With Regrets –

by dschapman

As it was, summer was come and was staying. I found myself growing old and lonely. I found myself growing bitter and unafraid, and to be without fear is without drive or desire. I felt nothing, but absolute encompassment, and it did me no good. I found myself in the midst of profound supercedings, and they were subduing me. So I felt within myself for something to lift me out of it, out of the angst and back into a colorful vigor. Then, as of now, I was loveless. I thought, then, that lovelessness would go away. I thought it was summer, the world braised in heat, and I thought I would simply arise from my drab into something more splendid.

It took an earnest, optimistic compulsion to save me, something with energy and tender, eager need. Someone that wasn’t the people I knew, the life that I slipped in, was stuck in. And there was someone, a woman, who so truly and fruitfully compelled me. I saw her a self that I knew long before me, back in the days of adjacent entireties, of mornings and evenings and long lovely nights, of tomorrows and yesterdays and even to-days… I daydreamed about her often. When I was near her, as once or twice I was near her, I was glad, and was total, and in touching her (as once, in the dark, for a serendipitous blink, was I touching her) I rose above all knowing into true and fruitful totality, the absorptive conditions of empathy, adoration, of happy and honest conviction, of sacrifice, devotion. I was sure of her; she inspired me. She was someone who could save me, someone to make me whole again… I had given up hoping for wholeness, but now there were glimmers of hope. I was glad of her, of the opportunity to know her, though then, as though now, I hardly knew her.

Yes, she compelled me, and I arose on my glowing compulsion to action. I [Interruption: They came to the door and they gave me a gift wrapped in wallpaper. I thanked them for it and invited them in. I didn’t know how to react accurately, I hadn’t prepared for this. My mind was in all manner of different places, with I the only occupant, the defense of nihilism, the colors of summer, paper and string marionettes, et cetera. And her, of course. To know you is to love you, and I do. But this was something different. My mind couldn’t come back to earth, too clear of the visceral truth. I tried to smile for them, though I was angry, and heart-broken, because of the letter I’d just received in the mail… He had seen the letter, too, which was embarrassing. He already knew it, knew it was the end of me. They came to the door and I grabbed the letter off of my desk and locked it into my desk-drawer. I invited them in for a drink so we drank in the kitchen, speaking quickly, spending a moment discussing ideas. I was really suffering. I drudged up whatever I could for ideas, formed them however adequately they would form, almost forming themselves. By the end I was stuttering, my eyes rolling up in my head, tongue wiggling. I was making myself sick, even sicker than usual, so I decided to part with my love and the marionettes, and come back down to earth with the good human beings. I straightened my back, cleared my throat, and thoroughly composed myself. I acted like I wasn’t heart-broken. It was the best I could do. And the music was still playing, and the sun was shining, too. I didn’t know how I was supposed to react. The doorbell rang. It kept on ringing. I was drunk and knew what was happening, but I wanted to be through with it. I was heartbroken; that is not the way to treat a heart-broken man. He should be in bed, in perpetual safety, master of nothing, fully inhibited. The doorbell kept ringing so I excused myself from my company, left them drinking and thinking and laughter, unhealed, and I answered it. I knew who it was, and why he was there, and I was glad of it. He is a good man and I’m glad for him. But also I was sick, too scared to be confident. I hated that I was there, to answer the door, to involve myself with something without me. I thought of the letter in my drawer. Was that the end of it? Was that my destiny, then; am I dead for it? I took my wallet out of my pocket and opened it up. I thumbed through the bills, unknowing, unsure of the value of numbers. Why was my hand in my wallet? I pulled out two bills, the two that I may have or not ever meant to pull out, and handed them to him, to the man at the door, when I opened it. It was the lawnmower man, and he does good work, and he keeps my lawn well-kept. I handed him money and made a bad joke, or laughed at a joke, or something like laughing, and then I thanked him and said, Take care, and I closed the door.] decided to write her a letter. I would write her a letter! She was it, and that was the end of it, and I could do something or nothing, so I would do something, or die nonetheless for it. I thought of something nice to talk about. I thought about carousels, and softness, and trees. That is, I thought about things I’d experienced, niceties made up of me, and how I’d risen with them, with these eloquent personal things, above all knowing. I was feeling gentle, and I was feeling honest, swept up in a calm, gentle honesty. I stood up from my desk and I stretched with my hands by my back in the window, swallowing sunlight through smiling eyes. Crow’s feet, like canals of light and shadow. I felt like I had something to say, and maybe just someone to say it to, someone who would be interested, someone to understand, unknowing. Maybe she would read it, and she would be glad for it, and that would be something. I would be real, and believable, and maybe in turn she’d believe me. Maybe it would seem romantic – or simple and sweet, a forgivable dream, lost fancies. Maybe it would be worse… but maybe she would sit down in the sun and respond to it. Maybe she would open it, and smile, and even write back to me. She would draw something nice for me – I drew something nice for her, at least. It embarrasses me, now, the things that I drew, the words that I wrote. What was I thinking, then? Didn’t I know any better than that?  But I meant every word of it then. I was in love with it, with the whole notion of someone I could talk to, of someone to write to, someone to love and be loved by… She would write to me back, and that would be that, I could be glad again. Well… of course I was being ridiculous, and even then I must have known it… but I felt at the end of my line. I was ready to write her a letter; I was in love with the letter, the written ideal, and I was at one with it, there was no way not to now. I was destined to it, I felt fate in it, tempting and often lamented; I had lost the will to speak, to breathe, without her, without writing her, and so I sat down to write to her.

