Thursday, February 22, 2007

The "Thing"

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.
from "Adam's Curse" by William Butler Yeats

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking on the subject of the “thing.” The “thing” that I’m speaking of is an ambiguity that is rather difficult to define. It’s a feeling toward someone else. In my case(s) they have all been toward the opposite sex and have smacked of amorous connection. It’s a sort of intuitive sense of knowing someone so profoundly, that it may not even be the outward version of this person. It’s more a sense about the inward version. And it’s a gravitational pull that draws your inward version to their inward version. Does this make any sense?

I’ve experienced this with four different men, and not once has it lead to anything very far beyond friendship (well, not yet). But I’ve learned a lot about myself and human nature through these odd communions. And I cherish my time with these men because I’ve always had an easy rapport and really, really interesting and deep conversations with them. All four of them have left pieces of themselves in the characters I’ve created for my novels.

The first “thing” man I met was a good friend in high school. We even dated for a very little while. We always shared some truly witty and fun banter, but we also confided in each other and took what the other said to heart. In essentials, we’re very much alike. We always understood each other and could have conversations without saying a word. And when he was suffering or angry or upset, I always felt it too – beyond sympathy. I’ve begun to feel that we have very similar souls (if you believe in that sort of thing).

The second of these enigmatically understandable men was also someone I dated for a very little while in high school. We were so different that we understood each other. It was more than an opposites attract kind of thing: it was more like we came full circle around each other and bumped into each other again on the other side. We were masters of the witty and entertaining banter. With him I could always exercise my latent blatant side. I could be downright blunt with him, and he with me. We were the moderates on opposite sides of a debate.

Number three was someone I met in college. The first time I saw him striding arrogantly across the dining hall, verses started flooding my brain. For one thing, he was beautiful. I mean a BEAUTIFUL man. Half Cherokee, long curly hair, painfully incisive gray eyes, tall, built like his native ancestors. Good God. It’s the first time I actually felt a rush of temperature just by looking at someone. For a while, I just watched and observed. He intrigued me. The first time we actually spoke was in a mutual friend’s dorm room. He made fun of my Southern accent as so many of my Atlanta-bred classmates did, but he teased in his own rather thick Northeast Georgia mountain accent. And he was a poet. A remarkable poet whose work really moved me. We didn’t actually talk too much in the traditional sense, but we communicated through writing and moments of drunken inhibition. He saw the woman I could become and I saw the man he could become. He was a rogue, but I was madly in love with him of course. He had issues. I had none. But I always sensed a goodness in him that was more powerful than his misbehavior. He hid this goodness so well that not many people liked him. In recent years, I’ve discovered (indirectly) that I was right about him all along, because he doesn’t hide his goodness anymore. I still write poems and have dreams about him. You could say he was my first real muse.

The final and most recent “thing” man is someone I’ve known my entire life and have always liked and respected. We met for the first time as adults maybe three or four years ago at a bar. We had a brief conversation, and didn’t really see much of each other. About a year and a half ago, I got a call from him completely out of the blue. He was teaching a college course and seeking some creative advice. From then on, he would call me every once in a while, usually at about three in the morning, and we’d end up talking for hours and hours. He invited me to continue the conversation at his house twice (six months apart), and both times we ended up in lip lock. We are more outwardly similar than any of the other “thing” men. As a friend said, we’re headed to the same place in separate cars. We love the same things, we have the same kind of thoughts, and I’ve begun to think that I may have a calming effect on his profoundly A.D.D. mind. I still don’t know what’s going on there, and frankly I’m getting a bit annoyed at myself for wondering.

Lately, I’ve been in contact with the first and the last of these “thing” men more than ever before. Probably the two men with whom this “thing” has been the deepest and the most latent. Odd how that happens. Now granted, this could all be in my head, but I don’t think so. I honestly don’t think so although I must allow that it could possibly be a projection of my respect and curiosity onto them. I just wonder if they consider me one of their “thing” women. And I wonder if either of these “things” might evolve. My money’s on one more than the other. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I might prefer that particular “thing.” The question is which “thing” should I take the most stock in? Which is more real, more tangible?

And I’d also like to pose the question: Do y’all have “thing” men or women, or is this a creation of my sometimes overly active imagination?

A song that for some reason makes me think of all of my "thing" men. This is the Volebeats doing "Somewhere in My Heart"


  1. I don't know why I hesitated to post a comment, but I do kind of know what you're saying. I do understand the "thing", but I like to think that those are the people that shaped who I am now, but never have and never will define me. For me, there were several women I dated, but many more friends of both sexes who were the "thing" for me. Or maybe I just don't understand exactly what you mean.

    My concern for you is that you are dwelling too much on the past. All those old folks are just a small part of who you are. Not one of them could give you everything you need, at least not based on past experiances.

    I know Calhoun is a small fishbowl, but in the words of Joey and Chandler "Grab a spoon". Just because you're in a rut, doesn't mean you have to fish the muddy waters. Yes, I'm mixing metaphors.

  2. I go back and forth in my head on these matters although I'm sure I shouldn't. I've gotten better with my dwelling thing, but it will always be my nature.


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