Note 7

An older man in a sand-colored sport coat came to my door and knocked. His knock was restrained but confident and when I opened the door I found that he was, too. He informed me of an event that was taking place, a worldwide event, about which he was spreading the word and distributing literature. I looked down from his face, skin wrinkled but well-maintained, passed my gaze over the lapels of his sand-colored sport coat, down his arm and towards the pamphlet he held in his wrinkled-but-well-maintained hand. I cracked the screen door so he could carefully place the literature into my outstretched hand. I looked at it, but only to fulfill a vaguely-understood societal obligation. I didn't read any words in that moment; after all, the sand-colored man was already telling me what I needed to know.

I smiled, he smiled, we jointly allowed the screen door to close, I wished him a good day. Back in my room, I considered the pamphlet, dry and plain like the man. I thought that maybe I owed it to him to read through it, out of respect for the efforts of the man, the printer, the tree, and the others. But the man was gone, the printer had moved onto other projects, and the tree was no more. So I let it drop to the floor with the others, and I sat back down at my desk.

Note 6

One time in the nursing home, someone called my dad a racist.

He had accused one of the aides of stealing his clothes out of the laundry. It wasn't true. But he'd started to lose track of his things, and that was the explanation that made the most sense to him at the time. Anyway, the aide was black, and disliked my dad already after some earlier incident, so her brain jumped to the worst justification. I don't fault her for it; there were a lot of racist patients there. But my dad got really upset about it. The last time I remember him being that upset about anything was when my cousin died of an overdose, and that was ten years earlier.

He ranted and raved and cried to me about it. Through tears and sobs he told me how he'd never been racist, and how he'd been around for the civil rights movement, and how he'd always thought of everyone as equals. I believed him, but I didn't really care about whether or not he was racist. In that moment I could have cared less about racism, or race in general. Or fairness. Or society. In that moment, I just didn't want him to be upset.

When someone is dying, the people around them take up a peculiar position. In a way, I loved my dad more, and valued my time with him more. But in my desperate attempts to make him happy and comfortable, I also cared less and less about his opinions, his dreams, his memories, his values. I cared about "him" as an abstract, ungrounded concept. When someone is dying, they no longer fit within the normal framework of what it means to be a person in society. I lost a model of how to treat him as a human, and replaced it with something else.

You want them to be happy, sure. Comfortable, cared for, loved, of course. But once there's no chance of them living, you really just want them to die.

So when the aide accused my dad of being a racist, I didn't try to mediate the conflict. I didn't try to understand what had happened, or consider how to prevent it from happening in the future. I didn't work with the staff to find his missing clothes. These complex, interconnected problems didn't exist for me. The only problem was that my dad was upset. I needed to make him happy. I tried to listen, and calm him down, told him he wasn't a racist and that it was all going to be OK. It eventually blew over and he stopped being upset about it. Which is good. You can't die upset.

Over the next few months, there were other incidents like this. Sometimes I was able to be there for him. Sometimes I wasn't. I tried I guess. Eventually he died, and I don't know if he was happy or not. His face looked pained. Maybe he wished I had treated him more like a human, with more respect, instead of just trying to take care of him. Maybe that's just the face you make when you die.

Note 5

We were meant to be together.

Of course, we're not together, and we very likely won't be together ever in the future. But just because something does not happen, is it necessarily not meant to be? Seems like an awfully boring and fatalistic way to live, where everything that is meant to be will happen and everything not meant to be will insist on not happening.

Furthermore it leads you into all kinds of other conclusions, like I was meant to have a drug addict for a father and I was meant to be dissatisfied with my career. And on the other side of things, that I was not meant to find peace, that I was not meant to achieve my deeper desires.

No, much better to believe that some things are meant to be but do not happen, while other things are not meant to be but indeed do happen. Like when I mean to go to the store for vegetables and brown rice, but leave with chips and chocolate-covered almonds. Sometimes the universe means to do something but either bungles it or never gets around to it. No one is perfect, not even the universe.

So I don't consider it a contradiction to say we were meant to be together, knowing that we will not be. It was just a misalignment of intention and action. Now I'm left with no partner who is both intended and possible. Since out of necessity I prefer to work purely within the realm of possibility, I'm also forced to search out or create a love which is not intended. To make love out of thin air, where no blueprint existed, no universal outline of connections and progress. In some ways, it's upsetting to believe that purpose and plans exist, but can't or won't be followed.

But in another way it's freeing. The untethered man, abandoned by providence and alone with his thoughts, driven to make his own plans and create his own life. To find his own love or craft a love out of pieces meant for other constructions. I'm not denying that fate exists. I'm just ignoring it and doing something else.

Note 4

It was late one night when I saw your face, and I knew you wanted someone else. In a moment then I picked up my things, and made my way back home I think. And that was the last time I saw you.

I smell your skin when I wake at night, I sit up straight turn on the lights. There's nothing there but bare white walls, and a hole in one from a drunken fall. And your things in a pile, on my floor.

Do you think of me do you tell your friends, how it all begins and quickly ends. How when I left it began to rain, like a movie scene with an empty train. Now I am dry, but faded.

Are you still too cold is it still too much, does your hand still shake at a lover's touch. Do you stare at night at a brightened screen, do you wonder what it really means. To say I love you but not know why.

Note 3

Throw your darts, I'll stand by the board, staring at you, hoping you're as good as they say. Jane. Go to England, take some classes, leave me a message. Jane. I'll listen to it three times, to remember how you sound but not what you said. Click your heels, I'll make sure you come back to me. I can get a seat on this plane. I can choose. Tell me a story but don't make me pay this time. They're never that bad but I'm not in it for the stories.

Move your hips. I'll play games in my head and my eyes will follow your lips as they curl. Watch me sleep, I promise I'll wake up and if you're there, oh if you're there.


Are you sitting at your window?
I'm sitting at my window.
Do you see them walking and trying one more time, fishing for things forgotten and buried? Or do you just see the streetlights on the pavement.

Note 2

It was one of those moments when you say your own name and it feels like holes in a moth-eaten sweater. Where your identity used to wrap you up, now it's just something you're keeping, pathetically, while the entire universe silently begs you to throw it away.


Perfectly printed for the first time in history next to the date and time and doctor's scribble, all just echoes now. Said and said and said and said and my holes are getting larger. They're eating more and more and my holes are getting larger but I can't just look down and see me, you know? No one really consciously notices your clothing until it's all gone, and then everyone notices.

"I told her that I can't go to that."

Of course, I'm not Jane. So I suppose it's only proper that I feel this way.

Note 1

I saw you at a church in California. I ran down the hill to see you, threw my arms around you. You reciprocated, almost kissed me and blew smoke in my face instead. There were children talking and laughing, the crumb cake was amazing they said. We sat down at a high table. A girl I knew from high school, but couldn't remember her name, commented on how comfortable the chairs were. Suddenly she was gone, suddenly everything was gone, and it was you and me and the comfortable high chairs, and I asked, "So, how've you been?"