Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Composing a Compass

Originally the post about Gil had been meant as a quick note regarding how Life really does imitate art...
as in how I have a way of relating everything to Peter Pan...
or, really, on the same (panpipe) note, that we cannot escape storytelling, even in our own lives.
But then, given the way Life played out, it became a reminder that even though it may seem as if we can at times, we cannot truly know tomorrow.  As much as we may want to plot out or lives, the story always takes a few turns.
I said I’d remark on another way it reminded me of a story.  Well, here ‘tis.

In college my best friend Laughter and I knew this guy.  I won't reveal his actual real name either, but I will say that his first name is on this page and his surname is found on a compass.

There'd been something weird about Compass.  What sort of weird?  Much.  And this is coming from a guy who shouldn't be calling the kettle black.  Ask Laughter and he'll tell you the same thing (on both accounts.)

First (is this really first?) let me say that there'd been an instant attraction to Compass.  I loved him immediately.  But I also feared him.  Compass had a kind of hold on us.  What I mean is, if Compass said, "Hey Pete, let's go to the mall and play Turtles!" I would do it.  Despite spending the very last of all my money, despite knowing I shouldn't, despite not being in the mood, despite having better things (like schoolwork, perhaps) to do.  [Oh - 'Turtles' refers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game.]  It seemed I’d do anything Compass wanted and spend lots of time with him.  It had been a magic spell.  Laughter's 'enchantment' might have been lesser than mine (I'm not sure), but the ability of Compass to get his way still applies.  Watch a movie that's seriously nothing more than a vehicle for gore at two in the morning when you have class early in the morning?  Sure.  Go out to eat after already eating in the cafeteria?  Sure.  You get the idea.  I'm not proud of it, not by a longshot.  I cannot rationalize it, it just... yeah.

So anyway, Compass's weirdness didn't merely stem from his puppeteering.  It's as if he came from another world or something.  He didn't seem to know basic things.  Using a spoon.  How to pronounce "crepe."  He would brag about his girlfriend back home who had allegedly been a model (but whose picture seemed like the kind that came with the frame.)  Realizing that most people didn't want to be discussing the ramifications of zombie guts at dinner.  To be honest, it's been 23 years now, I can't recall every single instance of oddity.  But trust me, he'd just been "off."  To the point of actually wondering if he'd just been a half-baked imaginary friend.

I managed to break the spell, but that’s another story.  I still hung out with him, but the magic fizzled.  Then Compass, quite suddenly, announced that he would be leaving.  That he'd not be coming back next school year.  In fact, he didn't even finish the term, as I recall.  Just decided to go... fueling the fire of thoughts that he'd not even been real.

Laughter and I would joke about him in the sense of being some sort of demon sent to thwart us.  A writer certainly couldn't help but think of it in terms of a book.  What if he actually were an "entity" here to teach us a lesson or something?  The idea developed... if "Compass" came back… hmm, it would make a cool novel.  Later on in life, Compass out of the blue.  And what if he'd come before?  But I knew that I didn't have the wherewithal to write such a tale.  Not yet at least.

Well, 23 years later, along came Gil.  Let me clarify here... Gil is nowhere near the magnitude of Compass.  I liked him immediately, yeah.  But the way I love him now grew with time.  And Gil doesn't have power over me.  Gil's also not bizarre like Compass.  There's things he doesn't know, but they're easily explained in that he's many years my junior.  (And he does know about spoons!)  Unlike Compass, Gil reciprocates everything from help to meals.

So it hadn't been until the sudden event of Gil leaving that I remembered Compass.  The parallels all became clear.  An amazingly friendly and playful guy comes out of nowhere for whom the attraction is great and strong.  Gil could convince me to do anything, but not ANYTHING, having learned my lesson with Compass.  He's gotten me to watch things out of my nature - and I've enjoyed them.  Gil loves playing video games and I'll happily watch or play.   He has his marvelous backstories.  Also, Laughter is quite fond of him.  Maybe it doesn't seem all that clear, but it did (and does) to me.  I see each manifestation of Compass to be different, but reminiscent, a guide tailored to the stage of Life in which he appears.
Thus, "Compass" had shown up again, in a way.  Naturally it got me thinking about him.  And the to-be-written novel.  Are my experiences with Gil to serve as inspiration for another section of the book?  Am I going to now write the book?  Not likely sooner than later.  I have PLENTY to work on already.  Besides, who’s to say Compass won’t show up again?  I’d rather the tale be self-contained with no sequel.  ;)  But I'm talking about it because I learned something else from all of this: Sometimes a novel takes a lifetime to be able to write.

That's pretty darn profound to me.  I guess up til now-ish I figured a story, when set down to be writ, would just spring to life with a little help from the characters.  As I always say, they've lived the tale and they relate it to us.  So the idea that one’s own lifetime is required to play out before a particular tale can truly be told – without the focus being a chronicle of one’s life – intriguing to say the least.

*Love referred to is Plantonic.

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