Impossible possibilities

One day, in the autumn of 2017, I was sitting in the cafe of the local library with my boyfriend and our few month old son. My coffee was too hot, we didn’t have much to say to each other, and I was scrolling through Facebook.

The world around me went quiet as I lighted upon a post from someone I’d stayed with in Texas, back in another life. I went still and silent for long enough that my boyfriend asked me what was up.

“Adam died.” I said, quietly confused and surprised by the words coming out of my mouth.

“Who’s Adam?”

Who’s Adam? Who is Adam? Who is Adam to me? Who am I to Adam? How do I categorise Adam? How do I answer this truthfully? How do I answer this accurately?

“You know, the guy I was…kind of…seeing for a bit in Austin.” I came up with.

“Well you weren’t really seeing him, were you?” he scoffed with a note of condescension and maybe defensiveness. He was right, though. I was not seeing him. That wasn’t remotely the right word. In reality I had probably spent less than a week staying with Adam and his housemates. Was I supposed to say the guy I had a fling with? The fucking holiday romance? Was I supposed to bypass that entirely and just say one of the people I stayed with? Someone I used to know? That all felt ridiculous. I needed something to portray the level of intimacy we’d shared; the multi-layered nature of our connection; the importance of our encounters on the trajectory of my life. And, honestly, in that moment, now that he was gone, I needed to feel like I had, in some way, at some time, mattered to him as much as he mattered to me. There wasn’t an adequate explanation for who Adam was.

Adam was the person I stayed up watching documentaries with until 5am the first night we met. Who I wordlessly exchanged dirty foot massages with long past 2am the night after that. Whose bedroom felt like the safest place I’d ever been. Who surprised, disarmed and utterly baffled me with the understated sincerity of his kindness toward me. Who shone a light on the absurd depths of my sense of unworthiness, and simultaneously made me feel worthy by association. Who pushed my boundaries in really uncomfortable, wholesome ways, with such expert grace and gentleness that the experience was enchanting. Who showed me what love could really be like, even though we were both in love with other people at the time. Adam was probably the best person I’d ever met. Adam was the person I most wanted to be like.

Over the next few days I quietly pondered how the news impacted my life in no tangible way whatsoever, yet gently rocked me at my core. How, if I ever returned to Austin, it would now be distinctly lacking. How there was no longer any place in the world I could go to find him. How his absence made the world worse, not just for me, but for so many people who knew and loved him. How, of all the people I knew, in a very objective sense, he was very close to the top of the list of people I would least want to die. How it didn’t change any of the memories I’d made with him. How, in many ways, he didn’t feel any more gone to me than he had been for the past two years, and that had never really bothered me. How, actually, I felt free to feel closer to him now. How, actually, he didn’t feel gone at all.

I also battled with my ‘right’ to grieve for him. And, even moreso, my ‘right’ to feel close to him. My ‘right’ to talk to the air around me as if he was there. My ‘right’ to feel guided by his non-corporeal energy.

And then I wandered through thoughts of destiny and fate. What if I hadn’t left Austin? What if I’d gone back? We wouldn’t have had a successful long term relationship, I was pretty sure of that, but what if I could have altered events just enough that he wouldn’t end up on that road in that car at the exact moment a drunk driver came along? Is that how much of a knife-edge we all live on? Or did all roads lead there for him?

Adam was an extraordinary human and, for that, he was blessed with the love and admiration of many people. To me, he was a full-spectral oasis of radiance in a desolate wasteland of disconnection and missed opportunity. To him, I have no doubt, I was just another person he chose to share some time with. It didn’t mean I didn’t matter to him, but the relative importance of me to his full, open-hearted life could never match his impact on my own.

For years now, I’ve sat with that understanding, and I’ve continued to feel close to him, and guided by him, and I’ve made sure to consciously allow that for myself despite the ever-creeping guilt when I think about the people who really lost him.

And he’s made my life better. Sometimes he plain made it bearable. Remembering him, and imagining him with me, imagining what he might say to me, drew me forward through a lot of tumult. And I doubt I would have given myself permission to do that if he’d been alive. And so the world’s loss has, in some ways, been my gain, which feels perverse. Then again, had he been alive, perhaps I could have heard what he’d actually say to me, and that would have been better. Perhaps this is just a story I tell myself to make it okay.

Last night, for the first time in a very long time, I felt drawn to find the video of a song he recorded the week I arrived in Austin. And, as I watched it, I sobbed. And I let myself feel true fucking brutal loss. Because I’d been there, with him, in that room, and he’d pulled that mattress down from the wall while I stood in the doorway. And he played me that song, and I was relieved to honestly say that I liked it. That was the version of him I knew. That was the version of him I touched. That was the version of him I kissed. That physical body, those exact human cells, immortalised in moving pixels. But he’s gone, and I miss him, and how can someone like that just be gone?

