Posts Tagged ‘passion’

He took a long slow slip of his Chardonnay.  It was a great night – he couldn’t think of a single thing to make it better.  Well maybe one thing.  A girl he’d been seeing.   He loved her smile, and her unpredictable thoughts.  And her long long legs.  He realized that he missed her.  Missed her laughter, her teasing.  He smiled, realizing that now, after so many years of friendship, he still felt uncertain around her.  Off of his balance.  She still intrigued him.  He wondered if his curiosity about her would ever be sated.   He doubted it.

They’d been friends for years.  She’d commiserated with him when he went through his divorce.  He in turn had been there when she’d gone through her trials.   He shook his head.  Tonight wasn’t about her, or them together.   His buddy was due to arrive shortly at their favourite bar, and he needed to be on target for him.  Darryl was going through a hard time at home, and it looked as though his marriage was in trouble.  For now, he’d have to relegate the girl to the back of his mind, knowing that she’d lurk there, ready to tease him.  God.  Could he just stop thinking about her, for even a few minutes?

A blast of cold winter air blew in, and he looked over, to see his friend standing inside, brushing the snow off of his shoulders.  He raised his glass.  “Darryl!  Over here!”

Darryl looked over.  Nodded.  Made his way through the crowded tables and patrons standing around at the bar.  Plunked himself down on the bar chair. Looked around for the bartender.   Ordered a draft.   Stared sullenly ahead.

“Hey.  What’s going on?”

“It’s over, man.  She told me she got a lawyer today.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

He looked at his friend.  “Yeah you do.  You have to get a lawyer too.  You need counsel buddy.”

“I know.  I know.   Look.” He sighed.  “Let’s talk about something else okay?”

He nodded, and took another sip of wine.  “Sure.”

They sat in friendly silence for a moment, watching the light dance off of the parade of bottles at the bar.   The rocky music was loud enough to hear, but not overpowering.  It was one of the reasons he liked the place.  That, and the lighting and the friendly atmosphere.  He looked over at his friend, nudged him with his elbow.

“Look – in about six months this will all be behind you.”

Darryl took a swig of his beer.  “Yeah, so?”

“So….have you thought about what you want to do?”

“What’s to think about?  I’ll just go to work, come home and probably get drunk on a regular basis.   I’m good at that.”  He flourished his bottle with false drama.  “‘s what I do”

He could hear the bitterness in his friend’s voice.

“Yes.  You could do that I guess.”   He looked forward and kept quiet.  Waiting.

Darryl lifted his head up.  “Or what?”

He shrugged.  Said nothing.

“Well what would you do?”  He hesitated.  “What did you do after your split?”

“Lots of things.”

“Like what?”

“Like improv comedy”

Darryl laughed bitterly and turned back to the bar.  “Yeah, right.”

“What?”

“Dude you know me.  I’m too ….backward.  I could never do what you do.”

“Says who?”

“Says me.  I’m not comfortable in front of people.”

“Uh huh.”

Silence again.  Except for the music.  A blues rendition of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” was playing now.

“Say what you’re thinking.  You’re driving me nuts here.  You’re acting like my wife.”  He frowned.   “Ex-wife.”

He looked at him.   “Okay.”

He played with his napkin.  Thinking.

“I think you’re like me.  Quite a bit like me actually.”

“Doubtful”

“Hear me out.”  He paused.   “You like feeling safe don’t you?”

“Well who doesn’t?”

He nodded.  “Not many.” He sat back.  “Most people look for safety.  It’s natural.   We’re all about survival.  We like things to stay the same.  All of us.  Almost all of the time.  It’s why the end of marriage, or of a job, makes us miserable.   It’s change.  It’s not fun.   It’s like…..”  He looked at his wine. “It’s like we’re cats, and we hate having people ruffle our fur the wrong way.  It irritates us, and makes us feel like we’re in danger.”

“Yeah”   Darryl nodded.  Took another gulp of his beer.

“So…who’d be stupid enough to deliberately go and seek change, right?”  He stopped, wanting to think some more.

Darryl frowned.  “Look – are you going to preach all night?  Or are you going to get to the point?”

