Our days are our whole lives. they tell us everything, every accumulation of our histories. They don’t stand as closed endings or clean beginnings but currents that I’ve inherited that circle and circle going down on me always. That’s why I’ve resisted keeping resolutions as I never start them. This day is like any other but special because it tells on my entire life, not just the conclusion of twelve months that came prior, that I can check off on what I’ve done, felt, learned. I can’t name the earthquakes into a checklist and maybe that’s the root of why I’m so painfully vague sometimes. I don’t want you to reduce it to a name, a date, a reason…it is that but not really that at all because the name leaves out the sentences of the story, the date holds to the legality of a moment instead of the entirety of a life, and the reason is too easy as it leaves out everything, lives out nothing.
How I’ve lived my day will tell you everything, more then a resolution, year in review, questionnaire. the years, all of them, are lived out in the day. this is one version…
most of my evenings this week have found me finishing off bottles of merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti. The drinking hasn’t left me sad, hasn’t lifted me up, but that wasn’t their direct purpose. I wanted to travel. Travel away from myself, beyond myself to feel what that action is…to feel what love is, as a travel. I wanted to feel it, this traveling outward. most nights I’d fall asleep laughing, sometimes not. Sometimes desperately wanting to hold you. this day was different. New Years Eve was different.
My baby sister invited me to the party. I was honored that she would ask me out. “me!” yes, you silly! I wanted to go but somehow I couldn’t. I wanted to go with her as she has never invited any of us out. I wanted to see her dance…but I couldn’t. I couldn’t go where everyone left to. I stayed back. I sat down, feeling a faint sickness prophesizing what I would feel like if I touch the red. I believed it, I stepped away. I curled up on the couch watching, watching…I didn’t know what. traveling away wasn’t possible tonight. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t search, I couldn’t run. I sat down, eyes wide open, which was to the puzzlement of my mother who I shooed away. As soon as I did so I felt a pang in my chest. I could wait until morning to smile at her but the thought of waiting to tell her that I wanted her, I loved her, I need her, and I’m sorry, couldn’t wait. I went to her room, sat with her without saying a word. No need to say anything. I was there.
The phone rang. A text message: “Happy New Year!” when the phone rings it always makes me jump and I hardly ever answer it, but this non-threatening text message allowed me to come closer to reaching out to the individual on the other end. I read the message and am touched. I instantly dial the number and find a friend at the other end. I wondered if I could speak when all I wanted to do was reach for her, see her face, let her know that although everything was now outside myself, beyond me, and although I wanted to be on the floor, although I wanted to be down there to never get up, somehow I always find my footing. but god knows I want to finally bottom out! I want to bottom out but I always find my feet and the floor. there’s no shame in this, this being your bitch and bottoming out. I want to lay face down, spread eagle for you…I want to bottom out because I know we can’t cum until we do so. We can’t come until we surrender. we have to bottom out. i want to see you cum. as for myself, I don’t want to just bottom out…I want to be taken over, made over by your body beating up against mine. I want to be transformed. Come. Crash into me. “come, Crash into me.” “you wear nothing yet you wear it so well.” Sometimes I think that I must be ugly, I must be stony or else why am I not transfixed to the floor. I think there must be something wrong with me or else why am I able to get up off the floor? I mustn’t have let it in or taken it to heart or why can I still leave, walk away, start again? Isn’t that what we’re so afraid of? That if we let it in it will overtake us, we’ll drown, we’ll lose ourselves, we’ll become undone? but what if maybe the reason I get up again, feeling whole again, and feeling guilty that I can do this is because I did take you to heart. maybe I believe nothing happened because maybe everything has come into me and I’ve cum, coming out whole again. Maybe what I think of as “being unaffected” is actually me being all too touched by you. maybe it’s not that I’m unbreakable but that I’ve been broken all over, transformed in the collusion.
The phone is ringing and when she picks up all I want to do is cry but I don’t. I wanted to ask her to be here. I wanted to reach for her, comfort her. tell her that we’re together now. It doesn’t matter. We’re here now.
She says things to which I find myself in a bind to answer. I’m embarrassed and I think she’s made a mistake. She’s gotten the wrong person. she is seeing it wrong. No one has said these things to me in forever/ever. it’s hard to hear, hard to accept.
she tells me she is blessed to know me. tells me that her loneliness has coexisted with this amplification of joy to hear my voice. She says things like “wisdom” and “I know this sounds cheesy, but I am blessed by you” she says things like, “You give me a perspective” and “I only pray I am able to return this in the future.”
