… reading (again) … Laing’s “TRIP TO ECHO SPRING” … the morning after …

He’s not sure why … but your favorite blogger (indulge me on this, please) went on a bender after reading about angst-ridden lit legends ruining their lives with alcohol … and now, it’s the morning after. The writers about whom he read are still dead legends and he’s a living … not a legend … and not hungover … but quite … sadness soaked and all-over sticky from webs through which he’s walked and from which he cannot seem to escape.

I don’t drink when I am reading. And by the same token, thanks to an indecorous proclivity toward texts and messages suffused with lugubrious melancholy, humiliating beggary, and relationship ending cases of “the frankies”, I also don’t TYPE when I am drinking. So, I didn’t start my wine intake last night until after having finished Olivia Laing’s “The Trip to Echo Spring” and writing my blog about it (CLICK HERE).

Then I slammed down an entire bottle.

Which did nothing.

wineI wasn’t even a little drunk. I went to bed after one and woke at seven and felt perfectly fine. Normal. Untouched. Which made me suspicious. I have, of late, done a few things while drinking and considering myself “not drunk” that I didn’t entirely (meaning – NOT AT ALL) recall until reminded; that texting/messaging thing and I may have lost or gained some articles of clothing in my “not drunk” travels. This is why I (mostly) gave up Silver Patron.

You would think that someone whose life and low-self-esteem can be partially traced to a father’s fatally drunken date with a telephone pole would be a little more careful.

I am. A little more careful. But, lately, I’m also a little bit more sad. And something about “Echo Spring” made that sorrow worse.

You see, sometimes when house/pet sitting – which, by its nature, requires that I be alone since I am in someone else’s home with someone else’s stuff and pets for which I am responsible – I get into these muddles of the past. Lately, especially since my sister died in October, life and dreams and events have made me feel as if I’m trailing the silks of destroyed cobwebs; those I spun with others in which we lived, those in which we landed not quite by choice but rather by fate. Our webs were spun from genetic compulsion, cosmic accident, entered into in survival mode.

We felt protected there in those intricate incredibly complex and complicated weaves of safety-net we mistook for home. Then, our un-mooring.

Turns out the stuff of our webs was strong – to the point of imprisoning and confining us, even – those mutually manufactured silks of fantasy and co-dependence and enabling love so unyielding and sticky and elastic, it was – we thought – virtually indestructible. Forever.

Well, perhaps, but we had anchored it on beams and foundations that were less permanent; and when the earth under us shook and inclement weather descended, the structure succumbed. There was no web for the “we” of us, no place we could live together any longer.

Still, that ridiculously strong and sticky tensile stuff that drew us together, from which we built our world, that made us who we were, it won’t let loose. Others wonder what it is holding us back, what we refer to when we keen that we cannot break free, cannot find release and relief.  They cannot see that we remain bound by those nearly invisible silks, those chains of strings and strands seen only when the light reflects just right, those bonds we thought were love. That love we now spend such energy trying to wave away.

Oh the effort of pulling at it, trying to get free  results in such dissipation; the deliquescence of denial, denial, DENIAL weakens us into shadows, remnants, echoes, ghosts. I am so incredibly tired some days from the pull and the strain and the diminishment; I wonder how I can go on.

But I do go on. And yesterday – though I spent most of the day reading – I did honor my agreement with myself and spent the beginning of the day into afternoon writing. I then discovered in “Echo Spring” that Mr. Tennessee Williams had done the same thing. And having that in common with Mr. Tennessee Williams sent me into a past-muddle-melancholia of all the other things I had in common with Mr. Williams and some of his more desperate characters, and times I had seen those characters on stage, and with whom and  . . . well, it ended up requiring a bottle of wine (Tom, Menagerie) by evening’s end. That bottle did not get me to Echo Spring (Brick, Cat), sadly, and I spent much of the late night before bed trying not to think of – let alone text – another victim of web-memory (Blanche, Streetcar) and then this morning I woke, fine but feeling so delicate and broken (Laura, Menagerie) only to be confronted by social media sent out by a ghost I miss who sailed away from me and so find myself trapped in the past-muddle (Amanda, Menagerie) and waiting for Frank Merlo or the cap of the dropper on which to choke or …

Oh, look, do read Olivia Laing’s book. Here are some other opinions far more evolved than mine – click on them to go there.

Adam Gopnick in The New Yorker

Rosie Schaap in Slate

Maureen Corrigan on NPR



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