Fewer, Less

There are fewer of us now. We’re down by one. And I have less to say than expected.

I thought by now I’d be up and writing again. Then death came, stealing my brother when I wasn’t looking.

My words chased after them, but haven’t returned. I sit in darkness, waiting.

How do I find my place in this new world of fewer siblings? Do I count down from the top, skipping over one like hopscotch, chalk outline around a missing body?

We are fewer. I am less.

The months tiptoe by, not wanting to wake me. I wish they would stop and sit with me a while.

It’s all too fast, this life. I lie down and watch the clouds through dirty windows.

What can I say? We are fewer now. I am less.

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My Summer Vacation

If I were a writer, what would I write about today?

The silence at the end of that question stretches long. I wrote some bullshit that I deleted about how I ask myself that, but the answer is always nothing. No. The truth is I haven’t bothered asking myself anything. And if I were to ask myself something, it shouldn’t be, “what would I write about,” but “am I a writer at all.”

I certainly don’t feel like one anymore. I did for a while, when I was writing every day. It didn’t matter that I have nothing to publish. I still felt connected to the words and the work. I had hoped that as summer ended, I’d find myself drawn back to both.

Writing isn’t the only thing I’ve been neglecting though. I had started exercising, taking morning walks at a local park. I needed movement and nature to ground myself in this world, even as depression sucked me farther from it. I used the summer’s heat as an excuse to stop walking, the depression as an excuse to stop writing. Despite that, I managed to keep living.

In July, I learned that an old friend was having gastric bypass surgery. For some reason, that prompted me to finally make some changes to my diet and start shedding some weight myself. I joined a weight-loss group on Facebook for support. That became my new obsession—another reason to stay too long online, reading about other people’s lives and struggles, ignoring my own. I started losing weight, then panicked. I wasn’t prepared for it to actually work! I didn’t know who I was without sugar, without whiskey. I didn’t belong outside the plus-size corner of the store. I stopped eating to lose and let my weight stabilize.

That’s where I am today. I have a list of things to start doing again: eat right, exercise, read books, write. All the things I thought I might do this summer, but didn’t. I’ve been online, checking Facebook and Twitter, watching what’s happening in the world. Wondering what it all means. Meanwhile, I’ve got a stack of unread books next to my chair just waiting for me to come back to this world. The immediate. The concrete. I feel like I’m flitting around the edges of life, lost in cyberspace. Can I find a way to ground again? Will writing help?

If I were a writer, what would I write about today? How would I say it? Do I still want to play with rhythm and length and form and rhyme? Would I rather chat like this? Pretend I’m talking to the friends I don’t have? Would you like to hear the story of my life? of my weight-loss journey? of my failures to make good decisions? Will the gods read these words and accept them as prayers from a lost soul? Will the Muses gather closer and whisper in my ear? Will someone, somewhere, read what I write and nod in agreement, forging an invisible link between us, a tiny spark of energy flowing into the vastness of space, making us both matter to each other, even though we never meet? Is that enough? Is it a start?

So If I Miss It So Much…

That’s what you’re thinking, right? That’s what I’m thinking. Why did I stop showing up? stop working at it? stop prioritizing it?

Welcome to depression. The deep part. The silent part. The part that makes you groan when you wake up another day. The part that doesn’t want to reach out for help, because it doesn’t want to be drawn into the light. The part that knows this part of me is beyond help. Beyond words.

Exercise has no power over it. Sunshine can’t warm it. It’s stronger and colder than all of us. And it’s so entwined with my soul that I don’t remember where I start. Or end. Or whether I was ever separate to begin with.

So, yes I miss writing. I miss feeling. I miss looking at the world and finding beauty, even in endless questioning and edgeless loneliness. Those things are not this. This thing is something other, and yet wholly me. Maybe it’s the Truth of who I am. That which I’ve been writing about all along.

I Miss Writing

That’s all. I just miss it.

