Saturday, June 18, 2005
From 0 to 60 to 30,000 feet, I’m back at 0. Back to the standard yellow alert that keeps me on edge, but not frantic. Back to normal. But somehow, normal seems nowhere near as normal as I remembered. I don’t know what I was expecting, but hometown doldrums are unaltered by departures and arrivals, by endless terminals that in name alone sound deadly, by points of origin and destinations that seem extremely different at journey’s start than they do after all the mileage has been accrued. It’s a short trip from optimism to pessimism, from elation to deflation. And during the trip entire, I’m still just me. As far as I've traveled, I've returned to a circumstance unaltered by my experiences. Still, it's a journey. I pass through insecurity, a checkpoint I am all too used to. Unshoeing myself, I feel my socks, the protectors of my tender toes, slip on shiny, happy linoleum. My footing unstable, I wonder if metal detectors can detect the slow, metallic hardening of a human heart. I dismiss the melodrama and put my shoes back on. Dragging a suitcase, now with only one wheel functioning, I wondered: did my bag travel on hope, with optimism contained just within a zipped compartment? Or was it despair that kept my carry-on rolling on, in the knowledge that to stop would result in paralysis? Then, the answer: hope and despair are too closely connected to separate. They are conjoined twins; one will die without the other. And that's why distance can make you sad and proximity can make you sadder: because the closer you are, the more your heart feels the once and future distance. In a wireless lounge, hope rebooted leads to some endless area of the undeveloped internet, where I am lost in the land of 404-filenotfounds of missed connections and opportunities. I can’t explain it away, argue it out of existence in front of a jury of my fears. I’m judge and defendant and prosecutor. Interpretation and reinterpretation are the soul purview of self, and the burden of justice weighs heavily. It's not just about him. Undoubtedly, the rawer, recent part of it is. But part of it is residual,--the infectious, previously latent remnants of the other disappointments that litter my mind, the other potentials who never actualized, never became anything of substance. Not fair to make him the lightning rod for decades' disappointment; still I feared his reaction like terrorism. Somehow I knew that unspoken, my meaning would sweep by him as airborne intangible; he'd judge the longing as irrational, nonspecific and dismissable--even amid protestations of my greatness, dismissing me in the process. Compared to war, hunger, crime, poverty, suffering, death…I know this disappointment is a luxurious indulgence, my grief only a whisper of a truer heartbreak: my caught breath and swallowed tears are hyberbolic nothing. But there’s no pretending that the sadness doesn’t go deep. Deeper than canyons seen from airplanes or betrayal or deceit or chasms of misunderstanding or relationships you overimagined. Back then, I took in the ambiguity willfully, like clichés, or carbon monoxide. Part of me preferred to live with a desperate unstable hope in ambiguous silence. While uncertainty is torturous immobility, it also preserves possibility. In immobility, new wounds cannot be inflicted: past stays past, potential seems horizon-limitless, and futures seem more hopeful. Instead, I seized the reins, demanded truth. Received my certainty with a side of heartbreak. Here, where I am now, feels like a place of impossible and insatiable thirst—tired and irritable, I’m parched for contact. In some moments, hairline fractures in my heart belabor vital breath and it feels like I’m eroding. Now, having never begun, it's over. Lesson learned: that if you ask for nothing you get nothing. But sometimes, even when you ask, you still get nothing.