five years

In that book I just finished, there’s this line: “Happiness has no history.” It’s not entirely true, but it’s very close. I think happiness has no time. When you’re happy, it’s eternity and over too fast, both, together.

I am always surprised by love. It always comes so unexpectedly, carelessly, and always with an air of arrogance. Like you’d never deny it admission.

I find that I keep dreaming awake of cold and trees and dark and loneliness. I’m being seduced by the ghost of a season. I thought about watching an autumn movie, about making an autumn dinner, of crushing leaves in my fists to imitate the smell of the air in fall, but it’s like keeping a pillowcase of an old lover — enough time passes and it no longer smells like his hair and sweat and skin. Enough time passes and there is only the present.

I fill my heart with music so it will not notice my mind’s embezzlement. I don’t know how to pay back what I’ve taken from my life.

It’s like you lose something that’s enormously valuable to you, so valuable that it’s nearly part of your definition as a person, and you shrug and decide to live without it, and you’re mostly ok with that, but there’s always that gap there where something was. You’re less defined, even if it’s just to yourself. And then one day, you find it, suddenly and excitingly, and you understand that there’s a way to be more defined again, if you just adjust the conditions a little.

I pet the cats when they go by. They’re not cuddly cats. I think it’s probably because they’re not my cats. When you don’t belong to a cat, that cat doesn’t really know you exist. They arch their backs in surprise when you pet them, and give you indifferent looks which may be tinged with exasperation — Pet me, if you must, but quickly. Things to do. My cats aren’t always very cuddly with people either. I don’t blame these cats, of course, but I try to make them stay with me and let me hold them. They protest until I let them go. I miss my cats. But I think it’s fun that these cats’ names are malleable, like silly putty. You pick them up with one name, you put them down with another. You call to them for dinner with different names, you yell at them to stop attacking that bouquet with others. RJ has taken to calling the blonde-orange one “Whatever.” “Whatever got into your water,” he said, and I waited for him to finish the sentence. But he already had.

I don’t wear drama and unhappiness if I can help it. But I’m trying really hard to wear them well until I can get rid of them, like moth-eaten winter coats in unforgivable, out-of-fashion prints. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve got one somewhere, too, you know you do. Don’t lie to me.

Everything is a true thing. Everything we ever loved or believed in, it’s always been true. Do you see?

Always there comes times in life at which you have to grit your teeth and let go of some precious pet hope of yours. Usually this is long after the trend toward hope-entropy is obvious to everyone except yourself. Like a fever breaking, a sudden realization that, “Hey! This isn’t ever going to work, is it?” to which everyone else answers, “Well, no!” When I was younger, a theater director I had called it, “Killing your darlings.” Later, a fiction writing instructor I had said the same thing, and the phrase struck me then too. “Kill your darlings.” Edit out something you have to try too hard to achieve and never quite achieve with it, especially when you so desperately want it to work.

The only part I loved in the Libertine was his side of a dialogue Rochester was having with Lizzie Barry, in which he described himself as a cynic, and said that he goes to the theater because he wants to be moved, and life never succeeds in that. There was just a small moment in it when Depp (flawlessly, as per yoosh, although the performances were not the problem with this film) slips from jaded and corrupt to a strikingly sad hope (it’s amazing how he does that, just a slight alteration of the eyes and lips), and then back again. It felt like when Megs uses her index finger to poke me hard in my sternum (you can’t imagine how much that hurts until it’s been done to you), because I recognized myself in that bit. Obviously I don’t see myself as a complete debauchee — I’m in danger of neither liver failure nor syphilis at this time — but it was the earnestness with which he spoke of the false reality of the theater. I watch films for the same reason. I believe that life is a slow death, that the good are neither rewarded nor punished any more or less than the wicked, that coincidence is just that, that actions have consequences that are nearly never equal, etc. All of it, I understand all of that as truth; I have rarely, if ever, and I can’t think of an ever, known differently. It’s not nearly as dire an outlook as I’m making it sound (in fact, I love being alive, and enjoy almost every day of it these days). It’s just something I believe to be true. But film and stories, I love them, they are — as Depp’s Rochester says — my drug, because in them, everything I hope and and want and wish to be true, can be. They’re a type of salvation, even if it’s a false one, and I cling to it because I want so much to be moved, and real life consistently fails in its every opportunity for that.

I’ve started thinking things are haunted. A penny, a pillow, some string in the top drawer.

Look for your counterpart/ who always walks with you/ and mostly is what you are not. Antonio Machado

I snagged an obvious common thread — it’s that they’re stories about hope, but not just hope as a good thing, but also as a terrible thing. Actually, the theme stains a lot of my favorite books as well. Because hope is both. It’s something that’s dangerous, and something that a person needs to handle well or it can become a tool of self-destruction, but it’s also something important and good and clean. It’s both, and the dichotomy will always seduce me.

I will do something unexpected, and you will follow my lead.


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