Burning

I work

Drifting, trying to marshal my mind
Trying to force my mind into structure
Trying to manage
Trying to do.

Tears stream
Weeping, weeping
So much death
So much impending death

Tears streaming.
So much pain.
No solution.

Only pain.
Only Echoes.
Stretching across years.

I wield the power
Of Code
Of reality written
In Software

I will mute the pain
The Echoes
The Differences

I will Raft.
I will Hike.
I will Camp
I will live.

But people die.
And the pain does not.

Rest

When I stop,
time when the dust settles
streaming through the sunbeam,
is when I can’t hold my
hopes up any longer.
Rest.
All I need is rest.
When the chase ends,
when the sweat settles on skin,
I feel cold, icy burning to run again.
When I’m working
there is no shame if I’m
not yet there.
I’m moving,
even if it is in circles.
The what ifs cascade into silence.
I must keep moving
with the babble of the brook,
the river of time,
for there is no time
for rest.
Instead I shall humbly plan
for all the things I’ll never do
and forget to enjoy the
moment of stillness.
Never still,
never silent,
never stop,
never rest.
Never.

Think to Hope

I’d tried to bring it up before, but the conversation was again derailed- subject changed, glossed over, left for another day. I didn’t push. I was careful not to push.

Why did I think I had to last night?

It was late and we both needed to work in the morning, but it has been on my mind. I was afraid of the answer and the changes it could bring to this undefined, open-ended us I’ve grown fond of. Things between us have been light, fun, and tender. To lose what I’ve gained in the name of searching for something more, that might not even exist, seemed illogical.

And yet, it had been on my mind.

I dared hope things were going in a particular direction: upwards and closer. I’m a patient person. I thought it was only a matter of time. The hope was starting to approach expect, and I felt like I needed to bring it up or reign in my own thoughts.

I knew I might be the only one of two that thought this was going somewhere.

I was restless. He could see there was something on my mind. I don’t know how to hide things and lie, and I don’t want to.

So I ask if he thinks we’ll ever date exclusively, if he thinks this is going somewhere.

After a brief dance around the subject he comes clean. At some point there was the possibility, but at some point recently he also realized it was likely never going to happen for us.

So maybe at the exact moment where my mind dared hope, where romantic notions took root, he was having a revelation that we would reach a place, or have reached a place, an plateau out. It’s not a bad place to be, but it’s not going higher. We’re special, but not special enough, close, and yet still a million miles apart.

I’m reminding myself that not everyone I date is going to even approach the possibility of being someone I will be with for a long time. Not every person I feel for will settle in a deep place and stay.

He feels guilty for not telling me when he realized. He knew that I was headed in the opposite direction as him- where I started to hope, he started to realize. I feel a little betrayed. Why do I have to be the honest, courageous one and bring up the difficult topics?

It’s not a big betrayal, and he was honest when I asked him point blank, but it still hurts. And he disappointed himself and me and he knows it. It’s the first sad moment since we’ve been dating. I remember every reason I felt great to be free of this exercise in attempting this level human connection. If the results always equal less than, why do I keep trying the same equation? I think I’ll get bigger numbers to add up to something substantial.

I asked him why he dates people. He never gave me a real answer, instead he asked me. I told him I didn’t know. Then I told him I was looking for a real fucking connection: with understanding, yet learning and wonder, and once that connection was there, caring, and with that, ultimately, a companion. I’m not so naive that I don’t know most, if not all of these connections will be temporary, but I still sometimes want to settle for a little while in that comfortable place where there is someone.

He admitted he didn’t want to exclusively date anyone anytime soon.

I asked him why and he said he needed to improve himself first- to get to a place where he was settled and happy with who he was. I laughed and told him I hoped he never was, because it would a sad day that he thought he was beyond improvement. We’re young and unsure in life right now and he thinks there is a magic switch somewhere that is going to turn on adulthood and allow him to settle into someone and something closer to perfection.

