Regretful? Never… just wistful

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid – Katharine Hepburn

I’d like to put in an addendum to Hepburn’s quote.

Aside from the stupid things you do, you regret, I’d like to add that the things (stupid or not) you didn’t do, you regret, too.

I’m cool with regretting things I’ve done.

All my ex-whatevers would fall under that column. I’m sure they would not be surprised that they’re on this list. I’m sure they feel the same way about me.

I also have an infinitely longer list of people I wish I never had the aneurysm-producing pleasure of meeting. But in order to experience the full spectrum of life, it’s necessary to be exposed to the good, the bad and the undeniably questionable. The questionable, more often than not, never fails to be the fun stuff. The stuff of memories and legends.

But would I make the same mistakes… walk down that path, again? Yes, I would. Why? Because every choice I’ve made, every challenge thrown at me and every person I’ve met (yes, even the ones I want to hang upside down and beat the shit out of like a pinata), has led me to this point in my life. It hasn’t been too shabby. Sure, there are things I still want to tackle before I become dust in the wind. While those goals are always achievable, it seems I need several lifetimes (we’re talking in the double digits, folks) to get through my seriously-need-to-do list.

Although I’m cool with regretting the things I’ve done, I’m not so cool with the things I could have, would have, should have done but didn’t do. Most of the things that fall into this category, I don’t lose sleep over. I shrug my shoulders and keep moving forward because dwelling on the past isn’t productive. Never is.

I’ll admit there is one regret that I have. I’m not even sure if it’s really a regret since I mull over it as a ‘what if.’ However, what-ifs are just as dangerously unproductive as the regrets.

This one regret is a guy I went to college with. We were classmates. He was funny, larger than life but self-deprecating and humble. He still is. We could have had a relationship. Fuck, we probably should have had a relationship. So, what happened? Lack of clear communication about his intentions and a bit of miscommunication and misreading on my part. I think that’s the best way to describe it. It was an opportunity that came and went. But not without some angst on his part and cluelessness on mine, I suppose.

I’ll take the blame for screwing up the chance to be with someone who had the best opportunity to ruin me in future relationships. If that sounds really confusing, don’t lose any brain cells figuring that one out. Trust me when I say it makes absolute sense to me.

Anyway, years later, we reconnected via Facebook and email. And we had one phone conversation where he admitted the feelings he had for me back in college. I was stunned. And this was where I apologized for the miscommunication and misreading for his intentions.

I won’t go into detail about the conversation that night. It stays between him and me.

If you’re wondering if we ever got around to giving it another shot, I can tell you – no, we didn’t. We were and are fully entrenched in the lives we have now. We live in two different countries even though we are on the same continent. I’m not one to shy away from the idea of a long-distance relationship but other factors have to be place for me to give it a go. Those factors were never in place. Our personal trajectories don’t align in any way that would permit the possibility of seeing if sparks would fly again.

I’m okay with that. He’s okay with that. He’s doing great in a career he loves and was born to do. Me? I don’t mind meandering through life, throwing myself into small indulgences and learning more about myself and my place in this world.

But still, the odd little thing will set me off and I do think of him and what-if.

What was the odd little thing this time? A song that actor Oscar Isaac performed in a movie called 10 Years which also starred Channing Tatum. You can check the IMDb website for specs and storyline about the movie. I came across the song and scene snippet by accident. I have never seen the movie. It’s described as a romantic comedy drama. I’m not a fan of romantic comedies, even if there is a touch or healthy dose of drama.

As much as I love Isaac, it’s a movie that doesn’t make my Top 100 movies to-watch list. I feel the same way about Jamie Dornan who played Christian Grey in the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. The man is a very good, if not brilliant actor. I first saw him in the British series The Fall opposite Gillian Anderson. He knows how to play creepy and slightly unhinged. So perfect. I loved him in that series. I will watch Dornan in anything except in 50 Shades of Grey. E.L. James has plenty of money. She doesn’t need mine to line her pockets.

So, in the movie 10 Years, there is a scene where Isaac’s character, Reeves, is at some sort of open mic event and he performs a song about Elise (played by Kate Mara) — who happens to be in the audience — and his unrequited love for her. I’m going to assume Elise and Reeves get together by the end of the movie. Wild guess.

