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Seeing you again was something. I’m going to admit right now that I don’t know quite what it was yet. Less awkward than I’d feared but still more than I’d hoped. Conversation kept rounding back towards the old, sweet memories, the moments that proved to us both that life was worthwhile. Your favorite day that year, you said. And I’d never thought of it that way, but now that I turn my memory towards it, I can’t think of one that tops it.

My mind rests in the grass and sunlight, the drive there, the food that just kept coming, the warmth and solidity of you, the way we sucked the pits out of the cherries we bought at a farm stand on the way home. My body leans towards yours naturally, unconsciously. There is awkwardness, but the underlying comfort of our mutual understanding, our long friendship, the bond and connection we still have begins to resurface. I am immeasurably glad to feel it again, to embrace you again, to feel finally, finally, that I can relax into this again.

I am nervous, still, however. I am afraid that you will ask of me more than I can give (though I know perfectly well that you won’t ask me for anything I wouldn’t willingly offer), I am afraid nonetheless, afraid of being careless and flirty and comfortable and seeming to offer what I am not offering. I suppose I shouldn’t be afraid of that with you; if anyone can read my true intentions in that context, it should be you. But there is comfort for me in you, in leaning on you, but it is a selfish comfort, I fear. Here’s the bottom if it, in honesty: I am afraid of fucking this up again.

The progress of it is funny: At this point, I’m trying not to try to change anything particularly in my behavior. Just notice. Attention, attention, attention, said the Zen master. And that is enlightenment. Or that’s the path. And, as far as I can tell, the only difference between the path to enlightenment and enlightenment itself is that you stop worrying about getting to enlightenment and just enjoy the walk. And once you lose yourself – find yourself – in the flowers and the passing clouds and the weight of your body in each step, the weariness of your legs and the smell of coming rain, then you’re there. Attention, attention, attention.

I am my aching back and bum knee, my arms and shoulders tense, my fingers moving, the light coming blue through the slatted blinds, the David Gilligan song playing in the background, well she came from California / the land that’s always seemed to me / the best of all there is to see // and she moved to Arizona / the place that sheds a light on / all the dreams we build our lives upon.

We listened to that song, twice over, a handful of friends, lying with our heads on each other’s stomachs. We had been talking and laughing and debating whether or not homosexuality is genetic or if it is a choice, had decided that we are born all of us somewhere on a continuum between masculine and feminine, attracted on a continuum to masculine or feminine attributes. The song came on, and the conversation lulled. It is beautiful, his voice and the guitar, and as it came to a close, you said, we need to hear that again. And from where we’d been sitting on the floor we all just curled up together, resting each an ear to another’s heart or belly, holding hands and closing eyes and just listening to the music. There was rain outside, and a strange, soft kind of intimacy born between us there. It is one of my favorite memories, already, and I asked him to copy me the CD so I could listen to it on the airplane and find that quiet friendly place again.

I find myself almost leery of music’s power to transport me, these days. To hear a single song and be moved back in time, in emotion, to suddenly find myself immersed in a memory and it is impossible to breathe, I’m buried in it, drowning. I don’t want to be pulled back into nostalgia and old heartbreak, don’t want memory to ambush me when I’m just trying to sing along. I been thinking for so long about what it’d be like to go West with you / through the desert to the sea // I been waiting and laughing and thinking about all the things on paper that we’ve planned out / I been hoping and drifting and at night I been dreaming of you writing down all the things we’d be needing // And I see West of me / A picture of what it really means to be free.

I’m just trying to be here, now. So leave me alone, you tricky memories, the shadows of old dreams. What will be will be, and there’s no point listening to sad love songs when there’s plenty of pathos to go around without them. That, or I can just lean back into it, let the strings and the drums and the vocal soarings take me back, let the physical sensation of memory take me over, the curling over of my shoulders to protect my heart, the curving in of my stomach to assuage the emptiness, the point of tight aching in my throat, just above the hollow between my collarbones. Let the emotional pain become the physical pain become the actual pain, and let myself really feel it, and then it can let itself go.

