I am stoned and it’s raining this morning. I have a hangover the size of Jupiter. A stout flame wavers in the window, warming the flowers on my string of hearts. The leafy strands clump like wet hair.
I have to let go.
A needle picks up Trish Keenan’s angelic voice. She lays a good grammar for my life right now: “If you’re looking for a chance to let go/Let go.”
I am so self-possessed. What does that even mean? Is that why I can never write two letters the same way? Is that why I adjust my notebook so often? Is that why I can’t finish? Am I afraid that if I let go I will lose a piece of myself? Is that so bad if I don’t like what I see when I look in the mirror in the morning? Is it so bad to lose a piece if I don’t like what I see? (I tell myself that I only have a mirror to bend the light from my window into the dark corners, but is that true? Is it not just vanity? I am a writer writing about my own life, aren’t I?)
So, I suppose the move here is to lay out some things I’m afraid to say to anyone. Maybe here I can leave some of the weight behind, in privacy.
Goddam! Even though no one will read this, it still gives me goosebumps to try to put this down.
Fuck. I can’t even write it. Maybe I will come back to it.
I’ll start with small truths and work my way up.
I am fixated on being with another and caressing their supple flesh and smelling their hair in the morning and waking up warm with them, looking out at the day from the same place and feeling a little less alone. Is searching for this feeling so bad? Am I looking for it in myself now? How do I find it?
I guess I should start by sharing a lush, tender story that I’ve never told anyone. Maybe I’m hiding from myself in my secrets.
There was a woman who walked her dog in front of a cafe I used to write at. Her porcelain feet peeked through dainty Keds. She wore white pants over her exposed ankles and always a flowy shirt. She had long brown hair and a wide freckled face and big, tired eyes and a wry smile. Her name was Laura.
We were very friendly and would chit chat for a long while when she passed by, saying more with our eyes than our words. She lived in the apartment above the coffee shop and I worked at her local grocery store. She was a surfer. I was a cyclist. We got along well. Needless to say, I was in love with her, but I kept her at a distance because I was more in love with somebody else, my partner at the time. She was my world and I clung to her as my life spiraled out of control. I knew we would grow apart but still I clung. I didn’t know what else to do. (Remember? I don’t know how to let go.) But she loved me despite everything and, for a time, we cuddled as the world spun around us. We made art with our bodies, as she cooked and went to school, as I biked and went to work. We’d shower together after sex often and brush our teeth next to each other and combed our hair together and read before bed together. I made her soup and brought her flowers. I’d write her love letters and she’d write me back kinkily. I have the urge to burn these notes, which I still have, but I’ve never been able to do it. We were poor together. We lived together. But all of that is gone now and, besides, we’re here to talk about Laura.
My partner and I had just got back together after breaking up over a stupid drunken fight that I started when I was crashing at her place after being wrongfully evicted. I was going through a lot and we were too close. I put my negative feelings on her. I was depressed and ill-equipped to deal with my issues. I was young and so was she. She put a lot on me too. We passed the weight back and forth like a medicine ball, slowly growing stronger together, but our pain was starting to outweigh our resolve. Is it so naive a notion that the one you love can help heal the pain and stitch the tear that we all have deep inside? We did a lot for each other. I traded her levity and laughter. She traded me courage and strength. But this isn’t about her. This is about Laura.
The story is simple. Laura smiled down on me with her kind eyes and said she was moving to Hawaii.
“Better surf,” she said.
“So I won’t see you anymore?” I said, excited for her.
“I have this chair upstairs; I think you’d like it.”
“I love chairs.”
Laura wanted to jump my bones! Can you believe that? That was so sweet of her. That sentiment was so tender that it made my hurt heart sing. Laura always made me feel wanted and kind and funny and bright. And all that was going away. I needed our casual relation. Our love helped me find my heart again after it was lost in that mish-mash of love and pain that comes at the beginning of the long end to a long relationship. God, I sound like an asshole. I guess this is why all my partners dodged my bullet. But, to be fair, each fired a few of their own at me. The difference has always been that I can take other’s pain and put it inside of me. If I am in love I fail to show my hurt. My love overrides it. But I can’t expect others to feel that way too, can I? The golden rule is a lie.
I broke Laura’s heart.
“Actually, I forgot I have a thing. I’ve got to go.”
“Oh! That’s okay. I’ll still be around for a couple of days if you still want the chair.”
“Oh, for sure. Well, it’s been really nice, heh, you know, knowing you.”
“Oh, you too. Hope I see you around.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Then poof, gone. I never saw Laura again.
Part of me wishes that I had got that chair. And part of me hates me for thinking that. I loved my partner. I’d do anything for her. I thought that’s what makes love last. If not that, then what? I guess, now I’m seeing that there is no way to control love. Try as we might, there is no way to affect the outcome. True love, if it exists, is purely by chance. Or maybe… Maybe I’ve had true love all along, lots of it, and it was infinite, but only in the way that there is an infinite amount of time between seconds yet the second still passes. Can I still access those loves? Those tiny infinities. I must try to remember that linear time is an illusion. Everything is always happening at once, just separately, alone in its own time. And I’ll always be saying no to a free chair and I’ll always be kissing my partner for the first time in that small room with the VHS tape whizzing in the background and she’ll always be smiling with red lips and she’ll always be singing and rubbing our stomachs when we eat too much Japanese curry and I’ll always be whispering sweet nothings in her ear. Always, but elsewhere.
We forget that the space-time continuum is malleable because we don’t know how to mold it. But we can draw time closer to us in our minds and, though our memories can’t fill the space before our eyes, they can still elicit echoes in our thoughts and take us back to an infinite feeling of love that is always there waiting for us, just as it was, just as it always will be (barring Alzheimer’s or dementia.) And now that feeling is here on this page too and always will be unless I decide to burn my love notes.
So, though I can’t visit my love in the future, for doing so only brings shame and anxiety, I can visit my love in the past and distill it here on the page so that I may heal myself. And that’s why you’re important, dear reader, whoever you are, because though I am still broken you will be able to tell me when I am healed, like a doctor. When I have finished plunging through the dark nights of my soul there will come a blank page and that will be you.