He grinned.  “I’m getting there.”  He sipped his wine.  “After my marriage ended, I realized there was a lot of stuff I’d never done.   Before we split, someone dared me to go skydiving once, and I remember being so relieved when the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to postpone our jump.   When the same gang decided to try again – and this was after my split – I decided to go for it.”

“Geeze”  Darryl shook his head.  “You’ve got to be crazy to jump out of a perfectly good plane.”

He laughed – it wasn’t the first time he’d heard someone say this.  “Yeah, but….I decided to do it.  I had to.  I’ve always had dreams of flying.  This wouldn’t be the same but at least it would be a step in that direction.  I was as scared as hell, and there were a few times I thought about backing out.   But I went for it anyway.”

“So how was it?”

“Terrifying.  I didn’t like it at all.”

Darryl laughed.   “Yeah.  Sounds about right.”

“But I don’t regret it.  And I’ll do it again.”

Darryl chuckled.  “That’s because you’re nuts.”

“Probably.”  He sat back and looked up at the hockey game on the flat panel TV over the bar.

“So that’s it?  I should go skydiving?”

He shook his head.  “No.  It’s like….”   He struggled for the right words.  “It’s like while I was falling from the plane, I really felt alive.   LIke I was doing something important.  And it was the same with doing improv comedy.  Only for that, it was more gradual, because I got lots of practice before ever getting up in front of an audience.”

“Okay look – I’m not you.  I’m not going to go skydiving and I’m sure as hell not doing improv comedy.  For one thing I don’t have much of a sense of humour.”

He nodded, thinking.   “Darryl, I’m not saying you should do either of those things.   It’s about……it’s about finding something that makes you live.  Maybe for you it’s…I don’t know…doing accounting”

Darryl snorted.

“Or it’s about doing something else.  I don’t know what.  Something.  Anything that gets your blood flowing.”

They said nothing for a bit, listening to Ben E. King singing “Stand by Me”.   The music was compelling.   A woman near the end of the bar was swaying in time with the tune.

Darryl spoke up.  “So what else got your blood flowing?”

“Well there was this actress who kind of got under my skin.   I met her at an actors’ dinner.  She kind of showed up on the scene a little out of the blue.  I never expected to meet her that night.”

Darryl grinned.  “Tell me about her.”

“Well, she was dark-skinned, with long dark hair and she said she was Persian.  And she was younger than me.   She kind of messed me up badly.”

Darryl nodded and grinned.  “Why?  Because you’re such a cracker?”

He laughed.   “No – it’s just…I’ve never had such a strong spark with someone.   I mean, ever.  Not when I met my wife, not when I met any other girlfriend.    And it was almost instant.  We flirted with each other on the dance floor on the night we met, and then we….well, we made out like crazy, there on the dance floor.  We just stopped while everyone else was still dancing around us, and we made out.”

“So this was a one night stand?”

“No.  Oh God no!  It was anything but that.   It was a true attraction on every level.  I’m not a one night stand kind of guy anyway – and she was the furthest from that too.  She told me she split from her last boyfriend a couple of years before then.”

“So?   What happened that night?  You obviously didn’t take her home.”

“No, I didn’t.   We walked all around Toronto for many hours.  Holding hands, and occasionally stopping on the sidewalk to make out.  I know it wasn’t just me who thought it was pretty wild, because at one point she said ‘you know, I’ve never kissed a boy like that before.’   And I said ‘yeah.  Me neither.  I’ve never kissed a boy like that either.’”

Darryl laughed.   “But she’s not with you now.”

“No she’s not.  Last I heard she had moved out west and got married to someone.”

Darryl looked closely at him.  “Yet she left an impression.”

“She left me with an addiction.”

“An addiction?”

“Well maybe she didn’t cause the addiction but she sure as hell contributed to it.”  He paused.  “I’m kind of addicted to taking chances, risks. To anything that makes my heart race.   I can’t tolerate ‘normal’ anymore.  Can’t stand the thought of being stagnant in any way.”

“Really.”  There was a curious note in Darryl’s voice.

“Yup.”   He finished his wine glass.  The bartender came over with the bottle, one eyebrow raised.  He nodded, and the bartender poured.

Darryl held his beer bottle in his hand, looking at it.  Flicked his fingernail at the edge of the label.

