Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Day in the Life, Part IV
"The Northwest Passage"

I don't often talk about my dreams — neither my aspirations for the future nor what happens whenever I close my eyes.

But last night, well... last night I came face-to-face with the very beast that's made it nearly impossible to write, or speak.

You see, the follow-up to my most recent apartment fiasco is that my landlady now turns the cold water off at night, long before I generally go to sleep.

That means no tooth brushing, no face washing, no showering and — last but not least — no toilet flushing.

And it was the final in that list that I attempted to do around 10 p.m. last night, only to realize my water was already off for the day.

[Yes, I realize what she's doing is very likely illegal — but I have almost a year left on my lease and moving is very time consuming and expensive].

I was so... frustrated... that I couldn't fathom any way to spend the remainder of my evening, except to sleep. I had no words for anyone.

No thoughts.

Just a simple tinge of anger and frustration, welling in the pit of my stomach.

My mind was a jumble of sounds and images, all of them indiscernible. And even as I crawled into bed, I knew sleep would not come fast enough.

How could it, with my pulse racing as it was?

But when it did — when finally the last drops of daylight faded from my eyes — I shouted in my sleep the very thing I'd been meaning to say.

My family was visiting. My sister and my oldest nephew were in my living room watching cartoons when I realized something was awry. I looked up and saw bubbles forming across my ceiling, spreading with pox-like rapidity down the hall and into the living room.

I grabbed my nephew and shouted for my sister to follow, as hole after hole burst through my ceiling and water spewed forth, ruining most (if not all) of my possessions (which are almost entirely sentimental in value).

I called my landlady to report the incident, and lost my temper for the first time — lamenting the photos and books and letters that lay in ruins.

"I just want things to be right — I want back everything that I've lost!" I shouted into the phone. "Life isn't meant to be so complicated!"

And I continued.

I'm tired of all of this.

[There was an exclamation point in my voice when I yelled this but now — in the world of conscious thought — a period and a pregnant pause will suffice.]

And that, as they say, is the rub.

I'm struggling to speak and write because everything is wrong, or even...

Out of place.

And I've come to realize that nothing I say or do will help to restore order.

What I see in this world — what I feel — is so often at odds with what I experience. It's at odds with every newspaper headline and every rush hour traffic jam.

And this streak of bad luck — if you can call it that — isn't a streak at all.

This isn't a phase.

This has been my life, and for as long as I can recollect.

So when does it stop? When do things get better? When do I stop being a doormat upon which other people shake their muddy shoes?

Or for that matter: when does writing about such things cease to suffice as a means of catharsis?

It stops when I stop.

All of it.

And that, I suppose, is what I fear.

That I'm stopping. That I'm giving up.

That for all of these traveled miles, for all of these experiences — however beautiful —

I have forgotten myself along the way.

I worry, then, that there is nothing left to regain.

(And so: no reason to try.)

And yet, even still,

I persist.


ds said...

these have been
beautiful sights
between the words
of living -
a place that doesn't move
tied together with
dust rain sunlight and leaning.

the rain
from the ceiling
means things.
the Hopi have a word for
it which does
not translate. the rain
would open a place
in the mud
between their rafters
at night. the empty
wattle would fill
with stars.

Chicago is a word that
does not mean what
it says. but you
have put your place
in it, and
now where?

face North, and your shadow
walks around you, but
there is no sun anywhere.
turn south.
in this place the
other things were.

Anonymous said...

The only advice I would have at this point would be to say "You need to figure out your boundaries, let people know what they are and have consequences when they are violated." The most powerful word in the English language is "No". It isn't easy to do this, but it gives one a sense of control.

Good Luck.


MelO said...

Those last two words were the perfect ending to that post.  Btw, do you still use your email address you have listed? I sent you an email early this week, I hope you got it (and I hope it helped).
Please know... you are not alone.

david said...

Oh my! Oh, my. Oh. My.

Pamela said...

I saw my turn off on I-84

You should have called.