It was an awful year.
December is at its end and like most I find myself reflecting on the past by interval of dozens. And yet I know twelve doesn't capture yester-yays quite so well. Our lives aren't so simple as to fit into cartons like eggs. At a certain point the days and hours meld to the same vague start and end of eras, an endless circle of thoughts, of bonds and friendships, of loves gain and lovers loss. We repeat these reeling cycles like Sisyphus with his stone, swear never-again's and this-ones-it each New Year’s Eve, only to find ourselves in June too out of breath to start again.
Still I can't help but muse over the months in a very calm but desperate assuage, sour of consciousness. Hunched over my life like a mystic trying to divine a mug of coffee, finding lines and symbols to attribute some grand design or meaning. How pathetic is personality that it need purpose to feel justified. How sad is a human life that can't be satisfied with living. The dog and tree on which he relieves himself are not born stumbling for value or for substance. The pigeon and the pine do not concern themselves with "was." It’s a fruitless fervor to define what is indefinitely shifting its shape. Like a mold of the ocean, you can capture only a moment and not its essence.
But I am not as natural as the nature that has nurtured me. I wonder at my stone blistered hands, contemplate my contemplation, and in my palms reflection I see just one clairvoyant truth.
It was an awful year, and I met very wretched people that did very wretched things to me.
An awful year of pains and maturity, and at times I find it hard to discern or tell if that growth has been like a sapling or a fungus. For many months I wandered wolfishly, wadded through work and woes and women with an appetite that was endless and impleasurable. I was stark and starved from that lack of substance, having had a taste of her in March. But she was gone before it'd started, leaving me with a sad and howling hunger.
Not finding else to fill me, I resorted to my bodies demands. I ignored that rock and hill for piling sins onto my soul, notches and stamps to my pride and passport. Having Er'd I took his name and dove headfirst into The River Lithe, into friends and drink and dance and sex and the violent beckon of my flesh's desires. The days fell short of all my unaccomplishments - South Beach secrets, West 4th wiles, and Caribbean corruption. It was not depression that lead me to become self-afflicted and bathing in depressants, but a very real, functional, and steady sort of insanity. "Hell boils with laughter," as said Bukowski, and I found it all very funny. And in that hallowed humor I learned the difference then, between sorrow and psychotic. I learned that sadness is a vague and blinded spirit, fumbling in the dark so long it forgets its own reflection. But madness sits very still in blackness, does not forget. Madness knows its own shape.
It was an awful year and I did very wretched things to myself.
The first of January dawned and with a blink my life snapped into a sharp and hazy focus, suddenly I was flung into the world one cold and shivering September morning. Everything came rushing; a soundless and turbulent gush of light and noise and touch and memory. The sun came stabbing from the blinds and the hum of traffic thundered against my chest and ear drums. I closed my eyes and saw March, felt the pangs of April, remembered vividly each sensation I drowned in Lithe and thought forgotten. I curled into a frail and fragile ball of myself, but felt no protection against such a violent and shattering overload of the senses.
All at once the totality of my life, of my love, of my pain and joys and heartache erupted from me. I began to cry and made sounds that felt wrenching and unfamiliar; loud, broken, gasping and desperate, like an infant taking his first breath. But guttural, grieving, and moaning, like wolves wailing at the setting the moon.
It would go too far to say that in that moment I was born again, but rather that since then, I have felt I am now finally awake. As if I've woken from some very long and terrible dream. Men have a habit of avoidance in coping with themselves, so I've made it a point to not dissociate what I'd done with who I am. The reality remains: it was not a dream, nor nightmare, nor some wild poetic odyssey. These actions were my own and I wear their scars quite happily.
And I wonder if I suffer hubris by taking pride in such a fall, if I somehow desecrate the value of such a difficult lesson when I admire the size of crater and debris I found myself standing in.
But I am grateful that is not the case. I am fortunate that, were it not for others, I'd have spent too long on that thought and cease to live again. Were it not for Elizabeth, who saw me laughing in the ash and rubble of myself, who gave me such an intense and wordless love that began the stirring of my restless. Were it not for Roger calling from Rockland like Carl Solomon, not as an omen of who I could turn to be, but as an ailing friend who worried for me when I would not worry for myself. Who broke away from his own pain to be a rock despite the torrent of his own tempest and white-lined oceans. Were it not for the stranger of a little boy on a subway train that asked why I was sad, and despite his father's objection, lovingly wrapped his innocent arms around my undeserving neck when I did not respond. Were it not for such beautiful people in such beautifully insignificant moments, I can't imagine having ever stood from that craterous atrophy,
To be true, however lighter my life's burden does not remove that aching phantom limb. But, while the damage has been done, I've licked my wounds and am ready to start living my life as if it were my own again. With a deep and stubborn breath I take my March back to my stone.
For years I've lived reluctantly, lazy and passive with reaction. I look around now and strangely feel that boyish dawdle has been replaced by something new, I realized on some wordless nicotine night that my hands and heart were sturdy and quite capable, that I am now a man. And it’s tragically appropriate that it took a tremendous heartache to yank me from that pool of innocence. But I will not be angry, bitter, or jaded. Only perhaps a little soured. I will not shut myself again and whine that no love exist.
Of course love exist.
How could I say it doesn't when with my very lips and heart I've tasted it. I have and will love again, and with that same brazen naivety. I will be strong until again I am made weak and frank and innocent and fumbling like a child. It is not something as blind as hope, so poisonous as spērantia. It is the simple and humbling fact that we are put in this world un-entitled to love and destined to fall endlessly in search of it. No amount of fire or denial can quell that flickering need. It's a necessary necessity, will happen without our want, and is unstoppable and naturally as the act of breathing.
And I will find it, in him or her, in a song or words too perfect to be repeated on a piece of parchment or a blog. I will find it because we are what we instill in others, and the unloving will always remain unloved. So I will not guard my heart or overweigh it in paranoia. I will not deny my past and become a victim to it.
It has been an awful year.
And my smile is as wide as Sisyphus'.