Admittedly, these days, I’m a little bit lost. I can grasp a thing, yet I can’t quite hang on to it. It isn’t that I let it fall away. It releases me or discards me, and I drift again.
I want to work: I work all the time.
I thrive on work: I want to thrive on contributing, quality, and recognition.
I want work that is official: I want compensation that asserts my value.
I want my name on payrolls: weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, four-weekly, monthly. Even the bonus payroll, as it used to be, when I knew myself in cursive, signing letters to those I loved.
I want to write. I want to see and write, to read and write, to walk and write, to make love and write.
In this, I have not changed. In everything else I have changed. In both, I have aged.
* * *
I can’t remember what it felt like to assume. I can’t remember what it felt like to be glib. Admittedly, I assumed and was glib. Once.
Yes, there is my name. Yes, there are my sons. Yes, there is history that clothes me, there are objects that illustrate me, and collisions that narrate me. Yes, of course I have changed.
Admittedly, I’m tired. Four consecutive nights now, with insufficient sleep. Fatigue pervades everything. Weariness is the reason I begin to disappear, the reason that old people disappear, the reason my grandfather decided it was time to go at ninety three years of age. Enough. He was ready for sleep, worn out, and then he was gone.
* * *
It’s Tuesday, and there are 80 miles of highway and rural roads to take my son to painting class, to wait, to walk a little if I can, to write at a small table in a coffee shop, to gather up my son and come back home as evening bears down on my limbs. Damn this arm and back. Damn this fatigue. Damn the names that slip away as sleep deprivation robs me of me.
Sometimes we are part of what leaves us. Sometimes, we are not.
* * *
Admittedly, Tuesday I am angry, and too worn for active anger. Too many days, this throbbing; too many days, this over-the-counter med that helps a little, with fleeting effects.
Like love. Sometimes, like love. Usually, like love.
* * *
Love comes in variations. We dare to delineate the types of love, to count them out and label them. We place them all, gingerly (for love is fragile), in a few small baskets. Too few. Yet we persist; we mark one basket with “romantic love,” where we prepare it for something delicate or spectacular. Then we title it “true love.”
But there are many types of love, like types of pain. They have names, some of which I know and some of which I fabricate: illusion love, history love, momentary love, transition love, evolving love, echo love, phantom love, crazy love.
I know about illusion love, which you experience with a spouse or partner as you imagine them to be. You refashion them in your mind so you can stay, convinced that all is well. Sometimes, we call illusion love “marriage.”
I know about history love; it is what my father felt for my mother. Hers was illusion love; his was not rocking the boat, respect for shared decades and joined families. This, too, we sometimes call “marriage.”
Momentary love may be my best event; sometimes it is true love (which I cannot define), but true love that doesn’t last. Sometimes it is passion, and the euphoria that spreads lavishly through blood and tissues like hallucinations. Sometimes it flares for a night, sometimes settles in for a month, sometimes crowns, bursts forth, soars, and flies its colors brightly, then fades.
Transition love is what we experience after heartbreak. But heartbreak isn’t about the heart, though the pain seems to burn from the center of the body. Heartbreak is a tangling of the senses and the mind as capacity disintegrates. It is the slow process of searching for capacity again, for the pieces of self we recognize that do our bidding, pieces to reassemble into some configuration that will function: legs swing out from the bed, the torso follows, arms and hands wash the face and brush the teeth.
Transition love glues the new configuration into place, albeit temporarily. It solidifies the structure, so functioning becomes mechanical again. Acts of love reinstall themselves, so we can recall their shape and their usage.
Evolving love is hopeful, and sometimes surprising. It is a gradual climb upwards – a dash of this, a sprinkle of that. It is the speck, then the grain of rice, then the wriggling, emergent form of a developing fetus. We don’t know its true name or its true face.
Echo love is for those who have passed beyond our reach. One way or another, they have gone silent.
Phantom love is similar, but absence has yet to process. It is filled with the pain of departed mass, pain of befuddlement, pain like the amputated limb. We know the limb is lost, but the suffering will not stop.
Crazy love ignites feats of unprecedented strength, spontaneous acts of creation, fiery lovemaking, irrational declarations, feverish nights racing to swallow up the breath and organs and heat of the one we are probably viewing through the eyes of illusion, but no matter – we’re crazy in love.
* * *
My grandfather decided to sleep, not to not wake up, to finally rest. 65 years with his wife and four without; he knew all sorts of love: history love, phantom love. I imagine he also knew crazy love.
* * *
It’s Tuesday, and there are 80 miles of highway to travel for my son, and rural roads where I get lost for my son, and all that I would do again for my son – over and over again. I wonder if he will change his palette today. I wonder if he will allow the colors to guide him. Last week he leaned toward gray and gold. I long for gold and red, the vibrancy of red. The audacity.
At least there is heat. Hideous, heavy, blessed near-midsummer heat. To penetrate my bones. To bathe my tissues.
Next week the heat will cure me once and for all. Next week the heat will linger in my shoulder joints, meander through my muscles, settle in my hips and I will dance again, in my sleep, in this healing heat. The lover’s heat that burns away the pain.
* * *
Admittedly, it’s not a good day.
There are good days and bad days.
It is not a good day.
* * *
Friendship love is another sort of love, a source of warmth. It can last forever, like parent love if you’re fortunate. Like child love, in spite of everything.
It’s Tuesday, and there are 80 miles of road ahead, then 80 miles of road to reach home, knowing I will get lost, and knowing we will get home. I wonder if my son will paint in gold and red.