It’s warm. I’m safe, though I wish my door locked. I’ve always preferred to have bedroom doors that locked. My sheets are clean. My dog is snoring on my baby blanket next to me. I’m in my underwear I’m splitting my time between working on a poem, and trying to write the most heartfelt apology letter I can write to a person who really deserves it. I periodically stop what I’m doing to do push-ups. Trying to fight through the depression fog and get back into training for real. It’s funny, they always talk about how good exercise is for depression. I feel like everyone neglects how hard it is to want to exercise when you’re depressed.
I feel a little lonely. I feel content. I feel hopeful about the future.
This morning when I woke up, the void felt like it was filling every fiber of my being, just that inescapable and inexorable emptiness that is constantly fighting to fill my body. One of the BPD traits that I struggle the most with is a constant feeling of emptiness. I decided to just name it. “The Void”. Like, if I give that sense of emptiness a name, then it I can identify it as an enemy. After that, I can learn all of it’s weaknesses. Once I have learned the void’s weaknesses, then I can destroy it.
In today’s mission to annihilate the void, I managed to get out of bed and go to work. I managed to do some solidarity work. Then I got to see my sweetie and one of my best friends for a few minutes. After that I spent time with a new friend learning about making music.
In a few minutes, I’ll put on an episode of the twilight zone and fall asleep. Mission accomplished. Another day survived.
I have had this taste lingering at the back of my throat for three days now, bile and bitterness. I feel like bile is trying to escape my body, crawling upwards from my stomach and out my throat. The taste is accompanied by an ever present feeling of nausea. I cannot help but wonder if my body is involuntarily responding to the state of the world we live in, sickness being met with sickness. Every now and then, as I write this I feel like my hand almost involuntarily wants to slam against the table. My body contorts in on itself. I clench my fists, and wonder if my soul isn’t so sick of this shit that it’s trying to crawl out of my skin. I feel like a monster. I think about everything and everyone that I would like to leave in destroyed ruins. The list is currently as monumental as my memory is long.
And I wonder why I don’t get invited to parties.
This morning I woke up feeling invisible, in a cold room and ink-vomiting out the most vulnerable shit I can pull out of me into these pages to hurl into the void of anonymity. I mean, isn’t that what we all want, to have our experiences seen and validated? I fancy myself an archivist, documenting my own insignificant experience of being crushed by mental illness as humanity wars, progresses, exploits itself into screaming extinction. This is what I do on my good days. The bad days, I spend in bed not writing, reading, or otherwise nourishing my soul. I spend the bad days torn between the two very distinct opposing forces. On one side of the polarity I feel completely forlorn and alone, like none of the very real sweetness and love I have experienced is has any substance to it. On the other side of that spectrum I spend, I find myself wanting to annihilate the people I love for seemingly being more happy and successful than I feel like I will ever be.
I feel abusive and hate myself into sleep filled days for this one.
Meanwhile, all these positive thinking motherfuckers talk about letting the love in, or accepting the love we think we deserve, or love trumping hate, or whatever. While they are saying this, I’m trying to remember the last time I felt any sustained amount of empathy or softness. I’m pretty sure it was Friday or Saturday when friends who were hurting needed someone. I mostly have felt lost in a swirling labyrinth of my own pain, scarcely able to notice, let alone empathize with anyone else’s. I hate myself for this as well. Gifted as I am, with a detailed memory, I can remember when sentiment and warmth practically overwhelmed me. I have a harder time remembering precisely when they rotted out of me though. I think it might have been somewhere in North Carolina, or maybe Oakland, Maybe even on the 9th Street Bridge in Minneapolis.
This is the fucking season of collective suffering too. I have been trying to remember the last time the world felt this dark for me. Maybe there is a certain privilege in that, not noticing how dire the situation is until it’s choking the life out of you. I know that is one of the big critiques I’ve heard of the anti-Trump mobilization that is currently underway; that too many of us refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger many marginalized communities have been in for a long time. I am not saying I woke up on the morning of November 9th and suddenly realized that I lived in the belly of a racist, imperialist, and misogynist horror show. I’m just saying I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people around me so hurting, and so scared.
