Woke up with Henry draped atop my knee just before I lost all feeling in it. He murmurs something in Dog, I can’t make out. It’s not to go outside, it’s not to eat, it’s just a “ehhhmmmm”. Could translate for “Damn Toussaint, you one lazy-ass m----f----a”. I see where you’re coming from, but I disagree Henry, I just disagree. Problem with my line of work, at the moment, is I stay up to f’ng 3, 4 in the morning and wake up round 10am. It doesn’t look good on paper, but it makes for a damn good album campaign and potential tour.
I grab my laptop, the promo vid for the Triple Rock is at 700 somethin’ and’ll be over 1000 by the end of the week. Nice. However, I’m totally not 100% finished with these final songs for the Reid Project. Has to, must be, will be… done by tomorrow, or else that ass is toast.
I’m up, I’m up. Respond to a few old emails, shamelessly tag the promo vid on a few walls, and it’s on. Phone rings. Old acquaintance wants to get coffee. Luckily, I just cancelled the 2nd to last studio session with Reid, with hopes that I’m done by tonight and on point for tomorrow’s session. Sure, coffee sounds coo. Head out, and bam, here we are… coffee like it was yesterday, conversation nicely held, the holidays upon us. Several laptops on the table, several cell phones on the table, and a lone pen. Someone take a picture, this might not happen again.
Bordering on a year since we last spoke, discussion has never been the hard part for us… it’s the ending. The walkaway, the way you leave things. Clearly it hasn’t sat well with her, hence the email titled “truce”, the phone call, the “isn’t this awkward” rant, etc. We were horrible at endings, and something as simple as coffee has taken almost a year to come around to.
Streamlining through small talk, somehow the conversation turns to… the past. Passive bickering from both parties ensues. “Toussaint, I have no ill will towards you. I’ve never said anything against your name after the break. I don’t go on public forum and talk about these things.” A calm resolves the exchange… she grins, widens her gaze into my face, leans over the table from her casual posture (pause: let’s take a moment. True Blood? Yeah, before the vamps jump into a human neck, they take a slow approach and then the film editor fast forwards their move into the bite. I don’t think she’s seen the show, but at this point she’s already giving a clinic on it.)
The 2 seconds it takes her to position her phrase as she reaches over the table with a comforting hand (ref: barista woman at Arkham Café, aka Spyhouse on Hennepin), you can almost taste the attempt of manipulation in the air. Still holding a half grin, it drops right before she says, “Toussaint, I’m not on any bad terms with any of my ex’s.”
I looked around the coffeeshop waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out, waiting for everyone to get up and yell “surprise!”, waiting for confetti to drop. And it’s at this moment, that whatever has manifested between her and I… isn’t important. It’s come down to the personal gratification of bridging a friendship. Personal, not mutual. Once you’ve invested personal gain into a relationship, connection, or anything between two human beings, you’re talking compromise of self-respect, dignity, and all things that make us genuine. Basically, she’s talkin’ business.
The way she said it, or the potential fangs that flashed when she smiled after it. Poor ex-boyfriends. Man eatin’, chewed up and left for self-esteem repair, a heap of mental scar tissue, and a reluctance to let the guard down.
To move forward, your guard must be down. We’ll get into it some other time, but the fact I genetically carry my father’s face looks like I’m wielding the biggest shield in Hyrule. My natural expression, of looking pissed off/over-confident, is out of my control and couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyways, getting back to the fangs...
Couldn’t help but smile back, “I’m sorry, but I’m not any of your other ex’s”. These jokers think civility means compromising more than it’s worth.
Here, let’s dial back to middle school…
When anyone on the playground disrespected you or your crew, there was always a moment of disdain, an absolute tarnishing of the relationship between you and the culprit. Perhaps you were the culprit, ran off with a kick ball in the middle of someone else’s game, it was still understood that respect has left the building and it was every kid for her or himself. As they say, “It was on”. The time of it “being on” could last for 5 minutes… or 5 months. However long it lasted, respect was in question until both parties resolved the issue and squashed the beef. The catch to the resolve is when someone returned for a truce, it had to be assessed by the other “is this kid just making things good to fuck up again?”, “can I trust this person?”, “is this person being friends with me again just to use my Sega Genesis?” Whether you asked these questions consciously or not, your brain still made calculations of the connotations that come with a reconnection.
After that, there was still one more catch! Say you made amends, you then had to ask yourself: is this fair? I believe in forgiveness. For love of a higher power, I believe in total, utter, selfless forgiveness. I still speak with my father, pray for his health, and am at coffee with a past dragon that set flames to innocent village upon village, but life is short, and the people in your corner are few and far in between. Is it fair to you to let this person back into your life? How much of you do they deserve? Your time is precious. There are no forms or request slips to hand to the supernatural, asking for just a few more days on earth. Been thinking about it a lot lately, but if go tomorrow, or my car spins out on an icy road and I bite it for good, what do I want to leave behind? Sounds disparaging? Good, it should. Have an end in mind.
Being fair can entail someone undeserving of any part of you… just as much as all fairness can entail a reconnection and the two of you deserving every bit of each other.
Of all the encounters across the country, of all the backstabbing, hand shaking, mutual agreements and disagreements, social hand grenades, back handed compliments, picking fights & blowing kisses, mornings-after, fires started, off-the-cuffs, of all the social vine swinging endured throughout this ridiculous and beloved life… give respect where it’s due. However, it’s not due here… yet. She goes on to explain she’s seen the blog, she doesn’t harbor any spite, she’d never advertise a public forum about me or the past… and that’s fine. I haven’t/wouldn’t do the same.
Writing is for me. It’s my selfish means of organizing the world as I see it. Some people pick up guitars, some people take to pianos, some people pick up a bottle of jack and oxycontin… we all let it go, one way or another, but in the end we’re forced to deal. Whether it’s a healthy means of dealing or not, the universe will balance it out… one way or another.
Coffee? Sure sounds great. Friends? Eh, give it a few years. Sometimes dust on the playground never settled ‘til high school.
Besides, the pen isn’t moving today, grandma’s heart is arhythmical to the point I call the woman just to hear her voice, mom needs a peace of mind only a six-digit number will suffice… it’ll balance out… one way or another. All this, but absolutely no ill will for the old flame sitting across the table, none at all… just a bit of disappointment. She was the means to put the pride down, stop time, cut the bs, rush to the ER, place in the realms of Unconditional, Everything, & Anything… and now it’s deafly sad and obvious, the friendship she wants has nothing to do with terms of the mutual… just business.
It’s gotta be for more than this.
“Was good seeing you. Have a good one”. Left the table, moved it to a different shop. Gotta figure out how I want to spend this time with my grandmother, the next chore that’ll make my mother’s life just that much easier. It’ll all figure itself out… right?... one way or another.
If there was anything taken from the meet, it was the distant memory of the old flame saying something. She said it during one of the several breaks. She cried, “Toussaint, several years from now I’ll have a career, and you’ll still be sitting in a coffeeshop, writing.”
I laughed out loud to myself, sipped my coffee… and began writing.