“So I kind of made a deal with myself.”

Darryl looked up.

“I’m always going to find a way to capture that excitement, that passion.  In romance, or in what I do for a living, or whatever else.  I have to.  It’s what keeps me alive.”

“I don’t know.- that all sounds good, but maybe a little impractical?”

He nodded.   “Really impractical.”

“So how do you plan to do it?”

“When I’ve gone through really bad times in the past, or when I’ve had to make a hard decision or put myself at risk, I’ve always asked myself ‘what’s the absolute worst that can happen?’   And generally – it’s not that bad.”

“What about when it’s really bad?  Wait…”  Darryl paused.  “What’s the worst you’ve faced?”

“Well, the finances got really bad one time.   I had creditors crawling right up my ass – and it was getting pretty damned crowded up there.”

“What did you do?”

“I worked it out.”  Darryl snorted abruptly at the unintended joke.  But he continued: “Even though it was onerous, I kept thinking ‘in a year’s time, this will be over’.  And you know what else?   I’d go to the movies to escape life for a while.  And when the previews came on, I’d note the date that the movies would show up – which in some cases was six months away or more – and I’d think ‘by the time this movie comes out, I’ll be through this’   It was pretty comforting.”

Darryl looked at him.  “You know, you’ve always struck me as a pretty staid, upstanding guy.  I can’t ever picture you doing anything out of the ordinary.”

He laughed.  “You’ve only seen me at work.   Back when I was doing improv comedy, I got in with a gang of friends and we all sparked off of each other.  Often, we’d stay at someone’s place and drink and talk all night long.  About pretty much everything.  I remember so many mornings, having to work the next day – and leaving someone’s house at  7:00 in the morning and going to work without any sleep at all.   I remember one night staying over, and we all decided to bunk down.  I got the couch.  I remember one girl coming down from her room and rummaging around for something.  I woke up and we talked for a bit – and it seemed like something amazing was going to happen but it didn’t.  But the magic of it was there, the possibility – and for me, having just gone through a divorce, it was enough.”

“You’re smiling”

He grinned.  “Yeah, I guess I am.  Back then I was in the moment, not even thinking about how great an experience it was.  So much of this became a kind of cool thing – after the fact.”

“Have you done anything else out of the ordinary?”

“You mean risky?”

“Yeah.  Risky.”

“Well I don’t know if this counts or not, but that same girl stayed over at my place one night, because we were going to an all-day multi-performer concert the next day in Toronto.”

“Oh so you did sleep with her!”

“No.  We didn’t.  She was just a friend.”

“Oh.   Right.  I forgot.  You’re dependable.”

“No, just recently divorced.   ANYWAY….” he raised his voice, determined to cut off any more jabs.  “We got on the bus to Toronto, but we found it was so packed that we couldn’t sit next to each other.  We were lucky to get seats at all.  She ended up sitting behind me.  So anyway, as the bus got going, I noticed there was an old lady behind me, sitting next to my friend.  So I turned to my friend and said ‘where’s my money, bitch?’”

“What?”

“Yeah.  We were both in improv comedy, and one of the things we’d always talked about was doing a punk-type live performance on an unsuspecting public.”

“Oh.  So what did the old lady do?”

“Well she was certainly listening.   It took my friend a moment to realize what I was doing, but she quickly started playing along.   By the time our impromptu routine was done, it turned out that she was a prostitute/dancer, and I was her boyfriend/pimp, and we had a four year old child that we left at home before waiting for the babysitter to arrive, because we wanted to go this concert so badly.”

Darryl laughed.   “So….the old lady?”

“Totally pissed.  She scrunched up her little face in such a frown.”   And with that, he mimicked the frown, pulling his mouth inward as tightly as he could, with his eyebrows pulled down.

And Darryl laughed even harder, with no trace of the marriage stress in his eyes.

Which was kind of the point.  Or at least, part of it.

—————————————

So let me ask:  is there a risky adventure that you think you’d like to do?  Something that would make your heart race, but you feel you could “never do” – because of unforeseen consequences?   Or is there something you’ve done – where you’ve deliberately thrown caution to the wind?   I’d like to hear about it.

