Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Folded memories

So let's stem the flow of nostalgia and chat about one of those Christmases that veer into secondary- the events around it become the memory and the holiday itself melts into little more than a series of dates. And it never happens when you want it to- if Christmas is bookend to a year, sometimes that bookend slips and that year pours from the shelf onto the floor.

Or something. The short story is this- I was sharing a house with 2 other people and still dating a woman from University, although things had not been going particularily well. Case in point: We were going to go to a party together. A winter solstice affair, something for a group of quasi-practicing pagans (quasi as in 'when it makes for a party') had thrown. She was late meeting me at my house and told me to go alone, she might make it later. So I went to the party alone to meet her there. In fact, I waited 2 hours or so before she arrived, watching her apologizing profusely to the hosts that she was late.

I think I said something that was meant to be faceitious, like "You notice she doesn't apologize to me for being late." And she looked at me and said, perhaps also trying to be facetious, "But it's you! You're not people! It's you!"

This was probably supposed to be funny, however it seemed to sum her attitude towards me at the time. To be fair, she apologized to ME at that point in fairly great detail. But she had said something a few months before, something about how she wanted to love me and need me but not to 'date' me, not to be tied to the rigors of 'dating' such as always going to parties together and always being on time. Or being late and apologizing.

My birthday is a week and a half before Christmas, and due to her schedule she wasn't going to make it to a birthday dinner with me and my family. That was ok. Then she could make it, but only at short notice, and during a blizzard. So I had to pick her up, take her to the restaurant, in a blizzard. Which made us both late, reducing the time she could spend with me that evening. She also had a birthday card for me, kept safely at her office (she had keys), which she didn't want to pick up despite my offer of a drive. After the late dinner.

This is all admittedly petty. And one sided. I can't report it in any other way, it's what came across at the time. Her side is probably just as petty as mine by this point (if thought of at all). What it does is illustrate my state of mind for that Christmas, and my response to her.

The last straw was that she had arranged to work on New Year's Eve. I had planned to spend the evening alone with her, or at a party, but had it announced that she was taking part in a function and if I wanted to, I could watch her there, maybe spend a few minutes at midnight, before she had to go home. Alone.

On the day after Christmas, I would ususally travel north to visit family, and she was invited to come. She vascillated a few times but, again, to be fair, decided to come along for the trip. By this point I was of two minds- I appreciated the fact she was taking the time to see me. For that matter, I realized that everything could change at a moment's notice and that my so-called girlfriend was more than willing to make plans for New Year's Eve without me. Part of the not 'dating' ritual, I suspected.

She came north with my family and I, but by that time I was barely speaking to her. The year before, she had come willingly and at a moment's notice, actually looking happy to be here. The next year, I still saw something back there- let's call it concern- but if there was romance I was either too furious to recognize it or was too numbed by everything around it to notice. We spent a pinched few hours together- we wandered upstairs in my uncle's house to watch the snow and it was only a meterological effect. The year previous it had been poetry.

The resulting memory is not a scar upon the season, just a footnote. I can't remember the rest of the day in any detail, but I can still shiver from time to time at the frozen feeling of being trapped in a gift-wrapped holiday, more than willing to claw my way out of it or to set fire to the next card that was handed to me.

I wanted to find something quiet in the holiday, either with my girlfriend for some kind of reconciliation, or simply to sound the depths of why things had stopped working. I received instead a few bars of "Jingle Bell Rock" which is ridiculous now and was insult to injury at the time.


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