I don't remember if that really happened, or if I made it up. It was so long ago that I can't even remember the year, or what time of year it was. It seems that it happened. It seems real to me. But I might have made it up. I do that sometimes. I see now that I do. I live in a world of my own, alone wherever I am no matter who is present. I guess I like it that way. I've been doing it long enough.

Do I appear friendly and gregarious? Well I am. I am that, and more. I am more than even I know, and I know a lot about myself now. But not enough. Have you seen me moody or angry? If you know me at all you have. Do I sometimes look threatening or intimidating? Certainly I must, because sometimes I've meant to, in order to walk in certain places, where a man cannot be weak or hesitant. I've been there, and it ain't no disco. You can walk in smiling and never walk out. You might see me remembering and think I look mean. Well, the scars don't help.

I have long enduring conversations with myself. I imagine that I am in cafes and bars, or on verandas or riverbanks, talking to people I knew, or in rare instances still know. I take their parts and make them talk and argue. I talk to people I knew. I talk to anybody I ever knew, often saying what I wish I had said then, whenever they appear like pop-ups in my brain. Some of these conversations might actually have happened. Like I said, I'm not always really sure. I'm good with dialogue, but weak with plot. I've been carrying on a silent and explosive conversation with my sister for 40 years, and she has not heard a word of it.

It wouldn't do her any good if she had.

My past is peopled by phantoms who may or may not have been real. Many are dead and imperfectly-remembered. Certainly I can never forget the important ones, those who had an impact for good or bad on me, even as their features vanish like faded drawings. Others are as insubstantial and insignificant as happenstance atoms I might have brushed against in this incomprehensible dance of the cosmos.

As for the ones I lost through my own sick intemperate stupidity, I never let go of them either. They stay in my hard drive head no matter how much I try to uninstall them. Maybe I like to imagine I have options still, even when I know I haven't. I'm always open to negotiations, no matter how offended or angry I was. But I understand that most of them are disgusted with me.

I am too.

I learned a long time ago that you can't go home again. After a point, who would want to? Yet what a seductive thought. If I could I'd go back and buy that little house in Lake Charles, I would. I'd fix it up, put a high stone wall around it, and live there alone with my memories. I would never let my neighbors know that I grew up in that house, before they ever moved to the neighborhood. I like to maintain an air of mystery about myself. It makes life less-boring.

And nothing will get you in trouble faster with neighbors than talking to them, or to anybody for that matter. I see now that all of my trouble with personal relationships has been due to the simple fact that I opened my big fat mouth. I never had much trouble with the ones I never spoke to.

There's nothing like silence for staying out of trouble. I've concluded that all my failures with relationships are due to the simple fact that I spoke to them in the first place. Things just took off from there and in no time spun out of control somehow, and ended up badly. I can think of a dozen people right off the bat I wish I'd never spoken to at all.

I suppose they feel the same way about me. But I get over things easily, and I forgive easily too. I know I do, because sometimes I forget the original incident, or offense. Forgiving is forgetting. Once, at 22, after a night of drinking, I threw up at breakfast in the dining room of a boarding house in Houston. The owner threw me out. About six months later I saw him on the street and greeted him warmly. He returned a cold stare until I asked him what the matter was. He reminded me then, and I was as surprised as hell, because throwing up on the floor in front of 10 people eating breakfast had completely slipped my mind. I had only good memories of him, and he had none of me.

There's nothing like a bit of time to show me what an ass I've been. It's hard to get away from, so I don't even try. I was re-examining a lost relationship by reading all the e-mails and Facebook messages that flew back and forth, and feeling worse with every one. It's clear that this person I lost was the better half of our painful and aborted relationship, and I was the villan through it all. It makes me realize anew what a crippled and pathetic person I am. I can't get away from it; the evidence is there. I live with it like I live with all the others, wishing I'd never opened my mouth. It's lucky that I have a partial-borderline personality; I can just not care what other people think about me. If I did care, I would have been hanging from a branch a long time ago.

I comfort myself with the stark truth that someday I'm going to die, and they are all going to die too, and nobody will remember anything at all.


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