Not even a month ago, I was excited for the warmer months ahead and the activities they would bring. The various weekend festivals throughout the city that I would attend and enjoy like a normal person and be around groups of strangers without freaking out. Now it’s May and Art-A-Whirl is in full swing and the neighborhood is swarming with all these young thin beautiful people milling about between studios are bars while all I can manage is watch them pass by from the safety of my apartment.
I take it as a sign of my advancing age that I’m growing more interested in my wife’s portions of the bookshelves than my own. She has all the real books; Mine seem limited to sci-fi, comics, pop sociology, and whatever dark contemporary lit-fic novels that got made into movies over the past ten years.
I remain unsure, though, of whether I’m trying to experience something of more substance, or merely act in a way that I, for whatever reason, believe that I’m supposed to act. Reading the grown-up books and drinking scotch because I’m too old for vodka.
I’m not afraid of dying until my car spins out on the highway.
My first brush with death, I was 11. My grandfather had a stroke after a surgery. He was supposed to be okay, and then he wasn’t. The loss felt like a black hole in my chest.
The next didn’t come until I was in my 20s. My dog had to be put down. I held him in my arms as he finally stopped breathing, bawling my eyes out the entire time. I think that may have even made my dad cry a little—not the event so much as my reaction to it.
Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time around death. Dead people, dying people. I’ve seen how it comes over a person, the agonal breathing, the look that goes from scared to blank. Most of all, I’ve seen the futility in trying to fight it.
I’m not afraid of dying because life is where all the bad shit happens.
i am the sea
my embrace will keep you afloat
or drown you just the same
(it’s dark down there but you’ll have lots of company)
a familiar sight, but truth is kept submerged
shapeless, but for the boundaries provided for me
still, but never idle
warm and welcoming and full of sharks
stability is a fantasy
the closest I come is standing
on the deck of a ship
deep at sea
it might feel solid
like ground at times
but the only thing keeping me afloat
is bouyancy and a half-hearted promise
that things are never quite as bad
as I make them out to be
but your words carry no weight out here
where the wind can turn at any time
and the cold blue water would like nothing more
than to swallow you whole
leave me alone.
i’m just not as durable as i once was
and i don’t know how many more trips around this track
i can take
before my wheels fall off for good
Even at my best I feel slow, dull, guileless. At least in writing I can still still express an idea, still communicate. Occasionally, anyway. Speaking, though, is a lost cause. The desperate, involuntary flailing of a drowning man trying to keep his head above water, just with words instead of limbs. Inarticulate, ineloquent. Artless.
I don’t like feeling this way.