Saturday, September 25, 2004

The importance of Mara Megan...

So much for confessional candor. It's like I'm bloggin' my sins in front of a faceless friar who has already read them on-line. Anyway, the lesson I learned from M &M (through a corona of stained tears and burnt out years) is one of patience. When I arrived back home from my crazy love affair with Megan the inside of my chest felt like a box of broken Christmas bulbs. Every vector of my chest was shattered and I cried everynight (Wuss)....this was eight years ago this pending October, which as Before Sunrise auteur Richard Linklater notes in WAKING LIFE is that time, too, has a way of chiseling and creating a new identity for us, "our cells are completely regenerating every seven years. We've already become completely different people several times over. And yet, we always remain quintessentially ourselves."

Anyway, when I arrived back home from my eternal tryst I felt completely worthless, like a crinkled up back pocket receipt dated from a product that no longer worked, only my heart was that aged product. My sisters had very promising careers as musicians and I was, well, the writer, but my parents really didn't seem too keen on anything I did as long as I didn't smoke in the house.

According to Sister A, the miniature slants splintered on the thumbless side of my left palm indicate the number of times I'm suspect to watch my heart slip and shatter in front of me like wet delf China. Sister A looked like she was squinting through magnifying lenses when she deeply perused the inside of the hand (it was a very mystical experience) so I sincerely take to heart her prognostication that I'll have my heart broken four times in my life. Megan was the first time I got my heart broken, Vanessa was the second (can't wait to meet numbers three and four) and here is why Megan matters:

I used to only write in black ink and notebook paper and when I arrived home from my seasonal sojourn with Mara Megan I locked my door and transcribed the scroes (50, 60?) of poems written for Megan into the computer. I slaved relentlessly, pecking the swirls of my aching fingers into the keyboard like a young chick gradually hatching from an egg.

I worked my ass off. Although I was an accomplished vizionary, I was a very young, verbally naive writer. The poems were pretty shitty poems, although their heart was in the right place. I wrote and I wrote and finally, after a week of tears constantly canaling down my cheekbones ( everytime I saw my bluish reflection in the computer screen I thought it was her) was done. I watched my newborn take it's first breath as each sheet slowly buzzed and whizzed, slowly exiting the slits of my parents early nineties printer.

I collated the poems and bound them in a notebook, awarding the script with the calligraphic title POEMS OF LOVE AND ARDOR FOR MEGAN KRISTIN.....

My first completed book of poems after high school. I didn't care. It wasn't about the writing . It wasn't solely about me. It was trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Where was I? Why am I here? What does it mean to watch your heart droop in front of you like it's taking a bow after the final encore of a tragic Italian Opera. Why did my sisters have promising futures and all I had was the promise of happy hour every friday?

What I did next was what Megan gave me. I took my newborn manuscript and stuffed it in a shoebox manger for sixteen months. I had read Megan many of her poems tete-a-tete on my visit, but I burrowed my blood sonnets in a Doc Marten shoebox. I refrained from writing or calling her. All the love I had for Megan pulsated and flapped in the beaded lines of my poems, a book of poems I wrote with the intent of having each line reflect the forever smile of her face, the forever scent of her breath, the inside warmth of her mouth.

During those sixteen months I quit writing poems, wrote a HORRIBLE david foster Wallace influenced novel on basketball and Opera (?) dropped out of college to work as a supervisor at Barnes and Nobles, lost (or maybe found) my virgintiy to a rich Bradley girl from the suburbs.

Everything in my life seemed perfect. I had more cash than I had ever had. I wasn't in debt. I was writing a fair amount. I had a beautiful girlfriend named Jana that I took out on lavishing dates every Friday. I had VERY short hair. I wore cool ties. I talked about the books I would write someday.

Even my mom seemed to actually think I had some dormant potential stowed in my skeleton.