That pain and fear is crushing me. So I stay in my room with the same two Joy Division records playing over and over, and replaying old memories over and over. My current favorites are “Times you mistreated the people you love most of all that you want to remember forever and punish yourself with.”. I compose beautiful and vulnerable apology letters that I might never send. The sound of a person I loved deeply crying into the phone at the sound of my unforgiving words replays itself over and over in the dark, taunting me, nearly drowning out the music. That phone call was years ago now. Lucky me, I still remember it clear as day. I count my blessings. I’m working on learning the lessons.
It’s that time of year again, where I write about you, or write to you. Four years ago tonight you texted me, late at night. I didn’t answer until the next day. By then it was too late. I hope you at least read the reply before you went.
I still have two bottles of mead that Roth and I brewed with the last of your honey. We brewed them in that awful haunted apartment on Grail Street that you and Adrien helped me move into. I’ll never forget the look on your face when we walked through the front door the first day and saw the acid-nightmare graffiti that the hippies who lived there before me left scrawled all over the walls.
“We need to paint all over this shit before it comes to life at night and eats you.”
We all laughed. It was funny in that “Maybe it can’t get any worse than this” way. There were a few months in that apartment that were alright. I liked living alone there. Some days I hid too much. Some nights I was really good at keeping myself occupied.
It was sweet when Molly moved in too. You only came over once more because the place was so creepy. I always look at that summer now in that like they were the last few good months we had before you died. You know how it is, when you end up dividing time in that before and after a person died way. Everything before they died just looks pristine and feels light, even if that wasn’t actually the case.
I felt haunted by the spectre of your death and it’s aftershocks for a full year. It manifested it self physically and I had to leave North Carolina. When I left North Carolina, the mead continued to ferment with Roth in the home they took me into when I got too sick to stay at Grail Street. I came back a year later and we bottled and labeled it. Then we spent the night we creeping around town like nocturnal fairies in the late night heat, delivering the bottles to your friends and loved ones. I think you would have appreciated the design. There was a lot of glitter.
I still have mine. I haven’t drank them yet. Whatever broke in my heart and brain in the aftermath of your passing still won’t allow me to drink alcohol, despite the fact that I maybe stayed drunk for an almost heroic three days straight in the immediate aftermath of your passing. Now I just can’t do it. I’ll start to feel sick and dump the rest of my bottle out. Even last summer, I tried to drink a bottle of hard cider on the banks of the French Broad with Ed. One of my favorite places, with a person I cherish. I took two sips and felt nauseous. I dumped the rest of the bottle into the the rushing water, thinking of it as an offering, and feeling comfort in the thought of all rivers leading to the Ocean.
Or worse, when the alcohol hits my bloodstream and I start to feel that sinking terror that I felt in the aftermath of your passing. You know that gnawing, deep dark existential terror we all feel at some point. We stare into nothing and worry that maybe just maybe, we live our lives for nothing, suffer, and then go into oblivion at the end. There is nothing else. No rhyme or reason, just chaos, violence, and darkness. That feeling happened a lot after you died.
The winter after you died Adrien and I had an end of the world party for ourselves on December 21st, 2012. You know, the night all these annoying ass new age crackers were telling us that the Mayans said the world was gonna end, or change, or whatever. It seemed like nobody could really decide which. I wasn’t sure if I cared. I just knew I was in pain a lot of the time and I hated everything.
We sat in my room on Grail Street. I was cleaning. Cobwebs lined the corners of my room. I didn’t knock them down. I thought of spiders as company. I put things that had belonged to the boyfriend in boxes to throw out. You had lived with him when you passed away. We broke up shortly after your death. It wasn’t sad. I was just ready for something else, and clawing to get away from him.
After that, then I read the runes. I can’t remember what they said. I only remember that it was no comfort. It thought back to a few months before you died in the summer. The day was too hot. You were crying alone in your room. I had never heard anyone be in such pain. I asked the boyfriend if he thought we should go comfort you.
