m wondering how – even after all this time – I’m still foolish enough to get myself into an emotional showdown with this man, but in the same instance I’m realizing that this is the first time I’ve walked into the battle properly armed. I take a few deep breaths and say, “Jay, I don’t even think you know what love is.”

He looks into my eyes, his face twisted with pain. I don’t doubt that part is real. He says, “I know exactly what love is. I’ve spent enough years running away from it and screwing it up to know it better than anyone.”

“Maybe you do,” I say. “Maybe you don’t. I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

“You do care,” he says stubbornly. “I loved you, and you loved me. I still love you… I’ve never stopped loving you.”

“I… never… loved… you.” It’s hard to get the words out, but I’m relieved to hear the truth buried in them.

“Yes you did,” he insists. “Do you remember that last thing you ever said to me?”

I do, but I don’t answer.

“You said that you knew we would end up spending our lives together. You said that you would always love me.” His eyes glisten with unshed tears. “You said that you’d wait for me forever.”

I nod slightly – more to myself than to him – and a strange calm washes through me as I pass from under the eye of the storm. I step towards him, embrace him gently and brush a soft kiss along his jaw line as I whisper in his ear, “Forever turned out to be too long.” I turn away and walk out of his life forever.

It’s been a third of a lifetime since we last seen each other. Physically, we’ve both seen some changes, but deep down – where it counts – we’re entirely different people. I’m happy and I love my life; he’s miserable and regretting his. I hadn’t even realized that I still craved closure from my time with Jay, though it seems my inner imp did. He doesn’t know it, but he’s just given me an incredible gift. I hope he’s able to keep growing, and I sincerely hope that one day he finds contentment… but Jay will never find it with me; I’ve finally realized that he no longer owns real-estate in even the most secreted corners of my heart.