Monday, November 21, 2005

Double Take

He has always pronounced 'hello' in such a way that it rhymes with pillow, so I knew it was Oscar's (slightly hesitant) voice on the phone last Tuesday night, after eleven months without word, the twerp. Somehow in my TheraFlu-induced stupor, it didn't seem the slightest bit alarming that he should be calling; I was friendly and receptive, and it ended up to be a very rewarding conversation. He was devastated to hear about Dad and Gram; somehow I got a lot of satisfaction (relief?) out of telling him. (Dad wouldn't accept him and by the time he knew Gram she was already slipping into her singularly enjoyable dimensia, but that didn't stop him from growing attached to them for my sake, or sympathizing with my bond to them, at least. He was always very empathetic about family ties, if not other things.) I didn't notice it until later, but there was definitely a sadistic taste in the breezy way I dropped the bombs. Perhaps it was the medication, or maybe I really didn't expect him to be so affected. On the other hand, he had absolutely no surprises for me. I could have scripted his lines the previous week and been dead on. Went a little crazy, hit rock bottom, a climactic crisis, revelation; now seeking redemption. Apology and Gratitude, Acknowledgement: You Were Right About Everything, now it's just one day at a time. He was genuinely thrilled about my new job (is it still new? Seems like I've been there forever). He detected my serenity, and I did my best to convince him it's not because he's gone (I'm still not sure whether to contribute the happiness in my life to his absence, or to other internal, equally drastic but far more visceral changes- maybe the two had proportionate effect). He expresses sentiments very simply and beautifully; he always did, even when his English vocabulary wasn't the broadest. I've always been able to confess anything to him, and it was nice to feel completely understood again (although I'm less inclined to give him points for that than I used to be, since recently I perceive to have found an astonishingly kindred spirit in a near stranger). And even as early as the next day I could detect a little less anger in me, less resentment, a greater capacity to just put it all behind. I had already gotten past the phase where I worried about him (was he taking care of that acid reflux? Was he dead in a gutter? Did he have clean socks?) but it was still a deliverance of sorts to hear that he's okay. I don't know what I expected; he's unsinkable. But the hard part may come yet: making sure he doesn't fit back into my life. Old habits are easy to pick up again, and when he's being conciliatory and pleasant, it's much easier to remember why I loved him than it is to recall how easily he could shatter me when he wasn't. I've weighed it for a week and I feel that the end result was the alleviation of those last few doubts and concerns without any negative compromise, despite the initial reactions of family and friends (who were easily pacified). It has only served to further prove to me that I am really, truly an adult, able to discipline emotion with judgement, and perhaps more importantly, able to forgive.

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