Saturday, June 30, 2007

For James

I've been in a down cycle (this doesn't necessarily mean I'm depressed, but rather I'm in a state where I'm prone to becoming depressed) lately and one of the most frustrating things about this is it becomes harder for me to think. This doesn't actually mean I'm less creative, I still get random interesting thoughts, I still play with interesting stories, I still mess around with worlds in my head, but it becomes very difficult for me to access that creativity when it comes to crunch time, ie when I get to a place where I can sit down and write, like here. It's time like these, as well as all other times, I wish I could simply access my memories (as well as my dreams which are usually pretty cool but often easily forgotten), like a computer, just at will. There's so much of my life, so many of my memories and ideas that have been lost by the passage of time.

This brings me I think to an apology I've been meaning to make. One of the nice things about placing things on the public record is there is the off chance that someone with whom you've lost contact might read it, and so perhaps you can send them a message. This is to my buddy James, or Jim. If anyone read the corpus of my half-finished stories they might discover that I use the name James a lot, perhaps this is because in 2nd grade (maybe 3rd) me and my friend James were inseperable, we were the best of friends. Back then I had this sort of mental test for best friends. I used to be a crybaby and I hated that fact intensely, and furthermore I knew that everyone in the class would make fun of me, so the rule was if I cried in public and my friend stood by me and defended me, he was one of my best friends (perhaps my best friend in elementry school, Kyle, never actually encountered this test, but eventually I realized that it was very possible that the rare occassion where I cried in public might not happen in front of Kyle and yet he still was of the caliber of friend where he would have defended me if it had happened). James encountered this test; in class we had been given peanuts for something or other, and my teacher, who while she was a very good teacher had a short temper, warned us not to throw the peanut shells in the trash can. However I did and the teacher saw it and started yelling (well, not really yelling that much, just sort of yelling) at me and I was overcome with guilt and embarressment and fear of punishment and further embarressment and I started to cry and the class started (I think if my memory serves me right) to make fun of me or laugh and James stood by my side and defended and comforted me. He was most certainly a good friend.

However, after that 2nd (again or maybe 3rd) grade year, James moved away or something like that, and even in those years I had enough social anxiety that calling to invite someone over to my house seemed like an impossibility (or perhaps I was just so unused to it it just didn't seem like an option), and so we lost contact completely. It was sad, and this coupled with the later lost contact with my friend Matt, led me to conclude that for many years that lost contact with friends was a simple inevitability (a position I have since fiercely reversed, which I think will be the center of my Knights of Mars organization). I always wished that I could meet James again and resume our friendship.

And then, I got that lucky wish, in high school I was wandering around when I bumped into some guys I didn't really know, and one of them started insisting that I knew him. Apparently he was called Jim and while he insisted I knew him I could not recall the memory. And I could not remember his face. He eventually gave up on the attempt to remind me and I walked away. But suddenly it clicked. Jim was short for James. It was James, my childhood chum, this was great. I ran back over to him and greeted him enthusiastically. I couldn't spend that much time with him though, I think I had to go somewhere or he had to go somewhere, but I promised him that I would talk to him more the next day in school.

But at that time, I think it was freshman or sophmore year of high school, I was at the peak of my depression and anxiety. And I had this paralyzing fear that I was going to forget his face. I tried so hard to picture it exactly in my head but every time I tried I became afraid it wasn't right or that I wasn't going to be able to. I tried so hard that I had to try to remember the exact features on James' face, but I couldn't, and by the next day I couldn't for sure say what James' face looked like. I just couldn't remember. I think I saw him (although I wasn't sure if it was actually him) many times in school and I would glance at him and wish that I would overcome my fears and greet him and if I got the wrong person or if he called me on forgetting his face, well so be it, whatever embarressment I would have had would be a small price to pay for having a good friend back. But I was too afraid, too full of anxiety and too full of self-hatred to believe that I could overcome that anxiety. So I never talked to him again. And for that I am sorry.

If you ever read this James, this is John Thomas your buddy from 2nd (or maybe 3rd grade) in Littlebrook Elementry School, and I'm sorry for forgetting your face and not talking to you. I am so sorry.

But now I'm in college and the halls of high school where everyone would see everyone are gone. Sometimes I think I see someone who kind of looks like James around town but I'm so unsure of it that I usually just dismiss the thought. Or maybe it's just my cowardice acting up again. I don't know.

Similar things have happened to me with other friends and some of my relatives, especially one aunt of mine. But usually either the person will come up to me and remind me of themselves or they weren't that good of a friend to begin with. I don't think I ever had a memory-loss which affected me as much as this incident with James. But then again, in trying to remember an occasion bigger than this, I'm relying on my memory, which I find so flawed, so completely faulty sometimes, it tears at me, it fuels my self-hatred. I wish so much that there was some recorder you could install in your brain to remember everything. But there isn't. And all I am left with is memories, and those all tend to fade.

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