I got about ten feet. Maybe fifteen. Definitely not twenty. There are all these nasty TREES, you see, and they tend not to part red-sea-style to let folks just wander in to get lost, unless those folks happen to have machetes, which makes it difficult for them not to find their way out. So when the way became impassable, i.e. not passable without contorting myself into shapes not worth the effort, I just stood there... for a long time. Just staring into the wilderness, thinking the crap I tend to think, smirking occasionally, sometimes in bitter irony, sometimes in self-disgust, sometimes in nostalgia. I turned and looked through the branches of three or four trees back at the street, repeating the process. I heaved a hefty sigh and began to stir. I relieved myself on a neighboring bush and got my sorry ass out of there.
On the road again, still heading away from Her. No, toying with death wasn't the thing. Feigning death: now that's the ticket. I would stay out just long enough for Her to get seriously worried. That might not even take too long, as it wasn't clear the way I left that I was actually going running right then (I wasn't dressed for it, for one thing). Until then, I would walk, and relax, or emote, or whatever the hell I should be doing to be dramatically acceptable. I would find a very good view, a mountain top or something... somewhere to have the obligatory religious experience and get tired and cold enough walking around that I wouldn't mind the fact that I wasn't actually wanted. Something like that. Of course, I had no idea where a mountain top might be, and knew from experience that it was pain enough walking to a 7-11, so maybe that would do. Slurpee to Nirvana. Or maybe just back to campus to try to break into Her electronic mail account and read His excrement for myself. Ah, forget it. Not worth the risk or the effort. I turned around a few times as I walked, looking at the weird reflection of the streetlights off the ultra-thin layer of snow (which had melted and refallen multiple times; phooey on Those Who Know), the street stretching before me, reaching a curve some half mile ahead, the strip malls almost within reach in the same direction, the university looming on the hill across the street. And over the trees... the sky was so clear that it looked fake, like the inside of a movie studio all set to show E.T.'s heartwarming adventures, like one of those miniature museum models depicting whatever historical architecture set beneath painted stars. Oh, stop being a putz, Mark. Don't worry the Girl. So I turned around, the experience having reached the level of silliness it was hankering to reach. I knew what I must do. Besides relax, that is. (I learn my lessons, ja?)
So I searched along the edge of the forest as I walked back. The snows last year had come heavy and early, leaving many a tree bent and broken. I picked at an appealing-looking log only to find it was still firmly rooted down. A few more paces ahead, and... there. It was about eight feet long, maybe seven inches wide, and beautiful. I tore off the major branches, then the twigs, and continued to preen it as I started walking It back. A couple passed on the road about fifteen feet uphill and I hoped they would ask me what I was doing so I could answer "speaking softly."
By the time I got back I was beaming. I greeted the Doggies one by one in their play, showing off my prize for Her as surely superior to any that they could come up with. If I'm going to act like a DOG, I thought, I might as well be the best damn DOG I can be.
She was, of course, properly pleasantly amused by my token, for She knew the symbols as well as I did (She even helped Me figure out the ways in which She was canine listed previously), and invited Me in for some snacks. Before coming inside I carried up my catch out next to the path behind Her apartment where We had separated and suspended it between the branches of two trees. "So it'll fall on someone pretty soon," She noted.
"Yeah, I guess so." I smiled and shrugged.
Ah, what a feel-good flashback. No, no, no. That was not the end of it, though it was the most dramatic bad part of it. (The pickins is slim for drama `round these parts, yep!) As a result of His whining I got ousted to the couch... not that He was made aware of this, for then He would have had to know that I was sleeping in Her room previously. "It's just a gesture," She explained. I didn't really see the point, and said so enough times to annoy Myself, though She remained tolerant. The balance and resolve achieved in writing Her that song, or fetching Her that stick, had to be reestablished again and again (especially on the few evenings before it was firmly established that I would not be leaving). I had committed myself to the long run but continued to thrash around within my role, reminding myself to relax, then getting worked up some more about the time that was slipping away, or the fact that I was sort of acting out the same old patterns and was in fact in a skewed, one-sided relationship that demanded I make unhealthy sacrifices of passion and dignity, or the insistent symbolism in my own teeth (for example), or the fact that I was failing to relax into this long run, and so failing Her. Why, yes, sir, apparati to torture oneself is available in a variety of shapes and colors and conveniently located just six inches to the left of wherever you happen to be sitting. Wow, Man, this is like the owners manual to the human mind. Shut up, Mark. No, my sweet book; why don't you make me? Why don't you make me? I am, My Creation.
No, She and I never bickered, exactly, though We did and do disagree as to when certain events actually took place. On more subjective matters, though, She was infinitely more understanding than these flat white receptacles and the creepy person who's presently reading them. We discussed, We explored possibilities, tried to figure out how We would end up feeling, warned each other about Our respective neuroses... in short, We participated together in the same kind of attempted self-understanding, mutual sympathy, and adaptation of aesthetics that I've been performing solo here for your amusement. And that's something; that's a lot. So She didn't hold it against me when I came back into Her room that night after a few hours not sleeping and tried to talk the tension down, to break through the defenses that I could feel building up in myself... And when I told Her I was scared, that since being dumped that first big time, every subsequent disappointment has just cast me deeper into the same patterns of despair, pushing me farther and farther each time, that I just didn't know if I could take another and felt really close to actually flipping out, that I didn't want to end up insane or dead. She didn't hold it against me, but just held Me instead as I cried for the first and as yet only time during this affair. And as I grew happy again in Her arms, I think I said that I wouldn't write about that moment, that it was too perfect.