2012/06/16 S – Life on a Platform

On Wednesday at dusk, I went running.  Jogging, really.

My route goes up to the next road, turning immediately past our old duplex, my childhood home.  Some weeks ago, the owners eviscerated the building, leaving only brick walls without a roof.

This was my chance; I went back home for my camera, then made the briefest of visual records of that old shell, working my way inside to the basement.

It was actually being rebuilt into something else.  It was just getting too dark for pictures when I came upstairs and stepped into the back yard, now enclosed in an unfinished frame and floor.  The other unit was still in one piece; dark and empty, I thought.

A sudden sound startled me…

A woman stepped out of the door of the adjacent house.  She too had been startled…  I quickly begged her pardon.

Her name was Cindy Call (possibly Cynthia).  Hearing my name, she mentioned some Fosters she had known…

It turns out she was the next-door neighbour (north) of my aunts and uncles, growing up.

We reminisced for maybe an hour, maybe less.  She had some stories… such as that the Fosters first arrived in confusion as to which property was theirs, and with all the kids showing up and running around, an older Call boy had gotten into a mild altercation with my uncle, Ken.  They came to be good friends…

Cindy had attended Sherman Elementary, where a Dan’s grocery now stands.  The creek there divided school boundaries, sending her to the lower ones and many of my kin to the upper ones.  My father had gone to Sherman, anyway.  She reported having been given a ride on Kelly’s motorcycle once, which made her hate that vehicle.  I had shared the experience as a young child…

I told her what sketchy details I knew of Kelly’s death.

She also had known Anne-Marie Smith, but not in any degree of closeness.

Cindy, a retired airline worker, reportedly had married Nasser Shotorbani, who seemingly owns an art gallery down on West Temple Street.  He and his parents had in-migrated from Persia; he had bought that duplex from our landlord, “Stan”, shortly after we moved out, and his parents had been living there for some years.  Now they were turning it into a “townhouse” for them, and also the kids.

By chance, I had gone to meet those parents once, having earlier seen the older mother walking past our house from Albertson’s.  She was laden with bags that day, but stiffly refused my unexpected assistance, which I never again dared to offer.  I had considered it quaint and rare that Iranians were living in my old house.  (Of course, this was not the younger Iranian family temporarily living in a duplex just north of my present house several years ago, whom I visited multiple times after the mission.)

The Call mother still lived on Oakwood Lane (previously the 9th ward; Cindy had a wonderful chronological understanding of how the stake developed from its first four wards into today’s higher numbers).  Cindy had sadly watched the Snows demolish the old Foster house after my grandparents moved south.  The Calls were resolved not to put any of their own property in the path of such progressivism, despite inquiries from the Snows.

I like the Snows quite well enough; I’ve visited them before; but… it was history, after all.  And not just history — our history.  It had gone so suddenly…

Cindy had laughed when I told her I felt I was getting a little old to still be single; older people do tend to laugh at the years of the younger.  We two separated, and I went home to repeat the tale to my mother.  I’d felt as if I’d found family, but my mom didn’t seem clear on whom the woman was.  (<- Biblical pronoun case usage, happily enough: PN+copular verb+object case.  Yes, that example may be influenced by its environment; I’ll look for others.)

On Thursday at 6:00, I went to Sherman Field next to Dan’s (the only remnant of old Sherman Elementary, I guess) to help with softball.  Nobody showed up.  I checked back later, then returned at about 8:30 to see if the 9th ward would still play at 9.  Two or three unknown wards were playing there.

Jeremy Clegg and Chris Barry arrived later, but nobody else from our (their) team.  It turns out our stake had had a ‘stake Lagoon day’, an excursion to that amusement park.  I’m not sure the 9th ward really knew about it… but anyway, those wards’ games had been cancelled, and somehow the word had gotten out to everybody but us three (and the Monson father in the 15th ward).  Jeremy seemed annoyed by it.  Me, I didn’t mind; I have nobody to see at Lagoon anymore.

Early on Friday morning, I had another Claire Brown dream.

Similar stuff, only clearer and more memorable…  I was at their house, a different house.  I saw her, and later her “reticent” mom; they both left.  They had seemed to not know me well, leaving me with the sense of needing to explain why I was there.  Still, I didn’t feel unwelcome; I felt I’d been invited.  And Claire had smiled, justifying everything.  I was happy to have been in contact with them, and to await their return… though my time was limited…

…I woke up… bewildered to be stuck back in this reality, much preferring to stay forever in that celestial dream.  But here I was again, facing another day of hollow memory of her, like a glorious and verdant mirage in what increasingly seems like my emotional desert…

That morning, into my mind, the old specter of ’emptiness’ returned from years ago, though having occasionally masqueraded as ‘boredom’…  I had sensed its coming, with these dreams.  I began to struggle to know or to feel a purpose, a direction, seeing that my life was already lived, my story already told and finished, there in childhood… and my one great hope already blasted to pieces, its embedded shrapnel still paining me when I move wrongly.

