After fifteen years of writing fiction, and especially after writing a thousand words a day for the last five years or so, I have quite a collection of unfinished thoughts and half-written tales. These are those stories who seemed like a good idea at the time but maybe there was a logical flaw or perhaps there was something else that came up at the same time. The files look just like any others from the list but each is partial in some way. Maybe I will go back one day and begin again, or perhaps each will sit there as a reminder, a sort of literary tombstone, as to what might have been.
Someone sent a link to me the other day and though she meant well, she should have known better. The link led me to a site where a woman I had once dated posted some new photos, and nearly almost I had forgotten what she looked like. I risked a short comment, “cute” which got deleted most quickly and it occurred to me the internet has spawned its own brand of non verbal, non text, no explanation needed type behavior to get the point across. Like an unfinished story, this one will go into the bone yard of relationships past: always incomplete and unrequited.
Many years ago, and this is in sort of a manner a species of explanation of all things weird in relationships, I dated a woman who lived and breathed feminism. So far into the belief the patriarchal system had robbed, and continued to deny, female humans of their identity, she forever sought to change the words “man” and “woman” to two words more equal in description. Moreover, even the word “human” had to go, and she envisioned a complete lexigraphic revolution to define who we people are as a species, which is how we got started in the first place.
One day we were enjoying some gender-neutral coffee drink we had bought from a street vendor. It was incredibly good coffee. So we back tracked to the coffee cart and asked the person who owned the business, and how such an endeavor was started. The first words spoken were, “Me and another girl own the cart…” and at this, I winced. I glanced over at my companion and waited for the “We are not female children do not call us girls” speech but it didn’t happen. To this day, I know what I heard. My left leaning female friend heard the woman say, “Me and another woman own the cart…” Believe it or not, we argued about this point, off and on, for the better part of three months.
She broke up with me over the phone, over something I said, over two hundred miles away, and a year later married a guy named Mike. She’s a bone yard file with an interesting dead end, but still a dead end nevertheless. I wonder if she hadn’t moved away if we would have made it, or would we have just gotten tired of one another more quickly.
But you see, that’s the doubled edged sword of the internet; you don’t get the bad with the good, until things do get bad, and then you don’t get the good. It’s easy to like someone, and feel connected with them, and that’s good, until something happens, and they need someone to be there right away, and that’s bad. Then, in the bad times, when you really need to be face to face with someone, to tell them you will be there for them, and to hold them so they can feel it, you aren’t, and that is as bad as it gets.
It does occur to me the computer acts as an accelerant when it comes to writing and when it comes to relationships. Yes, I am able to write a thousand words a day but what if I had to do this longhand? If I had to write it all out, painstakingly, slowly, and on paper, would I be so hasty to commit an idea to print? Would I be so quick to file away a few hundred or a few thousand words if they cost me more sweat and pain? It’s a lot easier to write the words, “I love you” than it is to say those words out loud for the first time, and it’s a lot easier to tell someone it’s over via email than to break their heart when they’re standing a foot away from you. It’s easy to plan a life with a stranger you’ve never met than to share space with someone you know snores like a crop duster in an echo chamber.
On the other hand, the computer enables a degree of creative freedom I have never known. Any idea I have can be begun, polished, stored away, returned to, deleted, revised, revisited, edited, and published in a world whose existence balances inside a microchip, somewhere. Total strangers in faraway lands, in different countries, and in towns I have never heard of before write me and tell me my craft has touched them, and in many, many, ways this is a feeling that is mighty.
It does occur to me without this machine, and without this medium, I couldn’t write at all and I would never know I am a writer. Also, this machine, and this medium, brings to me like minded people, and those seeking the same sort of love of writing I pursue. Love, in the only definition I understand the word, is not fettered by state lines, time zones or borders. Love is not dismayed by distance. Love cannot be lost in time, or daunted by hardship. Love is not something to be defined by geography. The closeness of two hearts is not measured in miles.
The files forgotten, or unfinished, and those loves lost may or may not be reopened, or reexamined. Yet who is to say what is finished, and what is yet to be begun anew? With hard work, sweat, many sleepless nights, dedication, and the never discouraged passion of love, the love of a craft, or the love of a simple man for a woman, no matter how far away she may be is never in vain. For the nature of love is not the completion of some task, or the possession of another person, but the perseverance in art, or the passion in love of a woman. You have not failed at your task, and you have not lost in love, as long as your heart still beats, and breaks and you still love.