I tried to get every ounce of hurt out of my system. I tried to let it move through me and out of me and not burrow its way into a hole where it could stay and fester. After it settled I tried to answer the question of ‘What now?’.

I knew he was looking at me waiting for that answer. He told me his sister went through something similar recently- wanted more from a guy and he didn’t have more to give. She broke up with the guy. It seemed like he was trying to give me an easy, natural progression to end it if wanted to.

He thought it was over for a moment, that he’d messed up. I looked at him and couldn’t be angry; he’s under my skin still. If things can’t move to a new height, I’m still not ready to come down quite yet. I’m glad to know where I stand, at least I have that. I let him know that at some point, I wouldn’t be able to wait. At some point I’d have to finish moving on, as we’re not going anywhere.

But in this moment, for right now, we’re going to keep having fun. I warned him though, we need to stay honest or we’re going to ruin trust between us and both be hurt. Honesty isn’t just about lying, it’s about disclosing expectations and revelations. You can’t knowingly let the other person living in a place of false hope or ideas.

He knew I thought this was going further and he knew it wasn’t. Even if it was a recent revelation, he should have told me. He didn’t know how to bring it up. He didn’t want to hurt or ruin what we had. He was scared.

Did he know how scared as I was, trusting and knowing this might happen? You lend a part of yourself when you trust and it’s up to that person to take care with that. I’ve always been good at doing that for other people, but I have never picked the right person to give my own. And now that he has it, I plead with him to not approach this place again. I need to be able to expect the truth.

I’m going to try not to make more of it than it is. I’m fast to forgive and I hope faith isn’t misplaced.

I feel like I have shut him out a small bit for my own sanity, while also feeling him thrust closer. I’m throwing up an arm to his throat and not letting him pass my guard. A comparison to jiu-jitsu is appropriate as we participate in this dangerous sport, both looking to improve, to find a better position, and having a ton of fun doing it.

There’s also a hint of desperation, like we know our days together are numbered and some day, maybe sooner than one or both of us would like, this will dissolve. And what will be left then? Will we speak with each other? Look each other in the eye?

Usually when these things are done, they’re done with only memories remaining and an unlucky bit of bitterness. Maybe this time, I hope this time, we can skip the chapter of hurt, betrayal, and unnecessary drama and have a fine farewell at the end. Dare I hope for a lasting, meaningful friendship?

In the meantime, we still have this. Togther we will train jiu-jitsu, eat sushi, cook, dine, party, visit the aquarium and tour the chocolate factory, talk about inane topics and subtle psychology, exchange strategies for our careers, share insights and passions, play and banter, geek out, and make as many fond memories as we’re able.

I’m a bit sad, but I’m also relieved at a bit of added definition. These thoughts have been aired out so I can move past them. I don’t know where I’m going, but now I do know that in the end he’s ultimately not coming with me.

Past Paths Passed

When past comes to the present,
and hindsight suddenly sheds light
on things long forgotten in the shadows,
how can I still stare into the night?
I take a step back to the sign
where once stood a crossroad I never saw.
Again today it stands, not the same but
I’m still in danger of wandering down some lane
without the slightest thought of choice.
We thought we’d fly to the next path
on the backs of dreams only to find
the ground comes up faster than it seems.
Those that were left behind were left to wonder
where their paths took them
while their own paths took them
to far shores, where it was hard to be sure
why and where the wonder was left.
Here we stand today, many miles but side by side
nestled in the hope of memory.
What we missed before won’t be missed again
and each other not missed again
and opportunity not missed again
and that crossroads not missed as
we turn to a new journey.
Let lead the way with hope that the night has passed
and cast aside our blindness at last.

