I just found this note tucked away in my book bag yesterday. I love this type of shit, honestly. Handwritten artifacts that mark a distinct period of my life, and I say distinct because there is no part of this note that remains true.
“Dear Aaron” - no I’m not
“Your life is good.” - okay, this could still be valid, but what’s your evidence?
“You have the love of a beautiful woman” - no I don’t
“& two beautiful children animals.” - not anymore, no
“We all love you and believe in you.” - I can refute the former and I doubt the latter
“Everything will work out.” - no it didn’t*
Now. I can obsess over this and to an extent I am. Most people would obsess to some degree over finding something like this, and most people would burn it or throw it away to purge themselves of the demonic memories. The writer in me won’t allow it. Because of that last (*) statement, and to an extent, the first.
This note was given to me right after I picked up a second part-time job to support my education, my first part-time job which seemed to cost more than it provided, and my family, as filled with animals as it was. I wasn’t getting any writing done, like any at all, I was turning in old stories for workshop and avoiding any classes that required research papers. As best I can remember it, I was stressed and low on sleep, but I wasn’t unhappy. My life was good, but not because a beautiful woman loved me or believed in me or because of my two wonderful pets’ giving me love and support. It was good because I had someone to love. And I did, and I did it hard, I loved the fucking hell out of her in cycles of constant renewal, and not just when I got surprise notes to validate it, but any time I was around her, anytime she laughed at one of my jokes, anytime she criticized my outfit or folded the laundry or put too much garlic in something. I even loved the markers of her own unhappiness, whether or not I recognized them as such, but if I did I only saw them as speed bumps, stuff we could look back on as trivial in the future, or stuff we would avoid looking back on but were quietly comforted by the common knowledge that we’d bested it together. Even the times I really fucked up, or the times she really pissed me off, I couldn’t see them as defining of the relationship, I could only acknowledge their temporal presence, their transience, how the very next time I woke up they would carry less strength, the very next note in my lunch would fill my heart to bursting again and everything, everything would be bliss.
My life was good but not because I was loved, but because I was loving. You can’t ever know if someone really does love you (and thus I would advise against making that a prerequisite to your own happiness), but you can love, and you can love whatever, you don’t need its permission. I don’t need to keep this note to remind me that my life was good. But I will save it because of the bold prediction at the end, which even the first time I read it it didn’t sound like it had much to do with us, with our current lives as a couple, I mean I didn’t even have any concerns about us, I had no qualms about the future, so why the reassurance? Everything will work out. What the hell are you talking about, voice from the past? Nothing else in this letter referred to any problems of any sort. It abruptly turned from a celebration to a consolation. Was this an unconscious Freudian slip of the brain? A precursor to immolated relationships to come? Was there perhaps a divine finger poking her in the brain at this point, some ghostly presence that mused the final sentence of this note into being, completely separate from her own impulses? Outside of the love issue, I tend to be a pessimistic individual, and if she would’ve really pressed me even that same day I would’ve said, “Well look, honey, nothing ever really ‘works out,’ everything actually falls apart and it’s just a matter of controlling the chaos as best we can to minimize the catastrophe.” These days, without someone or something to focus all my love into, it’s all I can do to keep from starting off each morning with a quick game of “find out what color is all of my blood.” I am a suicidal individual, always have been, death-obsessed and often depressed. And I hate mornings. I never brood over suicide when I’m in love, though. Not that it doesn’t occur to me to think about it, because it is a rough habit to break, but when it does come up as a topic in my brain I am repulsed. Like how dare something stop this? This is the best, this is the one and only thing.
A good friend of mine just finished a book, is why I’m writing this. He’s no more quintessentially optimistic than I am. It was his first book and now he’s done with it and it’s out there and I’ve done the same thing before, all except for putting it out there. Book are like girlfriends. You put all this work not only into your relationship with the book as it develops and grows, but also into improving yourself, to make yourself worthy of the book. These are the same machinations of love. I didn’t get that second job for my own benefit; under similar financial hardships on my own, I would’ve just taken out more loan money and said fuck it. Books don’t let you just say fuck it, and neither does love. And I’m not talking about some shitty girlfriend that demands more money, that’s again, that’s the wrong direction, I’m talking about my expenditure of love, how every cardboard box I unpacked, every shitty microwave meal I ate in the break room, every extra paycheck I bought home, made me more confident that I was loving correct. You could call it sacrifice, but it wasn’t really, it was selfish, I was selfishly sacrificing my writing time and my body and my energy because it made me love her more. It was a project still in progress, for me. I wasn’t ready for it to end.
How is anyone supposed to deal with a book coming to its completion, or a good relationship? Even if you’re the one who cuts it off. I wish I knew the answer. Some writers just don’t let the book come to a close, for as long as possible, I mean Whitman? Come on, dude, put it away. Other writers with colder hearts put down one book and start another one immediately. And some forget about writing entirely and get married. If I ever do get married I don’t know that I can continue to write, I mean sure it would be great, if I could use what is in my mind one act of love to serve the other; if writing could become that selfish sacrifice, like slicing open another cardboard box. But writing doesn’t pay. And right now, given the choice between feeling in love with a good woman again, and writing? I’m leaning towards wrecking my body, serving time at a well-paying job that I hate (if I could even find one), and coming home with confidence to fuck her proper. Because right now I’m not in love with writing anymore, not like I was, not like when I was finishing my own novel. We’re in reconciliation talks. I’m trying to get it back.
I wish I had a better way to do it, better advice than to just start the cycle all over again, because that’s the only thing anyone could tell me when I got dumped. Find somebody else. It’s not that easy, though. If you’re either in love or you’re not, clearly the solution to the problem of not being in love is to be in love. But I think most of us would also consider every love we’ve held in our hearts as unique as a fingerprint. It feels impossible to move on, it really does. Everything will work out. I mean, I doubt it, at this point, it really feels almost goddamn certain that the opposite is true. But… I also doubt my doubt, and that’s the thing I can’t get over, get around, get by. Maybe not everything will fall apart. Maybe there is something that will work out. The question is, am I curious enough to stick around a while and find out?
Yeah, I am. Sorry, spoiler there, I totally am, I just have to keep waiting, keep writing, keep working, keep asking the muse to take me back, c'mon baby I’ll do better this time I swear, just tell me how it’s going to end, tell me even how it might end, tell me what’s going to make me sorry for all this time I wasted, tell me which of all the things I believe are important are not actually important at all, just reveal one true thing and I swear I’ll write every single day until I die just tell me your secrets, I know you know them, and… you know what? I don’t even have to ask you this, it’s not really up to you, I can love you if I want to no matter what you say, I can keep coming back to this keyboard and every single key I fucking touch is going to make me feel more worthy of you. So fuck you. I love you. I’m here.