Anyway, the song is called Never Had. It’s a great little song. Listening to the lyrics made me think of my friend. Granted, the lyrics are very specific to Reeves’ and Elise’s story but the spirit and sentiment behind the song’s existence resonated with me. It is the best expression of how I feel about him, in particular, the chorus:

Through the good times and the bad
You were the best I never had
The only chance I wish I had to take

But there was no writing on the wall
No warning signs to follow
I know now and I can’t just forget
You’re the best I never had

Yeah, it got me thinking. And not necessarily in a bad way. More wistful than anything else. Here is the tail end of the final verse before it kicks into the chorus one last time:

And I hope this song I’m singing
Some day finds you
Wherever you may be

I’m pretty sure my friend doesn’t read this blog. Mainly because I never mentioned it to him. And because I didn’t start this blogsite until long after our conversation ended. Today, we are in each other’s peripheral vision but we don’t directly communicate all that often. Different trajectories.

Maybe this blogpost will some day find him wherever he may be. I hope he knows I’m talking about him. I don’t want him to tell me he read it. I just want him to know how I will always feel about him.

The best I never had.

Just an apparition

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.
Source: Urban Dictionary

I only bring this up because (thanks to Charlize Theron’s dis-engagement from Sean Penn) the topic of ‘ghosting’ has been floating around in recent weeks. My reaction to their break-up? None, to be honest. I don’t see how their relationship woes concern me. Some ‘ordinary’ folks take a perverse pleasure in knowing that celebrities are more than human and quite fallible. Just like the rest of us. The opportunity to judge others is irresistible.

I try to avoid taking the opportunity. Life is busy enough without consuming additional brain cells one needs to call out someone we don’t personally know on their questionable behaviour or choices.

Quite honestly, I had never heard the term ‘ghosting’ until I heard about Theron’s disappearing act from her relationship with Penn. I didn’t realize there was a name for this kind of behaviour or modus operandi. Maybe it’s because I don’t have friends who are inclined to describe their breakups as examples of ghosting. Or maybe it’s a term not commonly used in this part of the Canadian landscape.

Anyway, when I read what ghosting referred to, I thought about my last relationship. I was the ghostee.

I’ll spare you the details of the relationship and how one little moment nose-dived the four-day visit in his home city. Yes, it was a long distance relationship. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he stopped communicating with me after my visit.

I would have appreciated a little verbal honesty where he said he made a mistake in trying to have a relationship with me. If he had told me how he felt, I would have left on good terms. He didn’t. Radio silence. Persona non-grata.

My mistake was assuming that the fact we had known each other for a number of years, developing a relationship wouldn’t be as fraught with emotional landmines as it possibly could be with someone you didn’t know very well. That blew up in my face.

Two weeks after my visit, I sent him an email letting him know that the radio silence sucked and that I was fine with him having second thoughts about the relationship. There were other things I said but I won’t get into that. I have no idea whether or not he ever read the email. If he did, he couldn’t bring himself to reply and confirm that he had made a mistake in moving our friendship into romantic relationship territory and that he was sorry.

Yeah, I was angry and disappointed when he decided to ignore me and pretend I didn’t exist. But I never hated him or regretted trying to have a romantic relationship with him. I learned a lot about myself from this experience.

Given his romantic track record, I knew he was most likely emotionally damaged. Let’s face it, we’re all a little damaged from previous relationships. No one is immune. The important thing is how you deal with the damage, how to you heal yourself to become healthy enough to enter into a new relationship. The fact he brought up the idea of having a relationship with me, seemed to indicate he was emotionally healthy enough to try again. He wasn’t. I suppose understanding that he had his own struggles prevented me from referring to him constantly as a fucking asshole or an immature dickhead and demanding that he ‘man up.’

Yeah, our friendship was collateral damage in this misstep. But honestly, I don’t miss our friendship. And I don’t miss him. I hope he’s figured it out, or at least, is on his way to figuring it out.

I’ve heard ghosting being referred to as ‘the coward’s way out’ of a relationship. I would be inclined to agree with that assessment. Breaking up is hard to do. Especially when you tell someone in person. There’s always the fear the recipient of bad news will start crying or grab a utensil to gouge out your eyes. There is no graceful way to do it. I guess the only way to break it off is to be honest. But honesty is hard. Avoidance is apparently easier. With the advent of text messaging, it’s so much easier to not reply to / block someone or text a quick short sentence that it’s over. No drama, no slashed tires, no attempted murder charges. They never see you scurry away with the your tail tucked between your legs.

