Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reflections on Crosswords, Autonomy, and Being Alone

Tonight after tutoring in Germantown I came home and sat on my stoop, drank a beer, and worked on yesterdays crossword. I thought today was going to be my day. But I got hung up on four letter fabulous diamonds, and pentathalon events ending in double E, and I just couldnt see them. The crossword is a mysterya head-slapping, next day realization mystery when the answers are revealed, when you see how everything fits togethereven when you were trying to push words in there that didnt fitand how the right words were right under your nose.

When I was young my dad and I would play tennis a lot. My dad used to use a wooden tennis racket with a long neck and the cover would be held together with wingnuts. my racket was a really cheap dunlop from k-mart that performed more like a squash racket than a tennis racket. it was also beat to shit from me hurling it to the gods and cursing a ripe storm whenever i lost a game. i was more competitive back then, but it was more from the frustration of coming so close to beating my dad--my biggest and most admired adversary at the game--and never being able to do it no matter how i tried. (my mom was good competition, but i was able to put her down more than once (not as quick on the toes)) my dad was always very consoling at the end, but also never played down so i could win. anyway, those fucking crosswords are the same close, no cigar. to this day i haven't been able to piece it all together and claim a win. my life, in crosswords terms, is never complete, day in and day out.

what does this have to do with being alone? a lot, really--from my perspective at least. the last few months i have felt better than i have in a long time; much more solid and self-accepting, content and appreciative. i've also come to terms with the fact that i'm single and it might be like this for a while. it seems funny to say, since really i have been single for most of my life and it seems like my baseline or something. it wasn't like this six months ago, though--just ask jason or jeremy or the cashier at the wine and spirits in manayunk. i was sad. i was off. i wasn't happy being alone like i usually am and with the slew of weddings and christmas parties and third wheel nights in olde city. but like i said, the last few months have been really good and i'm grateful for everything in my life so no, thank you, i have my own sharp cheddar to go with my port wine.

the thing is, tonight my balloon settled softly in the grass on my front yard. i came home and was sad. my research, which i had been absolutely immersed in for months, was tied and bundled at 3am this morning and sent off to my prof via email. i felt like an empty nester. sure, it kept me busy but it was more than that--i had adopted my graduate work this semester as something that gave me real, passionate purpose. it seems silly, but i could come home from work and spend the evening doing research and developing a ethical praxis of drug use that has yet to be developed by contemporary Catholic ethicists. it felt important, and i believed in what i as doing. i would learn and learn, for hours, and pray and pray. then after feeling like i had put a good nights work in, i would curl up on the couch with a bowl of icecream and maybe some tea and watch an episode of The Office of The Simpsons and feel very content. the next morning i would wake and sit in prayer, then head to work to goof around with all the married folks, and feel grateful for the life i have.

i'm still grateful for that life of course. but like i said, it feels like something has changed tonight after sending that paper off. its as if it was my buffer, my shield to keep real relationships at bay. because the scariest thing in a relationship is the loss of control. and i am a control freak. Jesus said to Peter, "Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." the loss of autonomy. i have not met anyone yet that i have felt inclined enough to sacrifice that for, for real. but i also don't want to meet that person who has the answers to those last four clues on the crossword and then tell her, "well, thanks for that; i'll see ya," because i want to sit on the bus or on my porch and do them alone. shit, if i meet someone i can do the crossword with that seems like a clue to something in and of itself. i wish she would have come over tonight to help me, though. it would have been nice to have the company.

Currently listening:
Time (The Revelator)
By Gillian Welch

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