What did I do, except watch his stories and say nothing? What did I do except speak to him with no clear idea of what I wanted, a little nervous that maybe what I had represented wasn’t what it was, not sure it was something that could become, sure of nothing except for the excitement that shot up in me, sudden and thrilling, when I realized what was happening. I will forever feel responsible for not only the needs but actions and perceptions of others. Last night I took the Myers-Briggs and got INFP, “The Mediator”: I like thinking of myself that way, as something arranged, predetermined, an affinity, a personality not tied to socialization and failures and traumas. I kept watching his stories for clues (passive, curious) even though it seemed like something was maybe wrong. And that maybe what he wanted was an inquiry, even though I didn’t feel like an inquiry was an appropriate thing to provide or to offer. Perhaps it is wrong to imagine that it is something I did—maybe I had already been dismissed by then; perhaps he had decided what I wanted or was (or his idea of what I wanted or was) wasn’t worth it, or that what was happening wasn’t what was happening. And I’m okay with that, but not, somehow, totally okay with the idea that something could have been done that I didn’t do—even if there was nothing I didn’t do that I would have done, nothing I would have liked myself for doing anyway—or that I did something that was understood as something else.
Reading Marion Milner’s On Not Being Able to Paint I realize that what I want to do is to “combine”—to refocus, to adjust, to put together, to pace, to circle, to speak through. In response to feeling unable or unwilling to represent the “visual fact” of the world around her in painting, but instead something else, a feeling or form or attitude that is separate from what she sees, she worries that it may be a form of cowardice, a retreat. “But it did not feel entirely like a retreat, it felt more like a search, a going backwards perhaps, but a going back to look for something, something which could have real value for adult life if only it could be recovered.”
What is “recovered,” in writing? A novel, or a short story, is rarely what I set out to write. It’s something aimed towards, it’s a pulling back (of the arm with the arrow stuck between two fingers). What makes me upset about Milner’s book is a question I asked myself later in the day—for a long time everything I experienced and everything I thought slowly circulated inside me, a kind of cauldron of thought and feeling. A feast made up of scraps. This is the state of being that I made for myself after so much renunciation, so much hard toil. It’s what I feel like I am. When I don’t feel this way I feel confused and lost, absent from myself. Like I’m watching myself go from far away, through a window.
Strange fantasy while I’m meditating on the train, as we pull through the Christie and Bathurst stations. That as my eyes are closed she will quietly alight on the seat next to me, that when I open my eyes she will laugh, impishly, somehow like we have both been discovered, and say hello. That will never happen. Then I imagine that because I felt that so powerfully she will be on the train with me: she has seen me through the window, seated, with my eyes closed, and avoided my car. But when we both get off at St. George I will spot her in the crowd, she will hurry away, I will grab her roughly by the arm, like a nineteenth century country gentleman—rough, vulgar—and wheel her around. “Who are you running from? Isn’t running just another kind of love?” It isn’t, of course. I am instead like a character from Nightwood, wrestling with the melodrama of all of these frustrated passions, haunted and haunting, as I make my way through the subterranean rail system alone.