“She did not have to be the wounded woman whose man had slept with a village girl. She could be a Fulani woman on a plane deriding Igbo people with a good-looking stranger. She could be a woman taking charge of her own life. She could be anything.”—Half of a Yellow Sun
I lie in bed and listen to Beach House for hours. The album Teen Dream on repeat forever.
That’s what he used to listen to. He gave me the songs Zebra and Walk in the Park on a mixed CD when we were still new, and had just started dating. He said he was happy he’d found someone that he could share songs with. I wonder if he is sharing any songs with her now.
It was only one time.
Once, twice, a billion times. It makes no difference to me. Okay, that’s a lie. It does make a difference. But the outcome is still the same.
The outcome is still me, curled up in bed with my headphones, listening to Beach House, sobbing continuously for hours, surprising myself at the quantity and quality of my tear production.
We gather medicine for heartache
So we can act a fool
It’s incomplete without you
The silver soul is running through
It’s a vision
Maybe that’s what we were: a vision, a complete illusion. Maybe we never happened. Maybe I just made it all up. Maybe we never fell asleep holding hands. Maybe we never met, and never fell in love.
The winter came fiercely and suddenly that year, with the first snow touching the Manhattan ground two weeks before Thanksgiving. The snow seemed to hush the city, if only for a little while, before its white purity was tarnished by boots and tires. The air was cold and piercing. How was it that each year, with the appearance of summer, the existence of winter completely escaped her mind? In the midst of the long, warm days, it felt like it would never end, that the ice cream trucks and short sleeves would continue on forever. It was almost frightening how easily she would forget how the cold, winter air would feel on her face and throat as she breathed it in.
Most years when winter came Anna longed for the summer again, but this year it was different. She was glad for the darkness, the cold, the shortness in the day. It matched her mood better than the sun and the warmth. For her, being heartbroken felt more appropriate in winter than in summer when everyone seemed to enjoy their lives a little more. Without complaint, and even gladly, Anna donned her white knit hat, down jacket, and wool scarf.
“How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself?”—What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Ontem fiz em mim a situação que me fez. Na singularidade de uma bebedeira de quarta, “gambalizei”pelas ruas de Copacabana, buscando versos nas mulheres de esquina e rimas nas vagas da praia do Leme. Destemido e ambulante, acidente em potencial, mais um poeta em projeto de momento. Pensei por um instante ter encontrado outro, à imagem e semelhança, ao cruzar a Princesa Isabel. Será que, enquanto situação, eu poderia ter superado a incomensurabilidade de nossas poesias, aparentes nos corpos bêbados e vacilantes? Será que a agressividade de olhares frio-quentes poder-se-ia tornar produtiva na sincronia de nossas posturas? Talvez eu produzisse, e ele apenas trocasse figurinhas. Asseguro-lhe que não ficaria chateado, de todo. Ao segui-lo pareceu-me que não (por que será que ele correu de mim, quando apenas buscava cooperar com vistas a um fim-claramente-comum-e-supremo?). Em desespero, de certa forma desafio, sentei num banco da praça do Lido, cujas reminiscências adolescentes do ontem do ontem justificam, e liguei para todas as pessoas que emergiram em meu cerébro. Ninguém atendeu. E apenas posso supor que retornei para casa depois disso. Pois é, realmente nunca duvidei de ser um bom filho.
Hoje sou tudo menos situação. In vino veritas, diz o ditado. Tenho certeza de que aqueles que o repetem não conhecem o Liebfraumilch brasileiro, acessível por apenas oito reais no supermercado mais caro do Rio de Janeiro. O poeta nunca foi um fingidor. O poeta é um mentiroso mau-caráter, cujos ardis manifestam-se na sua busca incessante pela poesia, a qualquer custo, na recriação de um ontem em ontem poético. Sua coragem é derivada do medo de que poderia ser adequado se quisesse. Porra, a antecipação da não resposta foi clara no uso finalístico de um telefone celular naquele local, naquele pseudo-momento, naquela condição. Dramatizando tendo como base a ideia de que a melhor audiência é aquele que dramatiza, desejando conseguir enganar a si mesmo apenas para dizer um “te enganei”, que o merdinha do poeta não deixa de buscar apesar de sua impossibilidade lógica. Ao contrário, como muito bem disse o amigo, é tecnocrático em suas incoerências, consistente em suas contradições, regular em seus acidentes, e previsível nas irrupções. Pois é, as únicas coisas que ligam o ontem ao hoje são a dor de cabeça e os raladinhos merdalhões da queda na escada do Santa Luzia.