And, even more selfishly, I sobbed because I’m at a place in my life now where I’m so much more ready for a man like Adam to grace me with his presence. I couldn’t make the most of the time I had with him when I had it. If he were alive, at least I could fantasise about the possibility of reconnecting.

Maybe that was always the heart of it. I always knew what he was, and I knew I was on the way to it. And, regardless of what form it took, I wanted to be able to stand face to face with him when I got there. But he doesn’t have a face anymore. He’s not a man anymore. So I can’t.

Positive regard

Seems silly to kill a streak for no good reason.

Dave Hause sent me down a little winding path of nostalgia today.

I haven’t spent much time looking back this past year. I mean, I have in an unwitting, flashbacky sort of way, when my pain has overridden my reason and demanded I gallop through past landscapes while it takes gritty snapshots to justify its existence.

But I haven’t reminisced all that much.

The past is a chequered palace I haven’t really felt safe walking the halls of.

But last night, I listened to Dave Hause and, far from being drenched in quiet misery, I was stirred to something resembling, well, resolve. I had forgotten something about Dave Hause and his music. I’d forgotten about the huge Heart in it. The Hope in it. I’d wondered whether it might draw me back to a version of myself I had left behind, but instead it simply nodded to that version, and I laughed about it, and felt fortified as this new version of myself, so many iterations later.

This evening, I found myself looking through photos from one of the most difficult and painful times of my life – from when my son was barely one and I was destroying myself trying to save a relationship with his father that couldn’t be saved. And there was no sting of betrayal, loss, regret or victimhood. Merely an oozy, burning feeling of consolidation, as I integrated different aspects of my life and my self.

At some point, so long as we don’t hold onto it, the pain and shame of the past dissipates and leaves us with memories skewed toward the positive. While I was looking the other way, it seems I have been blessed by that phenomenon of late.

The threat of unwholesome torment

I was probably a little unfair to myself in my last post. There are some uncomfortable things that I was more than happy to continue enduring long after my untimely demise. The wrong things.

It’s probably only been in the last few months that the don’t be a sucker, it’s not worth it advice has actually started kicking in in all the right places. It’s like I had to languish about in the stagnant puddle for about five years, all soggy and shrivelled, before I finally managed to extinguish the pathetic little birthday candles on my back I was after all along. And maybe, if we’re being candid, they actually just ran out of wax.

But anyway, they’re out. I think. More or less. But the fear that I can’t tell what is and is not worth my toil is probably more the problem than anything else. Because I know when I get into it I can toil like a motherfucker. I’ll eat your shit off the table if I think it will save us and I’ll keep up that Kundalini kriya ’til my arms are non-functional if that’s what you tell me to do.

How do we know which is worth it?

Do we listen to what others have to say? Or do we listen to ourselves? Which of us is the most trustworthy?

Lost to the grind

Sometimes I miss who I used to be.

Mostly not.

But occasionally, in an old photo, I’ll see a glimpse of a girl I’d forgotten I’d been, who hadn’t gone through quite so many traumas and challenges, and who probably wasn’t really as bad as I sometimes like to condemn her as. And I rue the day I lost her.

Not that there was a day.

More of a grinding succession of days of me going against my true nature in pursuit of things I didn’t truly want.

I can see how the contrast of all that bleakness and despair, against the joy and love I always knew was possible, informed the blueprint of the person I am now. And I really, really like who I am now. If that was the only way to get to here, I’m fine with that.

But was it?

That is the useless, unanswerable question that I should just tell to fuck off because it’s just trying to fuck with me.

Textual constipation

Lying in bed one night the other week, an idea for a blog post hit me in a most inconvenient way. The kind of way that made it difficult not to get up and write it right then. But it was already about midnight and I didn’t want to fuck up my sleeping pattern even more, so I just stayed in bed, trying to keep my eyes closed. Every so often they’d spring open rebelliously, when another reason it was such a necessary post for me to write exploded through my synapses.

I didn’t write it then, and I haven’t written it since. It’s going to be a long one, it’s going to take some time, and it’s going to demand I pay attention to it and give myself to it fully. I have a couple of asignments already taking up that allotment of time and energy, so I’ve just been holding it ever since.

Is it a coincidence that my blog has become non-daily since that night?

Yes, I’ve been busy. And more than I’ve been busy I’ve been anxious about how much more busy I should be, which is a poor quality headspace to be in. But I think my decision to hold onto that idea until such a time as I can ‘do it justice‘ has made anything I write in between seem optional.

This is the first major blog hurdle of this iteration. I’m interested to see if I recover.