[Continued from Shadows through a Cracked Glass.]
The last entry became a jumping-off point; conversations with an insightful friend & some of Sean’s loved ones followed. I have a tendency to see the world in a very self-oriented way. My enormous ego aside, this probably stems from the ASD issue of theory of mind. That said, I am fortunate to have more than just my own malleable memories to go on, & archived chats across a nice array of sites show clearly that there was a depth to our interaction that I missed.
I think maybe he did too, although I’m pretty sure he’d caught on by the time he left Boston, as that would explain why he summoned me in person for some very awkward conversations despite normally avoiding such things like the plague. For him to recognize the need means he knew how important he was to me before I did. For him to go to the lengths he did in the middle of all he had to get done is a pretty good sign that it mattered to him what happened to me.
For all that, though, there were lines he chose not to cross for me, or to let me cross, during his life. Introductions not made, fleetingly but resignedly regretted once our courses were set in different directions. For all his openness, there were things he hid from people, people he hid from each other... I think there was some sense of keeping everyone’s life simple, including his own. I do kind of have a knack for complicating things, though. & running my mouth(/fingers).
He shared pretty deeply with his best friend ( who’s shrewd enough to know more than what he told her), & there was a great deal of his history I never fully got; after all, we never really set out to become more than casually acquainted. It was just that we could talk & talk & even talk over each other without missing a beat. Hours or even days straight on art, technology, politics, ethics, sociology, education, science, psychology, metaphysics... All way outside & beyond our original reasons for crossing paths.
One day, I was stuck at his house with rain pouring & cabs just not showing up. His roommate came home & he made up a quick’n’dirty lie about my identity & purpose. This despite the guy having heard stories of me, albeit not by name; despite that it was Sean’s place; despite the lack of any threat to even their already-souring relationship from my presence. That’s when I knew some things had to change, & I changed them. Glad I did. Should have sooner.
Now that I’m conversing with others he was close to, I must admit that a lot of the gaps in what he told various people make sense given what I knew about, but him a few leave me puzzled as to just what he was aiming for or avoiding.
I want to honor the respect he had for those he loved & tried to protect; I don’t want to hurt anyone by creating doubt or distance in the face of what he left unknown. I don’t want Sean to be seen as two-faced; some people hide behind a multitude of shifting façades but in reality resemble none, he was more like the sum of the many things he could be to all manner of different people. Or, I guess, even to the same individual in different contexts.
I know he had his reasons for the things he kept separate, but the stuff that I was privy to that he held back from most people... The things I taught him, those I learned by teaching him, the things we shared with each other & set out to find in others... It leaves me feeling awkwardly like the secret mistress( well, but I’m male so rather, secret… ;-p) of the man who was known for being shameless & without secrets. There are others who know as much as he felt safe to share, but figuring out who knows what, and who will be O.K. learning more of what he hid, is tough; & of course I have to bear in mind that I am one of the people his boundaries were mean to protect.
As I learn more myself, who will be here to keep me safe? Only myself, he is not here to rely on anymore.
From his beloved stepmother’s account of it, though, it sounds like the end came with a huge pileup of everything he had been hiding. He must have known that would happen, or even planned it to some degree. His rebel heart would revel in the chaos, I’m sure. There was the side of him that once said to me “It won’t matter because I’ll be dead.”. I am sure there were some people he explicitly meant to punish. Mischief-maker, yes, but the humble & pragmatic problemsolver was just as much who he was also; the one who put so much care into saving us from worry & trying to help us find roads that might lead onward in the right direction.
The mess & mystery that he, the master planner, nonetheless left for his friends & loved one as well as his enemies & acquaintances is baffling. And it’s bewildering to realize that, although we were never central figures in each other’s lives, & there were so many answers I never got, there are other answers that seem to have been given to only me.
Secrets are lonely.