I’ve never felt loss so physically, and for so long. Some days I still wake up with a feeling in my chest, a kind of piercing ache that is different, somehow, from panic attacks that I’ve experienced in times of prolonged anxiety. Wonder if it would be so acute if I could gather, hug my friends, make new ones, travel to distant cities. I have tried everything that I know to do, am working to change my bad habits, to build better ones, to give myself a stronger foundation for the future.
But all of this work reminds me of what I have lost. And doing it, I think, stirs things up—like starting a new treatment of SSRIs and finding yourself feeling especially raw in the first couple of weeks of regularly taking the medication. It’s hard to do this work alone. To feel the pain that for so long you have tried to avoid. Yesterday it kept coming to me, over and over again, as I tried to distract myself (a reaction, I think, to the work I had done in previous days). I have to realize that it’s a kind of progress if I burst into tears when I am playing a game or looking at my phone (a sign also that I shouldn’t do these things). Better to feel it than not, even when I’m doing the things that some part of me hopes will keep me from feeling.
I am making progress, even if it’s hard.
Last night in my dream I bought a projector off a man who lived in my parent’s house in the country. A projector with, somehow, a huge lot of video games and board games included, that I wasn’t sure he knew were in the lot. He wanted me to have the whole thing, and he thought he would hang around somehow, and continue to use it, like a shy male cousin who has difficulty with boundaries and won’t explain his motives, but my instinct was to sell it all. It would bring an incredible return and it seemed like a good way to sustain myself, though I knew it would make him sad to do so. But his sadness was just a kind of reluctance, a refusal to release his grip, a holding on. As far as I was concerned he no longer had any say in the matter.
A dream with a quartz underneath my pillow. I put it there when I am looking for direction. Last time, in my dream I was in bed with an ex and there was a monster—the beast from Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête—pacing the circumference of the room, shifting papers, disturbing old recycling. I wasn’t sure what it meant, that we were there, and this monster—but in the dream we were bickering in all of the old ways. There was some gentleness, gentleness I had wanted and even anticipated, but it was not allowed to take hold. Not yet, if ever.
There’s a lot that I need to release, to let go. To clarify. If I am going to learn anything. If I am going to return to myself—I mean the person that I am, or was, or would be.
There’s a lot I don’t want to know. Today is supposed to be one of the last warm days of the year, twenty three degrees Celsius according to the weather app when I last checked it (perhaps it says something different now). Woke up thinking of ruins—ruins, for some reason, different kinds of ruins. Crumbling stone and ancient tilework separating from the wall, falling to the ground. I don’t want to think about ruins, have spent too much time on them here—would like instead to write about the day, (so far) sunny and warm, my plans to run back and forth along the railpath.
Last night, sincere advice at the end of an otherwise reprehensible podcast: when you wake up, leave your phone at home, go for a forty-five minute walk, don’t even look at it until the early afternoon. Before long, you’ll realize that it’s boring, you don’t need it. Instead of ruins, think of the future.
Whenever I run I see someone that you know, or something else that once meant something to us. Do I seek it out? I’m not sure. In every cardinal direction, there is a memory—another dog that gives me chase. On empty streets, in distant intersections, I stumble unexpectedly on something we shared: a restaurant we visited last December, where, sitting alone on the top floor, we kissed whenever the server’s back was turned. Last night, after I was finished, cooling down on the street in front of my apartment, I took three turns to avoid your friends, slowly converging and diverging as if they’d left my house themselves, or as if it was the place they were returning to: whenever I rounded the corner, there they were. At the moment I don’t trust myself enough to meet their eyes. Only without my glasses, in a haze of uncertainty, will I greet them in that way. And, surprised, say hello—and only if I’m still running, trying to move as quick as I can.
Dream last night—you’re crying on the back deck of a house I’m sure you will never visit again. The deck that no longer exists, hadn’t any time you visited or lived there, long ago converted into a sun room. “But what did I do?” I asked. “I’m not even allowed to visit the house?” Perhaps it is a dream from Mercury in retrograde—the last two times it went that way this year were crisis points in our relationship. This morning, for some reason, I think it is unjust that you tell people that I rejected you. After all of the bargaining, all of the offers that I made, all of the work that I wanted to do? The daily phone calls, the journalling, the gentleness? Even the last round of poems? All of the ways I hoped to keep you—and you get to be the aggrieved party, the rejected one? It’s not quite fair. But I wish I didn’t think about fairness anymore, wish that these debits and credits never even occurred to me, that I could let it all go.