Team IT: O Hai World

To go with my last post where I outlined a system of classes and abilities, I’ve now written a scene where people from normal our every day world find themselves in the world where these abilities exist. I used some characters from a little thing I’ve been working on (but haven’t posted yet) where there is a team of techies who work in the basement of a store and repair shop called Computer World. These techies at Computer World are somehow expected to single-handedly support all of computer technology and operating systems. This is because people who buy computers from here (many of them custom built or fixed by the team) also buy a tech support contract with them. In addition, the sales people in the store above know nothing about computers (like something out of The Website is Down: Sales Guy VS Web Dude) and have little care or respect for the basement dwellers who struggle to keep the customers after the sales people sell them what they don’t want or need. A post with some of their antics, trials, and all will follow at some point.

I wondered what would happen to them when thrust into this other world that is likely in the books they read and video games they play, and here’s what came out of it.

======

“So, people come to this school and… what chose a class like a job?” Ben asked.

“It’s not so much people chose a class as it chooses you… Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it’s already part of who you are, you just don’t know it yet. The Test just lets you know what your abilities are and what your focuses should be to develop yourselves into skilled soldiers.”

“If we have any abilities at all. You said there were some people who came out of the test with nothing,” Craig pointed out.

“Correct…. and then there are those who come out with less than nothing. The Test is not something people take lightly. It can scar or even kill you. Even if you come out on grid, you may be a different person after. But really, the test brings out who you really were before and shows your potential for success and failure. Some face that better than others… and some cannot face that at all.”

“That explains why not everyone does this. The abilities people have here are amazing…” Angus had earlier watched a class they had passed in absolute awe and more than a little bit of longing.

“So there’s more to it than getting a focus, and getting abilities. People see things and learn things about themselves… How exactly does that work?” Ben asked.

The teacher smiled lightly, as if addressing a novice pupil, “People don’t generally discuss their own test. It’s very personal. And, we’re not entirely sure how or why it works. It’s a ritual handed down that takes twelve of us, a representative of each focus, to perform.”

“So, it’s magic?” Bill asked.

“Not exactly magic, as that only covers the powers of one school. It’s all the powers combined, drawing to the surface the aptitudes of a person. It also draws forth truth and weaknesses as well. People may face their demons. Or… there are people who have claimed remembering nothing at all after wards.”

“…and we have to do this?” Bill asked with a bit more urgency than he meant to.

“If you want to stand a chance of survival, then yes, you do. Even if you reject your role, it won’t stop The Others from finding and killing you. They know you’re in this world now, and that very fact is a threat to them. As it is… you won’t have much time to train. I dare say, the test is the least of your worries, and the greatest of your chances.”

It hung in the air, the unsaid. It was unlikely we’d all survive to see home: our own world again. We were brought here for a common cause tied to the fate of this world and had to follow it whether to help or just to get back to where we belonged. Each of us knew we were more than a little overwhelmed, and by looking at each others’ faces we knew we weren’t alone in that sentiment. We were all plagued by a combination of worry, doubt, and amazement. I doubt we’d all handle it well, thought Sarah, if handled at all any time soon.

“So we should all take the test as soon as possible,” Sarah announced.

“Won’t we be safe here, though? All of these skilled people here… and you and the other teacher pwned them Others, or whatever, pretty good,” Bill was grasping at straws.

“Them?” he chuckled lightly as he pounded his staff on the packed earth, “That was but one of their Masters. They have their own schools, their own soldiers, and many more to send after you. If you stay here too long… we’ll all die. We sent some Masters ahead to prepare the way for when you do get sent off. We sent messages to those we trust to create more than a few red herrings, but I’m afraid even the most optimistic we can be is that you’ll get a few weeks here to prepare.”

“Well, I don’t get it. Why us? What’s so different or special about us? I mean you have to understand, we come from a world where we’re a bunch of lazy asses,” Craig was trying to explain away reality like Bill was, but with a little more confusion than urgency, “We go to work every day and sit in cubes and work on computers. What the hell do we have that these guys, some of who have been training since they were in diapers, don’t?”