I am finding that a lot of the time, I don’t really want to be enlightened. I don’t want to do the work. Sitting on the floor is boring. It is. And I don’t want to do it. Being aware of my thoughts and actions, being aware of my motivations and my fears, that’s all tedious and dull and it takes time and effort and it’s boring. Letting go of my drama is going to take work, and then afterwards I won’t have any drama. And no matter what Joko says, I feel like I’ll be losing some of what’s me, that I’ll lose what makes me interesting. To whom? I’m afraid I’ll become boring to other people. Well.

It’s hard to let go of the drama, though. If I generate enough drama, enough mini crises and little tragedies and triumphs, then I am guaranteed to remain in the center of everything, because “everything” is made up of the little whirlwind of my personal soap opera: my inconsiderate boyfriend, my messy apartment, my paper due tomorrow, my insomnia, my raise. It’s all mine, all me, all the time, and if I’m honest, I like it that way. I talk about myself all the time. I’ve heard a saying: There is a difference between listening and just waiting for your turn to talk. And I think far more often than I like to admit, when I am trying to listen, I am really just waiting to speak. Even when I am concerned about the other person – when it is his broken heart or her lost dog – I am formulating the clever, sympathetic, perfect response in my head that will make him feel better: that will make him grateful to me for making him feel better.

What has happened since I’ve started this is that I begin to notice how often all my sentences begin with I. Which is okay: the only place I can come from is where I am, the only point of view I have is my own. Sentences that start with you aren’t any better: It is more honest to say, I get defensive when you imply that I’m incompetent, than it is to say, You are mean or, You make me angry. One thing I’ve learned is that my emotions don’t come from anyone else or any place else: they are mine. Jealousy isn’t about her, it’s about me, every time. And that’s true of anger, of sadness, even of pleasure and delight: He does not make me happy. I may find joy in who he is, in his company and his personality and even his body. I might associate him with good feelings, or feel comfortable around him because he doesn’t expect much from me or because I feel he’s already seen me at my worst. But he doesn’t make me anything: When he doesn’t call, he doesn’t make me angry or upset or sad, and when he does call he doesn’t make me happy. I make myself those things by attaching a judgment to his actions. When he doesn’t call, he doesn’t call. That’s the reality. My struggle is to accept that reality, just see it for what it is. He hasn’t called. Oh. If I don’t make myself unhappy about it, I won’t be unhappy. Oh.

That doesn’t mean that he isn’t important to me still, even though I’m afraid that that is what it means, or what it should. I can still want him to call, and care whether or not he does: I like talking with him, or I want to plan an evening, or (more likely) I want to be reassured of his interest in me and I want him to take some active step towards me so that I can feel more confident in my actions towards him. So when he doesn’t call, my brain comes up with a dozen reactions. He’s mad at me, he doesn’t like me, he doesn’t want to see me, he’s too busy for me, I’m not a priority in his life, I’m not important enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, I’m too moody, too angry, he’s insensitive, he never calls me, well I won’t call him, see how he likes it, but what if he doesn’t care, what if I’m not important to him, what if there’s someone else and on and on and on. But all that’s happened is he hasn’t called me. In truth, it doesn’t matter why. That doesn’t change the reality.

Ah, here’s another hitch: Which is more important, the intention or the action – the external or the internal world? Which is the reality? Certainly if he doesn’t call but he meant to, that doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t call. If I am angry and don’t express it, that doesn’t change the fact that I am angry. I suppose they’re both just my reality: In my world, he didn’t call and I am angry. In his world, perhaps, he wanted to call and I’m not angry, because I haven’t told him. Who is right? Which is true? Does it matter? I suppose it might not.

And to realize this: My drama is no more important than anyone else’s, which is to say: Not at all. It isn’t real. My mind, the little mind, creates a hundred little reactions to every actual event that actually happens, and those hundred little reactions aren’t really real. They only exist in my mind, as little jumps of electricity and chemical, sometimes attaching themselves to physical sensations in my body.

I don’t want to let them go. I don’t. I want to be safe and comfy in my little room full of pretty sparkly things that are all about me. Plus, its threatening to other people to begin to let go of my own melodrama. It makes you uncomfortable to have to look at the idea that personal drama, anybody’s personal drama, isn’t important. I could feel your resistance to it, to the idea that I might be letting go of this.

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