Thursday, December 17, 2009

Narratives don't always cut the proverbial mustard.

I hate that sitting at my computer for the past four hours has given me nothing. Nothing has met me halfway. Nothing has arrived here. I sit alone in this room, the Afghan Whigs drizzling the walls, begging for inspiration, engines idling, praying for change.

But I can't remember you. And nothing frightens me as much as that does.

You exist in some strange phantom world to which I have no access. I cannot get to you. My memories, my perceptions, my synthesized creations of your existence, of the life you maintained for 82 years, the stories you experienced, the tales you told, the loves you lost, the suns you shined, the grins you gave, the passions you pleaded, everything:

It's gone. You're gone. It's all gone.

This happens every December, too. There's an inherent regression to repetition of anything, especially dates/holidays/chronology, and songs like "Reeling in the Years" and "Remember the Mountain Bed" and "Don't Let The World Get In Your Way" are nothing but reminders of worse times, occasions in which I was even further from you, from wherever you are, from whatever metaphysical domain in which you reside.

And I'm tired of not having a connection. I'm so sick of being on my own in all of this, but that's sort of the nature of it, isn't it? People like me can't have co-authors to these stories. We barely have the stories themselves. We've got R&B-drenched post-punk and London dry gin and Derrida and all sorts of bullshit that we think helps clarify this mess, all of this madness poking its groundhog head into the landscape of these inescapable constructs, but sometimes it feels like there's no point.

I wish you could've met her. You would've liked her. She's sassy. She generally says what's on her mind, and I know how much you would've respected that. You could've said anything to her and she would've rolled with it. This girl could've met you punch for punch. But goddamnit, in both life and death, I kept you isolated from every other thing in my life. I kept you separate because I think I had to. I had to compartmentalize you from the other things I thought were so important. You heard snippets, sure--"I had a good date last night" and "I met a girl on an airplane" and "She likes folk music"--but that's all truncated. It's versions of what happened. And I never gave you a chance to make your own version.

Karin keeps talking about "access." I think I didn't really know what the hell that meant until someone read part of your story outloud. I heard it with my ears instead of reading it with my eyes and I think I had an inkling of what other people might take from it, and it killed me. It brought me to tears in the middle of a fucking class where I only know three people (and only respect two) and I had to leave early the next three days because I was so ashamed of my inability to rationally approach anything. I have no objectivity. And I know that no one has objectivity, in a Derridean sense, but I don't even have it in a reductive sense. I exist outside of nothing but these ridiculous, melodramatic textual vomitings and sometimes I really hate that I can't manage to forge an identity outside of that which my literary evolution has assigned to me.

I'm trying so hard to recreate you from the handful of memories that actually leap to the forefront of my recollection that I end up making up brand new ones. Mom doesn't like what I've written about you so far. I don't blame her. I don't have all the information, and I'm so terrified that my preconceived notions, the binaries by which I've defined all of this--you, her, her, her, her, her, and her--will crumble when examined under any kind of shining light. Which is so depressingly ironic, considering how I've tried to find me in you.

It's so unfair that I've put all of this responsibility on you, especially post-mortem. You deserve better. Sometimes I feel like I have a considerable gift and I'm doing it a great disservice by pissing it away, writing these bullshit flash fictions about girls that don't exist outside of my mind and can't exist, no matter what actually happens on Tuesday nights, because I'm constantly and inavoidably assigning a greater meaning to things that either don't deserve it or don't require it. I'm overthinking everything and I'm horrified at how reflexive that is. This isn't something I'm choosing to do: it's something that I. just. do.

I keep hearing songs that I think you would've liked. And I've gotten this thing going in everything I've written about you where I include lyrics to a song that I can't imagine you ever heard. I know it's not fair to assign that knowledge to you when you weren't ever exposed to it, but I'm not capable of non-fiction and I'm sorry I can't do you greater justice. I'm sorry I never knew what songs you liked. I'm sorry I can't write more of you, that I can't put your physical presence into these things like I want to. I can't pay you the tribute you deserve because the only thing I know is that I wish I would've known more.

And it's my own fault. You never kept yourself from me, but I thought that other things were more important. I thought that these ridiculous relationships and short stories I wrote but didn't understand the implications of and these subtexts that exist independently of anything that actually matters where what counted. What I'd remember. What I'd want to write about. What deserved to be written about. But that's bullshit and I see it now. I see how empty everything prior to this September was.

Despite what some people seem to assume to think about me and my beliefs, I truly do believe that you're in a place where you know all of this already and that you can read what I've written, or can at least somehow sense what's going on, be it ephemerally or otherwise. I'm no theologian, so I won't try to quantify it, but even so.

