Since the beginning of November I have been suffering from writer’s block and bouts of insomnia. Each night I would spend hours writing, only to discard the pages before heading to bed. My brain would agonize over the repeated failed attempts to start writing this particular chapter.
My mind refusing to shut off, would sort through the interactions of the past year(s), grasping for anything that would allow me to do what I have been trying to do since I first began my book; merge what I thought I meant to one person, how I viewed him, to how it actually was and how it all led to my purgatory in January 1984.
The impossible tasks I gave myself, not only to abrogate the sin I have carried for so long, but record what I have refused to speak of or acknowledge. Somehow compose the wonderful, the ugly, the happy, and the transgression into sentences, paragraphs, and pages; a well written completed chapter.
Trying to define two characters, particularly one, was proving more difficult than I imagined. My problem, how do I keep him likable when he allowed the unthinkable to happen? Will my words be enough for the reader to understand both were good men, taught to live by the same code but only one was truly a man of honor? Perhaps the reason I can’t properly bring his character to life is because I have not fully absolved him for what happened? In order to forgive, I must acknowledge it, own it, am I ready to do that?
One might ask, why is it so hard? Everything that was and wasn’t between Bobby and I was set in January 1984. Our fates with each other were sealed by the acts of others. It was what bound Bobby and I; my confession. It was the secret he took to his grave, the reason he swore no matter what he would always be here. It is why I always wondered, was it his sense of duty and obligation that kept him coming back, the knowledge he had or were we always meant to be together? Was it, as he said, something he always knew? The root, the complexities of it all, begin in this chapter. The one I am afraid to author.
When I first began my book, the stress of trying to portray everyone fairly, reliving every moment was too daunting, so I skipped the chapter and proceeded to the next. Now I must find the words that have eluded me and finish my book. My frustration growing with every failed attempt.
Last night was the same, hours spent struggling to camouflage enough of the truth so certain people would not be seen as who/how they really were. After deleting seventeen or so pages I lay in bed staring at the wall, then the ceiling, next the door and finally reaching for the photo tucked behind my iPod on my nightstand. Praying his photo will ease my confusion. As I shifted from one position to the next, my brain shuffled through question after question until they seemed to swirl above my bed and haunt me. Why was it so hard writing what was?
A hint of light was beginning to peek through the transom when I gave up the notion of sleep. Hoping my confusion and weariness would somehow filter out in a coherent form I turned on my computer. I was wrong. Frustration came quickly. Type a few letters then hit backspace, backspace, backspace. Join a few words, finish a sentence then highlight and delete; the maddening cycle was repeating. His character and mine, our relationship still not melding, the truth lost beneath the sugar coated illusion I was trying to create. One I had clung to for many years.
I closed word, pulled out a few pieces of his mail from when he was at the Academy and in flight school. I signed onto Facebook and Gmail to read the last couple years of correspondence. As the sun rose an epiphany occurred. I stared at his letters, remembering all that happened between us. The boldness of the truth screaming between the lines, his words were hollow. As empty as the love he gave me. I loved him but in 1983/84 I was never sure if he really loved me. Every I love you he wrote was followed by a but; real love never has a qualifier. Why was I afraid to show the lopsidedness of our relationship? Thirty years later, was it my pride stopping me from conceding the truth?
He may have said he loved me countless times, written it a hundred more yet his actions proved otherwise. Reality, he was the only person who could have stopped what happened and he didn’t. As much as I want to cling to the idea I meant everything to him, he treated me well, I can’t. He may be a good man now but in 1984 he was a confused self-centered jackass and I was an immature fool who believed my love would change him. We were both young, naïve and stupid. I had no trouble portraying myself as such, why couldn't I do the same with him?
Reading his letters I understood, I couldn’t connect with his character because I was writing how I wanted everyone to perceive him, our relationship, not how it actually was. My blindness, my stupidity, put in place the circumstances that gave a truly wonderful man guilt he did not deserve. Regret that should have been carried by him, Bobby borne willingly. Did he do so because they were friends or because Bobby and I would become lovers? The questions ricocheted in my mind while my writing was gridlocked.
The sun was halfway through the morning sky when I read a passage in my journal from 30 January 1984, “Why didn’t you look for me? Do you care? You turned your back on my tears. Did you ever love me? I will always love you but more than anything I wish I’d never met you.”
My journal from thirty years ago reminding me of the damage he had done, how badly he hurt me. Peace would only come with the truth. My twenty year old self demanding I show him how he truly was, not the illusion developed over the years. In 1984 I loved and hated him at the same time. I finally comprehended It was okay to show the side I hated, the part of him that was conflicted. I was trying to characterize him, us as perfect, when none of us were.
If we had been perfect, I would have never been damaged so deeply and Bobby wouldn't have had to put me back together. The difference I needed to show between the two. Bobby never said or wrote he loved me, but he proved it through perseverance. Something he never did.
In 1987 I let the truth be buried with Bobby. One of the reasons I decided to write, to let everything finally be told. I owe him that much. I owe him more, I owe him my life.
Now that I have accepted it all for what it was, the words are flowing once again.