Cass shows up at the hotel and I appear at the bar for what I know will be the necessary face-to-face meeting and moving on of last year’s confusion and heart break. Except, by the time I get there the bar is packed, all MFA buzz and literary to-do with the ultimate cock-block standing between us—a fellow student whose M.O. has been hitting on Cass while eyeballing me, subsequently ignoring the fact that she, herself, is married.
And this, my friends, is where things get ugly, which is not at all my style.
It takes about twenty minutes but Cass and I find each other, finally, and she is full-bore topsy-turvy trashed and I could care less. Yes, I admit that it is flattering to discover she is still attracted to me. And yes, I admit it is flattering that she can see how immediately I take her in—by which I mean that I understand where she is at, what she is hoping for, and what she is scared of. So when she says, “I miss you,” and I am not at all psychologically tempted, I feel a sudden jolt of power.
Strange, that this narrator who so clearly wants healthy love and passion but can’t find it back home, somehow knows what to do with unhealthy infatuation, old love, and power struggles when they come at her this way.
So I brace myself, first for her hitting on me (which she does without shame, repeatedly, in front of colleagues and faculty). I do not shove her off but I do not return her ferocity. Then, I brace myself the flattery and the temptation that follows it, which is perhaps the most potent drug but one that I know will fade. Finally, I brace myself for ultimately being able to walk away, which takes some doing but comes to me in the end.
I cannot say that as I left the bar and she followed me onto the hotel elevator that heavy glances and old memories were not exchanged. After all, elevators—like airplanes—are included on that short list of places where time and space are not real and therefore actions occurring within them have no moral or psychological bearing on the future (HAH!), nor do they really “count” as heated as they may be…But I can say that when the elevator doors opened, my intention was to head back to my room for a good night’s rest and some sobering up.
The night ended with Cass throwing her vodka tonic in the hotel hallway, me saying the kindest, softest farewell I could muster, and both of us turning in opposite directions. Later, someone called my hotel room but did not say a word on the other end of the line.
This, of course, did not happen before she tried to jab me with a one liner that I never would have predicted: “So I heard Current Student hooked up with your poet friend that you came with who you have a big crush on.”
Oh, how that could have hooked—and almost did, but No. Not Now. I am done, through, kaput, and somehow grateful for the upper hand and not willing to look back or take bait. Goodbye. Adios. Last call. Goodnight.
Which brings me to my next point, of larger and more pending consequences:
No, I will not become that vacuous woman who people look at and immediately see straight to her longing and loneliness. No, I will not become desperate beyond proportion. No, I will not take on the identity of the misunderstood or the late-blooming. No, I will not keep writing about such matters of the heart, thereby inflating them and messing with my own mind and perception.
I own my misconceptions and my skewed perspective. I own how, for too many years now, I have only looked for what I want and not for what is given me in the moment when it comes to romantic love. I accept the fact that I will be too busy and preoccupied with the MFA (as I wish to be) for the next six months before I can fully address this and get my heart out of the effing hole it’s in. I own it all and I commit to shifting my perspective to a more sustainable one as soon as I graduate.
What form might this take?
More than likely, it will mean moving. Even if it’s a small move –I am too isolate and therefore too trapped, despite the façade of freedom that comes with the house on Fork Mountain. Additionally, it will mean a new job or another job (teaching at a community college, perhaps). Likewise, it will mean even more commitment to my physical health, as nothing seems to get me out of my head more than a full-body workout.
What remains is remembering all of this six months from now.
Today’s pic: Seagulls begging at my balcony!