“I DON’T BELIEVE YOU ALVIN!!!”  Teacher barked in clear frustration.  “You’re acting.  Stop it!”

Teacher sat back in his chair, face all red, incensed.   “Bob, sit down.  Let me work with him.”

Bobby quickly made his way to his seat and Teacher stood up at the front of the room and faced Alvin.

“You’re acting”, said Teacher.

“I’m acting” replied Alvin.

“No.  You’re acting.”

“I’m acting” said Alvin, puzzled.

“You need to stop acting”

“I need to stop acting”

Teacher exploded.  “YOU NEED TO STOP ACTING”

Alvin mildly replied “I need to stop acting”

“GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!’  Teacher blasted the words right in his face, spittle flying.

“Get out of my head” replied Alvin, still mild.  Still controlled.

Teacher was anything but controlled.  “GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!!”

This acting exercise, of repetition back and forth between the two, went on for some time.  The rest of the students watched the two, entirely rapt, tense.

Teacher was getting angrier by the moment.  His fists clenched, the veins in his neck were bulging.   Alvin remained a shining example of control.

“YOU NEED TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY CLASS”

“I need to get the fuck out of your class”

“YES I WANT YOU TO GO, NOW!!” he barked.

‘Yes you want me to go now.” Alvin replied, seemingly obvious to the dangerous rage.

“GET THE FUCK OUT ALVIN!!!”

“I….”  Alvin faltered.

One of the students jumped up, walked over to Alvin.  “Dude, the exercise is over.  You need to leave.”

Alvin finally realized the Teacher was serious.  It was apparent to everyone in the class except Alvin that he was not cut out for this work.  He was somehow blocked, and there was no way around it.  He could not express emotion, which was what the exercise was all about.  Teacher sat back down, face still red, while Alvin got his stuff together and made his way out.

I sat there, a little stunned.  My problem was similar to Alvin’s though not so acute.  I’d been able to express true emotion in this class, except for one:  anger.  Every time I tried, Teacher called me on it.  “Stop.  You’re acting.  Stop acting.  Now, try again.”

The difference between a good actor and a bad one is that the good one is telling the truth.  The bad one is lying, but trying to convince that he’s being sincere.

Truth-telling truth-tellers.

It took me a long time to realize what that means, or to find the label to something I knew to be true.

For the longest time I wondered why I was so irritated with phone calls.  Maybe I was being snobby?   That didn’t ring true.  If anything I was more accommodating than the average guy.  Or the average Canadian for that matter.  (And you KNOW Canadians are pretty damned accommodating, often bending over backward to help you out.  It’s not a wild stereotype when I say that many of us will say “sorry” when you step on our foot.)

Yet, when I received a phone call, I couldn’t wait to put the phone down.  What was that about?  It really bothered me.  Some of the people I loved and respected would call, and almost always I couldn’t wait to get off of the phone.  There have been times when I gave serious thought to getting rid of all of the phones in my life.  There’s a phone at my workplace.  Maybe I could make do with that, or with pay phones.

Yet, this revulsion for phone calls wasn’t universal.  There were maybe two people who would brighten my day when they called.  And I knew I could spend hours on the phone with them without giving thought to ending their call.

Finally I realized what it was.

Truth-telling.

Any guy who’s in a relationship with a woman, will attest to the fact that the lazy practice of apologizing to his woman in order to get back into her good graces (especially when we don’t know what wrong we’ve done) doesn’t work.  Invariable, our women will ask “what are you sorry for, exactly?”    They are looking for specificity.  They want to know that we know exactly what we’ve done wrong, that we recognize it, and will attempt to change our behaviour in the future.

Truth-telling.  They’re interested in our truths, more than our blanket apologies.

Phone calls, or conversations in the office that revolve around trivial stuff might be of interest to some people.  Not to me though.  I could give a rat’s ass about so many trivial things.  I have no interest in polite and pointless discussion.  Pretending interest is the opposite of truth-telling.   For me, it is creative suicide.  Hanging from the patter until dead.

Hence the hated phone calls.  Except for ones received from a few people .   The difference with them?   They delved deep into things.  They were curious, and alive and passionate.  We didn’t talk about the obvious.  Not about the weather (unless it was stormy, and a tree fell down, and an adventure ensued).   Nor about what we ate that day (unless it was monkey brains, and it tasted just like squid, and was delicious, particularly with tartar sauce).