Renovadas temporariamente a tensão criativa em minhas veias e inquietudes decorrentes. Maldigo aqueles que provocaram o retorno súbito de mim em mim. Parece que fui acertado em cheio por um futuro alternativo de um passado vacilante em minha memória. Dúvida. Por que atiraram? Não fui um bom refém? Cogito. O ataque ao impensável suscita possibilidades, e possibilidades implicam responsabilidade. Dúvida. O passarinho é meu ou dos atiradores? O que aconteceu com a minha tritanopia? Cogito. Um demônio se refestela em minhas angústias. O ego transborda, e o sangue forma uma poça.
Percebo-me arfando. Busco ar, não encontro. Resigno-me em minha mesquinhez. Quero que me vejam caindo, senhores! Vocês que atiraram enterrarão a imagem e exumarão o arrependimento. Foram imprecisos na pontaria, senhores, muitíssimo imprecisos. Metade potencial, metade psicose. Queriam-me solto, conseguiram-me histérico, queriam-me criativo, conseguiram-me Deus criador.
As pernas já não me aguentam, metade da face ao chão. Rio porque tremo e tremo porque rio. Áh, tudo faz sentido, tudo faz sentido, tudo faz sentido. São todos minhas criações, concedi-lhes o livre arbítrio, e optaram por esquecer a concessão. Agora retiro-a, senhores. O mito da história me foi útil, já não o é mais. Disporei, disporei, e disporei. Apenas sigam a canção, senhores…
It was an old 45 record that had the Beatles’ song “Something.” I used to listen to it all the time when I was little and thinking about grown-up things. I would go to my bedroom window and stare at my refelection in the glass and the trees behind it and just listen to the song for hours. I decided then that when I met someone I thought was as beautiful as the song, I should give it to that person. And I didn’t mean beautiful on the outside. I meant beautiful in all ways. So, I was giving it to Sam.
There are two kids, a boy and a girl, sitting on the opposite sides of an older woman who looks to be their grandmother. She is dressed in the standard hospital gown. Her hair is a faded yellow, and extremely short. She’s probably already gone through chemotherapy, and is now moving onto radiation treatment.
The boy is wearing a New York Yankees shirt; he has blonde hair and blue eyes, with gentle flecks of small, brown freckles scattered on his nose. I watch the little boy, thinking to myself that he is going to grow up to be very handsome. The girl, his little sister, sits hugging her knees. Her hair is slightly darker than her brother’s; it is long, and tied in messy pigtails. Several wispy strands of hair fall in her face. Her small, circular glasses magnify her eyes, and somehow make her even cuter. I’m relieved to see some young faces in the waiting room, kids that don’t fully understand where they are or what their grandmother is going through. Perhaps they do know, but their faces feign ignorance if they do. They could be sitting on a train or a park bench. In contrast, their grandmother’s face shows fatigue and too much understanding of why she, along with everyone else, is here.
I try to read the Milan Kundera novel I’ve borrowed from Claire, but can’t focus on the words on the page. Instead, I watch the kids and occasionally smile at them if they catch me looking their way.
After a few minutes, the boy and the girl get up from their chairs to the small table where there are paper cups and red coffee stirrers. Next to the table is a water cooler.
“Gram, there’s no more hot chocolate,” the little girl states sadly.
“Can you ask them if they have some?” the boy chimes in.
In her gown, the grandmother goes to one of the nurses, and within a few minutes the nurse comes back with a box of hot chocolate packets.
“Here ya go, guys,” the nurse says cheerily.
“Thank you,” they chorus back without being told by their grandmother.
I watch as the brother and sister begin to make their drinks. As the packets are opened, the dry, powdery smell of instant cocoa waft into the air and reach my nostrils, reminding me of sleepovers in the wintertime. I find it funny that they would want something like hot chocolate in the middle of July, when it is nearly eighty degrees outside.
The boy stirs in the hot water, puts a cap on his cup, and sips his hot chocolate carefully, using the red stirrer as a straw.