“I don’t know,” admitted the Master, “and I know little of your world. All we have are the prophecies. These prophecies were left by the same people who left us the ritual of The Test, so I expect they have some powerful truth to them.”

“There’s a lot of room in these prophecies for us to be offed,” Sarah sighed, “If nothing else, we are smart and we do work well as a team, guys. Don’t be so quick to give up.”

“Another thing I don’t get is why only half of us are here, and why this half,” Craig said as if trying to argue that this was a dream he was waiting to wake from.

“Good point. With the other five of our team here, we might have had a better chance,” Bill paused, “This is not good.”

“I don’t know, would you rather be dealing with customers?” Ben asked, when no one answered, “It was meant to be a joke.”

“How soon can we do the test?” Sarah wanted to see what kind of chance they all had as soon as possible, but without getting that bit out of the way, there was no way to know.

“Wow, you’re in a hurry,” Angus smiled as if this was part of some cosmic joke, “Can’t wait to cast Magic Missile, can you?”

That gave the group a bit of a laugh, except for the Master who furrowed his brow in confusion, but didn’t say anything.

“I want to cast… magic missile,” quoted Ben in a geeky voice. There was a pause and a bit of tension release before the group turned serious again.

“We need to know what our own as well as each others’ strengths and weaknesses are as soon as possible, to work as a team in this,” Sarah pointed out, “Like right now we know to go to Angus for a Linux question or Craig for anything to do with daisy chaining crap together…”

“It’s a good point, we need all the time we can get to train,” admitted Angus, “It’s not like ya’ll are like me, doing martial arts in your spare time.”

Sarah didn’t continue the point as she was mentally beating herself up for not exercising more.

“No, we can’t all be as awesome as you, Angus,” Bill said in his sarcastic, good-natured way, “Some of us were stupid and played sports in our spare time instead. If only we knew our life would turn into a freaking Narnia book.”

“Word,” Angus said with a short chuckle like a hiccup.

The Master continued leading them down a path in what the rest didn’t realize was confused silence. They all seemed to speak a common language, and yet it was times like these the Master had no idea what flowers had to do with chains or what sort of animal a Linux was. He chalked it up to cultural differences and figured that in spite what Craig had said, they were knowledgeable, skilled people who would all have strong focus once they had done The Test. If people were lazy in their world, he figured these people who were brought over were an exception.

It was probably better that he didn’t know a IT tech support team for a computer repair and reseller was their one hope for winning the war and continuing existence as he knew it.

It’s a tarp.

Some people are very good at forgiveness and some people are very good at betrayal.

When two such people link together, arm in arm, it’s a terrible combination and very sad to watch.

Forgiveness, loyalty, love, and even hope can be a bad thing to have concerning the right people. It sets up a cycle of pain hard to break from.

The hindsight of escaping such an cycle can be just as worse. We figure we’re stronger and smarter now, but deep down we know we’d do it again. Really there are some things about us that don’t change so much. We all have an outer aura that is subject to change, but everyone also has a core of what makes them who they are.

I’m not sure what that core consists of is the same for people, but I do think that he bigger traits that I’m talking about usually reside in the core of a person. The further into the core the trait, the harder it is to change.

Words like ‘should’ don’t apply, only will. They shouldn’t lie, but they will. You should let them go, but you will hold on until they leave you defeated. You come back until loyalty has reached its limit, hope is hollow, and the entire experience leaves you empty.

Some people have a very strong will that accompanies things like loyalty and hope. Some people don’t ever know when to quit.

And when it’s all over, we ask why. The why of it doesn’t really matter, but still we ask it every time. You’re never going to be satisfied with the answer. With or without, these things are and continue to be this way.

The question isn’t why so much as it’s why not. Why not work out? Why not change for the better?

It’s so much easier as an outsider looking in. I say maybe you shouldn’t (again), watch with horrible fascination, and tell you to be careful even as the outcome is apparent.

Look out. It’s a tarp.