|Seven-Twelfths Birthday and the Unlooseable Feeling
||[Feb. 27th, 2019|11:10 pm]
I speak to you tonight as an artist. I ask you take me as such. I am not looking for any other reply.|
There have been moments in my life where I've tasted what it feels like to be exactly where I want to be. The occasional bit of writing as a teenager. High adventures with friends in high school and at shul. Most of ATH the RPG. Various swaths of my time in college, from D&D sessions to Friday night archery at the IMA with Nat. IM conversations late at night. Writing in my journal. Holding court at the Compendium. Long seasons of affection in enchanted settings with Kendra. Creating my first finished novel from beginning to end in barely four months. I even got to be a real admiral once, though I was a ghost at the time.
But more than any of that, there was the Mountain. That's as broad a term as "Seattle," and just as irreducible to its constituent parts. Of course I miss Amy, I miss the house, I even miss the damn dog, but it's not any one person or thing. It's the era. The zeitgeist. The milieu. Being surrounded by so many kinds of beauty, all the time. Having exactly as much solitude and privacy as I wanted. Having real companionship and someone to talk to. I don't have anyone to talk to anymore. So many sunsets and Sunset Constitutionals, all for free. So many cups of coffee at the Astronomers' Lodge. And Night Vale and tarot readings and Analogue and pinochle.
There's a feeling I can't get away from, both when I'm depressed and when I'm in good spirits, as I have been this week--I wouldn't be writing this otherwise, out of fear that people would dismiss me as moping. It is the feeling of remembering having touched something real, and living now in a time, body, and place where nothing is real. I feel like I am in limbo, between life and death, like my spark stayed on the Mountain when I departed.
And I miss it, and I miss it, and I don't want to stop missing it, because all around me there is nothing that makes me feel so alive as remembering those seasons on the Mountain, like some old washed up king reminiscing about the glory days. I never planned on outliving myself, but then it happened. I was lying in bed resting my eyes this evening, when I got to thinking about what I would have if I could have anything. I went through the motions of the practical answer, of course--money, health, love, friendship; and the well-worn constructive ambitions arising therefrom such as my video game company and my geodesic dome community for artists, not to mention a family--but then I got around to the truth:
I don't want anything.
The part of a person that wants, that is capable of wanting, no longer dwells in me. I've failed to keep my doomed promise that I made on Graduation Night. And, with the loss of my spark, there can also nevermore exist that wonderful feeling of being where I want to be.
And there's no one to talk to, and, even if there were, there's no one who understands. There's no correct reply. What I feel is what poets and artists and many others eventually come to know, most of them: If you live long enough, there comes a time when you are like a flower that has shed its seeds. Your purpose, your essence, is behind you, and yet you're still there.
I hope no one who reads this ever learns what that feels like. I would sooner wish upon you an untimely death than the feeling of living without your soul.
It's not to say that I'm a zombie. I still have a sense of humor. I still like steak. (Though fish heads are tasty and they do have brains.) I still enjoy myself playing music or watching things online. I don't want to misrepresent myself, or play for pity. The physical burdens of being old notwithstanding, my physical life is fairly comfortable and nice. Rather, I just want to speak candidly, in a world where people are afraid to do that for reason, or are too busy to be bothered.
I wish I could share--I wish there were someone who could hear me--the simple, yet ineffable and inexpressible feeling of seeing something in the here and now, and remembering its likeness in another, finer time, and reveling in that for a fleeting moment, before inevitably perceiving the lines of the chasm between then and now, knowing I can never go back, because I am no longer, and can never again be, the person who was there then.
None of those eras shall return. My old dormitories are demolished. ATH the RPG is no longer an active adventure but a prized mantle piece inspiring a new generation of books, and its cast members are fellow grizzled veterans of life. Nat is off teaching in Las Vegas. Marie became a conservative Christian again. My journal is no longer a parapet for proclamations, but a reflection in the dregs of a cup of coffee. Kendra is a distant, friendly wind that sometimes blows through my grove. Seattle is gone; my directorial Purim stage is torn down; Working America is no longer in the Greensboro office or the Seattle one. And there is no Amy either, no Ring Road, no opilions, no summer thunderheads, no one to hear me say "Merp."
I really wish life had worked out differently. I wish I had escaped poverty. I wish I had found a mate. I wish I had built a name for myself as an artist. I don't regret any of my decisions before leaving Texas in 2015, but they did not lead to the future I hoped for. I never really fit quite right into this world, and it eventually caught up with me. Gave me the Troubles. And now, more than a year after the Troubles, I can only but marvel stupidly, like some baffled sailor who's just lost his arm to the truck, and is staring down at where it should be, and can't quite conceptualize the completely new reality he now inhabits. That part of him is gone. No heel-clicking, no believing in faeries, no miracle crystals will bring it back. It is gone.
I suppose even if life had gone grandly for me, this would have caught up with me someday, in old age. I wasn't ready to lose my fire. I'm the kind of person who would never have been ready. It just kinda sucks to experience it in my 30s, having never achieved my biggest ambitions.
But what can you do?
For me, the answer is: I can be an artist. That is the one thing I still can do.