Sunday, July 17, 2005

So why did I go?

Why indeed. I don't really know, just as I don't know why we still talk. I enjoy talking to her, I suppose. There is a comfort level there that you reach with people you know for long periods of time. And I really do owe her quite a bit, not in the sense that I feel beholden to her, but in that I can recognize that dating her was a huge turning point in my life, one that changed me (for the better, I believe), and which set me on the path I walk today.

But that's still not a reason why I'm in touch with her, why it's not too painful for me.

Most of the time I'm pretty sure I'm over her. Every now and then, I do find myself thinking about her, or missing her.

I think it's fear.

I spend a lot of my life afraid. Sometimes I think my life is characterized by fear. In this case, fear that I will never find someone who will love me like that, who I love back.

Even now, fear holds me back - and maybe it's the reason why I still talk to Ursula. It's all the things left unsaid because of fear - because I know that ignorance really is bliss, that there are some things you are better off not knowing, not because it's good to lie to yourself, but because sometimes the truth can really fuck you up.

I don't know when we broke up. I don't know when Ursula and Brian started dating. I don't know when she first felt attracted to him. I've never asked. She's said she never cheated on me. Can I believe that? I've never explicitly found out these details, and it has to be at least partially because I'm afraid of what the answer might be. I do know that when I came home in June of 2002, we were still nominally together. I went back to New York soon after, and a few months later she was engaged.

Seems quick, doesn't it?

I hope she hasn't made a mistake. But there's a little part of me that hopes she HAS made a mistake, that this ends badly and that she realizes hey, what I had was better. I'm not proud of that, but neither will I hide from it.

It also seems incredibly pretentious and presumptuous to say, "I hope she hasn't made a mistake". Who the hell am I to judge other people's mistakes? I've made more than my fair share, and I'm nowhere near done. The day I stop making mistakes will likely be the day I die.

But it's ok to make those mistakes, I think - it is those mistakes that tend to define us as humans. I was kicking around a theory a month or so ago that the person you are is formed at the end of high school; that for the most part, that is the person you will remain for the rest of your life. That's why so many people remain stuck in that moment, with the same issues and the same lives. I mentioned it to a friend, and she replied that she felt it was a cop-out; an excuse to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

She's right.

But I'm still not convinced that you can change some things about yourself. Some aspects, yes, some aspects, no. Take alcoholism. You can choose to fight it, to not drink, but it will always be there and it will always color the way you see things - it is a part of you. But, and this is where I stand today, just because success isn't guaranteed, it does not follow that you shouldn't try. It may not be logical to try when there is no chance of success, but humans are not logical creatures, nor should they strive to be in every facet of their lives. If anything, it is the reach for perfection while being fully cognisant of the impossibility of its attainment that is, to me, the simplest truth in life.

So, I'm afraid to ask Ursula those questions. I don't want to upset her, I don't want to upset myself. But maybe it would be better to get those things out. And maybe she's afraid too - maybe that's why she stays in touch with me, out of a sense of guilt for having betrayed me either physically or emotionally. I guess there's only one way to find out.

Back in the C.A.N.A......da

Ok, so Canada isn't as catchy as the USSR. Who would have guessed?

Asia was...interesting. Something I've been aware of for several years now is the increasing homogenity (wonder if that's spelled right) of the world - that is to say, no matter where you go in the world, cities always feel very similar. You're always seeing the same brands, the same fast food restaurants and the same daily routine. And I suppose part of the reason why it was that way was because most of the cities I went to are ones where a foreign influence has been around for quite some time. But another part of it is the whole globalization thing. I don't really feel like typing out a pile of crap about that because there's authors who are far more informed than me who've written at much greater length than I could, and I don't feel positively or negatively about it - it's just a reality of the world today.

If anything else, it is the character of the people that sets Asia apart. The density of people I was somewhat prepared for by living in New York. It's worse in Asia, of course, but walking through Times Square during a peak time is a decent approximation of walking around in Asia. What's different is how the people approach it: with a passive-aggressiveness which seems inherent in Asian culture. The concept of lining up seems to be an alien one, unless there's a strong Western influence in the city; lines are replaced by amorphous mobs, waving their money or tickets. Driving is handled somewhat similarly, with only a cursory amount of homage paid to the elements of the road which keep order on the streets of North America; signs, traffic lights, even lanes. It's quite an experience seeing a 3 lane expressway turn into 5 lanes, let me tell you.

Of course, we did the two main tourist-type things: the terracotta warriors and the Great Wall. It's difficult to put into words what it's like to be in those places. The history of the area is something that dwarfs your imagination and your sense of being, especially coming from such a culturally infantile area as North America. It is humbling to stand somewhere and to know that hundreds or thousands of years earlier, someone else stood in that exact place - someone with their own set of hopes, dreams and fears. It is a realization that makes you both small and huge all at once - to know that you are not unique, that you are both a part of the human organism and an individual, one given a degree of choice that no previous generation has ever been afforded.

I also went to Ursula's wedding last night; I have some jumbled thoughts on that I can dump, but I think I'll put them in a different post.