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Memory-Limited, or, From the Hip

Went running today. My dad, an inveterate marathoner, used to encourage us to note whether we were leg-limited or lung-limited during a given run; it’s only recently that this kind of take on a body has to me seemed limited. In dance class, I am frequently space-limited, back-limited, or arm-limited. Running must be about something more, too. I remember Li-Young Lee talking about a given poem of his coming from his rib, or from his hip. Surely running has a more spiritual side.

Anyway, today I was neither leg- nor lung-limited; I was pavement-limited. I took what must have been the digger of my life over on 44th Street when I jammed my right foot into a loop of my left shoelace. I scraped my palms, elbow, shoulder, shin, knee, and hip. I think that adds up to more points of landing than the time JT and I crash-landed near the Washington Monument.

To my memory, that was the only unpleasant part of my visit with him in DC, or even the entire summer before I entered college. The sex was good; he’d been writing me profound letters on a frequent basis; he sent me little gifts and I reciprocated; his mom and stepdad had flown me out and I was enjoying spending time with them; Kube came up and visited and we baptized ourselves at the Watergate. A fun time was had by all, I thought.

So it was kind of a rude shock to find that not only was this guy who I’d considered one of the greater loves of my life blogging unbeknownst to me, but he also had a totally different take on that particular period of time. (Inexact linkage; look for the April 18 post, or do a search for “Jill” on the page.)

I don’t know how to take it, exactly. He had a big crush on someone else; he hadn’t mentioned that. Was he lying to me? I’d never thought of him as a liar. Frank and thoughtful, yes. A liar, no.

Then again, memory warps in time, faster than glass does. Was my recollection of that time wrong, or was his? The DC trip was about eight years ago; maybe we’re both wrong about what it was like. Time for some reconceptualization. I’d also always presumed I meant as much to him as he had to me, a preconception which that post and others took apart. It had already proved a dangerous presumption — about three years ago, in some fit of crudely-conceived empowerment, I experimentally asked him to marry me. He backed off speaking in the kind of “nice doggie” tone you use to augment your use of a big stick against a menacing dog. My head was pretty hazy at that point with low-self-esteem in the depressurization period after college, so I probably was too into myself to read him well; I never guessed how that stunt would impact what I read as bemusement in him.

Still, I thought I knew him. There is a terrible thing about going to the kind of school where the same people are together for twelve years or more: you come to think these people belong to you. They are symbols for you to play with. They have meanings which in some ways are the clearest possible distillation of who they are, and yet do not begin to touch who they are. Your meaning fits together with theirs, even if it is not anything like theirs; it can be an opposition, or a complement. And then everyone moves away, and the substance behind those meanings dissolves. For highly affective people like me, the shell of the meaning remains. I think it only gets in the way.


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