Love cannot be reduced to a catalogue of reasons why, and a catalogue of reasons cannot be put together into love.
— Eleanor Catton
It was a spectacular weekend. Sunlight, the perfect kind of weather, long walks in the park, so much deliciousness, and finally, the serene sleep that has evaded me for weeks.
We were discussing manicures for some reason, and why I don’t get them done. I asked her why she thinks my nails break easily. She reached over and hovered her hand close to my heart. “It indicates what’s going on inside of you,” she said. “The breaking, the cracking. There’s something you haven’t taken care of, you know, internally.”
Similarly — the startling experience of the splitting and sudden chill of the first nights of autumn. A moonlight that was so clear and tangible I could have plucked it from the sky. Feasting on fiery sunsets (usually reserved for Texas skies) during my runs.
I slept for 8 hours every night, my too-stubborn heart finally losing the battle with exhaustion. I spent a lot of time with Maggie Nelson and other types of blue (much more about this later).
I try to stay true to my love for autumn. People tell me how wonderful it is, how happy they are that autumn has arrived. The truth is, I adore everything about autumn. The warm days and chilly nights, the upstate apple-picking, the urgency of wearing all your skirts before you put them away, the beginning of scarf weather, the mooncakes, the vegetables that come in season, the appropriate kinds of mornings that make you crave tea & evenings that make you crave live jazz while in someone’s embrace.
But often all I can think of is how winter inevitably follows it. My attitude towards this probably says quite a bit about the things I need to work on.
He took me to this rooftop where we could see for miles, and then another one where we could watch the sun set over the water.
The third and final rooftop hovered closer to the ground (it usually progresses in that direction, right?).
Discomfort often forces me back into flight.
Impromptu outdoor meals of Chinese takeout and wine as a remedy for the discomfort. Homemade pisco sours to forget it. Dancing to replace it.
“I love to hang out with you because it’s just so much more fun when someone is open to everything and will eat anything.” There was a lot of Lagavulin and nigori, which he translated roughly to “something cloudy.” Isn’t it all “roughly cloudy” (foggy) in a lot of ways?
“It’s not quite as clear as we would expect it to be, but it’s pretty delicious nonetheless.”
There’s relevance somewhere hiding in all of it.
Caught in the act of quietly missing you, I reached places I didn’t know I could reach. In certain ways, it did feel like a certain height — though my accidental progression has been towards the ground. Choosing to feel something underneath my feet for a while. In some dreams I wished that you would forgive me for my evasion and propensity toward undergoing the same realizations yet again. In others, I wished that you would discover new ways to apprehend me en route in my escape. I stumbled upon different incarnations of the line, “if you asked me to, I would stay.” Asking one to stay never actually means stay, it just means “stay a little longer.”
Some conversations along the way made me realize that I had approached branches of feelings that had nothing to do with the roots. But, I’m learning for the next time.
What are obstacles but chances to learn more? There is no act of opening without a stretching beyond the enclosures, without a reaching towards something further than you currently know.
But whatever I am, I know that slipperiness isn’t all of it. I know now that a studied evasiveness has its own limitations, its own ways of inhibiting certain forms of happiness and pleasure. The pleasure of abiding. The pleasure of insistence, persistence. The pleasure of obligation, the pleasure of dependency. The pleasures of ordinary devotion. The pleasure of recognizing that one may have to undergo the same realizations, write the same notes in the margin, return to the same themes in one’s work, relearn the same emotional truths, write the same book over and over again–not because one is stupid or obstinate or incapable of change, but because such revisitations constitute a life.
“I think there has to be a place for risk and for restlessness in any kind of fully lived life, and especially I think for an artist,” Phillips tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “I think it’s the only way that imagination gets stimulated and continues — but I think it can easily go unchecked.”
Reconnaissance looks for the balance between restlessness and stability. I was rapt in watching his covert mentions of “blue” in a slow dance with Nelson’s overt work concentrating on the color. I took notes. I dreamed. I sucked in my breath. I observed my heartbeat in thunderous silence.
And later, more of Nelson’s thoughts as I drifted towards something hopefully closer to you, towards Myles’ suggestion to “need each other as much as you can bear”:
I awoke from this nightmare into a freezing cold motel room: the heater had broken at some point during the night, and the fan was now blowing icy air into the room.
At first I tried to keep warm under the crappy motel bedspread by thinking about the man I loved. At the time he was traveling in Europe, and was thus unreachable. I didn’t know it yet, but as I lay there, he was traveling with another woman. Does it matter now? I tried hard to feel his body wrapped tightly around mine.
Next I tried to imagine everyone I had ever loved, and everyone who had ever loved me, wrapped around me. I tried to feel that I was the composite of all these people, instead of alone in a shitty motel room with a broken heater somewhere outside of Detroit, a few miles from where Jane’s body was dumped thirty-six years ago on a March night just like this one.
‘Need each other as much as you can bear,’ writes Eileen Myles. ‘Everywhere you go in the world.’
I felt the wild need for any or all of these people that night. Lying there alone, I began to feel – perhaps even to know – that I did not exist apart from their love and need of me.
Of this latter I felt less sure, but it seemed possible, if the equation worked both ways.
Falling asleep I thought, ‘Maybe this, for me, is the hand of God.
Finally. I thought of persistence toward the unknown.
This could go on forever, really.
That’s kind of what persistence is, though.