The Argument or Lack Thereof
Updated: Nov 23, 2019
It's difficult, sometimes not difficult at all, to pinpoint the moment. That moment in your life where intense and immediate clarity envelop your surrounding outer and inner space. Akin to putting on prescription glasses after going without them. When your reality becomes orthogonal to what it once was. This makes me think of the movie Inception. Inception reminds me of the dream work I've done on myself. My dreams are my subconscious mind at work; I tend toward Jung than Freud. And now I'm far from where I've started so let me take a step back.
It happened in a tree rich hillside in the Nagano Prefecture in Japan. The air was late spring. I was 29 at the time and my boyfriend, whom I will refer to as "H", was a still coherent 33 years-old. Several years prior, H was in a serious car accident and suffered from an increasing separation from our shared reality in the third dimension. It was as if he was a red balloon I had been passively watching slowly float up into the troposphere. Myself, depleted of all energy and effort, allowed him to slip away. So gradually in fact, I hadn't noticed the gradient in his cognition until it was too late.
We had travelled to Japan for a wedding and decided an extended trip to the countryside was a good idea. Rice paddies and dancing sunlight, the country was a quaint beauty. Walking my feet all afternoon, I was ready for rest on my temporary cotton futon. We found ourselves walking up into the hillside, just before twilight ---
We'll be fine, he said.
The sun is still out, he said.
But the sun sank, our cellphones died, and I came to realize in my dehydrated, disoriented and anemic state, illness was incubating. My physical condition was the perfect metaphor for our relationship. It was obvious to me like the warm-up riddle on NPR's Sunday puzzle.
I was done.
It was pitch black, I failed to carry my prescription glasses and the burden of our sour trip together was slowing me down. I remember the sound of stepping on sticks and crunching leaves, hoping I wouldn't fall into a ravine. Somehow we found our way back to the cabin. I don't recall how long it took. I don't remember how much I yelled, or even what I yelled at him. What I do remember is sitting in the square tub alone later that night. It must have been after midnight. I sat resting my chin on my knees, folding my arms around my legs, listening to the water medatatively drip from the spout. I considered our life back here in California. How could I live with this man? Who was this unhappy woman walking around Japan, spiritually untethered.
Following our return home I gave leave notice to my job that I was going to focus my life on gardening and meditation for the foreseeable future. How could I optimize my time here? I'd tried to impact the world with my positive energy, group organizing, and volunteerism, but I felt my efforts unsuccessful. How could I enjoy existence again?
H as I knew him died a few months later. We never said goodbye. He just disappeared one night and never returned. It's like that Joan Didion quote,
"Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down for dinner and life as you know it ends."
The last evening together was like any other.
It was another unremarkable evening at home. I was flowing through my daily rhythms and had just taken my evening shower. As I'd walked out of the bathroom and into our kitchen I'd seen H hastily placing large crystals into his backpack. He told me something had spoken to him and he needed to fly home right away.
| I should have known this was our bookend |
It all happened in a few minutes time. I felt paralyzed as I stood in silence listening to the crystals pile atop one another. I could hear their weight. Afterwards I sat still in my towel and reflected at the nothingness in the mirror. For how long I don't know. I remember the immediate quiet.
We were together for almost ten years. I don't think about him. I am unsurprised by my nonchalance of it all. I wear my guilt effortlessly, like cashmere and midday wine. Perhaps I require this space for atonement. For unspoken consolations. Words that flow with ease on screen but wane under vocal pressure.