Sticks and Bones

The first part of a chronicle of a crush-turned-obsession. I'm sorry, Julie.

To experience this in natural reading order go to A Bright, Ironic Hell: The Straight Read .

Also, try Satellite Dance and Crystal Delusions--Parts 2 and 3, respectively--complete.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Shame of Triumph, the Victory of Defeat (7/10/09 Friday)

A triumphant day sets on a shameful evening. A day of liberating candor dons a dark cloak of confusing reflection. I've been telling people how I feel about things, and I have been stepping on toes and hurting feelings. I have not been mean, only blunt. I feel I have done my character a service if I've been dealing my reputation a blow. But, to be fair to my reputation, it's punch-drunk anaethetized. I made no friends of co-workers today, but I enjoyed a rapport with patrons. With both I was open and decidedly not taciturn (with one obvious exception). It was not something my co-workers were use to, which, perhaps, accounts for both their offense and the patrons acceptance: Those who thought they knew me were confused, and those who didn't talked to me freely. I chided Mike for taping a torn page, and he said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I just thought I'd save you some trouble. I won't do it again," he added, shrinking a bit. Brian, who is our newest member and part-time, and, therefore, the least familiar with me, got a chiding, too, for misreading the schedule and beginning to collect books from the drop while I was still at the backup station. My reflex was to be miffed, but to prick my annoyance I joked, "You trying to tell me something?" As he takes most things, Brian took this without offense but not without understanding my my meaning. "Watch out," I told him. "I'm a sensitive guy." Julie was present. I could have taken the joke a little deeper at her expense, but in the absence of a knowing audience, its full effect--the embarrassment of Julie and the discomfiture of the audience--could not have been attained. I don't do jokes twice, so I don't waste them on the unappreciative.

With Joe, I wasn't joking when I spoke my mind to him. Our new day porter is much more industrious than Jeff ever was, but sometimes seemingly for the sake of busyness. He was the first person I saw Wednesday afternoon, and he said to me, "I'm going out and have lunch at the picnic table, now that I've cleaned it up out there." I looked over his shoulder out the breakroom window. "Oh, no," I couldn't help saying over the sight of a small massacre of wildflowers, shrubs, and saplings around the picnic table--maples, pines, sassafras, blueberrries, and myriad flowers and groundcovers, gone. This was way, way beyond his purview. What did he even do it with? We don't have any yard tools here. I said, "I liked it better the way it was." "Oh," he said. I said, "That area behind the mulch"--an amorphous ring inside of which was an island of protected wild growth--"is supposed to be left alone." "Really?" "Yes." My reaction was probably so much the opposite of the gratitude he expected that he must have been as crestfallen as he'd planned to be elevated in pride. He walked away silently.

Mary Lou, however, received the biggest slice of what I was dishing out. After she left for lunch I noticed on her desk a pair of bulky holds--multi-media learning packets that I had twice put out on the holds shelf for pickup, because it's where they belonged. The moment she got back I confronted her. "Did you take these off the holds shelf again?" "Yes. They were annoying me." "Annoying you? You had no right to do that." I snatched the holds from her desk. I had nearly a complete audience and I could feel the fear like a deafening fog stop everything. "It doesn't matter what any of us here like! This belongs out there!" and I took them out and shelved them for a third time.

I'm at an intersection of many roads, and I've somehow taken steps down each one of them--and they each feel right. I'm growing out of myself and into myself. It's painful and exciting. The pain is the old me with its claws in the new me--the dreadful familiar trying to pull me from the tingly new. The shame I felt at the end of the day is a humble reminder of the society I live in, its expectations of acquiescence to a safe conformity. But I have never been a conformer, and the pretense behind which I pretended to be a conformer has been hanging between me and my own mirror. I have pushed it aside this week. Shame is simply what low self-esteem sees--a feeble leap at unreachable and arbritary standards: It's seeing what it thinks I should be and knowing I'll never be it. Well, it's right, because it's not me. The leap is feeble because I don['t really want it. I want what I am, and that's no leap at all. I won't cry over the shame, but I won't crow over the triumph, either, because I don't know what I've won. Whatever roads I'm taking will meet up again, I'm confident, in a better place.


Deboshree said...

What's happening Dion?
Are you finally becoming someone you really want to be?
If that is the case, carry on and you have my best wishes.


Dion Burn said...

A slow transformation is happening, Debroshree. I don't have the words yet to describe it, but I know it's right.