Build up, release. At the end of my last session someone speaks up—“André, it looks like you have something to say. I apologize if that’s not the case, but is that true?” It was, but I hadn’t wanted to take up any time, to speak again at what seemed to me to be the last minute. And on the phone yesterday you say “I thought you wanted us to have this conversation.” That was also true—but I hadn’t been sure how to have it, had thought of it but it had dissolved whenever I’d opened the door to you, or been welcomed inside.
If you have something to say, it’s better to speak. Likewise I have been thinking of other kinds of resistances, such as resistance to grief. How to accept the feeling without denying it. To embrace and acknowledge the difficulty and the change of circumstances without pretending that they have not affected you. This is what it means to flow like water, as the I Ching recommends, not to be battered or withered by it but to flow smoothly through all of life’s obstructions.
I don’t want to pretend anything, but sometimes I compartmentalize. Sometimes I trust too much in my imagination, in my power to make the unreal into the real, which has served me well in the past (it has also gotten me into a great deal of hot water, brought me a tremendous amount of heartbreak). But that is the ego, trying to reshape the world in its image.
As always, I move so slowly—I take a step forwards, then slide two or three weeks back. But I don’t know how else to learn.
By the water. Briefly we curl into each other. Sixteen degrees when we left but the clouds gather over the peninsula, wind starts to whip our little stand of trees. On the walk back it is raining, so softly I think it takes you a long time to notice. Well into Sorauren. I lead you down at least one dead end.
I have been wanting to write about water. In reference to an I Ching reading only half-remembered now. A kind of deluge, but one that falls gently, over time. Taking time for recovery. This is the advice of the I Ching, of tarot readers, of my own brain, when I let it lead me. Leading, following, turning in circles. Moving so slowly lately. Want to move faster, but I don’t know where I am going.
Remember, last fall, and early winter. The calls, the poems, the emails. Offering to walk your dog. Being let up the stairs, talking about our future, who you were dating then—your reluctance, but also what you expressed as your duty to yourself. I knew it was a decision you were making, but it felt to me like you wanted only to save face with your friends. The way you talked about him, what seemed to me unenthusiastically, or about how much you’d wanted me to fix things before. Making out, on the street, in your apartment. God, you looked so happy. Our date in December, coming home with you. That night, and the next morning, thinking that I would never have to let you go. How high the hits on my website were—sometimes eighty views a day. Perhaps five visitors. I knew it was all you. The hope that I felt—and your reassurances, to just wait six months. Six months, as if that was a magic number—that’s what you told me your father advised, on the phone. As if something would return to us then, on the air. It terrified me, to wait that long. It was a threshold I did not want us to cross. My hope, and my helplessness, and my grief, and my anger. And the sense of possibility when you reached out.
It doesn’t do me any good to think of that now. I am trying to pretend it didn’t happen—as you are, now.
Nurture—the self and the other. Return to the loamy soil, retreat, be frugal. Lie dormant. A kind of dormacy. Recover. (On the walk I think I would describe it in a different way than I have before, that I have abandonment issues—irrational and acute, catching me in the kitchen, in the shower, on the street. A trembling as I pass certain intersections. When a name comes up in conversation.)
I would at least like to become a fond memory—but I am worried that when you come here it is only because you are afraid.
Grey squirrel runs across the power line. I have started adding Borax to my laundry. Watercolour paintings line one bookcase—I don’t know what to do with them just yet. Wonder if one of them I should return. Or just put away. Switched the pothos above my desk out for a spider plant, healthy, flowering, with trails of tiny offshoots, little defined root bunches, like delicate scrunched up fingers. I heard a voice outside, just now—I stood up, to get a better look.
After what you told me my eye catches whenever someone passes the window on a bicycle. I do not wish to see the day when there are two.