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Friday, August 13, 2010

And So the Story Goes

If you've been reading my last post, and wishing for me to jump right into the next part in the story I'm relating, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to wait a bit. It occurred to me that I'm doing again what I most commonly do in my own writing process. I'm impatient, and want to get right to the driving force, the points that I feel are the most important, while forgetting that the subtlety and nuance of descriptive work are what really holds the story together, and if it's well written, and spun from fine cloth to gold, then I shouldn't worry about holding a reader to the same attention span as my own. If the story's worth it, and told well, it's the pace and setting rather than the main points that will inspire the reader to hang onto the wording, savoring the journey as opposed to the destination.

I'll cop to that cliche, but with all things cliche, there rings a certain truth.

In the span of a week in an alien country where I have little grasp on a complicated language, I had gone from completely destitute, to actually coming a breath away from redeeming myself. At one point, my lowest so far, I had the ability to calculate my assets by rubbing together two coins, 25 and 10 Dutch cents. A habitual cigarette smoker, I was reduced to pulling fag ends from the pavement for a smattering dose of nicotine. It was a harsh reality I couldn't comprehend. The longest I had gone previously without a smoke since I had picked up the habit was the twenty-four hour period I was locked up in an army jail which had been meted out to me as punishment for an AWOL charge some years before.

In this particular week, while I spent the night in a shelter populated by the end of society that doesn't bear thinking about, taking care to double knot my boots to the bed stand so they wouldn't be easily stolen in the night, I had become a registered and legal resident of the Netherlands. I did this by attaining a Social Fiscal Number, which meant that I had the opportunity to work legitimately and not worry about finding what was known as "Black Work", a term that is not racially descriptive, but using the word black in it's negative connotation to imply illegality. A remarkable change of fortune had become me, necessitated by no other option but the will to survive and after a few day's work there was money in my bank account; a sense of relief that the worst seemed to be over. I was about to undo all of that for my fateful decision to have a night out and miss work the next day rather than doing the sensible thing and retire for a good night's rest to take on my obligations the next morning.

The grace in all of this is that smoking marijuana takes all the worry away. This only works of course, if one chooses this method of self medication, if the supply is as constant as possible. The paradox is that it requires the ability to work hard to afford to keep oneself in a state of oblivion, but if one resides in oblivion, you don't worry about working.

So, as I stumbled into this tiny coffee shop in the early morning hours, beginning to feel the remorse of my bad planning the night before, the temptation of smoking myself into a state of not caring was far too much for my fragile self-will to overcome. Had it been just that, I might have been able to fritter away that Friday, and try again fresh the next day, perhaps having a decent chance of salvaging my new job. Unfortunately for me, I fell in love instead. In the years that followed, I tried to tell myself that I wasn't infatuated by Lilly, that the admiration I felt for her was a thing far more noble and Platonic than a romantic attraction. Ten years have gone by and I'm still trying to sell that line to myself. Within the first few moments of meeting her, I was absolutely, desperately in love.

It would have been hard not to be. Physically it was easy, she had a magnificent figure of an age gone by, full curvy hips, an ample bust and creamy smooth skin that I longed to touch in a way that I could sympathize with Lenny and his rabbits. Her face was soft, round and pronounced cheeks, big bright eyes and delicate lips all brought more into attention by the way she had sheared her hair almost scalp short save for two ponytails that fell nearly to her shoulders.

I settled into a stool and awaited her attention, absolutely rapt even though she'd yet to say a word to me. Then, after tending to her other customer, she addressed me, in English that was quietly melodious in only the way an Irish accent could be. I don't nor can I blame her for the events that would follow and lead to my downfall, how could she be culpable? During the next few weeks, as my life began to unravel around me, for my own ineptitude, Lilly was nothing ever more than a kind and compassionate human being. But here I am a decade gone from these events and I still hold the memory in high esteem, she still invades my dreams.

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