Monday, October 28, 2013

It doesn't matter

I am sitting in the same place I have sat time after time, staring softly into your face and feeling so helpless to do anything. I wasn't in medical school. I wasn't in an advanced anatomy class or organic chemistry when I was at that engineering school. I know a little about how bodies work, enough to be mildly helpful in the bedroom, in the kitchen, in the garden, in the workshop, but never when it's this room of unused dials, knobs, tubing, and sacs of yellow liquid. Helpless, broken, frustrated, tired, surrounded by a total lack of privacy and an overwhelming amount of polite nurses and aides, barring the occasional one pissed off for inscrutable reasons.

You're crying from the pain, from the anesthesia, from the guilt of growing old. You say the usual absurd things, and I respond with the usual absurd truths, and we sit there. My hand finds yours, what parts I can touch. The sticky tape or the plastic sensor stands out from the pieces of skin I trace along. Some day, one day, maybe I'll just accept those are your body. Maybe, one day, some day I'll be powerful enough to keep all those things at bay until the last day.

I was serious, you know, about thinking about what it must be like to lose consciousness forever. Do you remember the time when we lay under those tall, old trees and felt the Spirit move from you to me, when everything left us and nothing stayed away from us and it was just the us of us there, all of us? I saw those trees shed of leaves, those branches black and spreading across the sky, and I wondered if death in that moment made any sense, any more sense than at any other time. Is it a fading, a dimming, a growing darkness at the edges, at the center, at the ideas themselves? I have no idea.

But I know that I have lost many things in my life, some of them because of death and others because of choice and even more because time just moves us on when we stop putting out a hand or a finger or a suggestion to another. I am conscious of the loss, but it's not the same as losing myself.

You were crying. You will be crying tomorrow. You cry for the pain at the edges, at the center, at the ideas, and I see why you said what you did. It's not that you're not enough for me because you don't measure up to my greatness or my charisma or my intelligence or my humor or my hold over you—we both know all the faults and all the broken are deep and abyssal, swallowing all those things when they are not seen. It's not for any of that why you say it. It's because you are afraid of the thought more and more that we're not on the same time table.

Do you know why I cry at King Haggard every time? Why I cry at Pascal? At Whiz Kid Donnie Smith? At Ged breaking down and going up among the goats? I think you do, and it breaks your heart all the more because you know exactly what it is.

At some point in my life I lost my faith, and it killed me many times over, but this body, this person, just kept going because that's what we do, those of us who somehow developed more than one person to ride along the machine. Losing faith is like finding out the trees, each one of them, lives in fear of being ripped up and hewn into pieces. It's finding out things are far more horrible, far more horrific, far more empty than even the worst myths in your childhood fantasy.

Haggard lives without delusions and illusions, because he can see everything truly. But what makes it horrifying is that he admits that a world with the beauty of the unicorn is one where anything is possible, but it does nothing to change him into a good person. The so-called "cold hard fact" he knows is that nothing compares to the unicorn, the unchanging and ever-youthful reality of myth, and so nothing in the world where anything is possible will ever bring him to see the beauty in something that last only for a short while.

It's not the immortal, the unchanging, or the perfect that brings us the joy of living. These things, these things only make us worse the longer we wish to cling to them to make sense of the mortal, the changing, the bloodied.

Justice makes no sense to me anymore. It doesn't matter how many good souls you feed into the machines, no amount of adding them up together will ever make the machine come into life as itself good. That's just not how any of it works, especially as the justice we're seeking to make is further and further pushed into the realm of absolute perfection, rigorous application of final solutions or practical results.

It's all the mysteries I miss. I see a person sitting in my class, across the shop, in the next lane, reclining in the grass next to the gas station. They are each a depth of lies, truths, doubts, mistakes, desires, and failures, but they only want to be a single, consistent thing. You were never a consistent person, and even though I know how your body responds and your mind captures me, there is no boredom in your prowling prose or pawing poetry or preying eyes.

So, you know it in me, and you are always ahead of me, and you in that bed that's not your bed and not a bed at all, you awoke painfully and in shame. What will happen to me when you're gone? What parts of me will die off? What parts of me will fade away from disuse? I remember the parts, like the part of me that used to do calculus, the part to play fighting games, the part that climbed trees higher than sense, the part that knew by the colors of a resistor its rating. I sometimes hear these other parts, locked away and screaming for release, missing old lovers or dwelling on broken hearts. I sometimes feel those other parts, the truly old ones, the silent pieces carrying scars so old none of us around now even have great stories to tell about them. What will happen to all these parts and pieces of me when we pluck out the pin you are in me? Will it stick for just a little while, like old photographs on the wall, before they fall? Will it all crash down quickly and shatter?

I just want to run away sometimes, but I know there's no where to go. There's no one to talk to who can also tickle me, touch me, heal me, and shake me. Any one who has that chance either gives it up or finds some one more suitable. Not any person can hold in their hand the ice fire of my wicked slides and in their heart these silent doubts a faithless man clings to. Not any since you, and you are falling away, one bag of vomit a day...

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