Monday, March 18, 2013

Here is what happened on my drive up to NorCal:

I slammed on my breaks, causing my mini powdered donuts and my flamin hot munchies to fly everywhere.
That's not the sun at the top of the photo, that's the guts of something no longer living.
A town was on fire, a cloud of thick, dark smoke hovering like a storm cloud above it, pretending relief.

I felt every possible human emotional. Ecstasy, misery, happiness, anger, joy, pain, depression, hope, faith, hopelessness, devastation, acceptance, denial, love, shame, hate, gratitude, frustration, and the myriad things I am forgetting.

I listened to the music of my past. I listened to Nada Surf, my chicken soup, my comfort food of music. A band I discovered accidentally with my brother one night when we were at The Gothic in Denver seeing a different band, the opening band, when Nada Surf played the first verse to "Fruit Fly," messed up, started again, burst into a scream left straight right straight, I can't find a reason, I know I'll keep going but I can't find a reason. 

I hate this about myself. These reparative readings of my own life. My narrativizing. As if I could solve this puzzle by writing it with, if not a happy ending, then at least with a beautifully painful one.

I am in so much pain it's unreal.

On my drive from Los Angeles to Oakland, I mourned seven people. My grandmother. My babysitter, my first best friend. My high school friend who hung himself 2.5 years ago. Hung himself on a fucking door handle in his Boulder apartment. The three elderly people I used to take care of for a job before they became my pseudo grandparents: Marybelle, Jo, Al, who I knew would all die, who R warned me would all die when I took a job caring for seniors so that I could do some good, so that I could practice what it feels like to lose even more people, as if I hadn't lost enough already by then. Jake. Jake Adam York. The most important, most painful loss I've suffered to date. Vagueness and sarcasm have been my means of dealing with this publicly for a couple months, but we all know I'm  complete fucking mess over it, and why lie about that anymore?

I'm sorry you've got no where to go/I'm sorry you've got no where to go

I listened to the music I used to listen to when I fell in love for the second time. When I fell in love, for the first time, with someone who fell in love with me back. When I was 17. All that terrible Colorado hippie music. Guster and Dispatch and State Radio. Back when I was a kid. Back when the first person ever told me I am beautiful. The first person to burn me a mix CD with so many wonderful, high school love type songs, so many of which I listened to on my drive.

I listened to the music I used to listen to when I fell in love in a different way. When I fell in love with a group of people, the first group of people who loved me, too: N, R, E, G, D, B. A group of people I've lost. It's my fault. It's their fault, but it's mine, too.

I listened to the music I used to listen to when I fell in love with a 27 year old alcoholic who was a sous-chef at my first job when I was 18. Phish, "If I Could I Would." The chorus reminded me of how inappropriately, how hopelessly I loved this person who showed me so much love, but fucked me over again and again in the only way an 18 year old allows themselves to be fucked over. A person who slept with everyone I knew, dated everyone I knew, told me he loved me, but never crossed any lines, kept a distance, protected me in a way I didn't want to be protected back then. Got one too many DUIs and state jumped a couple months after I quit that job and started my college years over again.

I listend to the first song that started to heal my recently returned from NYC 18 year old broken heart: "Crane Wife 3" by The Decemberists.

I couldn't listen to anything I'd listened to after the fall of 2008. After I'd really come to know Jake through my work at his journal and through his classes. And separately, after the first time I ever kissed the boy I'd been in love with since I was 14. I couldn't bring myself to listen to anything related to the loss of those two people today. To the giant, gaping whole that is the past 5 years of my life.

What can you do but go on... what can you do but go on...

I am at a precipice. I am 24 years old. If I make it to the other side of this, I will be an adult. I will have done the things one needs to do to get... somewhere different. I will have lost so. many. people. I will have loved so. many. people who I've had to let go of. I will feel ridiculous about even registering this triviality in the face of a world that destroys people much better, much more innocent than me in much more vengeful, unreasonable, irrational ways.

I remember the week we first started to be something other than the thing we'd been for 6 years. I was listening to this song. I picked you up at our friends' house. I drove us to the Obama DNC speech. I played this song. I was in love. Everything was hopeless. Obama was elected three months later. You were in Europe, it was the middle of the night, I was listening to something else by then, but I never forgot.

I've listened to this song obsessively three times in my life: in the beginning, in the middle, and now, in the end.

Oh no, you make your own mistakes...

I have become someone I don't recognize. I have become someone who is happy. I have left everything behind. Some days, like to day, I listen, and I remember who it was that brought me here. And some days, like today, I am so devastated by what I've had to lose in order to gain all that I have gained. And there's nothing else I can do but remember it and repeat it, because my happiness makes me feel guilty, even though I've worked my ass off to feel something more than miserable.

I know I will regret writing this later. But I never allow myself to delete things I post on here because I know myself and I know I get scared and I know I end up telling myself stories about everyone who will judge me for this. But I can't think about that right now. Because I am in a hotel room in Berkeley and I just ate shit trying to skateboard again for the first time in 10 years and I finally feel brave enough to say all of this. So I will. So I did.


Anonymous said...

If it helps to hear you are not alone: my husband and I have been in mourning for almost 7 years now. Each year a new loss. My friend killed himself with his sister because she had failed at her attempts so many times before and he wanted to be there with her for the last one. Another friend and my brother-friend drowned in a cave. Our dearest friends' young son was mauled by a bear on Father's Day. Our sister-in-law died mysteriously when she kneeled down to pet her dog. Autopsy inconclusive. And just last Fall my husband's best friend was stabbed in the chest in a church parking lot at 3 am by three young strangers because he had been hanging out with one of their girlfriends.

I don't think I've ever written them all down like that. And that doesn't include the loss of both our grandpas and other elderies. I'd lost people before here and there, but when I hit my thirties, it was like a tidal wave. And so gruesome.

Anyway, I do know that it makes no sense. And then some days later it makes no sense and years later it makes no sense. And then there are dreams and songs and memories and flashbacks and weirdness and sometimes calm and fine and dandy and other times whoa what the fuck? And there's no "getting over it" either. It just is. We miss our friends. All the time. We are braced for disaster. EVERY unexpected call. I read headlines and skim for names we know. As if we could prepare for the next one. It's a fucked up kinda living. But we do it. I do it. Even though it makes no sense. I can't imagine doing it alone. Though grief is always something one does alone. Anyway, it doesn't get easier as much as maybe the years get blurrier? And, I think that is okay, makes it okay. It's okay to not make sense of it. People with answers are delusional anyway. Fuck it.


Ali Rachel Pearl said...

Oh jeez, Natanya. There should be a club for people like us who are braced for every disaster.


Anonymous said...

Right? With discount coupons for shows and liquor and spa days.

Anna said...

Love! To both of you. When I think of my friends and family who are gone - I think about this crazy cool, ridiculous light-up sign:

And then I feel a little better.
But for reals. Love.

Anna said...

(though I should say - it never doesn't hurt. I just like the idea that they're haunting my insides.)

Ali Rachel Pearl said...

I love this sign, Anna. It is so perfect.