“Now make sure you don’t spill it,” their grandmother warns them.
“Yeah, they wouldn’t like that because they’d have to clean it,” the boy agrees, referring to the nurses.
“That’s right, honey.”
I suddenly wish I had a sibling, someone with whom you could always share hot chocolate.
“How much do you have left?” the little girl asks after some quiet sipping. The brother tips his cup so that she can see, just as one of the radiologists in a white jacket comes for their grandmother.
“Now, be good. I’ll be right back,” she says before leaving them. They have obviously done this many times before. They neither protest to her leaving nor seem worried.
“Tell Erica to come say hi to us,” the boy says before their grandmother leaves. I have no idea who Erica is, but assume it is one of the radiologists or nurses.
On their own they behave not at all differently. They remain quietly in their seats, content with their hot chocolates.
“If you just sip the top,” the boy tells his sister, “it tastes like coffee.”
I smile as I remember how I, too, used to assume coffee tasted like hot chocolate. Because in a child’s mind there is no reason why coffee shouldn’t taste like hot chocolate because they are both brown. Drinking hot chocolate in big mugs used to make me feel like an adult with a large cup of coffee. Now this boy is doing the same, imaging his hot chocolate to be coffee, although I doubt he has ever tasted the real thing.
As I sit there, I feel an overwhelming emotion of love for these two kids. I love their innocent faces, and how happy a simple thing like hot chocolate makes them.
Perhaps this is what happiness is: a child feeling like an adult thanks to a cup of pseudo coffee.
I hope the boy doesn’t taste actual coffee for a long while so that he can be shielded from its bitter taste. Coffee’s actual taste is its worst deception: looks like hot chocolate, tastes like dirt.
And I hope the boy doesn’t grow up for a long while so that he can be shielded from life’s disappointments. Adulthood is a deception in itself. It falsely promises freedom, and instead administers shackles in the form of limitations and responsibilities.
Dr. Ryan, the main radiologist, passes by the waiting room, and as he does, the boy and the girl wave to him. He gives them a big smile and waves back, and also nods in my direction. I smile back.
“Was that Dr. Ryan?” the girl asks in a quiet voice.
How long have these two been coming here with their grandmother? What kind of cancer does she have and will she be okay? Will she still be here six months from now, a year from now, ten years from now? Will she be able to see these kids, her grandkids, graduate high school? College?
“Bye, guys,” I say to the duo as I’m leaving. They both smile shyly with their pure faces and wave their small hands.
Stay just the way you are. Don’t forget about pseudo coffee and how it made you so happy, I want to say. Instead, I silently wish them every happiness in the world.
You find yourself trapped in a deep, dark hole with what seems like no way out. There is nobody to talk to except for your inner demons. These demons torment you daily with no rest. Self-hate greets you in the morning, loneliness accompanies your days, and despair tucks you in at night.
Tears flow without warning, but nobody notices or pretends not to see.
Phone conversations begin and end.
Most days are spent in bed because it is just too hard to get up.
You hurt yourself to try to express the turmoil occurring inside, scratching at your delicate skin in the middle of the sleepless night. In the morning the faint, red marks remind you of your suffering.
How to get out of this hole is constantly on your mind. Along with ways to stay in it. Because as hard as it is to stay in this hole, this dark place has become comfortable and familiar.
Once one of my professors said to me that he thought sociology was a therapy-like activity. I couldn’t agree more. Though I would also add that you are your own therapist and you can either be a good or a bad one.
Truths in the moment, contradictions in time: the catch presents itself individually to each one of us
1-The more I read, more it makes sense to me. The more it makes sense to me, angrier I get. The angrier I get, bigger my willingness to find disagreement with what I read. The bigger my willingness to find disagreement with what I read, more I read.
2- The more I read, more it makes sense to me. The more it makes sense to me, less sense I make to others. The less the sense I make to others, bigger my willingness to find disagreement with what I read. The bigger my willingness to find disagreement with what I read, more I read.
1 & 2 = The less the sense I make to others, angrier I get. The angrier I get, less sense I make of myself. The less the sense I make of myself, less satisfied I get. The less satisfied I get, more I read. The more I read…
The less the sense I make of myself, less able I feel to write about what makes sense to me. The less able I feel to write about what makes sense to me, more i read. The more I read…