She tells me that she’s noticed me from the beginning. She tells me that from the first time we met she felt something and didn’t know what it was or why it was, whether it was because she was attracted to me, or… she didn’t know why she wanted to be near me until she found me again. I returned and she knew.
Three words. It’s all I can say. we’re here for each other. what would we be without each other? i am lost without your words and your wisdom and your beauty that reflects itself on me. in that you have given me perspective already. And even though I know we have to walk it alone, we’re here. we ask ourselves why we’re here and of all the many reasons, the most important one is simply to be, here, for each other. reflecting for the other, touching another…even when your hand hurts and your eyes see too much.
You found me. I picked up.
This is how I rang in the new year. 12 came and left sitting sober curled up in the couch, just me, her, and my mother. I forgot that the symbol of time tonight was important until mom mouthed “happy new year” walking past me smiling, listening to her speak. Before mom walks away I catch her face, I mouth back: “Happy New Year” and continue listening to her finishing her sentences, holding back notes of fury and kindness, continuing to speak without a care of what just came and passed. The clock struck without me hardly noticing or giving it the respect it demanded as I was compelled not to stop doing what I was doing, wanting what I was wanting, which was to be no where other than right here, with you.
When we part ways. I sit. I refuse to write. I lie down and listen to the film I’ve watched four times, maybe more. I don’t actually watch it, or watch it straight way through. I listen, head down. Looking up from time to time to see the moments that I am moved to watch over and over again—the child crying, the tears falling off his cheeks, her head on his back, the shaking of his body, his death, the absence of tears, the flood of them, the rain dripping into buckets, the mountains of japan, him on his knees, him saying sorry, her loving him, his redemption, his beauty. The drums sound like the beat of a heart and the strings sound like the soundtrack of tears laced above each other. I listen, listen, falling, crying asleep into my pillow with the music.
I hear the music in my sleep, in my dreams, even in the morning when my sisters walk near me quietly trying not to wake me up. The phone rings. I don’t even look at the number. I answer it. “michelle, oh my god! that message you left was the sweetest thing I’ve ever received.” I don’t remember what I said. I was a little tipsy when I left it a week earlier. “how is love…graduation…life…god I miss you…I’m so proud of you.” we stay like this all morning until her throat is sore and its 2pm. “I love you Natalie.” “I love you.”
“I want to cut your hair.” My sister wants to cut my hair. “would you really!” I feel so special. “what would you like?” “you, know what marie, you do whatever you want. I’ll accept anything you would like to do. Cut it all off if you want. I trust you. it’s all right.” she places me in the chair in the middle of the kitchen. Everyone is watching her. she places the robe around me. I’m holding my hands together closing my eyes. Her hands are in my hair as hair is falling off on me, falling on the cloth above my hands and all over my bottom lip. My eyes are closed. I want to crack because she’s so soft, the blade so sharp, my hair so thick, my heart so scared, my sister so beautiful…but the noise around, the conversations, the stories, the gossip protect me from being carried away, from my body melting away. she finally says: “you’re done!” “can I look?” Yes.
I run to the mirror. It’s not me. ha! what am i? it’s beautiful marie. You’re an artist, you know that right?
she’s so careful, she’s so curious. “What is bohemian?” “What school do you go to?” “Do you have friends?” “Do you get along with the girls?”
She’s never asked before…she doesn’t know what I do. She doesn’t know the gossip of the family. Doesn’t know that so-and-so can be “such a bastard sometimes, getting the cheapest ticket and four stops over night!” or that blank-name is so “morose so often it’s not even…” “what’s morose?”
I don’t mind the questions at all. I want her to be my sister. But there’s so much time to catch up on, so many things she must not know. but she’s watching me. I see her looking at me. she approaches, she asks, she steps in.
I spend this evening with my baby sister but the night belongs to my oldest sister…our second mother. Our angel. The one that I reached for on my knees, holding her hand with both of mine, looking her in her face saying, “I’m really really glad to be home.”
