It’s been weeks since I left the house for anything but a doctor’s appointment, maybe three times since November. I miss the winter, even though it’s right outside my door. I miss my friends, even though they’re rarely more than a short trip away. It’s especially hard not being able to explain the distance. All I can do is hope they trust me when I don’t feel comfortable explaining, and try not to feel insecure about being so out of touch.
Sometimes, the thought of being away from my safety zone fills me with dread. Other times it’s just easier to not do anything. I barely manage the effort to wash my hair once a week, and the only reason I shave is to more easily wipe off the viscid sadness that so often visits my face. I suspect I wouldn’t even be eating if it weren’t for the fact that Heather enjoys taking care of people to fulfill her own need for security. She’s lived here a few months, and she’s already making sure the cats have their teeth brushed every day and all the bills are paid. I’ve barely known her for twice that time, and I’ve never been more dependent on anyone in my life.
It feels like I’ve taken two steps back, but I’m at this point cause it means I’m safe enough to start processing and understanding the things that led to me trying to hang myself from the railing of my staircase a year ago. I haven’t figured out what it means to keep going, when for so long I believed my life was leading up to that moment, and sticking around wasn’t a choice I made for myself. Just figuring out how to write about such a large and complex experience is often too much. I’m left broken when I simply want to understand.
I’m learning that recovery isn’t a binary process, but a journey with struggles and triumphs. I still suffer the trauma of being moments away from dying. I’m still haunted by the guilt of survival. With so many hair-triggers that lead to wholly consuming breakdowns, I can’t deny I’m not the person I used to be. Right now, it’s hard enough just trying to be okay with that.
I took a break from guitar. Not a conscious decision, just days that were busy enough that I didn’t think of picking her up, which means I don’t even know how long I’d stopped. All I know is that it was long, cause I feel the strings vibrating through every piece of wood that touches my body now, one of those sensations you stop noticing after enough time.
I haven’t had much to say either. Nothing seems important. At the same time, I’m trying to move away from this social media overload, where so many people speak only cause the power to do makes them believe they should. It’s making the gaps between my entries longer and longer, and I wonder if I’ll eventually stop writing altogether.
All I have are memories of lives I lived so long ago that I feel like I’m watching them in 8mm. The friends and the lovers, the love and the hate, the cycles and the patterns. I’m only now sorting out the meaning of each one, maybe cause I’ve finally grown enough to understand myself and my relationship with the world at large. It’s comforting to see how far I’ve come when comparing the person I am now to each person I used to be.
But such progress came at the cost of my innocence; we aren’t always ready to learn the harder lessons, and surviving sometimes means we change in ways that prevent us from becoming the people we’re meant to be. I’m trying to take back that innocence now, cause I know my happiness is at stake.
Of you, arms up and chest out, body crashing against the surf. Top pulled back into place with each wave, bottoms adjusted as needed. A splash of rain on a flower soon to burgeon.
In that instance I became aware of what was happening in myself. I could look at it clearly, and saw it as it was because it was already there, part of my experience in that moment, for better or for worse. I allowed myself to be exactly as I was without fear or shame. Detached yet present. Mindful to how I’ve longed to feel this for someone again, and how I’ve never fully surrendered myself to it until now. A reason for the lyrics in the awkward smiles, the molto crescendo in every incidental touch.
This is a picture I didn’t take of you, a memory from which I can’t seem to look away. A moment I carry with me to remind myself that I can love again.
My wit and my eloquence are not at their best at this particular moment, which is why I have no quick riposte to your ribbing. All my humour is dry and self-deprecating anyway. It’s making me wonder if you think I can’t take an Asian joke or two. The truth is, I don’t know how to make fun of anyone but myself.
Too bad you’ve got piss tests coming up. We’ve got this balcony, the right occasion, and I don’t drink anymore. Doesn’t mean I can’t listen to your war stories, or dangle in the air when you give out bear hugs. Perhaps I’d be less awkward when it comes to such bonding if I was in high-school JV football. Seth made the team one year, and scored a touchdown for guys like us.
I remember you. Iain and I went to buy a $5 hit off your bong 10 years ago, back when we cut our teeth on prairie fires and five-cent wings and I’ll-never-do-that-again. You were dancing to jazz by yourself in a beater and perpetual Kangol when we walked in, but you wore no shame on your face. The world is small when our lives are not.
Last time I saw Iain was at the housewarming, but I still think of him every time I use those crystal glasses he gave me that day. He would have wanted them filled with something tight-bodied and twelve-years old. Nowadays all I can take is a little Bailey’s on my Mayan chocolate Häagen-Dazs. Luckily they’re also perfect for ice cream.
I’ve long missed these nights. Breathing fresh air when stepping out of a stuffy bar. That sudden calm when coming out of the din. Big groups with the chance to change conversations. Nights that have been replaced by dinners with nuclear families and one-on-ones. Oddly enough, the only thing in common are stories of how one’s son is learning to play with his dick. The world would have me believe that a man isn’t made by the drinks he orders but by the attention he gives his kids.
If only I didn’t have to go so soon. I’ve never been to the peelers in Ottawa, and I can only imagine where my bills will end up.
I don’t know how to tell my friends about you. What am I supposed to say? That all we shared was some tea and talk and those four hours are reason I still believe in chemistry after all the practical failings of my past relationships? And how do I bring you up, now that it’s been so long I wonder if you even remember me?
Perhaps you wouldn’t be in my mind so often if Green Eyes wasn’t one of my favourite songs. It always takes me back to those days on the mend, when all I had was your brother — singing with a voice like it was soaked in Scotch and left to dry on a line in winter — to give me something new to love. You were the one to give me something to be excited about when it felt like nothing mattered anymore, and just as much became an inextricable part of that time.
That’s why I haven’t forgotten you. That’s why I never will.
I can still see the cavalier way you’d toss your curly hair over your head every now and then, as if you were perpetually deciding how best to wear it. I’ve come to appreciate that kind of casual comeliness, and the fact that you were so unaware of it made it all the more endearing.
We were supposed to start a band of our own. I’d pick up keyboard or cello if you wanted to stick with guitar, we’d do covers of Andrew Vincent, open for house shows, and get signed to Kelp some day. Instead, all I have is a picture of you dancing at the Raw Sugar, and what if forever on my lips.
I may hardly know you, but the truth is I miss you. I still want you in my life. I want to know where you’ve been and who you’ve loved, what you’re dancing to and how else your creativity has taken form. But all I can do is wonder if our paths will ever cross again.