It’s hard to write this because I don’t really want to, but there is a deep, high-pitched voice in the back of my head that tells me I need to.
There is nothing more unreliable than memory, and nothing more valuable. We are a compilation of stories constantly crafted and rewritten by the second. Walking, unstable machines plagued with the consequences of emotion.
Every person has multiple versions of themselves: our own personalities are split into multiple directors commanding the narratives of who we actually are, who we want to be, and who we believe we are.
Some men are going to look at you and wonder about the others before him. Some people will look at you and summarize the entirety of who you are to the people who’ve touched you, kissed you, fucked you.
I grew up surrounded with the idea that the more of me I shared, the less of me there was left. That I was some kind of pie or cake or confectionary made for consumption. A math problem about how many pieces I could be cut into before there was nothing.
The mark of growing older is the realization that everything you want is just an echo of something you used to have.
People come to me after their loved ones died–looking for solace, asking for comfort, wondering how to reallocate grief.
How do I tell them that there is no answer? That at twelve, the only solace was found underneath damp eyelids and soaked pillows? That the only comfort was the belief in the unconsciousness; that the only allocation of grief was from my heart to my mind until I forced my own, sick, manic responsibility for your death?
There is no refuge for your only fear; there is no answer to your own mortality. One day your heroes will die and become your memories. One day your heroes will die and lay beneath the soil you’ll watch strange men bury. One day your heroes will die–and you’ll be the only part of them left living.
The way you held me the morning after; how you forgot the night before.
I like to pretend that I’m OK–that I’m better now; that what you were was a burn that scabbed and bled but eventually healed.
I can feel the slow palpitations in my heart when someone says a name that sounds like yours.
They remind me of the ones that once echoed into your chest. The ones you used to touch when they surfaced through each of my ribs. The ones that you cultivated in your hands; with your lips–the ones you bred from inside of everything I had once though was mine.
The ones that still belong to you.
So I wonder now: the parts of me that you took; the me that didn’t return.
I’ve been different. Less lovely, less impressive–less in love. More eager, more helpless, more obsessive–more lost.
I remember San Francisco. I remember New York; LA, Miami, but how it’s Toronto, still, that has the you I can’t forget and the me that I could never find.
If I had done nothing wrong, how could we never be right? Which part of me should be thrown away? Which part of me made everything of me worth forgetting?
I want to tell you there’s been nobody after you. Nobody that mattered. Nobody that felt significant. Nobody that reminds me of the 5am through your eyes. The 6am through your lakeside balcony.
The 7am me in your mouth.
Nobody that feels like you at night
and smells of me in the morning.
I keep rereading all of my old drafts, wondering when it was that I was happiest or saddest, when it was that I actually felt something.
I can’t write like I used to, because my thoughts are preoccupied repeating the last moments of you there.
The problem with art and writing is that it’s born from a level of intelligence, but it’s all colored by emotion. By feeling: by the way you make me tremble at two in the morning, by the way you make me break at two in the afternoon.
It’s been weeks, and I know I can make it seconds if I picked up the phone. If I can do you from more than memory alone.