Afterwards, I sat back in my chair, and I whistled a lullaby, and folded it up in an envelope. I took up a stamp, and I licked it, and I set it into place in the corner. But then I had to stop myself; I needed an address if I wanted to mail her a letter, and I knew no addresses. Poetry and humility and sincerity weren’t enough for my love, to communicate, neither were drawings, despite all my lucid allusions, the names of the lovers and kings… I needed a name on an envelope, a street and a city and homestead. I needed her address. Without it, I had nothing, and I would never know her address, and how was I supposed to know that? I could discover it – but it didn’t feel right to discover it. I decided not to. But my friend, who had been watching me lately with worry, approached me, and discovered my plan. Instead of laughing at me, or shaking his head, he gave me her address. He encouraged me… so I swallowed my doubts and my inadequacies, I sealed off the envelope with my final line of saliva, and I sent it away with the mailman.

And the mailman sent it back to me. He had covered my drawings with stickers and stamps. He had crossed out some numbers and written in question marks. It came back to me… as it was always meant to be. I knew it, then, that that was it, and that was it all along, and I had no business to hope for none better…  That was it, then. Whatever could ever happened was never now going to be, and nothing ever was. It was nothing, but this, and the end of it. It was time, then, to settle in. I was ready for winter; in the long heat of summer, when my fate was unknown, and I could dream of her reading my mail, and dream of her sending mail back to me, or saving mail close, or even just throwing it out, though knowing, and never then forgetting… then, in delusion, I swam in the heat, living swimmingly, sweetly alive with the summer. Summer could go on forever, it would never bother me. Or so it went… But now, in the abject finality, I am humble, and I am bothered, and sickly afraid of the sun. Now, I am blinded, and my head is left aching, and the hours are long and the cars always dirty. Now, I am incongruous. It has become the summer of discontent, not the summer of life, of romance, of recovery. There could have been divine new beginnings, circles drawn outside of circles; instead I just spiraled down deeper within, into oldness, into selfness unbothered by people or time; dead, old consistency. I am waiting for winter, I am waiting to wear long pants again, to put on my coats and my hats and my tall winter boots, alone in my den with the fireplace burning, the ice on the windows, crying alone – I am waiting for winter to make me feel whole again, and congruous.

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