Yesterdays Like Today

imageYesterdays like today have got me thinking I should write a will. Looking back on my days, there is a paucity of the stuff life is made of and a foibled visage of battle. Much like the robust puff of pastel cotton candy, the carnival of my health disintegrated once greeting the tongue of illness. The sweet granules of sparkle that glittered within a child brimming with golden fringe were swallowed and never to be seen again.

I hereby bequeath my…ginger haired- guinea pig? College diploma? Seashell speckled photo frame to…. whom? My eyes scan a room scarce with belongings, but trinkets are not the flavor of accolades I’m after. My gaze pauses on my mother who is perched on the rumpled corner of my bed. Within her, the skeleton of a hallowed tree trunk mirrors back at me, contrasting with the patient outpouring of love that seems never to ebb. It flows on and on, a paragon of consistency among a trove of trauma.

Should I end up in a critical state, in the last place a sick person like me belongs; call nobody, I inform her. Later, on my own I will permit myself a slice of heartache cake over the fact that this is the type of conversation we are having. Somewhere in another wrinkle of reality, she and I are preening over the sprouting seed in my belly, recollecting the barefoot reverie of my beach nuptials to the kind of man she always dreamed I’d come to know. We are permitted the privilege of warbling on about things, factoids, I cannot even fathom that instead of orbiting a need to cling to this life’s landscape, roll on across a measured terrain.

“Are you sure?”, her cerulean irises gaze up at me, adorned by twin fans of full lashes. A name blinks over my mind, throbbing like the neon pulse of a crosswalk sign. I blink once, twice, three times, attempting to swipe the windshield of my outlook clear. Like the stubborn lever on my childhood etch-a-sketch, the wiper stalls, leaving a shadowed drip of a name.

“I can’t live through that twice”, I say. A tumble of forbidden memories rises like a ghost from a grave, my almost grave. I need not to elaborate further, but I do. “I can’t have you call that person only for him not to come.” The words lack emotion, rising from me as an afterthought, disappearing like trellises of bubbles as they mix with the air.

Again, the name whooshes over me, more insistent as the letters seem to animate with texture. Before I can banish them, a bludgeoning like a searchlight strobes over me, brandishing weapons cloaked in invisibility as the looming blows begin to take shape. Accustomed to the assaults that inch in upon me like spells, I resolve not to capitulate. No matter the vigor of my defense, though, I know that the forces upon me, inside of me, have got me like a loaded gun. Truce, I want to yell, to holler at a decibel reserved for fire alarms. TRUCE! Lets stop this demolition. Get out of my life; I don’t belong to you.

It’s too late, though, this round leans and slopes in their favor and I am too many toos to yell. My eyes grow hot, burn from pupil to lashes and I stare emptily at the stark canvas ahead. If these walls could talk, they would cry instead. Big, sloppy tears of surrender. Because I can’t anymore. I’ve got nothing, nothing but yesterdays like today and today’s like tomorrow.

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Cut Whole Again

image“I don’t want to be here,” says the human on the other side of the phone. I envision entwining my fingers in the invisible coil of a phone line to reel this person closer. And closer, yet into my fish tank bubble where ribbons of color glow like faraway lighthouse beacons on the other side of the glass.

“I don’t want to be here, either,” I all but choke on the words. The propulsion of poison snaking through me, paired with the desperate finality of conviction behind my voice frightens me. The whir and tap, tap, tapping of machinery in the background as he continues about his work is startling at first. Then, it adopts a melodic hum, shifting like steps to a dance with predictability and rhythm that almost soothe me. Almost.

In every way, you’d expect the air to emulsify with the confession that I’m bucking against the confines of my own being, it does not. Unbridled by silence, the chinks of my mind find one another, engage and kick up a horsepower of banter. Like the ping pong here, there, here, there sharing of space, our words swipe across an invisible divide that for minutes, pulls him closer.

But, despite my effort to impregnate these rare moments of precious sanctity with a lingering homage they so deserve, the togetherness feeling they bestow upon me fades. And I am again pressing my palms to the cool glass of my fish tank cylinder begging to come out, or for the pulse of vitality out there, to come in.

Come over, I all but pantomime to him from where I sit, pajama-clad as I mindlessly update him on my status. Die-off, insomnia, detox, pain. Torrents of betrayals by my body gush from me, details he doesn’t need or probably even want to know.

Here is what I don’t say: that among a shelf laden with pills, I can’t find a single substance to fill the emptiness that being without people has carved out; that the stings of solemnity have congealed into a giant welt for which the only salve must be solidarity. Desperation lends a hue of bland purple to most of my existence these days, puttering on but going nowhere like a bruise caught between rising to the skin’s surface or returning to the roots from where it came. This desperation, though, were it a color, would flame fiercely in a palette of metallic beckoning with shades of discord and promise.

“You should be in the place where I am,” I blubber mindlessly.

“Doesn’t sound like a fun place to be.” A snarky comeback effervesces but I drag it down. Exactly, I think. That is why you should be there, in that place deprived of fun. Because being with you is more than an analgesic to kill the pain. Your company strobes sun across the wrong and repairs it into right.

I imagine the pressing of paper chain people in on one another, the cookie cutter uniformity of their still unspread forms condensed and swaddled with the unity of their kind. I think that in a simplified way, their cohesion, tactile connection is something I need. The entropy may be chipped away by the muscle memory of how to live again. I want to cast lines out to the beautiful, thrumming life inside of my friend; to sew us together piece by piece, into a duo that once fortified by one another, steadies us closer to free.

The fragments craving enrichment in him may borrow from those sustaining in me. A conundrum of crossed pathways gnarled into unyielding pretzels in me, will unfurl themselves from fists into open palms. We paper chain people will re-emerge as vital beings, charting our own ways forward, hand in hand.

“Self Portrait,” by E.b. Fromkes

People You Die With

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Call it morbid, but I am on a quest to find the people I’ll die with. Occupying one’s time with the constant companion of thriving infections induces such ponderings. I would imagine that a person gifted with health and the sweet drip of time like warm honey would engage sugarplum thoughts of seeking company to build with. But she is not me; she’s not at the mercy of this maelstrom circling a sick cycle carousel around and around me. Contrary to the beating life inside of me, the insatiable armies of invaders close in, day after day and many times they nearly succeed in snuffing the pulse that is me, out.

So, in the way that years of survival seem to have left me cocking my head in wonder at the saccharin ease healthy folk parade along with, I tend to approach related inquiries in the same way. Finding people to live with, to expand, savor what simmers within you with dependency would be simple.

But what about a life filled with death? Mine has cultured isolation and palpable estrangement from friends, family and myself. Like the dry retching I’ve spent years recoiling from, the ripples of recognition that those you live with and those you die with may not be the same crowd, reverberate.

To say that I crash from the precipitous ledge on which I hover every single day is not a dramatization. It is only natural, then, I think for me to want someone to hold my hand on the way down. Again and again.

So, lie down with me on this sunny day and be my somebody to die with. Be here with me as I am tossed like a rag-doll, jerked this way and that by the surf. Wade in until you’re eyes deep with me today, tomorrow, maybe for a a while, until the dying is done and the life will begin again.

“Remember Not to Forget,” painting by E.b. Fromkes.