Jun. 5th, 2009

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It is amazing to me how, after years of avoidance, old grudges can still thrive.
I’m twenty-one, happy in my life, at peace with who I am and looking forward to sharing a life with dear friends and a dearer Panda.
There is a woman, a girl really, despite her being a year older than me; we were enemies in high school (or as much as someone can have a nemesis at the naïve age of seventeen) and for the purpose of this post I shall refer to her as Madame Director.
I don’t believe Madame and I would have had such trouble if there hadn’t been two unfortunate factors when we met. The first was a struggle to be closest to mutual friend, I might not have fought so hard if she hadn’t been the first woman I fell in love with, at this point in time I had fallen out of love with her and was at that happy state of post-love where more than anything I wanted this mutual friend happy, and to help that happiness anyway I could. The other thing against us was politics, and meeting the September before a presidential election.
My parents are the best kind of Republicans, open minded. But I went to a school that was so far left it was about to come around the other side and goose the right. This gave me an interesting perspective on politics and history that has left me an independent, with political leanings in both directions.
Always one to mess with the status quo, when I joined a “gov’t field studies” and was told to volunteer for a political campaign I decided to spend my quarter stamping envelopes and making phone calls for the republican senatorial candidate. This didn’t win me any friends, and no one would listen to why I did it (namely to see “how the other half lived”).
Through a series of unfortunate arguments Madame and I realized we could never be friends, she wouldn’t calmly debate the point with me and I refused to blindly agree with her.
But as I said, I’m an adult now (though I still act like a child when it suits me) and I had decided that three years of avoiding the others’ existence, of going the other way when we saw each other at the bookstore, of letting our gaze slide past when we caught sight of each other across the quad, was more than enough time to waste on childishness. I know we will never be friends, but I had hoped that at least we could be civil to each other.
I’m one of the photographers for the local renaissance faire, and Madame is one of the actors, when I saw her on faire site I had had enough. “Hello [Madame]” I said, keeping my tone as cheerfully neutral as I could. She just kept walking and I waited expectantly, just when I thought she would pass me she looked up and said, “What? Did you say something to me? I’m kinda hard of hearing in my right ear.” I smiled and signed ‘Hi, how are you?’ to her. “No, I’m not deaf, I’m just a little hard of hearing.” I laughed and tried to make a joke of it, “No, I know you’re not deaf [Madame] I do remember that much, I mean, I’m not an idiot you know.” “Oh, no, I know, but sometimes I wonder.”
I’d like to think I’m a good person, a loyal friend, a kind listener. I’d like to think I’m approachable and helpful to everyone, there are some people whose company I prefer to avoid, but I try very hard to be everybody’s buddy. I can’t be friends with everyone and still be who I am, I know that, but it’s still troubling to find fellow human beings being unpleasant for unpleasantness’ sake.
I know the range of human ability, how truly monstrous we can be and how wonderful, but I know it in the same way I know how expansive the universe is – I grasp the concept but contemplating the reality leaves a part of me aching.
As for Madame Director . . . I hope I am a special case for her. I hope she has grown up since high school. I hope for her sake she has learned to value her friends, and to treat everyone with dignity and kindness until their actions show them undeserving of it. I hope . . . I hope she has a worthwhile life, a life shared with others.
I’m engaged, or might as well be. I see a life ahead full of tedious annoyances surrounded by loving support and children's laughter, I see Dave holding one hand and either Caiti or my family holding the other. When I look at my future I see light, warmth, and joy. If my life had a scent it would be an oddly inviting mixture of clean laundry and earth after it rains, the sort of smell associated with new beginnings. When I look at Madame, it feels cold, isolated and dark. For her sake I hope I’m wrong.

I don’t believe in God like most Christians do, but I do believe in something, something warm and strangely fluffy as though all positive emotions had a texture. And so, because I don’t have a better way to put it I’ll say, may God watch over you. I pray that everyone, no matter how despicable, has one truly happy day – just one day to hold close to them and keep them warm at the darkest of times.

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Jess

August 2010

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