A Desperate Melancholy Descended, But I'm Holding My Own
Last night was terrible. I’m trying to think back to see what might have happened to cause such a turn, but the more I look, the more yesterday as a whole looks bad. The day seemed decent enough on the surface of it. It was sunny and warm, and I ran into friendly people everywhere, but something was off. Something was off in a subtle, unpinpointable way.
In the morning, I got up at a decent time and did some reading and wrote for a while. Then I threw on some clothes and took a long walk to a second-hand clothing store and the grocery store. I found a hip, vintage, button-up brown shirt, which makes me feel really hot despite its plainness. I dropped into a small bookstore that a couple I know runs. Actually, it was less that I dropped in and more that Clementine hauled me in off the street to show her partner my new hair. I hung out with them for about half an hour, sharing the local arts gossip and kibitzing about the institution she and I both work for. I found a ball of heavy string at a dollar store, and then I meandered over to this church supplies store. I am not religious in the least, but I felt drawn in anyway and ended up buying an Our Lady of Fatima medallion for eighty-five cents. My groceries were heavy, so the walk home was slow and hard, and when I would pause to put the bags down for a moment, the muscles in my biceps would jump and twinge in a way I haven’t felt in ages.
It was only after leaving the church supplies store that the melancholy grew too heavy to shuffle off. It was not a religiously induced thing; the two, the melancholy and the religious shop, are only linked in that one happened to follower the other. There was something very sad about the quality of the light. The sun doesn’t track as high up in the sky just yet, and so the light was long, looking so much like fall, giving everything that wash of yellowish-orange that colour photographs from the 1970s seem to have. My coat was a yellow mohair from the sixties or seventies, so it drew me into the tableau that was the length of the avenue, the long rays of afternoon light, the dusty sidewalk measured out by evenly-spaced brown elms that had yet to bud. I felt out of place, out of time, as though I had walked through a portal and into a nearly identical universe in which I did not belong. But again, I could not put my finger on it. I felt a melancholy tinged with a vague sense of regret, my body felt tired in a way that made me feel too old for the season, and I felt myself holding my mouth in the way that my mother used to sometimes, her lips held thinly but loosely, the weak-and-tired-before-weeping look that always made me find somewhere else to be. When I felt that look on my face yesterday afternoon, there was no escaping to some other place.
When I arrived home, I put the groceries away and cleaned out Gordon’s cage. It truly stank, and he licked my sock in gratitude (I’m the biggest anthropomorphizer around) as I scooped new shavings into his home. I wrote some more, made myself a pot of white cheddar and macaroni with greek seasoning, one of the greatest comfort foods of all time, and then wrote some more. I has spent so much of the day alone in my own kind of fog that I was kind of antsy to get out and have conversations with people, but I felt I had to wait around at home for the Fiery One’s phone call. I had missed it the night before and was missing him too much to skip it a second night. I had already done so much writing, so I turned to television and letting the bunny run around the living room for entertainment. I don’t even remember what was on the tv. I lied on the couch, sometimes with my eyes open, sometimes with my eyes closed, and let my mind drift into this blind, no-thought space. I felt there was nowhere else to go, nothing else to do, when thinking was verging on dangerous. I didn’t even know what the dangerous was; I just didn’t want to go there. I only drifted back into the here and now when Gordon would hop up onto my pillow, poke my hair with his nose, and then stick his bunny head right into my face and inch from my eyes.
Finally, the Fiery One called around 10:45 pm. When I picked up the telephone and heard his voice, I started crying. I couldn’t help it, and the tension drained out of my face. It was such a great relief to hear his voice, to talk to him, to have some contact with the world outside my own head. I choked on my words and tried to stop my tears from falling into the mouthpiece. He told me about Las Vegas and what a strange place it is and how he will miss it when he moves on to Ohio, and he told me about this sword swallower he had to interview who lived in a trailer park and had a robot in his yard and how his boss and the sword swallower ate fire together and would have taught the Fiery One how if they hadn’t run out of time. As much as talking to him brought me out of my depressive stupor, the colourfulness of his day contrasted sharply with the memory of how I had felt in my yellow coat in the long light. I had to get out the apartment. I was suffocating on my own reflection.
I put on my coat, dabbed on a touch of lipstick, and headed out to a local pub to find who I could find. I had forgotten how the warmer weather brings fear. When it is sub-zero, I am not so afraid to walk alone at night, because it is too cold for anyone to be lurking in the shadows or raping me in an alley. When it is warmer, though, I am no longer safe. Anyone could be anywhere. I remembered the fear as I walked, which made me smoke my cigarette stiffly and walk tautly like a rope stretched. I arrived at the pub, and not a soul was there that I knew, not a single recognizable face, not even the regular drunks. I did a quick loop through the place and was out the door on my way back home. I was too nervous to walk the several blocks to the next bar, and it felt too desperate to be marching all over town just to find a friendly face. I lit another cigarette, gathered myself together, and went home to fall asleep in front of the television.
I was so lost yesterday. It felt like that time when I was twenty years old and I wandered around all night by myself until I was too tired to walk anymore, and I lay down in a field until morning staring at the sky with a cat that had befriended me and wondered if I would ever be able to find my way home again. I knew where home was, but it just didn’t seem to belong to me anymore. It felt like when I was about three, and my favourite game was to curl up in the laundry basket on the blue shag carpet in the living room and pretend that I was adrift at sea and would never be found, because even then I felt uprooted. I had no place. Where does this feeling of having no place come from? Why has this sense of loss, this displacement, plagued me throughout my life?
Well, that was, uh, just a touch depressing. I am really not quite so heavily in that place this morning. What a relief. I’m going to go for breakfast somewhere and then go for a long walk around the lake, because there’s supposed to be a high of 20° Celsius (that’s 68° Fahrenheit)! After that, since I have the string now, I might start on that art project I’ve been threatening for the past few days. I’ve had enough of the sad sack shit for a while. I used to indulge myself for weeks on end with emotions like that, but I just don’t have the patience anymore.
And here’s some good news! I’ve got my Cast link up and working, so if I refer to someone you’ll know who they are, and I also won’t forget what the hell it is I call so-and-so. I’m terrible with names, even if they’re ones that I’ve assigned.
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