Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Knew It Would Happen or Into One's Life, Some Nervous William Will Fall

Only a few of you knew about this. I didn't blog about it, or make any big announcements.

Over the holidays, Nervous William's mother died. My mom called me on New Year's Eve and told me. At the time, NW was confined, and hadn't been told yet. Which I understand. I envision that scene - doctors and family members out the hall, drawing straws to see who got the job.

Now, this was a distressing thing for me. For several reasons, first of which was that his mom was a really lovely person, even if she did convince me to stay in contact with him during his confinements, especially that big one after the first blow-up, which negated the getting him the hell out of my life. But I guess that was her love and my weakness, so I don't really hold that against her. Also, it was an event I'd dreaded for years. I knew the day would come when she would pass, and I wondered what in the hell would happen to William. I had ideas, of his basically becoming a crazy street person. And finally, I knew it would be his opportunity to try and work his way back into the mainstream of my life from the peripherals, and I'd have to say all the things to him I dreaded but knew would be necessary.

I agonized about going to the funeral. It would be uncomfortable, if in fact NW would even appear, and my showing up there I knew would be the opportunity he'd be looking for; if I showed up, that meant I was his best friend and all would be well between us. Normally I'd skip it without a second thought, but there were other family members, NW's sister and aunt, who I know and think a great deal of, and I felt bad about not making an appearance. When the night came, though, I gave it a pass.

But I heard about it, from friends. Apparently, it wasn't good. NW was, I was told, "a time bomb waiting to explode at any moment," and he'd caused a scene at the funeral when he told off the minister and stormed out, not to return.

Two Fridays ago, this would be Friday the 13th, oddly enough, I was getting ready to leave the office. It was 4:58, and I was taking my computer down and anticipating a Friday Chill, though a delayed one, because my sister and I had to make our own family wake appearance, for a great aunt. The phone rang, and when San answered it, she buzzed me back in my office. "William," she said.

"Jesus Christ," I replied.

I took the call, and again NW started the conversation about needing an umbrella for all the salt in his life. He uses that expression a lot. He asked if I was free, and I said, "No." I told him about the wake. Then he asked about my being free over the weekend, and I said, "No" again, that I was never home on the weekend. He told me he really wanted to see me. He told me he wanted me to call him, that he really needed to talk. "I'll try," I answered, and shuffled him off the phone in short order. But I knew it was the beginning of that gift that keeps on giving - William.

I spent most of that same Friday evening doing some serious thinking. And talking to myself. About not letting NW back into my life. I don't want him there, I don't need him there, and I can't let him be there. And so I started composing my speech.

I thought of all the things he needed to hear, the things that I needed to say. And I got my speech down pretty good. And as the days passed, I kept practicing it, telling myself that it didn't matter what expression came over his face, or what turns his emotions took, or whatever. Hopefully, I'd get to do it over the phone, which I knew would be easier, but I had to be prepared either way.

And my speech was brilliant. I can repeat it here word for word for you, if you like.

Last week, William came by the office twice, and called once. I was with someone or on the phone both times. He said he'd try again later. Then Tuesday, when I was at a meeting, he called once and came in once. The nerves started building - I started feeling like Gary Cooper in "High Noon." All that was missing was someone behind me singing "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'." And something Mr M said to me about this anxiety finally got through to me (advice from Mr M got through??), and I decided that tearing myself up over the waiting was useless. I'd be happy when he wasn't around, and when he finally showed up, I'd be prepared.

He showed up this morning. And to make a very long story very short, I wasn't prepared.

I was prepared at first. Oh, yeah. When I saw him coming, I took a deep breath and steeled myself, remembering all the important passages of The Speech. But then when he came in, he was, well - God, he was William.

He'd started talking before he even got to my office. And what he was talking about I couldn't even tell you. It was some manic rant about his wanting me to audition for him, because he needed backup singers for a band he was starting that had something to do with cell phones. Finally, after he died down and kept looking at me, I threw up my hands, which were by this time shaking, and said, "William, you've lost me. No idea what you're saying."

He laughed and sat down, and I honestly felt like I was going to cry and smother at the same time. He told me I looked beautiful, like a neo-classical French painting. Like an unfinished neo-classical French painting. Don't even ask - I didn't. And I hoped that an eye roll might be a hint, but it wasn't, or maybe it was, because he didn't stay long after that. Well, he didn't stay long in my office. He then walked up to the boss's office (we were the only two there), and started spouting off a bunch of gibberish to her. A bunch of lies (remember - when he's off the beam he lies like crazy) about sitting in a Van Der Rowe chair in some museum and the alarm going off, then walking across some carpet in the Dali museum and the alarm going off.

At this point, I knew if I didn't remove myself from this scene I would die immediately, so I got up and walked off. I went back to the back office and began making coffee, just to have something to do to busy my hands. I guess he left as I was off filling the coffee pot, because he was gone when I came back. And the boss came back to me as white as a sheet. I started to tear up. "You understand? Do you please understand why I couldn't talk to him?" I pleaded, begging for some sort of acceptance for my failure, since I couldn't quite accept it my own self.

And she finished what I was about to say. "How do you have some sort of meaningful conversation with someone who's obviously on another planet?" I mean, my speech may have been meaningful, and blunt, but it was in English, or at least as close as I get to English, and when he's like this I honestly don't know if he understands English, much less something of common sense. And so my speech is still left unspoken.

Am I that afraid of confrontation? Or am I, in fact, actually afraid of him? I've been thinking about that a lot following my reaction to this morning's visit.

"William, I know you're going through a bad time right now. But you have to have noticed that for about the past 4 years there's been a distinct distance between us, and it's there because I put it there. And no matter what you're going through, I have no intention of getting rid of it. You come into my life and bring all this upheaval that I neither want nor need. So no, I won't call you, or go to dinner with you, or go out with you, or go visit you at your house. Under any circumstances. Ever."

See? I can repeat it for you word for word. I just don't seem to be able to repeat it for him.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Stay tuned for upcoming blogs. The two-parter I've been mulling over for about 3 months now should finally appear. I hope.


Blogger Lily said...

You'll get there one of these days. Because I know how hard those kind of conversations can be, even when you know they're completely the right thing to do. You've almost given me the courage to give the speech that I've got in my head that really needs giving. Been rehearsing it beautifully for over a month now, and some variation for almost a year. Maybe we should just meet up, and we can give our speeches to each other. Someone will get to hear them.

And never feel bad about defending your "self" from NW. We DON'T have to endure everything that comes down the pike at us. Self-preservation isn't selfish.

10:14 PM  

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