Monday, August 14

Not So Bad When

Within the immensity of a city, amongst the millions of faces and various lives, it is very easy for one to feel the absolute of insignificance. If I were slain during a street mugging gone wrong, none but my family would mourn me, of that I am certain. I am nameless, anonymous; as nameless and anonymous as those I pass everyday. We pass many people everyday and that is odd because – salute the statisticians! – it would be fine to know how many paths we have crossed, how many strangers have passed by our side in the last twenty-four hours alone. Unless they are attractive, peculiar, homeless or aggressive, there is a chance we have not noticed them at all. It is inevitable that you blend in, and sometimes that is all you desire of an overwhelming metropolis, a selling-point, if you will. Indeed I do often prefer to be invisible. I have lived in a village before, during my younger days, between the ages of two and fourteen, and it was customary that you know everyone; each human was linked somehow, and over the course of several connections you could relate yourself to that person on the other side of the road – and you would wave or nod! In the city there is no such familiarity. The being who approaches your behind in the pub is only similar to you because they are human and you are, too; we gestated and were breastfed, we respire, we wear clothes and enjoy copulation. Yet still the city smothers and removes. It is a struggle dealing with your worth when the third line of your address is swallowing you whole.
Because no one was out drinking (again), I was at home drinking and dancing alone (again). Actually I do not mind it so much; financially it makes more sense, and in a peculiar way I look forward to it. I was glad that the weather had picked up and was chiselling smooth oranges into the fractions of a sunset. Out of nowhere but humid air, she appeared.
She saw it. I realised that she had seen it.
The biggest pronoun of the last five years. She is the only person I have ever loved who didn’t share my blood; all others I have loved, since birth or otherwise, have some of my blood in theirs or some of theirs in mine. Blood is important. Something primal speaks to me about blood and when I bleed I hold the wound to my mouth and take my blood on the tongue. The colour of blood is brilliant and when it falls into water it explodes. It was refreshing and dangerous to me to love someone who didn’t share my blood. Anyway, our blood was different. And I loved her.
Then she went away.
The first thing I did was try to forget about her, to announce to myself, over and over, that she was gone forever; I repeated it until it became a mantra, a promise repeated over & over, a rhythm of heartbeats. To think of her was too painful; she is gone forever. But, o, it was impossible to erase our time together; I pinned a photograph of the two of us to my wall; she is there; for good or bad, she happened, we happened, and she affected me, my existence, my character. I thought that she had forgotten me, far quicker and easier than I had tried to forget about her. She was in love with someone else and I had disappeared from her thoughts. With the battery of the city, it does not take much for one to convince themselves they are not thought of.
So what if I only think about love these days; love in all its forms, both pristine and damaged? It arouses me! so that I am able to write and paint and the tumult of existence is not so damaging.
These days it angers me if I still think about her. If thoughts for another human are one-way, then they are stupid, and that makes me angry. Yet still I think of her, and I spend my thirties trying to make sense of affection and orbits. I do not think of her longingly, you understand, but I think of her in memories and echoes, in scents and smiles, nostalgically, a repetitive—‘I wonder how she’s doing now.’ I think of what she’s doing and whether she is happy, whether she is healthy. I hope, I hope and I hope.
And then – on a Friday night, when I was not thinking about her, but holding a can of beer and singing along to some music, occasionally looking out of the window and grinning at my solitude – she saw it.
I was not dead to her.
And because of that, I was happy.
I was not dead to her.
But do not mistake me! I held no belief that she would attempt to become friends again, or that she regretted going away or anything like that; no, no no-no. No, I was not dead to her. She had not forgotten about me! She was not trying to blot me out of her memory. And I suppose that is all my simple mind needed. I felt happy that, autumn leaves, I had not disappeared entirely from her mind and that she still remembered me. My years of remembering her had not been in vain because, miles away, she remembered me. My life was not so insignificant, my heart not so half-witted.

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