L and P are asleep in my room with me. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is playing softly on the stereo. Okay, P isn’t actually asleep. I just heard quiet laughter and noticed that they are actually looking at memes on their phone. Kids.
While I cannot totally account for where today went, the company of two sleeping friends in my small warm bedroom leaves me feeling more content than I have felt all week. I woke up not feeling well, staring forlornly at the gray sky outside of my window. I can see across downtown, into the West Side, and to the mountains beyond that. Sometimes looking out at this city, I struggle to account for where exactly the last five years went.
I’m thinking about my ex. The one that emailed me a few days ago, who I never seem to feel fully disentangled from. Connections are sometimes so weird and beautiful and painful. We learn the worst and best about ourselves through them. I would feel self-conscious about mentioning them here, if I thought that more than a few individuals read this nonsense, or if I thought they remembered my URL. I guess I also don’t believe in doing anything aside from splaying my messy heart across my throat in lieu of those tattoos I have yet to work up the nerve for. That is to say, with one glaring exception, I don’t really give a fuck who reads this. Vulnerability is strength, and some days feeling everything as hard as I do, vulnerability is the only thing I have going for me.
I daydream about moving home. I live with my chosen family in the mountains, and write and garden. I finish my BFA. I work on journalism, and chronicle this world I love so deeply burning down. I somehow work it out with the various heartaches that have kept me away from home for so long. I try to will it all into being with how much energy I pour into these fantasy scenarios. I wonder if it’s all wasted effort. I wonder if I should leave my bedroom. I realize more and more how comfortable with that great and dark unknown I am. I have no idea what my ex will say in their follow up email. I have no idea what this winter and its travels will hold. I have no idea what my upcoming visit with C is going to be like. I have no idea what changes the spring will hearken.
I have felt strangely comfortable with my solitude lately, almost uncharacteristically so. The burning need to have someone else soften the edges of the void that lives inside of me has receded to faint background noise, a minor discomfort. I want it to stay that way. There is this part of me that doesn’t want to need or want anyone. I just want to be hard and cold and efficient forever. It’s the perpetual BPD dilemma, between feeling everything so hard that it keeps you immobile and doing your best to deaden your nerves just to get through the day. What a hilarious joke it is to know that the answer lies within a middle path, but to be cursed with a way of seeing the world that often leaves room for only two extremes.
Right now, I just feel strong and content. The void feels like a pinprick rather than a gaping wound. I am happy writing these words, essentially a reminder of how to breathe and a love note to myself and listening to a record I have been listening to for 18 years while two of my favorite people drift off to sleep around me. The room is filled with music, magic, and friends. My window opens to a view of a city I have always hated, but have strangely come to love in the most adversarial ways. I know I will get out of here one day, just like I know years from now I will remember time spent in this room and with these people with an unvanquishable fondness.
I dream of escaping the rain and the petty bickering of my so-called community almost daily. I dream of some grand escape. Some more contented life waiting for me out there. I feel like I have been going through the motions and missing a sense of home for five years now, ever since I came to this city all broken and fucked up. My first winter here, I used to panic sometimes when the sun went down. I would literally work myself up into a fear that it might never rise again. Tonight the clouds blot out the stars, like so many nights before. I always talk about nights here as abyssally dark. The cloud cover cuts off the light from the stars and the moon, and you get the feeling as if the sky might reach down to swallow you whole. There are candles lit, and my friends are snoring, and it is enough to keep the sky from swallowing us.
Maybe if I got out of bed and went for a walk, I would be able to find some comfort out there, some semblance of kinship and solidarity on the cold street, beneath the streetlights. The other night, L and I walked home through downtown. During our walk, we passed two different tent cities. Both of them are a few blocks away from one another and prominently located downtown. It felt like walking through a warzone of human suffering, the ultimate expression of an endless low intensity class warfare.
I thought back to sitting next to the water beneath a burning yellow sky, thick with wildfire smoke this summer on my first date with C. Such a strange feeling of giddy first date nerves and impending doom at the thought of just how much of the Pacific Northwest was currently on fire. C and I talked about the perpetual state of crisis wrought by late capitalism and the hopelessness it breeds. Always a visitor to this city, never a denizen, they commented on the tent cities as well. They weren’t here five years ago when C last came through town, because most of these folks had homes and jobs. Yuppie scum, and business owners want to front like some horrible moral decline exists within their city causing people to sleep on the street, all the while blissfully ignoring the conditions that breed desperation, homelessness, and grinding poverty.
C’s last night in town, we went to the store to procure ingredients to make dinner. We had parked at separate entrances and I was walking back to my car alone when I noticed the moon, low dirty and red in the sky above us. I texted C “Look at the moon!” and they responded with “I was just thinking the same thing at you!”. I appreciated the quirky tenderness of the moment, given the gnawing dread that accompanied the rust colored moon.
Driving home, I thought about my first affinity group. Shit. I guess it was actually my second. We named our first affinity group “Wet Hot” because my friends and I all quoted the movie Wet Hot American Summer at one another incessantly on the road to the protest we were headed to. It served as a brief moment of levity in the coming days of fleeing riot cops and clouds of tear gas in the searing California sun to yell “Wet Hot!” any time we got separated in hectic streets. Or to announce “This is the Wet Hot affinity group reporting in” at nightly spokes council meetings.
“Blood Red Moon Crew”. More of a loose knit group of vandals and street artists, all obsessed with the apocalypse. The name stemmed from one of us who was raised Christian in the sterile Denver suburbs. Late one night she remembered a sermon quoting a bible verse where a moon the color of blood heralded the end of all things. We had the name of our crew. Young and desperate, eyes pried awake from the complacent sleep and naiveté of childhood, but still immersed in youth. We were awakening into a world we fervently believed to be burning down. We spent countless hours hunched over typewriters and drawing boards, skating to the Xerox machine and back, writing our missives and warnings to anyone who would listen.
Tonight I’m thinking about love and loss. About moving on. About sickness and anxiety. About what fifteen years lived in the last days have done and how a moon the color of rust is pretty close to the color of blood. I’m thinking about how times seem desperate in such a way that makes our restless youth seem quaint and comfortable. I’m thinking about how everyone I love is scared, and I don’t know where to be.