I miss having it as part of my identity, even though I kept it mostly secret.

I miss juggling words, even though I dropped so many.

I miss looking at the world, at my life, and wondering what shape it would take on the page today.

I miss feeling that maybe I don’t totally suck after all.

I just miss it.

That’s all.

Formless and Void

I’m tired of myself. Of my life. Of my words. I write and delete, over and over until I stop writing altogether. Facing the blankness. Letting it stand in my stead. Unreadable. Unwritable.

Will I ever find my way back? Will I ever feel that excitement again when rhyme and rhythm take over, and my brain fills with song?

I wanted to squeeze every possible word out my psyche like the last bit of toothpaste from a crumpled tube. Letter by letter, wiped onto a waiting page. Unwasted. Still good for something.

Those closest never noticed the tube getting more crushed and twisted by the day. They don’t care about my toothpaste—how much I have, if I like the taste, whether I share. They didn’t notice I stopped brushing my teeth.

I’m tired of myself. Of my life. Of my words. I’m tired of being tired. I don’t know how to fix this.

Trivial Musing, Extra Trivial

I want to write about last night’s storms. Not the storms, exactly, but my reaction to them—to the threat of them. But I’m struggling. I’ve tried prose and poem, but nothing’s working.

It’s been hot here for two days. In the nineties, which is unusual for May. We’re months away from putting the air-conditioners in, so we’ve been sweating buckets and using window fans to cool the house down as much as possible. Last night, a front came through that finally cooled things down a bit, and with it came thunder storms.

The weather advisories had been pinging my phone all afternoon. When they finally switched to warnings around ten, I rushed around closing all the windows. I was expecting wind-driven rain, so it made sense to close up the house—except that it was sweltering in here, and the storm wasn’t that close yet, and there was a gust line preceding the front that could have pushed all the stale, hot air right out. But I closed the windows.

I watched the lightening show for an hour, standing at a west-facing window, drenched in sweat. No thunder, no rain, just lightening in the distance. Crazy lightening. Huge bolts and bright flashes. And lots of wind. Cooling wind, out there on the other side of my closed windows.

Why didn’t I open them up and catch the air? It’s what I wanted to do, but I talked myself out of it. What if the storm suddenly hit us? I wouldn’t be prepared. Things might get wet.

I stood there for an hour. An hour! All that cool air could have been blowing right through the house. But I didn’t let it. And it’s not because I was afraid of the storm. I love thunder storms! It was something else—a fear of not being prepared? not doing what I was supposed to do? or expected to do? not being able to act quickly enough when I would need to?

Is that really what I was thinking? I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking. I was sweating. And some ancient conditioning took over from childhood.

There’s a metaphor for my life hidden here somewhere. I can’t quite tease it out yet. Maybe the bref double isn’t the right container for it.

Checking In? Or Checking Out?

I’ve spent the weekend wondering whether Friday’s post was my last. I’m running on fumes, tired of myself, with nothing left to say. No matter how many times I ask myself why keep writing, I can’t come up with a good answer.

When do I admit this isn’t just a slump? When do I accept this isn’t who I am?

Or if it is who I am, and I hate who I am, how do I reconcile the two?

And if I stop, who am I then? What does that say about me?

I have three choices: 1. keep writing and posting; 2. keep writing, but stop posting; 3. stop writing.

The first sometimes feels like I’m scribbling as fast as I can just to crumple up my paper and toss it over a cliff. And yet, it keeps me coming back to that cliff’s edge every day with a fresh sheet of paper. It’s a mission of sorts. Something to do.

The second feels pointless and sad. At least when I toss my paper off the cliff it goes somewhere. Somebody might find it. The wind might carry it. If I keep everything to myself, the stack is going to collapse and bury me.

The third…that’s the big one, isn’t it? That’s the “why bother” at the heart of everything. That’s the impulse to throw myself over the cliff. That’s the choice that reminds me that the real issues aren’t about writing at all.