I almost got married this summer. Isn't that fucked up? I almost committed myself to pledging the remainder of my existence--eternal existence, even--to someone I didn't even know. Someone that I never trusted. But that's not even her fault, because I don't trust anyone. I don't trust anyone. I don't trust anyone. I don't trust anyone. I don't trust anyone. A big part of me honestly believes that, if you would've still been around, whatever you would've had to say about her and everything relating to her would've been enough to either cement what I now believe to have been a horrible set of decisions or to encourage me in what Katie calls a "blip."

Katie made it all better, you know. She keeps telling me how much she respects that I threw everything--reason, accountability, self-respect--away for the sake of love. Love that ends up never having existed, but love all the same. Because I'm tired of living in a world without love. I get so physically sick of seeing people I care for so deeply subjecting themselves to arbitrary baggage and unnecessary roadblocks to their own happiness. Nobody seems to want to connect to anyone else these days, and I can't say I blame them. With few exceptions, the connections I've managed to establish since you made your way elsewhere have been tenuous at best and self-destructive at worst. I keep allowing myself to get infected by people that you would've been smart enough to quarantine. But I'm missing that part of me that lets me know who is what they appear to be and who wants to find validation or self-worth in me.

When the Afghan Whigs were recording Gentlemen, their best album, Greg Dulli asked Marcy Mays to sing the lead vocals on "My Curse" because it was too tender for him. It was too personal and too close to his heart to be able to do it any amount of even pseudoobjective justice. And whenever I try to write about you, about the effect that you and your subsequent absence have had on me since your passing, I completely understand why. I want to hire Kaley or Sam or Kelsey or anyone I know that's a talented writer to do it for me. I want a ghostwriter. I want someone to take this on themselves. Someone to qualify all of this and help me make sense of it all. Someone needs to be able to understand this in a way of which I am simply not capable, especially on nights like tonight. Two gin and tonics, three golden wheats, and a hot toddy have put me squarely in a corner that I cannot manage to escape without several hours of sleep that I don't think I'll find tonight.

But I'm not trying to make excuses. I'm trying to figure out what keeps me from you. I'm trying to isolate the things in me that prevent me from writing anything honest. Because it's all construct. These people I keep writing about? You know the nature of them. Wherever you are, you're fully aware of what inspires these diatribes. And I would love to ascribe all of this to drinking, but I don't do that often (or intensely) enough to be able to blame it on anything but my own fascinations, predilections, tendencies, and/or reflexes.

And I think what scares me more than anything, including the idea that you don't even exist inside my mind, is that I have no symbols of you. There's the painting that you left Nic, but that's not enough. That's just something you owned and put on your wall. But whenver I pass that Pleasant Grove exit or see Sandra Bullock or drink iced tea or see Emery or hear a reference to the south or am asked to give a blessing that I'm no longer qualified to give or play a piano or hear a folk song or unplug something from the wall or consider buying a cowboy hat or hear a Care Bears reference or hear someone call me "babe," it's you I think of. And I'm so sorry I can't do more.

I wish you would've been born two years later so you could've come to my reading. You would've hated my story. It had foul language, repeated references to alcohol, offers of promiscuity, and an audience you would've chuckled dishearteningly at.

But I think you would've been proud of me for stepping in front of a primarily unfamiliar audience and telling them things I couldn't even bear to tell myself. And I wish I would've given you more reasons to be while I could've. The only regrets I have in my life are the excuses I've made.

I'm sorry if anything I've written about you has hurt or offended you. I never meant to. I'm just trying to find my feet. And I'm so sorry that I'm only now realizing the importance of that. I'm so sorry I wasn't what I should've been. What I could've been. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to learn these things that other people seem to have been equipped with. I've been trying so hard.

I miss you so much sometimes.


Freedom said...

Your memories are your memories and you shouldn't make excuses about them to anyone. Interesting though...that you are spending so much time and effort trying to remember her, trying to memorialize her. Perhaps she'd want you to spend some of the time and energy you are using on her to develop new meaningful connections, instead. The kind that we all seem to be so afraid to make becuase it makes us vulnerable. At any rate, grammas are the best becuase they never give up on us. They see who we are, even when we don't.

A and O said...

You're some hell of a writer.
You're also a cocky, neurotic, self-loathing, son of a bitch--but the good news is, I think it's working for you.
So don't stop letting it all go to your head. Don't stop making excuses and regretting them, don't stop assigning greater meaning to things that require or deserve it, and don't stop writing bullshit flash fiction.
Because it's great. Really.
And you're good at it.

I hope we can still be enemies even though I like your writing.