She was my story

…I thought.  But she wasn’t really.  Her smile wasn’t my title; her graciousness and glowing manner weren’t my contents.  And her wink was not the concluding punctuation in my book…

…How, then, did I become so convinced that they were?

But convinced I was, at least in my feelings.  My mind knows the truth, but my unchanged heart is convinced of her still.

What’s left ahead, other than falsity, and attempted re-enactment of my lost dream with a substitute?

You can’t write the same thing twice.  If by some error you lose your first writing and have to start over, it’s always lacking its original essence…  It’s a copy.  I had to write this entry over when it froze on me earlier; it came out deformed and wrong, not my real description.  Luckily, the site had saved a draft.  And this was just an inconsequential thing.

She had consequence.

I can pretend to have not known her well, but… when you carry somebody inside of you for so long, the details stop mattering…  Or to put it another way, the details fill in themselves.  Like iron shavings scooped up by a passing magnet, every stray piece of information about a dearly loved one flies into your mind and clings to your concept of them, gradually building it up fleshing it out into a realer thing, a truer picture.

As I probe my memory… I can find enjoyments and diversions in my early youth, as well as resentments and frustrations, from many sources.  But as for feelings of emptiness… they were always a reflection or an echo of her; I loved nobody else, that I can remember.  From the start, I had adopted her into my imagination, borrowed her into my plans…

She was really the first, and now the last.  I have felt very, very strongly toward certain other individuals… but I always had some kind of block with them… and where are they now?  They’re like names of good friends at the back of an address book meant for family…

But finally… she isn’t my family at all, whom I carried in heart the longest, any more than the others are.  And she’s even less of a friend, since we have no chance of contact now.

…How sad.

Last night, I stayed up late, and the nagging curiosity finally overcame me.

I pulled up her page on Facebook again and proceeded with due diligence — an easier task since taking this typing job, wherein I sometimes need to verify information.

The information was open, and practically overflowing.  The husband’s work profile was proudly displayed…

…And soon, I had learned all that I could have wanted, and was satisfied.

No, not exactly satisifed…  Yes, my curiosity abated, and that was a relief.  But the revelations were…

…I don’t know.  Numbing.

Obviously, I need not be too specific here, just in case of people even crazier than poor, sad Steve.  She and he were doing very well in another city…  I suppose there’s no consequence in sharing this thing.

I guess there’s a chance we’ve passed each other on the road, on one of my many bus and car rides to BYU.  I had studied there in oblivion as they happily built a family some distance up the freeway.

Yes, they had studied there too, long before…  The boy apparently was a bright student and elected to pursue a professional degree.  He probably has debt to worry about, but after that, I’m sure she’ll be well taken care of…

…And… I guess that’s what she wanted, and chose.

…It strikes me as a sedentary life, that’s all.

I was maybe wondering if I would find any fault with them, to compare myself well against…

…But… the comparison fell on its face…

They’re driving in a whole other lane…

I feel like I was driving down the freeway next to her car for a long stretch…  We kept even for a long time, and I sort of got comfortable with her vehicle, and wondered if we shared a destination…

Then, all at once, their lane veered off an exit to a flyover bridge… and she was gone forever.

It’s stupid.  We weren’t in the same car…  Of course she had to leave…

He’s really doing quite well, I think.  Really a smart guy.  He’s older than we are; he’s my brother Shane’s age.  So, he married down… and she, up.  Must’ve been somewhat fresh off his mission…

Did he choose that career by himself, or for her?  Did she require it?

He’s a lawyer…

…Is that what she wanted…?

The hard part… …is that the guy somehow… reminds me of myself.  His nose, hair colour, and all…

Of course, he has more hair, since I’ve grown old.  He’d probably win the pageant after all.

And his studies, too…

I could’ve done all that…

I’m sure he, too, could’ve done anything with her encouragement.  He has nothing left to seek, in the world…  He’s found himself.  He’s complete.

…I wouldn’t have stood a chance.  He’s a Saul; I’m a dopey little David.

Even internally, I’m sure his stature towers over mine.

That’s what girls want — what she wanted.

Marry quick, get him through school… get an adorable house…

Two children, the profile said… and, “his beautiful wife.”  See?  I was right…

That could be dated information…  He seems to have been there for maybe 3 or 4 years.  Maybe there are more by now…  I can’t imagine she would not have more than two.

You know…

…They could have met before I was even a missionary.

He may have won her interest………..

…..I mean…………………………. years………… years ago…

They could have been a thing, or who-knows-what, when I was still thinking I had a chance…

They…

They were… a story, already.

It doesn’t matter when they met; they were always a story.

…All along.  It seems… right, doesn’t it?  They’re so beautiful together…

By every appearance, this was…

…Well… they were cast for these very roles.  These parts were written for them…

…Me?

I’m this stupid little kid who had no business ever liking her.

…I’m random… to them.

…Ah.

No matter what I would have done…  I could have done everything ‘right’, even…

But that seat was reserved.  I was off by years; my life was 3 years too late…

My life wasn’t motivated.

My smile wasn’t as winning…

…Ah, why?

