October 31, 2005

Purgatory

It turns out that purgatory is a lot like jury duty, except without the jury. No one has actually mentioned the word purgatory, but what else could this be?

Unfortunately the staff is no help. On the first day they showed us an orientation film that looked like it could have been made by Salvador Dali. It was amazing but it didn’t exactly clarify anything.

The only hard part so far has been dealing with my ex-girlfriend. I spotted her on the first day, on the other side of the room. After the film I walked past her row and pretended to see her for the first time. I figured this was better than waiting for her to see me, assuming she hadn’t already.

I had no idea how she would react to seeing me again, particularly here, so I decided to just say hi and ask how she’s doing, then follow her lead. I suppose it went okay. Certainly she was friendly enough, but at the same time I know when she’s being nice because she has no choice about it.

That was the first day. We haven’t talked since. A few times I’ve run into her at the vending machines, and she’s always smiles in a way I take to mean there you are, here I am, let’s keep it this way. I don’t mean to criticize her. She’s handling the situation as well as anyone could. And I can’t help imagining that she keeps asking herself what the fuck I’m doing here. It’s as though I can’t escape from hurting her. And then I end up wondering if this is the point: they stick you in a room with someone who hurt you, or someone you hurt, until you’re finally, somehow, purified. If this is right, we may be here a long time.

The orientation film included a scene in which a woman stood at a window with her hands on the window pane. Although she was inside a house looking out, the trees reflected in the window made it seem like she was outside looking in. It was such a beautiful image, evocative and haunting, but at the same time I have no idea what it meant or even if it was supposed to mean anything.