We compared notes on discoveries.  The warp and woof of universal truths.  Things we’d observed – in each other, and in other people.  We were people watchers.  We were empaths.  Anything that threatened to take us down the path of the verbal rut was jettisoned quickly, with relief.

It’s an extension of our takes on life – whether the intent is to grow, to find freedom from expectation, with the ultimate intent of flight.

Truth-telling.

It removes you from social niceties.  It gives you an appearance of danger.  Truth-tellers are generally not that predictable.   They don’t fit into the expected, the norm.  You don’t know what they’re going to say, or do.   Henry Rollins – truth-teller.  Unpredictable, dangerous.   Clint Eastwood.  Another truth-teller.   I think Bono is one too.

My acting teacher – the one I mentioned at the start of this blog.  He was a definite truth-teller.

I remember one bright shining moment of truth-telling at one of his classes.

It was my turn to get to the front of the class.   Whenever it was our turn, Teacher would pair us up with another student.  The only direction was to say something.  Anything.  And the other guy had to repeat and reflect it back.  The intent was to tap into real emotion.  So we never knew where it would go.  It was exhilarating, exciting and just a little bit scary, because it meant being vulnerable.

This time, Teacher paired me up with…..his girlfriend.

I shook my head, startled.  And then I settled in.

The first thing I noticed was that she was beautiful.   It crossed my mind that if I said my truth, Teacher might not like it.   Teacher was unpredictable, and could switch on real emotion at the drop of a hat.   One real scary dude.   Still, I thought, it’s risky but I have to do it.  I have to be real.  I can’t pretend.

So …..I smiled at her.   Teacher’s girlfriend.   She smiled back.

I gulped, because her smile affected me so much.

She started the exercise.   “You gulped.”

“I gulped” I said, nodding.

“You gulped”, she said, teasing.

“Yes, I gulped” Now I was grinning, from ear to ear.

“You’re happy” she said.

“Yes, I’m happy” I said.

Then before she could reply, I inserted a new phrase.  “You make me feel silly.”

“I make you feel silly”

“Yes” I was smiling so hard I could feel a tear of joy starting at my eyes.  It freaked me out a bit, but I had to let it go. “You make me feel silly”

“I make you feel silly” now she was grinning hard.

We went back and forth for a while, venturing a new phrase now and then, as the passion slowly built.  It took a while.

Eventually, I got to:  “you’re so bright”

“I’m so…..bright?” she asked, a slight frown at her forehead.

I corrected myself.  “Your eyes are so bright”   And so help me God – they really were.  Her eyes were shining.  I can still see them, even now.

“My eyes are bright”  she smiled, hearing the truth.

“Your eyes are bright”

She smiled and said nothing.   Teacher jumped in immediately.  “Continue!”

She cocked her head, and, still smiling, said “you’re messed up”.

Wham.  Truth.

“YES.  I’m completely messed up.”

“You’re completely messed up”

I took the next step.  “You’re messing me up”

Her face gained colour.  “I’m messing you up.”

The room was completely quiet.  Every student was leaning forward on their chairs.  I didn’t look at them, but knew exactly what was going on.  Except for Teacher.  I had no idea what he was doing.  I didn’t even want to think about him.

“Yeah, you’re messing me up.”

“Yes I’m messing you up”.  She smiled so sweetly.  (And when she did that – it *completely* messed me up)

“I want to get close to you”

I heard the class gasp.

She repeated it back, a little more quietly.  “You want to get close to me.”

“I really want to get close to you.”

“You—”   Teacher jumped up, interrupting.  “Wait a minute”

I thought “ok this is it.  He’s putting us out of our misery”  Only, he wasn’t.   He grabbed two chairs and brought them to the front of the room, facing them to each other, only a few inches apart.

“Ok” said Teacher.   “Sit there.  And continue.”

We sat.

I looked closely into her eyes.  We weren’t smiling anymore.

“We’re close to each other”

She said “we’re close to each other”

“So close” I almost breathed the words.

“So close” she murmured.

Back and forth, looking deeply into each other’s eyes.  We repeated and repeated.  It was all truth.

