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bright columns of heaven across the plains

Notes on Utah, continued:

8. I am good for about five or ten minutes of social interaction before I find myself at a complete loss on how to further comport myself. I worry that the other person thinks I am too quiet or that I babble too much and make too many dumb jokes or go overboard with the constant puns (constant puns being a symptom of mild mental illness, I've heard). And I am ashamed to reveal that my life experience is not as rich and diverse as it should be for a man my age. And I am ashamed to reveal how dumb I am about most things--even the few subjects one would expect me to be able to discuss with a fair amount of insight and intelligence. I stumble over my words and go quiet and recede into the shadows until the other person mercifully forgets about me.

9. I wish I was a smart, confident, and self-propelled man. B. is one of those smart, confident, and self-propelled men. He knows a lot about a few things and a little about everything. And he doesn't even have the DECENCY to be a jerk about it. He's totally kind, sensitive, and humble. Somehow that makes it all worse.

10. R. caressing B.'s wrist in the car. R. giving him neck-and-shoulder massages in the living room as we watched TV. Curling her body into his. They looked so happy together. Goddamn, I'd like to be happy like that for a little while.

11. Saturday evening we met up with B.'s sister, her husband, and their two little boys, for dessert at a restaurant. The little boys had great stores of energy and produced sound at uncomfortably high decibels. Afterward, the whole group of us walked around, looking at all the nearby shops replicated in every mall across America. R. scarcely spoke a word to me. She was more interested in talking with B.'s sister about buying houses and upcoming family functions. What the fuck am I DOING here, I thought to myself.

12. Later, back at the house, B. and I watched, R. try on a pair of heels she purchased earlier in the evening. I enjoyed seeing her so happy. And I enjoyed looking at her calves as she walked across the room. She went into the bedroom and reappeared with a pair of older heels which she dropped on top of the kitchen garbage bag. After they had gone to bed, I successfully resisted the great urge to salvage and keep as a souvenir one of the heels she had thrown away. But I may have paused to very briefly caress the new pair she had left in the living room after they went to bed.

Still more of this to come later.

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