Let’s go to the movies! Okay. In the car I’m looking out my window smelling her cigarettes until she puts them out and asks me if I can keep a secret. “you can’t tell anyone, not a soul. Promise me that.” I half expect her to tell she’s sleeping with a woman so with a smile I say, “Yes, I promise.” there’s a long pause.
“I found today that Abu died.”
Silence. i look straight ahead trying to play it cool.
“how did that happen.”
“He threw himself out of a building.” I’m silent and my chest feels like its swelling up with water. “I got the phone call today. He killed himself, leaving his Japanese wife and two kids behind in Japan.”
whispering quietly,“does anyone know why he did that.”
“I didn’t ask. I don’t care. All I have to say is good ridden!”
I’m trying not squirm in my seat with one hand holding onto the car door. I make half a sound trying to ask, “hh…dddddid he do something…”
“I know what he did to you michelle.”
My heart stops. The thought of her knowing this…I want to spare her this. my heart is now somewhere on the street and I’m trying to catch my breath, clawing the railing of the car door, trying to swallow but I can’t speak.
an audible and failed smile, “akhha…didn’t know you…”
“I’ve known. [name] told me. [ and another name ] told me too. they hated him. They hated him. they never spoke of themselves but I think…”
“I think so too.”
“when I heard I said good ridden. I told the caller on the phone I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t care how it sounded to her. I wasn’t sorry in the least. I’m not going to mourn him! I’m not going to his service. I’m sorry for his wife and kids but if you ask me he got what he deserved.”
I’m looking at my feet. I whisper a thought, “what demons must he have had to make him jump.”
“I don’t care about his demons. They all have demons, all of those fuckers! The ones who fucked with you, with [her], and with [her]…two down, one more to go.”
She senses my confusion.
“the man who had his wife and kids. Do you remember him michelle? The one who use to take care of [her] nursery? The one who fucked with [her] and is the reason she’s so wary of men. Abu’s gone and I’m waiting for the other’s time to come. two down, one more to go.”
i don’t know who the second person is she is referring to and I’m terrified to ask because I might and I don’t know if my heart can take it if she means it is…if it’s the same one I know, the same one I’ve hated for her, the same one I love, the same one here now with us now, sitting behind me in the car.
I’m scared. I afraid. I’m afraid that she hates for me like I have hated for her…that she’s wished death the same way I have. I’m scared. I’m afraid of myself…I’m afraid that every death I’ve prayed for has been answered. It’s official now. Everyone I have prayed to die…all have…all of them… And I can’t bring my eyes up off the floor. And I can’t cry for him anymore. God knows I have though. In a backroom crying so hard my hands were clutching at my stomach, my head on the floor, spit running out of my mouth, crying out for help, screaming…
I’ve screamed for him. I must have screamed him out of my body to a point where I couldn’t cry anymore. I don’t know when I stopped blaming myself but somehow he has become so insignificant. his presence in my consciousness has become so ineffectual that even though he would appear every few weeks in my mind, apparently not enough for me to notice. appearing in the presence of other’s wounds. he has become less horrific.
I always thought I would see him once, one more time. I didn’t know what I’d do or say to him. In some dreams I’d look without saying a word. Other times I’d make him know. I’d scream so loudly I’d….strike him. And sometimes I’d follow him, follow him into a dark place…
I didn’t think. I just hoped…(blank)
hearing of retribution…it’s making me hurl. I don’t want to see him bleed anymore…I just wanted him to know…I just wanted him to know me, see me, not forget me, to stop killing little things, little beautiful things. yes, I worried about his children, I worried about his wife, I wondered if he deserved them, if he deserved happiness. sometimes wanting them to know, other times not wanting them to know, not feeling he needed to tell them, feeling he needed to tell them. I just hoped he wasn’t…I prayed that he was not who he was…
why he jumped out, what demons haunted him…i don’t hate him. I don’t want to hear it said, “two down, one more to go” anymore. There’s a knot in my heart and a cut on my throat–I’m looking at my feet.
I’ve cried so many tears for him, and he’s been inside of me so long. I’ve struggled with him, and for so long I’ve tried to escape him, scrape him off of me.
After all of it, I am sitting at the close of the day where I sat at the start, in the corner of the couch with him at my ear, on my throat, it’s all over again. this time I’m looking straight at him, wishing he could say, “I’m sorry.” as I wish I could have said, “It’s all forgiven. It’s forgotten Abu.”