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Every rower I've ever encountered has been aggressive. I could never quite figure out if it was just their nature, or some odd consequence of pulling on an ergometer nearly 365 days every year. But I've never met one who wasn't bold enough to slap his hand on your thigh in a moment opportune, or sidle up to caress your back at some reckless, charicature of a party. Almost every one of them is like this. Given the individualized, competitive, and noble-elite history of the sport, they end up completely self-absorbed. The sport produces men like trees: strong, good-looking, and extremely tall. But just like nature, every tree loses it's leaves with the turn of the seasons, leaving just bare ugliness behind a shattering exterior. The loss was extremely fast-paced and also sinfully, maybe regretfully, fun. It was lik starting at a rate 40 on a 2k sprint. We're paddling now.
The problem with thinking you can do anything, is not that you can't. The problem, is that you can. Nothing stops us from making the decisions we make. Nothing stops us from carrying out a devious plan of vengeance or a goal to meet someone. We harbor an extreme amount of power that only few are aware of. It's perhaps our greatest downfall, as I remember.
"Stop it." And he said it a few more times. I finally understood he was serious. That's all he said to me. And the drunken lighting, and the bizarre mustache on his face was so unbalancing. The world spun around me in fury; everywhere I looked there was a costume. A masked face. A hating face. We were all off the water now, but a dizzying mess went on in my head and a droning coxswain voice saying "weigh enough...weigh enough" And he said "stop it" one final time when I happened to be near him. It was not on purpose, as he assumed. I was sorry I did it too. I was so sorry because I knew right then and there that it was over forever. That I had ruined something that I could never get back. That everyone around found me repulsive. I had been rejected by the very people I admired the most. That the joke was really on me. I cursed that night every chance I could, and I cursed the drunken slob I had become. How I had become a horrifying set of characteristics.
It was not planned, and if I could take it back, I would. My consciousness was bizarre that night. I became complacent about everything, like nothing had a consequence. I became increasingly paranoid as time went on, and I watched as the living room cleared out one by one slowly before my eyes like a video in fast-forward. Suddenly my "way to revenge" was there, just he and I. "Do you wanna go to my room?" It was a hesitant moment for me. I did but I didn't want to. I knew he didn't have real interest in me, he knew I felt the same. But we were both there, able, and willing. I didn't object. I did it to spite the one who denied me even a conversation. I was ashamed, hungover, and late for practice the next morning.
I resolved that my vengeance had gone wrong. I knew he would hate me. But not nearly as much as I hated myself. I hated me for doing such a rash, idiotic act. I hated that I let myself get so self-absorbed to the point where I believed I could do anything without any consequence. I hated that I was so obsessed with these people, these rowers. I hated them for being so great. I hated them all for this. I hated that he didn't think I was worth it. This is where I sink. This is the point of dark, the point of alone. This is where I fall. I had nothing.
It's hard to relive the moment when you realize that your friends don't want to be your friends anymore. I'm not talking about the moment of justification. Not anything like that. I'm talking about the moments when he was a jerk and you were nice to him because you didn't believe it. For all the times you sat there being sweet and trying, trying, trying one last time to be so energetic and happy to bring back all the past jokes and places of relation when he was rude. The moment when you tried to win them back over, and while you were doing it, you finally realized that it was over. Not afterward, no, WHILE you were doing it. They didn't want your company. In fact, they just didn't care.
I read a quote once by Azar Nafisi. “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” I not only found it difficult to transition between major moments of change, like moving, or new classes or whatever, but I found the smaller changes of feeling to be the hardest to overcome. I found it most difficult to leave the periods of darkness behind. The lowest possible times of feeling, I was scared to leave. I would never be the same again. How much changing was I going to encounter? It's the fear of the next part being even worse than the last. So you don't want to leave a place behind. Just because you know it, and YOU right now, will be gone forever. And ultimately, what if you're forgotten?
There's a kind of company that's alienating. The person lonely in the crowded room, that's me. I saw others emotions, their insides beaming, their faces all different, and they saw mine too. But I did that just for them. Just to not burden them, because even I know it wouldn't be fair. There's a kind of alienation that sinks deep within when looking into the faces of people you love and noticing how real it is. How they're always on the go, always making plans, always busy busy, never letting you know, even though they used to always be with you. There's a kind of alienation when it's quiet after they leave. Because they are not thinking about you now, but you're thinking of them. I sensed the utter frustration that has been an unfortunate and familiar presence in my life once again. The disappointment that hovers in the static, empty room. I was here, and they were there.
Because oddly, although whenever I was in good spirits and feeling extremely extroverted in front of other girls, I sensed that they did in fact want to be me. I felt the eyes of a girl once in my class. I had a friend tell me she wanted to be with me more because she felt so good in my presence. That I lifted her up, and we had fun. They saw me as a quirky, smart, humorous, confident individual. And despite how great these compliments made me feel, I could never trust this. Because these same friends were flaky. They never made an effort to get together. They rearranged plans so that they never happened. That disappointment hung about me for years. I don't think I can forgive them for this. I was alone. My biggest confession to them all would be that I always felt alone. I would never fit in.
Upon arriving home for Christmas, I found a new sense of ease. Family proved to be my only safeguard, for the first time. Family car rides had never meant much. But this time I treasured it. No one could penetrate inside of that car. No evil minds, no waste could get inside. So I looked out the window and thanked Him for all that He'd ever done. Good or bad, it didn't matter now because I had this place to go to. No matter how many judging eyes fell upon me, how mistunderstood I could be, how much the ugly thing overtook me, these people would protect me from the outside world because they loved me unconditionally. I could be here, and all of the dangers of the illicit world would disappear behind familiar doors... I belonged. And it was then, and only then, that I realized this is what it meant to be truly blessed. Home is where they have to take you in. I finally understood what it was like to be thankful for this thing. Because somewhere in that house, my picture was displayed. Someone was proud of the person hanging there.
A new blanket laid on my bed that night. I hadn't asked for it, but it was there because it was cold out. And it was so beautiful because it was new. And I looked at my alarm clock and it was beautiful because it was different. I found comfort here. I felt as though the new year would bring with it a multitude of new things much better than this blanket. It had to be a sign, that whatever change must be done, I would embrace it. My bitterness and resentment dissipated and I knew right then that this would be the first year I would be happy bringing in the new year alone. That night I made a decision to be a free spirit, to walk into whatever may come, and smile. I had lost the battle, but I would eventually win the war. It was in God's hands now. How fine it was to release my inhibitions from a faltering palm. Guessing that life does move on, I set my alarm early, a feat to be well tested.