Back where it all started, again.
It's been, what, eleven years?--and a couple of days--since I launched this thing. And I am actually back where it all began, in some literal ways and also a metaphysical one or two. Has anything changed? During these eleven years...
I've used, as far as I can recall, a Gateway desktop, a Gateway laptop, an Apple desktop, a Dell laptop, and now a MacBook to write the bulk of this, with various begged, borrowed, and rented (via library) computers along the way.
I've written from at least five states.
I've lived in a house that I owned, an apartment that I was going to rent but didn't, an apartment that I rented (for seven years), a duplex that I rented (for twelve days), a townhouse that I rented for two years, a condo in which I was a guest for eighteen months, and now a house in which I am a guest (i.e. family) for two months so far.
I've been unemployed--by which I mean employed less than full time--for exactly two days.
I've owned two cars, outright (one of which was bought and paid within that time).
I've had three acquaintances which could be legitimately described as "boyfriends."
I've read, on average, 80 books per year, of which a good 20 were probably re-reads.
I've taken three "real" vacations: a week-plus in Norman, OK; a long weekend in Dallas, TX; and six days in Los Angeles, CA.
I've been fat, and sort of skinny, and a little heavier, and then really thin, and now a little curvier again.
I've had short hair and long hair and blond hair and dark, and red and streaked and highlighted and curly and straight hair.
I've somehow acquired a whole lot of sandals, monochromatic shirts, and expensive jewelry.
I've lost three uncles and three good friends to deaths that were, however "expected," sorrowful and devastating.
One of those friends was the person about whom I wrote in my very first blog post, "The First of Many." 619 Main Street was his apartment when we first knew each other. He was a classmate, and then a crush, and then a boyfriend. And then he was, very abruptly, an Ex-Boyfriend, when the truth came out; he was engaged to someone else and seeing me on the side. Although he wanted to talk about it--insisted on talking about it, came to my apartment, called me at home and at work--I refused. I was hurt and sad and angry. I was also eighteen years old and just plain humiliated, and incapable of getting over the deception long enough to consider the apology, the reason, and the possibility of reconciliation.
I could not forgive him.
But I also could not forget him.
We kept in touch, for years. Just little pokes, now and then, over time. Enough to say, hey, I'm still here. Not enough to taunt or entice; nothing actionable. Just...don't forget me. Know that I still care that you're out there.
One time, we made a half-hearted attempt at meeting up, when we were both going to be far from home. It didn't happen, and I think we were both glad that it didn't. Not that we missed the chance to see each other, but that we didn't take the opportunity to misbehave, because it would have been easy to do it. We just thought about it, reveled in the idea, and stepped away.
A few weeks ago, I realized that I'd been thinking of him. A lot. Off and on for a while, for months probably. His name, his face, it just kept going through my mind. I looked him up, considered sending a friend request. What harm there? I considered just a message. I considered...and decided that a little sleuthing was in order, first. At least to survey the field, to see who the players might be, where they were located, what I could be facing.
Rather than the simple information I'd expected, such as his current location and employment (always pretty public, given his career choice), and possibly something about his family, what I found was unimaginable: a death notice. He'd been traveling, had lost touch with family, was reported missing, and was found dead midway through his journey. He died alone, far from home. He passed away on August 14, 2014. I didn't find out until well after any possibility of attending services was long gone. His interment was in the state where he'd lived for many years, half a continent from here.
I'm still reeling. I catch myself, still, recollecting it as if I've just found out, tears in my eyes, struggling to hold together. I missed him before--that's why I was looking for him. I wanted to tell him I was thinking about him, that he still mattered. And it was too late. It is too late. It will always be too late.
But I hope he knew, and somehow despite how the relationship ended, never doubted.
[C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed]