I had an awful dream last night. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a nightmare–I could have mined it for story ideas. No, this bad dream was about something that actually happened.
Awhile ago, the only girl I’ve ever been in love with asked me to go away with her. She was going to grad school on the east coast. That whole last year together, she’d been dropping unsubtle offers for me to go with her. To her credit, she made the whole thing lighthearted. It would be awesome if you came with me. As if she was suggesting we get an ice cream sundae after dinner.
The incident in my dream transpired during one of our goofy–but absolutely perfect–conversations, this time about Method Man’s Release Yo Delf (she thought the song said “bitches by homicide!” which makes no sense. The actual line is “being chased by homicide”). And for the first time she pushed the issue. She really wanted me to come with her. She thought I could do well back east. I could further my education. Find a better job. And I could still work on my art.
I stood my ground.
I was going to San Diego. My favorite studio was there. My utterly stupid notion of an ideal life was there. Besides, I couldn’t leave California and my friends and my family and my life.
Of course it was none of those reasons at all that kept me from going with her. I didn’t go because I was an idiot. I was chickenshit. I took for granted how much I loved her. So I let the best thing that ever happened to me walk right out of my life. And now, my subconscious mind was rooting through that misery for reasons only Providence could possibly know (Damn to hell whatever it was that connected those dots, by the way).
I didn’t realize how serious she was about the move until she stopped trying to convince me. She had this exasperated look on her face. That’s the image that’s been stuck in my brain since I woke up. God, how could I have been so stupid?
We officially broke up about two weeks later. But the die had already been cast; from that day on, our relationship was palpably different. She was starting the process of letting go.
It seems that was about the time when my life kind of got…stuck. As far as relationships, I took my hat out of the ring. At first because of heartbreak. Then because it became comfortable to not take the risk. I mean, sure, I dabbled. But I’m an odd cookie. I’m black, but the world I live in is not. I know it doesn’t sound like a thing. Maybe it wasn’t. But in my head it was. I mean, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian…cleaned up they sort of jibe. But then there’s this 6-foot-4 black dude lumbering around in the mix; I would sometimes feel…out of place. Of course, neither of my brothers has a problem with that, so it probably was me. Still, I was living in a new city; I didn’t know a lot of people. And hitting on women cold has never been my forte. (I got laughed at once. Laughed at. Let that stew in your noodle a bit.) So i didn’t really go out all that much. I’ve never been the rock out with your cock out type. Unless we’re talking pancakes, I typically favor quality over quantity, particularly with interpersonal relationships. And I’m not a toad, but unless it’s the DMV, I’m rarely the best looking guy in the room. I’ve never really made a lot of money, had particularly cool jobs, nice cars, or “dripped swag.”
To top it off, I’ve been raised almost exclusively by women, so I have a great deal of respect for women, which means I’m a nice guy, which I have learned–the hard way–is poison to the romantic interest of the vast majority of women. I’m talking forever friendzoned.
While we’re running the litany, I’m prone to bouts of depression. They don’t necessarily manifest as sadness so much as withdrawal from social interaction. Sometimes months go by when I feel wholly disinterested in doing anything. Oh, and I have a potentially fatal heart condition. I don’t smoke, don’t drink, and I have never taken an illicit drug in my life. But I do love junk food. I wouldn’t say it’s killed me, but it definitely has it’s hooks in. If I was betting on which way I’m gonna go, I’m putting the house on the ticker.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’ve had a bad life or anything. I don’t seek pity (before now). I’m not waiting for death. In fact, I find that entire mindset absurd and counterproductive.
I have plenty of amazing people in my life who love me and care about my well being. I’ve typically been well liked and well respected by most of the people with whom I’ve interacted. My passions are writing and drawing and I do one or the other pretty much every day. And I have had relationships…just fewer than I would like (I’m probably with the majority in that regard). I’ve even been in love. Requited love. I fully expect the day will come when I earn my entire living with my art. I don’t believe in soul mates or anything but I know there are people out there with whom I’m compatible. I just have to get re-acclimated with putting myself out there. A la George Costanza, I’m like a commercial jingle (do they have those anymore?); initially I may go unnoticed, I might even be annoying, but you’ll be humming my tune by the end of the day.
I’m perpetually optimistic. I mean, it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. You’re stuck with what you’ve got. You can spend your time getting worked up about your circumstances or you can try to make things better. Tomorrow’s coming either way. It’s like that quote that says something along the lines of, optimists are realist; they know how bad a place the world can be. It’s pessimists who keep relearning it every day…or something to that effect. Personally, I think optimism, when applied, looks a lot like determination; and as an ideal, it’s the next best thing to happiness.
Anyway, my point, at the beginning of all this, was about my dream about this girl I loved and how my life would have been profoundly different if I would have just gone away with her. Would it have been better? Possibly. Okay, probably. But perfect? Obviously not.
I was just haunted by the vividness of that look on her face. It dredged up every bad thing that’s happened in my life since. I had to vent. But even as I thought about the bad stuff, I started thinking about the good. That says something, right?