What did I do so wrong?  Why did I get stuck on the impossible?

Well, I know quite enough of what I’ve done wrong…

And here I sit, alone, and with nothing.  This was my choice.

But…

…No matter what, it couldn’t have happened for me.

That guy walked an utterly silver pathway…

My path… is down here.

I wasn’t right for her.  God has a way with these things…

…Well.

He’s had a way against me, every time.  But I rejoice in it, finally, since his reprimands come as praise; his blows of chastisement are friendly and consoling pats.  His scourge feels like a feather duster on the weary back…  His crushing, punishing grip is to grab a person and lift them higher.

I resent no deprivation… and rejoice in every gift.

He has let me live.

I’ve received enough.

I just…

…Who knows…?

I just loved her.  That’s all…

I just wished for her to see me, and smile…

…Not smile past me.

…I meant no harm.

I meant no obstruction…

…She had a…

…better path.

Those two, or two-plus little kids… have a path, too.  I wouldn’t wish it away from them.  They’re part of her; and like her, they deserve the best.

Was I so selfish, to love her, or want her?

I was a child… a selfish child.

It doesn’t matter anyway.  Nothing changes.

All that matters is that… today, she and he are well, and I’m here sad and alone… while I could potentially have been situated like her husband, in some nice house with a perfect family.

–Not that perfect, no.  Not her.

But, maybe perfect to me…

Maybe in time.  I well know that distraction has saved me before, and it’s my only option now, too.

Fill my head with something.  Take my mind off it.  Do something; meet somebody.  Work on something.  Maybe argue with some idiot on-line.  Study something.  Waste time on a game.

Yes, I’m good at distracting myself.  I’ve done it all my life…

Too much, wasn’t it?

I’m not like him…  He was golden.  She chose well.

We two would have been low indeed, according to her excellent standards.

She’s living the absolute dream of a lifetime…

…In some house, with some kids, and a great guy with a good job.  And love between them.

…And income.  And savings for children.  And fair enough expenditures to feel happy with life.  And an easy retirement someday… and an inheritance left behind them someday.  And happier things after.

……………

…No… I’m not like him.

It’s tortuous, to me.

If I could give it all up, trade it all, and go be him instead…

…What would I do with it?

I’d feel like I was wasting my life at that job.  I could hardly wait to get away from it, every chance I could…

For her, for the kids, anything would be tolerable… even torture would be endurable.

But it’s… so stationary.

Why did he come back here?  Is this such a heaven?

Heaven is where the heart is…

But… I hope he takes her places…

I’m sure they travel, probably much more than I do.  He’s a lawyer, after all.

…She really did well for herself.

I’m like a fickle, selfish cat next to the loyal dog that this guy is.  He deserves her… she deserves him.  Their doubled love outweighs my single love.  Their love is a running electrical current; mine was never plugged in.  It can’t even be compared.

Tears will dry, and dreams will fade.

…If there is one thing I have…

…It’s freedom.

Not that I use it.  But I feel perfectly ready to do anything I could dream up, right now…

…And so… I choose to sit here…

…Hm.

…………………………..Well.

…Yes, I would trade it all, wouldn’t I?

For her, I would have.

For another, I guess I someday will…

He’s good; he’s fine.  She’s really found one like her father, Todd…

He’s a bright young lawyer.  He speaks Spanish.  Probably has tons of good things to him that I could never research on-line.

Me, I’m no such thing…  I’m not anything.  I struggle for coherency in two or three or four languages, and that’s it.

If I compare well at all… it’s got to be…

…In the music in my heart.

Maybe he has some too, some kind of drum-beat, driving him to so much success…

Mine is no drum.

Mine… is just… plaintive vocals on ivories.

Maybe like this.


.
Excuse me for that ugly advertisement.

Ah, I’m tired…

I’m ready to stick my head in the sand for another ten years, and then remember her again.  Twenty more, and she’ll be a grandmother…

I’m ready for a good, long dream…

I’m ready for the next world… and have been, ever since I first suspected she wasn’t mine.

She was in the fast lane…  I’m on a dirt road.

They have the lead roles.  I’m an extra…

They’re first-class.  I’m economy-class…

…And…

…My ticket isn’t even printed yet.

Maybe it’s just “directionlessness”, another sign of my lowness.

But you could also say…

…I have a ticket to anywhere.

I could do it; I like law.  But my father didn’t exactly set me on a path running to law school.

Even so, I can live freely and love freely.  If lonely freedom is a Foster’s birthright… I guess I’ll take it.

-Steve

[9:50- The yard was red outside, so I went out and saw the sky lit up orange again.  I bicycled up to the church for its nicer view, enjoying that for a couple minutes… then sought an even wider view up Craig Drive.  I stopped at Upland Terrace rather than lose the remaining sunlight pushing further.  Standing up on the play equipment provided a fine scene of the sky tinted all the way from from east to west, along the north edge.  This is almost as far as it gets in the year…  Some trees obscured the brightest parts, but it was probably the best sunset I’ve seen in a long time.  I hope Myeong-Seon’s getting her fix.]

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