Finally, I whispered “I want to kiss you”

She stayed close, looking deeply into my eyes.  “You want to kiss me.”

“I want to kiss you.”

We stayed there, silent.  And we let the silence take over.  The class was silent.  I’ve never felt such stillness.

And then Teacher stood up and walked over to us.   “Well done.”

I heard the class let go of its breath.  And then they applauded.

Truth-telling.

There was an emotional after-glow to that truth exercise.   I could tell she felt it, because I saw it in her quick smiles and glances in my direction.  I could still feel my heart pounding too.   Teacher knew it to be truth, and he knew that’s as far as it went.

Once you dive into the ocean of truth-telling, anything less is a rip-off.  A facile and pointless exercise.   A spiritual hotdog when you’re craving a thick juicy peppercorn steak.

Passion and Hope

Posted: January 15, 2011 in dating, Life
Tags: , , , ,

He was interested in her sister Angelica, really.

She was interesting.  Vibrant, laughing all the time.  Angelica always had something outrageous to say.  And he, being the quiet introvert, was attracted to her.  And they were in the same class together.

He was trying to figure out his approach when one day she whispered in his ear, during class.  “Guess what?”

“What?”

“I’ve got a boyfriend.”  Her excited whisper was actually quite loud, and he was sure they’d be caught.  Fortunately, they were at the back of the room, and the long-haired teacher seemed more interested in the sound of his own voice.

“Oh”, he said.

“Yeah, and he’s got this black Camaro that really rumbles loud, too.”  She blathered on, oblivious to the damage he was feeling.  “And it’s got a spoiler on the back, and oh boy does it ever go fast.”   She sat back in her chair, bum slightly forward and her legs splayed beneath the desk.  She glanced over at him.  “You know him.  It’s Rick.”

Rick. Yeah, he knew Rick all right.  Kind of a wild guy.  Didn’t talk much.  Smoked.  Definitely the black sheep of the church group.  Rick seemed a little tense all the time.  Like he was going to explode.  Only he never did.

“Well” she said.  “Whaddya think?”

He thought for a moment.  “He’s ok.  I guess.”

She frowned.  “OK?  He’s more than that!  He’s got a job.”  She leaned into him.  “We have to sneak away to be together.  My parents have no idea we’re dating.”

He shuffled in his chair and looked over at her.  “Are you sure he’s a Christian?”

She shook her head.  “Of course he’s a Christian!  He comes to Young Peoples’ with us, doesn’t he?”

He didn’t know what to say. He knew Christians didn’t smoke.  He didn’t want to argue with her.  He decided to say nothing.

And she looked over at him again, this time with a slight calculation in her glance.   She opened her textbook and said nothing more.  He let out a breath.

***

Angelica’s sister Mercedes was one year younger.  She wasn’t nearly as outgoing, and she wore dark rimmed glasses.   Her dirty blonde hair was wild, unruly.  The only thing he noticed during Young People’s bible meetings was her laugh.  It was musical and infectious.  And she burped her laughter out at inappropriate times, often startling him.  He always grinned though – he couldn’t help it.

One bright sunny afternoon, she took the initiative.  They had been walking and holding hands, but still, his painful shyness shackled him.  So she stopped on the corner, and looked up at him.  With a sigh of exasperation she pulled his head down and planted a first kiss on him.  His heart pounded in amazement, and he felt his face go red.  It felt surreal.

And oh so great.

From that moment on, they were inseparable.

One afternoon after classes, he went to the amphitheatre, to practice the piano.  She joined him, and sat on the piano bench next to him, facing away from the piano.  And as he played, she leaned over, breaking his line of sight to the music and leaned in to kiss him.  He thought she was worse than his cat and that thought kept him grinning through the kiss.

He pulled away, smiling.  “Stop.  I have to get this done.”

“OK” she said.   And as he started playing, she again interrupted his line of sight, and leaned in for another kiss.

So he gave up and spent the rest of the time making out with her, there in the empty amphitheatre.

***

As young, passionate loves go, they eventually split up.  She wasn’t allowed to date anyone, and so the Christian ethic “honour thy father and mother” came into play.  Mercedes was nothing if not devoted, so she reluctantly broke things off with him.  He was young and kind of stupid, and this was his first real romance with anyone, so it took him a while to understand that things were over.

