almost like the blues

Now in the dark world where I dwell, ugly things, and sur­pris­ing things, and some­times lit­tle won­drous things, spill out in me con­stant­ly, and I can count on noth­ing.

—A Scanner Darkly

Winter has tra­di­tion­al­ly been a dif­fi­cult time. In my youth, the hol­i­days were filled with fam­i­ly gath­er­ings where I nev­er found my place1. Then I start­ed com­ing into my own, but every­one else began spend­ing time with their sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers, leav­ing me an observ­er with a sur­ro­gate fam­i­ly. Eventually, I grew the need for a con­nec­tion with peo­ple who could bet­ter under­stand the per­son I’d become, and again found myself in exile.

cat with bass guitar

This year is no dif­fer­ent. The weath­er has been par­tic­u­lar­ly pun­ish­ing, with extreme cold fronts that make any form of trav­el a lit­er­al pain. It’s a fine line between inspi­ra­tion and oppres­sion when trapped in a win­ter won­der­land. Even after a week of Darren’s com­pa­ny, along with new instru­ments and some of the stick­i­est of the icky, I haven’t been able to shake this feel­ing of lone­li­ness.

Still, it was a com­fort to see him after so long. The time apart has brought to light refine­ments in his per­son; he’s more patient, more gen­tle, more empa­thet­ic, more agree­able, more will­ing to take the ini­tia­tive when dif­fi­cul­ty aris­es. I’m pleas­ant­ly sur­prised each time I rec­og­nize the ways in which he’s grown, as I had no idea the adult ver­sion of Darren would include such noble qual­i­ties. After deal­ing with the loss of both a sig­nif­i­cant roman­tic rela­tion­ship and par­ent with­in a year, I’m glad (and a lit­tle relieved) to know he’s come out a bet­ter man for it all.

We decid­ed to reject the usu­al hol­i­day oblig­a­tions and start our own tra­di­tions, not answer­ing to any­one or any­thing but our own hedo­nis­tic desires. My time with peo­ple tends to be care­ful­ly man­aged, while Darren now likes to be free with his, so we made the point of doing our own thing togeth­er.

I have to won­der if his inabil­i­ty to focus on any activ­i­ty comes from feel­ing so jad­ed. It’s been a few years since any­thing has tru­ly brought him joy, but I can tell the old Darren is still in there — one who still has dreams and pas­sions and desires — because he still rem­i­nisces fond­ly about our past, still talks about the future as if it’s some scary unknown. It means he has­n’t giv­en up yet, and the most I can do is hope our time togeth­er helped con­vince him that hap­pi­ness isn’t just a fad­ing mem­o­ry.

If only the pul­pit from which I preach was­n’t real­ly thin ice over a ter­ri­ble cold black lake. Even with the sup­port of a whol­ly ful­fill­ing and sat­is­fy­ing rela­tion­ship, the sta­bil­i­ty nev­er stops feel­ing like a frag­ile one. Sometimes, I still have to take things day by day, cause I can’t pos­si­bly imag­ine mak­ing it through the week. My strug­gle with sui­ci­dal ideation usu­al­ly involves a lack of cop­ing resources, and every year, when the world slows down, going on nev­er seems worth it. I have to won­der if it’s just the win­ter again, speak­ing silent in my ear.

  1. Now I real­ize that being forced to spend a night with a ran­dom assort­ment of peo­ple is a crap­shoot at best. []

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