“She’s fine. She just does this sometimes. I’ll check on her later” He said indifferently.
I had to leave because it was too agonizing to hear you hurting so much. I will probably regret not saying anything, or at least offering to bring you snacks, water, just fucking anything for the rest of my life. I thought about that day, and told Adrien I’d be right back. I took the boyfriend’s stuff out to the curb and threw it unceremoniously into the garbage.
Adrien sat in my bed drinking beers. As if he could tell what I was thinking, he mentioned you. Of course. It had only been maybe four months at that point. We talked about you a lot. All of us did. I’d like to think that you could somehow see how utterly beloved you were. I mean, seriously.. People were literally painting the town with your name. I also think you might have been embarrassed. I don’t know. Adrien was so sweet and assured me that they didn’t believe in oblivion, and that you were finally safe.
I just didn’t know. I just didn’t know anything except I missed you and you were gone. The nagging feeling that you had gone into oblivion just wouldn’t subside.
That darkness and emptiness swirled around the apartment all winter. We saw ghosts, but they were all scary, and none of them were you. Maybe you were just so ready to leave earth. I never really blamed you. And who would wanna spend the afterlife visiting the fucking Grail Street apartments, anyway? Sometimes I worry that I spent so much time being miserable in that building that my spirit is just going to gravitate back there when my time is up. Don’t worry. I’m doing everything I can to avoid that outcome.
That last summer in Asheville, mold sick and more depressed than I had ever been, I’d think I heard voices in both my waking hours and my dreams. I never knew if I was hearing an actual malevolent force, or if I just had to personify something that took you.
I got too sick and lost too much of my mind to stay at Grail Street. I moved in with Roth. Sometimes the voices and the panic would come to me there at night. I would lie in bed and claw at a now irregularly beating heart and pray for it to just beat right again. Some nights it just wouldn’t stop raining. The terror would get to be too much and I would lace up my boots in the night and speed over to Ed’s house to hyperventilate in their bed until daylight crept through the blinds. We were both terrified that my heart would somehow stop and death would come for me as I slept.
When I did sleep, I started to sleep with a loaded gun under the bed. I kept a baseball bat in the passenger seat of my truck. I would walk through downtown like a ghost haunting myself; eyes to the ground, fists clenching and unclenching. It was time to move on. It’s not that you were Asheville, but the pall your death cast across everyone I knew became to consuming to stay.
It took two full years of you being gone and a move across the country to feel any sense of lightness about you. Rachel, C-80 and I climbed a mountain on the anniversary of the day you left. We got to the peak late in the afternoon. You cold see for miles around. I whispered hello to you, and I told you how much I had loved you.
And that it was nice to see you again.
Maybe it took going to a place that was just too beautiful for words to feel like there had been anything else but pain and death for all of us.
And I hope you could see it. I really do. Because places this beautiful deserve to be shared with the people you love. And goddamn, were you ever loved. Not just by me, but by everyone who encountered you. Nobody had a bad thing to say about you. That’s a rarity in something as viciously petty and rife with shit talking as the radical queer community.
Every year, I write about you or I write to you. I post the same haunting photo of you. This year won’t be any different. I’m not ready to drink your mead yet. Maybe I’ll give it another six years. In 2022, it will have been ten years since you left. You’d be turning 38. I’ll be 41. If you were alive today, you’d be turning 32 this year. I still don’t resent you for choosing to go. I say it every year. Your death and it’s aftermath devastated me in a way that was almost awe inspiring. It broke me down and left me in pieces in a moldy room.
It broke everyone.
The only choice as to forge ahead through the ruins and reconstruct ourselves into newer and better people. We’ve all got to do that work for the rest of our lives. I know my works in that realm are far from complete. If anything was to be gained at all in the aftermath of your death at all, it’s to be inspired by the level of kindness, deep love, and humor you brought to your friends.
I hope to one day be able to bring even a fraction of the kindness and light to those I love that you showed everyone around you.
It hurts to become. It hurts to outgrow. It hurts to grow back.