Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I'm thinking of entering a big famous competition at the end of March. In fact I've pretty much decided. Feeling strong, my game is coming together, I'm relaxed. Bully for me. Problem is I always roll with the same guys. Not a good gauge of my true ability. So when there was some talk today about informal training on Sundays in T, that got me thinking that I should expose myself to it -- new people, new styles, new challenges. Of course I'd get my ass kicked. But that's not a bad thing.

It's a new place though. That makes me uncomfortable. And new people. That's a risk. And a long drive. Hassle. I wouldn't know anybody. Anxiety. I'd have to introduce myself, and pretend to be normal. Stress. Hi, I'm Jack. Glad to meet you. Put 'er there, pal. I'm normal. My, you have pretty eyes. Did you ever eat a spider? I have to nurture my SAD, you know. No, not Standard American Diet. No, not Seasonal Affective Disorder. Not Sexual Arousal Disorder. Sheesh. Not Singles Awareness Day. Not Substance Abuse Diagnosis. Not Smokers Against Discrimination. Not Systems Analysis & Design. Not Senility, Alzheimer's and Dementia. Social Anxiety Disorder. Couldn't you figure that out on your own? I literally had to spell it out for you. Pitiful. Never mind that I don't actually have it. I wish I had it. It would be an excuse. It wouldn't be my fault, all this maladjustment of mine. It would be a disease. Who could blame me for having a disease? That would be cruel.

I can just see myself, looking up the directions. Getting into my vehicle and driving on the freeway. Signs and offramps, into T. Streets and addresses. Doorways and rooms. But here's the thing. I used to make that trip every week. Every Sunday. To T. To a facility. SV. Lockdown facility, with a psych ward. The Puff Unit. We'd play cards in a grim gray room with plastic chairs and folding tables and a thin carpet over a cement floor -- I'd pretend to care when I lost, to make them laugh. Or another place, where we'd meet in the cafeteria and talk for a few hours and then I'd make the drive back through the desert and over the mountains -- a few more hours. Or another place, where we'd talk in a large multipurpose room lined with cells -- lockable and with door-windows, through which I caught an unwanted half-second glimpse of a boy masturbating. Well. It really couldn't be unexpected. Or helped. Nobody came to visit him.

It's just a name, T. Just a place. Big town. But I'm not thinking too deeply about it, because it could make me weep. Such is the power of memory. A sort of homeopathic network, where essences become more potent, the more attenuated the connection. And everything touches everything else, and everything rings with sympathetic vibrations, and the shatter point is always on the verge of breaking through.

My father used to leave notes for me. Clean up this fucking room or get out of my house. That sort of thing. I read them with no feeling whatsoever. But six years later someone left me a not-at-all-unpleasant note, and I almost collapsed with rage. One day I came to my father's house from school and found all of my things thrown out onto the front yard. No feeling whatsoever. I packed and left and didn't see him again until after I was married. Must have been about six years later. I guess a clean room was really important to him.

When I would find that I'd have to go to some new place, for J, my only concern was for him. I didn't mind the drive, or the stress or any of that. I didn't mind the security checks or the examination of ID. I'd wear my competent-adult mask and it fit perfectly.

Well. Thanks for listening. It helped. I think I'll go to T. And I'm sorry about saying you were pitiful. That was uncalled for.


No comments: