Sometimes the words are hardly words at all - almost words - almost what I want to say. Sometimes I feel like I'm speaking something foreign - inhospitable and unkind. My mouth moving, unjustly related to my eyes. My tongue sunbathing, lazy at the roof of my mouth. So much of communication is hardly cognizant. What did I mean, and how did you mean what I meant? Everything lost in some sort of odd translation, the dictionary unable to calculate the individual's past.
No truth. Or something.
I finally finished this piece. I have been working on this since the summer. It says something to me and I am happy. I want to hug my friend Joseph. Sometimes I don't write him back for weeks at a time. My actions. My mind. My mouth.
A Long Way
All I have are the letters.
My memory of the drives we would take only that, only memory. Which never seems enough.
Now, I have his letters.
Remember that time we followed the ducks?
Like a hallucination, I watched the road as if in a fever, sweating out the trip from Ypsilanti back to Kalamazoo.
I looked over at him. His profile a flickering fire. This is why they call silence heavy. The aftermath of voice. Of clutter and murmur. I could feel the system at work within my body – the nerves shooting off, blood, and matter. In silence it is all you have, your body, and it is hard to know what to do with it.
I had a dream about Joseph last August. He asked me to sit in his lap, an intimate gesture, a trust. I held his head in my hands and stared.
I got a snorkeling set and I swam around looking at schools of fish and everything else that’s underwater. It’s like another world that I’ve never really explored or saw before.
He wanted me to follow him. And I did. It was night, there was fog, and it seemed like a movie. He asked me to get on a bus with him. And I did. I looked out the window, and it ended.
…the pressure was too much for me to handle, I couldn’t go down far.
His death smothered my morning. A divination. I could call him, and his roommate would answer, and there the news would be. There it would be.
I would sort my emotions.
Pair them up.
See how it felt to tie two together.
I couldn't handle his mortality.
I’m trying to stay on track.
I’ve also decided not to ever second-guess things I initially think.
Handling my own mortality is easy. Or, at least, I can say it is. I thought about my plans for the beach, and hoped the sun would dry me, eliminate the water weight, and as I floated in the ocean, I couldn't help but think of Joseph snorkeling in his very own Atlantic.
So much different than my own.
I could see him there, below the water, solitary and observant.
These are the three ghosts I saw that one night in May.
A lot of times buildings or houses are haunted but I think that people are also haunted too. I think that’s what I am.
It made sense, for him to like something like that.
I didn't want to cry, not the beach. I swam as fast as I could until I couldn't keep my breath.
How loud living can be.
We are made mostly of air and water. I thought, we are the ocean.
Expansive, salty, prone to unpredictable undertow.
I need to always be expanding outwards, but I find myself stuck somewhere in between most of the time.
I called him on my way to work.
To make sure.
His voice, the pensive "hello."
There, on the other line.
A very long way away.
I need to always be expanding outwards…
To be forever expanding outwards.
Construction. I had to drive on the shoulder; it awoke the gravity within us. We pulled over to get gas, neon lights and red vine licorice. Sugary details of the Midwestern landscape, we grew chatty away from the cowless fields, the shopping centers.
I can remember music. I remember this. But, what we said is lost somewhere. The cause of our breath, insistent on not committing to anything.
Remember when we went to the John Cage performance at that Catholic Church in the woods? That organ was the best. I remember driving back with all that snow falling…
I wish I had more.
The dream. The car ride.
I want everything.
I want to be back in Michigan, back at his door. Back in the snow.
What is it, to have?
and the same thing happened last winter when we came into each others lives so randomly. I like to believe that there’s something more than random chaos and someday we’ll see how everything is connected and let out a long meaningful AWE…
I ruined a batch of cookies that night.
What is it to have not?
I like to believe, too.
I like to believe a lot of things.
I feel like I’m trying to build a life out of scrap paper and when I step back and look at it, it looks interesting and fun but living it doesn’t feel completely real.
I don’t know.
I guess relationships are only important if you want them to be.
Maybe that was it, Joseph.
I don’t know.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I want to expand onto everything and be everything.
It makes perfect sense if you say it that way.