Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another brick in The Wall

Speaking of "The Wall" and Loss...

I was just thinking of something that happened between me and a girl I was in love with when I was 19 or so, the summer after my freshman year in college.

Ginny was a year younger than me, so I "left" her when I went off to college in '83. That fall, she ran away from our small town to be with me in Austin. After a weekend, she realized that I was stuck in my dorm-room contract, and so couldn't get an apartment with her. So she called her Daddy to come fetch her back home. A month later, she had a new "best friend" and stopped writing and calling. I saw her at Christmas that year -- an awkward meeting, with her parents and her BFF present.

Anyway, when I came home from school the next summer, I tried to reconnect. Very annoyingly, she refused to do anything with me unless her new BFF was present. (All of us were still completely in the closet. But isn't this all so very annoyingly lesbian-girlfriend-ish and ex-girlfriend-ish behavior!) So, OK, I asked them BOTH if they wanted to go see "The Wall" with me at a midnight show. (I'd been turned on to the movie in college, that fall or spring. Was deeply impressed and moved and eager to share the what-was-for-me profound experience. Share it with Ginny, that is, but if her BFF wanted to come, then fine. Grrr.)

Ginny made it nearly through the whole thing without incident. With about 10 minutes left in the movie, though, all of the scenes of violence finally got to her and she bolted out of her seat. As I looked after her in amazement, her BFF followed her. I was puzzled, but also slightly irritated, and finished watching the movie alone. Afterward, the two were waiting for me in the theater lobby. When I asked Ginny what was wrong (had she gotten sick?), she explained about the scenes disturbing her both mentally and physically, and I drove us all home (those two to Ginny's parents' house, me to my mom's house) in relative silence.

A couple of years later, when Ginny was still waffling between me and the other BFF (Ginny was soon to die of then-unknown-to-me heart complications, but still not sure which of us she wanted with her at the end), she revealed to me that the "other" BFF going after her when she left the theater during "The Wall" while I remained to see the end of the movie helped make up her mind.

For me, there had been mitigating circumstances: For one, I was pissed off to begin with that Ginny had insisted that her other friend come along. Had Ginny and I been alone, it's a 50-50 thing -- if she'd been by herself, I might have gone after her. Seeing the friend jump up, though, froze my blood: "I'll be damned if I get in a Sympathy War." But, like I said, it was 50-50: Even if we'd been by ourselves, chances are that I would have thought she was being silly and stayed right where I was. I loved that movie, and was vaguely personally insulted that someone would jump up and leave something I admired so before it was over.

As I write this, some quarter of a century later, would I do any differently? Even knowing how Ginny regarded that moment, even if it might have turned the tide in my favor, loving her as I did? Probably not, given that she had dragged another girl along with us to the movie. I wasn't feeling that loyal toward her, or that caring, at the moment, and I still am irritated today when I think about it. But a second question: What would I do today? With a woman that I was ALONE on a date with? Say I took her to see "Gone With the Wind" -- my absolute favorite movie -- and she became irritated, just for an example, by the way blacks were portrayed in the movie and got up and left? Would I go after her?

I still don't think so. I think I would think she was being silly, and would stay right where I was until the movie was over. I think I am more loyal to art that I love than to irrational tests of loyalty by people that I love. (Though... are "irrational tests of loyalty" actually tests of real love? I suspect that they might be. I suspect that they might be an indication of one's ability to give up one's self... = real love.)

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