Finding the Art in Everything

06 March, 2008

Resolution Brings Closure but Not the Other Way Around

A couple of years ago, one of my closest friends from college and I awoke to find a line drawn in the sand and ourselves on opposite sides of it. We spent about 6 months staring at the line, and in long, fruitless conversations, tried to figure out how it got there. We stayed there, toe to toe, on the line, until a few months and a final visit before his wedding.

On his last visit, I noticed we weren’t toe-to-toe anymore, and I may have been the only one to see it at first. Pretty soon, the conversation changed from curiosity regarding the line’s origination to pointing out who stepped away first. Other people even weighed in on the situation, free to cross back and forth across the line that paralyzed us.

Then it got worse. Both convinced the other one had moved, we backed further away, until we were shouting to be heard—which made us back even further away, because, ironically, it felt like someone was talking too loudly too closely. And then I felt hoarse and stopped responding. And pretty soon I didn’t hear any more shouting from beyond the line. People even stopped carrying messages across it.

And the silence turned into something much bigger than a simple ceasefire. Because in a ceasefire, the opponents are still fixed on each other, facing one another with a kind of readiness. We had turned from the line to build our own civilization on our side. We didn’t feel the threat anymore—we just didn’t feel anything. Only one person still traveled back and forth, with the occasional update from the other side of the line.

But we had shared a lot and he still had a great deal of stuff on my side. He left some priceless 3am conversation. He left music: All Weather Human, U2, Jimmy Eat World, David Gray, and Brit rock in general. He left Guinness, Tennet’s bitter, Fuller’s London Pride, curry and cous cous. He left his guitar capo and sarcasm, along with French-pressed, French roast coffee. He left all the Wes Anderson and Guy Ritchie Films. He left a nickname, an art history book, Bruce Campbell, a half a dozen bottles of red wine, Caravaggio, and twenty days of European travel.. I kept using these things every day, never really boxing them up to give back.

“I couldn’t have given them back, anyway,” I told myself. “There were too many and we were always going to be on separate sides,” I assured. A few weeks ago, I realized how much of what he left I couldn’t live without. There was no denying where they came from or how many there were. So I sent him a message telling him I had them, and I’d always be grateful he left them, and that I wouldn’t forget where they came from.

I didn’t see, then, that the line had become a wall, or foresee my message would be scrambled and incoherent from the other side. The message brought us closer to the wall than we’d been to the line for years (could there a chance…?), but it was still higher than we could reach. Another round of messages prompted a second look at the wall and staring up, we could not longer see where it stopped. I offered to build a bridge of common interests over the wall, so we can find a way to share the things he left.

“No,” he says, “The wall is too high.” The only way to share is for you to squeeze through this hairline crack in the brickwork.”

“A person cannot fit through that crack; a spider could not even fit!” I argued. “If I can’t use the bridge, the stuff isn’t worth sharing.”

“The bridge is not tall enough,” he messaged back. “I am sorry we are stuck forever.”

And yesterday, on this, we finally found ourselves on the same side.

And it’s a horrible feeling.

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