By the time they broke up, Angelica had also broken up with her boyfriend.  She had suffered a possible pregnancy scare and this had sobered her intensely.  It had also scared her boyfriend.

He was still holding out hope that Mercedes would rebel against her parents and go out with him again, when one day Angelica decided to talk with him.   She said to him “let’s go for a walk, OK?”

It was sunny out, and warm, and he was miserable, so he said “OK”

As they walked along the dusty street, she started talking.  “You know, you guys aren’t going to get back together, right?  It’s not going to happen.”

He looked down, thinking.  “Yeah, I guess you’re right.    But….”

“It’s hard, I know.  I’ve just gone through the same thing.”

“I guess.”

“Look.  You’re good looking and sweet.  There’s no reason to feel so bad.  There are all kinds of girls out there who want to go out with you.”

He looked at her, shocked.   “There are?”

“Yeah”, she said.  “There are.”

He couldn’t believe it.  Didn’t believe it.  “Oh yeah?  Like who?”

“Girls!” she said.   “Just girls.   OK?”

“How do you know?  Did they tell you?”

She ground her teeth.   “Look.  Forget I said anything OK?”

“I don’t understand.”

She rounded on him, her face red.  “Can’t you just take my word for it?  God!  You’re amazing.”

His eyes were wide, as he looked her.

She shook her head and began walking again.  He caught up to her.

“Look” he said.  “I don’t understand….”

“Can we just stop talking about it?  OK?”  she barked at him.

“OK”

And it wasn’t until a few years later, when he replayed all of this in his mind, that he finally understood.

***

Over the years, he never forgot the passion of that first romance with Mercedes.   Eventually he married someone, and she married someone else, and they remained friends.   They both remained church-going people, albeit in different denominations.  Both remained zealous though.  And their families occasionally got together for church outings.

He was sure she knew he carried a fondness for her, though neither of them ever said anything.

One day, a few years after he divorced his wife, he learned that her husband died.

And a few years after that, he swallowed his trepidation, and asked her out.  And to his surprise, she accepted.

They met at a coffee shop near his home, and they ended up talking for hours.     They compared notes about their families, and he explained why he no longer went to church, while she talked about nothing except her church.

At one point, after their third coffee, she sat back and looked at him.   “Man” she said.  “Back in high school, we were crazy about each other, weren’t we?”

He smiled at her.  “Yeah, we really were.”

And they sat there, just smiling.

Eventually it was time to go, and so they walked out of the coffee shop toward her car.

“You know – it was really good to see you again” he said.

“I think so too.  Maybe we can get together again.   What do you think?”

He looked down at her.  “I’d like that a lot.”

And then it happened.

After all of those years of occasionally thinking about her, he finally did it.

He kissed her.  And she kissed him back.

She turned around, and got into her car.  And then she drove away.

His thoughts were in turmoil, racing at a million miles an hour.

It wasn’t until later that night that he finally realized it.

Sometimes, the dreams and anticipation do not match the reality.

Sometimes, a time of passion is meant for that time only.

Sometimes, you just can’t go back.

Passion

Posted: March 21, 2010 in Life
Tags: , ,

Someone asked me tonight what my passion was.

I had to think what my answer would be.

And then I had to think about the question itself.

When I think about how many years I let slip by, just coasting and getting along with folk in this western world of almost unlimited freedom, I’m a little ashamed.   We can do what we want, within the means given to us (and let’s face it – we have a lot going for us, no matter how poor we may be), and yet we squander it away.  *I* squander it away – watching TV and relaxing at the end of the day.

(Protests that there’s nothing wrong with relaxing after a busy day are going to be ignored.  We all know that’s true but it’s beside the point.  You know what I mean.)

Day after day, TV program after TV program can slowly swallow your days.  You can be the frog in the cold water, just sitting there – *relaxing* – while The Man turns up the burner on the stove.

Fuck that.

I tried to remember what it was that made my blood boil; what it was that got my wandering attention; what…thing….hammered a nail in my hand.

“Life.  I’m passionate about living.”

“Total cop-out.  Everyone can say that.  What gets you passionate?”

