A Backwards Glance

She said, “I don’t think people know what I need to survive…I need to be constantly working on something larger than myself, I need that stability, I don’t need to be creative anymore, if everyone else around me is creative and I can be part of that, I don’t need to be also,I just want to be okay, and live my life beautifully. You don’t have to write poetry to live poetically, and I think that disturbs a lot of people, even to the point that they BEGIN writing poetry in an attempt to live poetically! If you weren’t so concerned with how this all looks, you’d be much more beautiful. People are mostly a let down, life is mostly trying to mitigate the chaos. The people who say I’m not living for myself, I say, you don’t know me, I love people, and I care, and if you don’t like that, then go write another failure play. Life isn’t beautiful, it’s a horrible thing to be soldiered through, yet people in sophisticated society, I say sophisticated! The native americans, sophisticated, they know to respect elders, not because they’re old, but because they’ve survived all life’s curveballs. Everyone wants to masquerade themselves as that, but they’re not. You need to come from a certain sort of civility to achieve that. And most people never will.”
“Do you know why I haven’t spoken to you for all these years?”
“Yeah.”
“No, I’m asking you, do you know why?”
“Oh, no.”
“That summer, in Kentucky, you got all mature, talking about law, about giving up writing and creativity, about growing up. I thought I’d lost you. You didn’t say all the things you said now. You didn’t express that you were developing, that you were maturing, that there was a connection between who you were and who you’d decided to be. But now you’ve explained it. Now everything you’ve said to me makes perfect sense. I understand. And I regret that decision. I misunderstood. I’m surprised you even speak to me now.”
“Well, how can I not? I didn’t even think about it. It was a surprise to see you calling, you know me, time doesn’t exist for me, there was no space in between. We only ever met once…but who can remember that? It sort of emerges from time, it’s separate from time. We only met once, and we’re still talking after all these years.”
“Only once? I hadn’t remembered that. Anyway, I’m glad you’re still you.”
“I’m still me. So…moral of the story: I love you back.”
“You said it! I love you too! You only sound like yourself when you’re miserable.”
“Perhaps that’s true. Where are you?”
“The studio.”
“What kind of studio? Are you making music?”
“I was, yeah. You’d think, you’d think that all the other things that hurt would be cause to write a song, right? I sit back for years waiting for some sad episode to inspire me. So, last week I go to a show. I hate concerts. I avoid them at any cost.”
“Me too! You understand!”
“Yes! Good. I hate music that I haven’t heard before too.”
“Yes! Yes! That’s how I feel! I can’t admit that to anyone!”
“I went to this concert though, and I’d never heard the band, and it blew me away. It was so stunning, and…I wanted to write songs again. For myself.”
“People who don’t know what it is to feel pain constantly, the first time they feel it it’s sort of a big event, and it becomes their one talking point of pain, and feel the need to express whatever’s happening to them. But for people familiar with pain , sorrow, so many other emotions worse than sunshine, it’s not like that, misery is a deadening experience, you don’t find inspiration there, you just live in hurt, I understand what you’re saying, it’s so exquisite to hear someone say it. Are you there? I’m pissing, if that’s what you were wondering.”
“What? Yes, I’m here, I hadn’t even noticed the sound, I hear it now, this is just like old times, hold on…I’m typing this…”
“You’re typing what?”
“What you’ve been saying.”
“You do that?”
“What? Of course. I used to do it constantly during all our conversations. You say such brilliant things, you’re drunk, you’re not going to remember them.”
“Wow! You really listen to what I say!”

The conclusion we reached though, was that we need people who are emotional equals, but otherwise entirely different. Not for the sake of completion, but for the sake of…augmentation. “You amaze me,” she said, “because you do so much with what’s around you. You condense things into what makes perfect sense to me,” as I thought to myself, how does she continue to speak with me, doesn’t she hear how much eloquence I lack, how much slower my thoughts move than hers do? How do we continue these conversations? Could she possibly feign interest for four hours at a time so many times? Augmentation. She speaks a million words, circles back to her original thought, and admits defeat…she doesn’t know what she means, is unsure of what she means. And with all the words she’s given me, I give my small answer, and somehow those are the final words she was missing.

“Apparently it’s time for me to go to bed.”
“Are you alone right now?”
“I slipped down to the basement, but apparently I have to go to bed. You understand what I’m saying.”
“I understand what you’re saying.”
“That it’s not my choice.”
“I understand.”
“This is what I’ve been…told. I have to go to bed. Apparently.”
“We’ll talk soon.”
“Yes.”
“You always do this, Stephen, you always say, yes, yes, yes, and then there’s nothing but silence from you. Not even a text. Don’t be a stranger.”
“This time’s different. You’ve made it clear that you’re you.”
“Yes. Don’t be a stranger.”
“We’ll talk soon. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.”

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