Coming to grips with the fact that I don’t think alone, even when I’m sitting here in the sunroom, no other person in sight, took getting used to.
Releasing the concept of self, understanding that the interchange of states of energy which happens within this heat engine, this guise of a person, is never alone, completely connected to the universe strongly/weakly…
Then and only then did the idea of consciousness lose superiour value over other conditions.
Alas, ’twasn’t always the case.
Amy Easter was a catalyst, an untamed social being living amongst us domesticated ones.
She gave me the insight I needed, wanted to find at the time.
She lived rather than talked about independence, unaware of the life of the sub/urban home body.
She solely depended on the kindness of strangers, even if she cajoled and coerced kindness out of the unsuspecting when necessary.
She encouraged me to move out on my own, promising we’d share a flat (apartment) together, splitting the cost.
Despite warnings from friends and family, I took Amy at her word, trusting that future events contribute to a longterm solution for problems we don’t see yet.
We shopped around, settling on a flat across the river from downtown Knoxville, a wall-to-wall carpeted pad — two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room with wet bar — the perfect entertainment establishment, a great place to bring prospective clients for the lifestyle Amy and I were planning to set up together.
I had stopped attending the University of Tennessee — the academic life had lost interest, seeing no future for myself in a postbaccalaureate marriagetwokidswhitepicketfencestationwagon life sentence.
Instead, I worked at a Steak and Ale restaurant, first as a dishwasher in the kitchen, then busboy, moving up to garnishing plates and training to be a bookkeeper/barkeep.
Life was moving in the direction I had purposely chosen.
One small problem…
Of the $250 I needed from her for the deposit on the flat, she gave me $50. Of the next month’s $250 rent, she gave me another $50.
A total of $100 toward $500.
Being creative, she offered other ways to make up for the monetary shortfall, ways that had worked with previous boyfriends who were willing to accept physical favours in place of monetary compensation.
But that’s not who I am.
Not who I was.
I remind myself that I once considered the priesthood as a viable life choice.
However, Amy did bring some clients over to the flat and I made a few exchanges that helped cover part of the cost she owed in our newly-shared life together, even if Amy and her friends ate all of my food and drank every drop in the flat.
When Amy sensed I wasn’t going to make her my freeloading girlfriend, she found a lover who would.
My sister and a few friends kept telling me that Amy was a sociopathic liar.
I’ve never seen Amy that way.
Even after Amy moved out, leaving me to try to negotiate hundreds of dollars of back pay with a building manager I’d already seen throw a guy down a flight of stairs for not paying rent, I still loved her for what we’d shared.
Amy admitted that what we had between us was unlike what she’d had with anyone else.
Because of her openness and her physical assets (imagine Marilyn Monroe but more exaggerated features; okay, let’s say almost Kim Kardashian to update this story), Amy was used to guys wanting to have sex with her all the time.
I didn’t see that side of Amy.
Well, I did see that side but I also reasoned, from her worrying and confessing to me, that she carried venereal diseases not worth passing to me.
Being almost celibate anyway, I was able to put the sexual desire aside and focus on Amy’s thoughts.
We slept together several times. Literally. She enjoyed knowing she could cuddle up to me and tell me her deepest thoughts without me making fun of her or finding a way to twist what she said to turn it into a reason to have sex.
She would wake up in the middle of the night and ask me if I had noticed her not being there, then proceed to describe her latest astral projection trip around the neighbourhood.
That’s what I miss about Amy.
Despite what to some looked like a rough childhood and an unstable adulthood, there was still that awe and wonder in her that shone when we were together.
I remember the first night we spent together, looking up at the night sky through the window above the headboard, wondering what it would be like to travel to the Moon.
We fell asleep.
The upstairs flat she shared with her boyfriend at the time was always hot in the summer so the window was open.
At first we leaned against each other.
Then, we slowly rolled away.
Then, one or both of us threw the bedsheet off.
Finally, so warm I couldn’t sleep, I walked over to the sofa and curled up for a few minutes to cool off.
Amy woke up and yelled for me.
“Lee! Lee, where are you?”
“Get back in bed with me. Quick! The devil’s coming after me!”
I stumbled over to the bed and pulled her to me, the smell of her sweaty head as vivid now as it was then. Some sort of cheap shampoo mixed with her musty scent.
She fell asleep immediately.
I looked up at the stars and told myself that this is a life I could live.
Amy woke me up in the morning and told me about her dreams, going on another astral projection trip and being chased by the Devil.
How many of us are handed a life plan at birth and change plans?
I attempted to change. I accepted that the life Amy had led which made her who she was, living in a van with hippie parents, little in the way of upper class social skills/mores, was a life I was willing to make my own.
But it didn’t happen.
Amy wanted me to go all in, to make her my live-in girlfriend who mooched off of others as she always had, to make friends with people who wanted me to share my profits from street deals and give back nothing in return but a quick conversation and a shared beer.
I thought we could meet halfway, that maybe I could get her to share responsibility if it was me she was living with.
I thought I could make a difference.
I thought I could prove my sister and friends wrong.
But I was wrong.
Amy and I were both set in our ways, even at 21 or 22 years of age.
She was a vagabond, a wanderer, a descendant of hippies.
I was raised a suburbanite, a descendant of settlers.
We loved each other for our differences but we were not meant for each other.
Once burnt, twice shy.
As I move forward, eliminating myself as a reason for change, what or whom will I become and does past behaviour indicate anything about future progress?