A few months ago, I had cause to sever ties with someone–not in an acrimonious or horrible way. Our needs were different and I had no desire to continue to expect attention that would never come. I’m not asking for approbation or seeking to excuse my actions. I chose my path and I’m comfortable with that. But I won’t deny that I still think of him, sometimes gently, sometimes with what can only be called a rueful ferocity. He was a disappointment to me–I felt that our friendship could have become a splendid thing, something to wonder at. But then, I remind myself–we make our own beds, not those of others.
Under the Eye of a Golden Boy
What I wanted, what I expected, wasn’t right for him. After all is said and done, what scant tribute he proffered–a sometimes distressingly hollow affection and lip-service–to the idea of friendship would never have satisfied me. Parting was a better gift to him than continued acquaintance. I’m not one to accept what is offered without qualification or expectation. True, the longer I know someone, the more I bend to their needs and individual ways of being. That takes years, and is usually only given to those in whom I see some ultimate goodness of spirit. My rules are only gradually supplanted by the needs of those for whom I care deeply. He might have been that, but he abused my ability to be credulous too much too early.
So, why do I speak of this now? Because there was the flavor of seasons yet to come between us. I recognized within him an unrealized quality of being–unrealized by him–a tang of achievements and journeys as yet unimagined. Perhaps it is this aura of potential that hovers about him that makes him so utterly lovable to so many. I was, admittedly, deeply marked by knowing him. I chose that, and cannot regret it. However, my ultimate mission in the beginning was to discover the quality in him that drew the adoration of so many, and I did. I paid with a daring nearness to a brink within myself.
Had I allowed it, I know how easily I could have gone, topsy-turvy like a ton of bricks, into an abyss, not for him but for the idea of him. I’m just that sort of swooning female. There’s nothing I love more than the thrill of infatuation, but only that and never more for such chance prey. The Golden Boys, the charmed and charming honey pots, they allow me the outlet I require, because they’re safe in their shallow standards. I need never fear that they would take my flirtations seriously, because I’m nothing they like–too smart, too strong, too harsh, too unlovely by many standards, or perhaps most importantly, too unwilling to compromise my own standards for a brief tryst.
The Shadow of Venus
I did love him, at day’s end. I certainly never planned on that. But loving a boy creature is not the same as being in love, nor is it a free pass for the threadbare rigmarole such charmed people often hand out in order to smooth their way through the human world. What I can say is that, if he had dared the dragons of my speech, I would have let him close to me, would have permitted familiarity that is only ever the province of dear friends. Because beneath the bullshit charm of his public façade, I sensed something deeper, sweeter, more elusive and yet with more tangibility than all his glibly politic smiles.
The orbit of the planet Venus sometimes coincides with that of our own Blue Dot, enough that its brightness grows in our night skies. Its radiance casts an ethereal, pellucid shadow if you only look sidelong–but disappears under the direct gaze. I always felt that this astronomical phenomenon was a good metaphor for how I saw him–clear only in periphery, evaporating into nothing when I turned get a better look. While our paths are firmly diverged, I treasure that limpid glimpse at something more. Its presence in my life, even for a brief moment, has imprinted me with some lingering sense of magic.
Magic? Yes, the strange and unformed magic of the human life in progress. However, I am also reminded that while we here on Earth see Venus as a glittering bauble in the night sky, to draw nearer that Hothouse Hell is a death sentence. I warn people away with frank admissions of my harshness. Everyone I ever meet knows I am ungentle, and no one should ever be surprised to receive the rough side of my tongue. But sweet, seemingly beatific children of man who call to mind the reverse, like the planet Venus, are best left distant for all their glimmering fascination. To seek intimacy and accept the danger of their inner wildness, I would need to be very certain it was worth it, and that my motives were pure. Anything less would be an undoing, because dishonesty brought to such interactions is a weapon we turn on ourselves.
In summation, I hope he follows where his internal compass directs. I hope that life brings him the fruit of labors, and he never stops seeking the inner horizon that all craftspeople recognize. In spite of the fact that I’ve long known his easy use of masks to make his passage light, I hope he will occasionally go out to play without them. He once said that he was sure we would see each other again–even if it wasn’t for many years, when he was old and fat and balding. As beautiful and charming as he may be in his youth, I think I’d infinitely prefer a lined face, which would be the road map by which to trace soul growth, in both him and myself.