Monday, November 19, 2007

skin crisis, part one

Today starts a three-part post, all tightly tethered to that creepy feeling. When put together, they will convey my stance about a word that means a lot to me in a world of online, open communication: identity.

It's been a while since I've done the late night diner thing.

Diner runs afford the opportunity to extend the length of any given night out. Friends have a chance to see one another in a far more controlled setting; at least more so than scattered about in a bar or club. Having that extra hour at the diner helps to create a name for any given event; a way to generate a title / themeatic heading for that night's experience.

Over the weekend, a friend calls me, urging me to meet at the local diner. It's late, or, it's late because I have two children, both under three, and a full day with them is the equivalent to three days at work, but the tone of my friend's voice suggests compulsory attendance.

The young and the toothless. They populate the smoking section at the diner while the non-smoking section waits, empty and bright. My friend has retreated back to smoking, a habit now in its third reincarnation. We are seated quickly; no time for short, information gathering questions.

We order coffee, decaffinated, but when my friend starts with the word 'divorce', I look desperately for the waiter, hopeful that he overheard the start of a difficult conversation and will upgrade the caffination.

I am ill-equipped to offer empathy, and sympathy seems to suggest I'm-sorry-but-I'm-glad-it's-not-me, so I stare, hoping to conveys support, but then I realize that every thought I have about how I present myself is selfish and egocentric.

He delivers one line that resonates with me; a careful arrangment of words that captures the present-ness of his emotional state as well as the uncertainty of a disjointed future:
She wants to start over, but I have to start over.
Our coffee sits, cream-less and tepid, and I'm looking at my friend, talking in what I'm sure sounds like meaningless jibber-jabber. I feel awkward providing encouragement and I feel remiss when just listening.

Through his words, I sense that he wants out of this reality. And through his words, I infer that he just wants out.

When we leave the diner, I search for the title, the heading for this evening's event:

skin crisis.

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