On Valentines day '98 I lied to my parents and took the weekend off from work and Jana rented a hotel room in Chicago. She showed me her old high school. Her old house. We attended Mass together Sunday morning. She introduced me to friends that were special to her. We couldn't keep our fingers from snapping towards each others body.

The Sunday night I came home I brewed coffee and decided to reread Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I can't recall the exact time (11:11) but it was close when the phone reverberated and a familair soft velvet-laced voice inquired if I was home.

It was Megan.

She came back to me at the most inopportune time in my life, but she came back to me, and I did the only thing I could do. I welcomed her. I sent her the book of poems written sixteen months earlier. She said she was speechless.

I got drunk and wrote Megan's name all over my body with different colored markers. I wanted her to reclaim old territory. My girlfriend Jana figured that something was going on when she saw looped smudges somersaulting across my body. I had to tell her the truth.

Someday maybe I'll blogg about the next four months that followed. I had a timeless afternoon with Megan watching RENT in Chicago and I can still show you the corner of State and Adams where last we kissed. Jana was rightfully furious and rightfully fooled around with people to make me envious. A lot of it's a blur. It ended with me going back to Jana, partly because she was here, partly because I wasn't even twenty-one and, as is typical with males, my brain was located beneath my navel, partly because no one can really know for certain what they really want, no one can tell you from the outset how things will work out in the beginning of any relationship; all we have to follow is an inexplicable tug orchestrated by the fingertips of invisible angels.

Obviously Jana and I didn't last. She got married about a year after we broke up. When I saw a picture of her in her wedding dress I just had to smile. Thank God it wasn't me in the picture next to her.

But what Megan gave me was the fullfillment of Walt Whitman's proveb:

O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Blogging's a lot like putting your heart into an empty gin bottle and then tossing it out as far as you possibly can into the ocean of cyberspace. You never know whose shore the bottle is going to brush up on. You never know who's going to uncork the capsule of your life's story. Never know who's going to be moved by it. You never know (i.e., Joe Propinka) what literary genius is going to stalk you.

(Well, maybe if your first name is ARYA, you know....)

I have no plans on future correspondence with Megan. The last two times I've wandered around Madison I didn't even bother to look her up (She would probably hang up anyway). I contacted her on 9-11 and when my father died three years ago, she was the only voice I needed to hear. We talked for a long time the Saturday following his funeral and we both cried. I don't know how it's possible to hold people over the computer screen or to hold people over the wireless warble of a cell phone, but I held her that day, on the phone and we drained tears from one emotionally fatigued socket.

The greatest gift that Megan gave me was just the ability to write. I'm still developing it (when I get a rejection letter I take it way too much to heart)... I've opted to forge a career that pays in a foreign currency. What I learned from Megan was that, even if I write something and put it in a shoebox for sixteen months (or don't hear from anyone in over a year) that that wordy "something" still has the possibility of growing and I have the simple duty of giving or at least trying to give as much of myself as the concourse will perhaps allow.


arya said...

if i said that the four lines on your hand meant four heartbreaks, i didn't explain very well. they represent four loves but i guess love and heartbreak go hand in hand so what's the difference? how many people out there know what you are talking about? what do you think? is this a common experience or is it rare?

David Von Behren said...

Thanks for reading (my palsied palms, my portly blogg) Arya! For what it's worth, Megan's birthday is Naw Ruz and (Mystical, Irony) the day I left P-town to be with her, Oct. 18, 1996, the was the day, exactly seven years later that I declared, Oct. 18 2003. Shit...who said a heartbreak couldn't lead you to the lips of paradise?

In her defense (if she ever reads this) I wish her simply all the best and that she continues to find her bliss and her joy!

none said...

Your blog restores my faith to *men*kind.

two bits said...

Your tale of shoeboxed poems reminds me of all the poetry I carved out my first year in college. One of my prof's actually told me one was ready for publication on the first draft. What a mistake, it swelled my head until it popped, even though I never had the courage to submit it anywhere. It is still sitting in the shoebox.