Brave New Jon – reflections on the past

Photo: Part of my permanent tattoo.

Since I’m in a mood to try to explain how I feel, I thought I’d share a fun game that you too can play along with at home. Go into any bookstore, pick my latest book off the shelf, and take a look at the dedication. Then, try the same thing in the next bookstore you happen to find yourself in. Repeat until nauseous.

Yep, the Barnes and Noble on Comm. Ave also stock my book (as do all of the Borders I happen to find myself in on the average week), as I discovered yesterday when trying to Not. Think. About. It. That book has really become a source of such mixed emotion for me. On the one hand, I’m absolutely proud that I managed to achieve writing a 500 page book, at the same time as planning my move across the Atlantic, and holding down a demanding (fun) job. But on the other hand, every time I see that book, I am almost moved to tears (and have been, on occasion).

For several months, right after it was published, I couldn’t even bring myself to open it. At all. This is largely why I’ve not engaged in any active promotion – I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. It’s been *that* painful for me, that something I spent months of my life working on really can only cause me to become upset at this point. And that in itself is extremely upsetting. I keep a copy in the office – in a closet – and one on my bookshelf at home, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to read beyond the first pages really, since about March.

They say “never get a tattoo of a girlfriend”. I learned this lesson the hard way, and now, it’s printed and happily sitting on around 20,000 bookshelves around the world, as a permanent reminder of what might have been but never was. I meant every word of what I wrote, and I (again, I guess, somewhat unfortunately) think I still do now. Ever wonder what it’s like to meet someone who rocks your world so fundamentally that you have trouble sleeping at night, and need to completely re-invent yourself just to even remotely get over them?

I guess it’s a healthy part of the healing process to finally admit to myself that I’m not over her, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Brave New Jon was initially some kind of giant effort to turn myself into the person I know I always could have been – the kind who now looks back with regret at my naive actions – but that new Jon is now realizing that my initial goal will never be realized. I’m never going to be with her, no matter how much I give of myself, no matter what I do. I know that. She deserved better, she deserves to be happy – and in spite of how she’s (unintentionally) made me feel for months, I wish her only the best. The most upsetting thing of all, really, is that I still (deep down) care so much for that girl that I would rather she be happy without me, as is obviously the case, than be truly happy myself.

Getting over her (or not) has cost me thousands of dollars, a lot of time spent in remote places (for example, sitting in the middle of the Mojave desert one Sunday afternoon), and has radically reshaped me (largely for the better). I would never have done those things that I have without some kind of impetus. I’d never have learned to drive and bought my “midlife crisis car” (my Miata MX5) without a strong desire to go on random roadtrips (a shared interest we had), I’d never have gone on a crazy “Californian” diet and fitness regime without such a wonderful self-created feeling of physical inadequacy and imperfection (I never officially got this as a reason), and I would never have engaged in such a level of introspection as I have, were it not all for her. Why do you think I originally learned to surf (which, I found, I actually quite enjoy – hence the “East Coast” wetsuit I have in my closet now), and why I covered so many thousands of miles of California on so many roadtrips? I wanted to understand her viewpoint, I wanted to understand “why”. She was both the best, and also the most painful, thing that has ever happened to me.

I’ve taken a couple of days of vacation this week. Partly because of the fact that I’ve had flu-like symptoms for a few days (though I am feeling somewhat better now) and in part so I can get up at a crack of dawn and go watch the sunrise, as I lie on the beach and pine quietly to myself. I love living in the United States, and I love my job – I really do – but there’s a part of me that feels a tremendous emptiness, the kind that can really only be filled by a special someone. She was that special someone, at least in my mind, and although I am willing to try again, I just don’t know if I’ll ever again find someone who makes me feel like she did.

I know, this blog seems particularly depressing tonight – and I’m sorry about that – I just thought I might, for once, share a story of how I really feel inside. There’s no need to email me, or call me about it, it won’t change the reality of the situation. Don’t worry, happy Jon will return tomorrow ;-)


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