Throwing away an undesirable relationship hasn’t been easier.

I’ve also heard the argument that ghosting is necessary for the abused wanting to leave the abuser. I don’t think ‘ghosting’ is really an appropriate word for such situations. Attempting to leave an abusive relationship is serious business — too serious for ‘ghosting’ to used in this regard. Seems flippant to me. Leaving an abusive relationship means saving your own life. Ghosting is dumping someone you don’t have the balls to tell in person that you’re just not that into them and that there are other fish in the sea. Life or death issues don’t come into play when it comes to ghosting.

With ghosting considered one of the 21st-century’s dating problems, it unabashedly reveals an unwillingness or inability to communicate by those who ghost. Yeah, you can blame that on a lack of maturity and/or less than stellar communication skills.

Personally, I’m leaning towards lack of maturity as the main reason for ghosting. But if you think about it, immaturity and ineffective communication skills have been tanking relationships for centuries.

It takes a lot of stones to end a relationship, and I’m not referring to ones where you’ve only gone on a date with the person twice. Telling a person, face-to-face, that you don’t want to see him/her anymore takes a lot of nerve. It can be scary as hell letting the other person down but there will be, in the end, a certain amount of respect given to you for saying it in person rather than via text message or by ‘vanishing’ from their life.

Speaking as a ghostee, I would have preferred to have been told it wasn’t going to work out. Maybe the friendship could have been salvaged. Or maybe not. No way of knowing unless he and I both crossed that bridge. As it stands, that bridge will never be crossed. I’m pretty sure he burned it to the ground.

I guess he was doing me a favour. Never needed help burning bridges before. But it seems there are people who can’t help themselves. They gotta do it. They need to do it.

Thanks, but no thanks.

I’m doing fine. All by myself.

Revealing ourselves

I suppose all fictional characters, especially in adventure or heroic, at the end of the day are our dreams about ourselves. And sometimes they can be really revealing – Alan Moore

Writing is arguably one of the most personal and intimate art forms in existence.

Art, in and of itself, is where you willingly expose your heart and soul to anyone who wants to see, read or listen to what you have to say. It can be terrifying.

In a writing group, sharing your work for the first time can be scary and angst-filled. You never know how you’re going to be received. You worry what you have to say isn’t interesting or too outlandish. You worry your grammar isn’t up to snuff. So many things niggle at you before members of the group coax you into sharing with the sincere promise of no judgment. It’s true, there is no judgement. Well, that is the case with the group I am a part of.

The poetry or fiction we write can reveal so much of who we are and how we think. When it comes to writing, there is a saying that goes like this — write what you know. Depending on what genre you’re working in and in the spirit of ‘write what you know,’ the question of whether or not the story you’ve written is, in anyway, autobiographical is always asked. And you have to be prepared to answer it with honesty.

After The Raven Sonata was published, that particular question was presented to me a few of times. In terms of the storyline? Hell, no. But there were bits and pieces where they were based on situations in my life. The outcome of those real-life situations never played out in the novel. Just my imagination running wild for the first time in a literary setting.

The question of whether or not a certain character is based on you, occasionally comes up, too. The only people who asked me that question were those who had known me for awhile but not well enough to be part of my inner circle of friends. I guess for them, it’s like trying to solve the mystery of writing. Where did the ideas come from? What motivated you to write this particular story? And whether or not any of the characters are based on people they know.

All valid questions. And while I would like to say the characters in the stories I’ve written, are not, on a deeper level, a reflection of who I am, they are. For better or for worse, every word I’ve written, is there for a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is not always readily clear but it reveals itself eventually.

When Alan Moore says all fictional characters are our dreams about ourselves, that is true for both the reader and writer.

For the reader, it’s the opportunity to get lost in a story and take on the role of one of the main characters and walk in his or her shoes for a couple of hours or for an afternoon. The characters we gravitate towards reveals a bit about our moral compass and how we relate to the world around us.

For the writer, it would be the same. The characters I’ve created are a part of me or what I could have been if different paths — from the one I’m walking now — had been taken. The characters are a small representation of my world view and moral compass. It also represents a curiosity I have regarding relationships and human nature.

Is it unnerving to let your art speak for you? Yes, but once you take a deep breath and step off the cliff, there are no regrets.