My relatsionship with Christi had many problems. We had different methods of dealing with them and different ideas about what they were. What we were agreed upon was that June 2002 – the end of 2003 was a messy, bad time. My way of dealing with this was simply not to deal with it. I wanted to focus on loving each other and hope of the future. Christi wanted to directly address these lingering issues. Neither of us has especially good communication skills, so when she would try to address these problems, I would not get what she was talking about and be upset and not want to think about the bad past.

She, however, wouldn’t let go of the past and so the past rose up and bit me at the start of winter break. I spent the winter break contemplating the past and patterns in our relationship that had not changed since we were 19 even though we had changed and the patterns weren’t good then and had gotten less good over time. The past was a huge ocean, rising up and threatening to drown me. It was too big. I didn’t understand what Christi was talking about and it hurt me. The way she said it hurt me, but I didn’t tell her that. If only we would just focus on the bright and hopeful future, it would all go away and everything would be ok.
The magnitude of past hurts, when I couldn’t ignore it anymore, was overwhelming. How christi tried to talk about it (and I resisted) hurt in a correspondingly overwhelming way. Not only was it huge and horrible, but she wouldn’t let go of it. I couldn’t see a way to let go of it without letting go of her. It was the only thing I could think of to do. Trying to talk about it would just hurt me further. It would hurt her. There was no point in drowning ourselves in an ocean of woe. I stopped talking to her to avoid having to talk about this. I was frustrated by her unwillingness to simply embrace my vision of a future disconnected from the last 2 years.
Today, Alvin told a story about a guy explaining his compositional style by writing the word Beethoven on a piece of paper. then he wrote “19th century.” then he wrote “minimalism.” He drew an arc from “Beethoven” to “minimalism,” bypassing the 19th century and then wrote his own name next to “minimalism.” It’s a nice notion to think we can ignore the 19th century, and indeed we try, but it’s foolish to assert that it hasn’t changed and affected us as composers. Lou Harrison editted Ives, who took all of his ideas from the 19th century. I listen to Lou and get ideas from him. I come from a 19th century musical heritage which I cannot escape from.
But I wanted to escape from the last 2 years. I wanted to draw a line from returning from Europe in 2001 (full of ideas and enthusiasm) to the present. And maybe this composer in Alvin’s anecdote could make a reasonable claim to being unscathed by the 19th century, but I couldn’t make a similar claim about 2002. I didn’t want to talk about the last couple years. I didn’t want to think about them. But with Christi arriving and the sort of introspection one engages in around the New Year, I did think about them. It was a deep chasm from which there seemed to be no way to get out. I told Amy later, “how much can two people hurt each other before it’s enough?”
So I stopped talking to Christi, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I got back to school and thought, “I want to run away from home.” but I already had. running away from home doesn’t help. Problems have an uncanny way of following you. Trying to ignore things doesn’t make them go away. focussing soley on the future is not a way to fix problems of any kind. My denial of the past was as useful to our relationship as Dubya trying to fix the deficit by setting up a lunar base. Both ideas are fueled by a sort of optomism, but a ludicrous way to deal with any sort of present problem. Both require a solid foundation that needs/needed repairs before it support such a project. My refusing to talk about the past or deal with it was like Dubya ignoring WMD stuff in the State of the Union. It must be addressed. (I must stop comparing myself to Bush!!)
I never told any of this to christi. It didn’t fit in my world view of “if we just ignore this it will go away.” It certainly didn’t fit with fleeing tidal waves from the past. and it was a tidal wave. The past had been steadily collecting behind me, waiting for me to examine it. It’s like the reading backlog I’m already generating in my Mystic Voices class. (alas) I cannot explain how overwhelmingly huge the unexamined past was or be less metaphorical in my description. What is true is that I needed/need space to deal with huge personal demons. I could not discuss them with Christi then. It looked like I would never be able to. Breaking up with Christi seemed like the most sensible option and the least painful for me and for her.
Obviously, breaking up with Christi and fleeing to Connecticut did not make these demons disappear. I took with me two carry on bags, one checked bag, and the maximum limmit of emotional baggage (one day in therapy and I’m already in cheesy metaphor land). And I’ve been examining the recent past. And suddenly many of the seemingly hurtful things that Christi said seem to make sense. Suddenly, it’s clear that she was trying to slay some demons instead of having them creep up on us forever. That our 19 year old patterns didn’t fit anymore. That we had to talk about the future not in vague, hopeful terms, but in the concrete and rooted in our experience. She also hurt my feelings. Neither of us is good at this communication thing. It’s hard to do over the phone. She may not have hurt me on purpose.
I love her
So now what?

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Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

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