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Dichotomy

A post following <a href="http://tribolum.com/archives/2007/02/20/reunion.php#comment4">Mis_nomer's comment</a> on the dilemma Chinese New Year reunion dinners bring to newly married couples. The almost-painful helplessness of not being able to be in multiple places at the same time has become a silent but ever-present companion the older I grow. I fall in love with people and places far too easily and the realities of time and space, not to mention the general inertia I seem endowed with sometimes makes me come across as callous and uncaring.
To the many wonderful people who've lived in my life once upon a time – childhood friends who have since drifted, strangers who have offered me help when I least expected it, mere acquaintances whose one smile made the day that much better – to everyone with whom I've shared an instance of <em>realness</em>, of intimacy, even if it were just a fraction of a moment:
I love you; and am indebted to you all.Many years ago I helped Faith with some literature homework. She had to write a short interpretation of Philip Larkin's poem "Maiden Name".
<blockquote><p>Marrying left your maiden name disused.<br />
Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,<br />
Your voice, and all your variants of grace;<br />
For since you were so thankfully confused<br />
By law with someone else, you cannot be<br />
Semantically the same as that young beauty:<br />
It was of her that these two words were used.</p>
<p>Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,<br />
Lying just where you left it, scattered through<br />
Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two<br />
Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon -<br />
Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly<br />
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.<br />
No, it means you. Or, since you're past and gone,</p>
<p>It means what we feel now about you then:<br />
How beautiful you were, and near, and young,<br />
So vivid, you might still be there among<br />
Those first few days, unfingermarked again.<br />
So your old name shelters our faithfulness,<br />
Instead of losing shape and meaning less<br />
With your depreciating luggage laden.</p></blockquote>
Somehow tonight I'm reminded of the many roles I've left behind. The many friendships I've allowed to slip. In all probability it is likely that most of these have been my fault, that had I pursued with more tenacity some of them might have stayed the way they were.
But another part of me subscribes to a more fatalistic <span lang="fr">c'est la vie</span> approach. That life is what it is: a single pathway we choose at the expense of the others we might have taken. That I cannot be in Arizona and Singapore at the same time, or a childhood friend still obsessing over childhood things while also the father of my own child.
Like maiden names the selves we once were fade into the obscurity and fog of memory, and often with them the links we made with others.
That truly is kinda sad.

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