Even though what I just said was true, I thought some more.

“Art”.

“Not specific enough.  Try again.”

It’s true, as far as it goes.  When I left the assembly line to the computer keyboard, I was amazed at technology and what it could do.  Still am.  It excites me, gets my ADD thoughts twirling around in colliding bits of wonder.

Eventually though the coloured lights diminish, like mental snow globe flakes settling to the bottom.   Sooner or later you come to the limits of what’s possible and available now in technology and boredom pokes its head in the door, sniffing at your discontent.  The distracted prey might not be aware when it makes its way fully in, depositing a big steaming pile of anguished disgruntlement.   One remedy for boredom:  TV.   Books.    Those have always worked for me.

Abe (see blogroll – Word of Abe) painted a picture of one of his motorcycle trips, and a moment that put everything in crystal clarity for him.   I’ve had moments like those.  They’re usually so rare and they go by so fast that it’s hard to hang on to them.

I remembered attending an Anglican cathedral night gathering, with the glow of warm lights only appearing at the altar end of the massive pillared place.  The outer edges and walls were lost in darkness.   The uniquely beautiful and decidedly untraditional music notes produced by a variety of wind, brass and electrical instruments, combined with harmonious voices wafted throughout that place, curling around pillars and up into the darkness of the invisible stone ceiling, making the heart swell with joy.  You couldn’t escape it.  I didn’t recognize any of the music or knew the words, but I remember just standing there, bathing in it, hoping it would never end.   None of the songs ever ended abruptly.  The instruments would cease, and the voices would slowly collapse into a fading harmonious hum.

In school, I joined the band and played various percussive instruments:  drums, timpani, bells and the xylophone.   Collectively our band never achieved the same joy of that Anglican church gathering, but – we created our own joy, just different.  Not every song was dynamic, and some were downright hideous really.   Occasionally our band leader would pick a song and I knew – just *knew* – it was right.  It would make the heart thump hard, and you could almost visibly see a change in the musicians as we did our level best to perfect the song.

The piano lessons I had taken since I was small kid had culminated in the achievement of the passing of the Grade Nine Royal Conservatory exam.   I was proud but it didn’t move me that much.  I figured piano wasn’t my deal.  I stopped playing, I thought, for good.

Until I took it up again when I played at the front of our church with an absolutely awesome and gifted guitarist.   His exhibited an intent and energy to move out of the shallow waters and into the deep dark waters of creativity.   This drove me until I finally found a pure joy in a creativity of my own.   We sparked off of each other, there at the front of that little church.  There were other singers there and a drummer as well but on so many Sundays it was him and me, going off into riffs of music that were never in the original scores of the music we played.  John created some of his own songs, and we worked them out with abandon and delight.   We would extend a three-minute song into fifteen minutes, just improvising and playing back and forth.  First, he would take the lead and I would provide a backdrop of musical harmonious noise; then, he would drop back and provide rhythm while I walked up and down those keys, trying different things and riffing as if no one else was in the room.

I remember smiling.  I remember looking at the congregation and seeing them with their eyes closed.

Passion.

There’s a scene in a movie called Rock Star, where Mark Wahlberg (who plays the rock star “Izzy”) is standing next to Jennifer Aniston with a group of people, and he throws his head back and bursts out in the raunchiest of singing notes.   I remember sitting in the theater and feeling shivers go up and down my spine in focused empathy.

Passion.

I revised my answer:  “Music”

“Listening or playing?”

I considered the question.  Then, “both”.

“There you go.”

I really want to play again.  I don’t have a piano.

That can and will be remedied.

The seduction of the couch continues to beckon me, as it does so many other people.   The impulse to relax and do nothing, except complain on occasion, needs to be fought with rushing blood, from the depth of bone.

I have fallen into the trap of minute concerns, the constant frustration of attempting to sweep up inconsequential marbles:   what will I do on Friday night, time to pay some bills, get my dry cleaning, should I hire a housekeeper, hope there’s time to read the newspaper before heading to work, will I gain weight if I put some cheese on my salad.

The noise of minutiae drowns out the howling wolf who just needs to *run*.

Passion.

I wonder:  if we’re not pursuing passion, are we just putting in time?

What passion have you let slide?