Retreat, revisited (of Evelyn Waugh and Sylvia Townsend Warner)

bridesheadI am in retreat again. The world. The world. I am less and less good at or useful to today, the now. I can’t much live here, where we are. And so, I’ve buried myself in I’ll Stand By You: The Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner & Violet Ackland. Their love, so beautiful. Not the kind I have ever had, nor will likely ever have. No, I am more the Brideshead Revisited sort of fellow. Yes. That.

I'll Stand By YouMore and more in life I feel like Sebastian must have felt after Charles, no longer fascinated, had moved on. Whereas Lord Flyte took to drink, debauchery, and dissolution via Moroccan bacchanal, my intemperate indulgences are less salacious, more dilatory unto death, less choice than chance, a failed lechery resulting in wantonness of a literary nature. Alas, I am a small-scale, tiny-cosmos flaneur, bemoaning that the world is too much with me even as I tunnel deeper and deeper into this solitary cave of my own making from which, some day, perhaps, I will be exhumed. But unlike Tutankhamun with his treasures gold, chariots, thrones, jewels, and ostrich feathers, the disturbance of which forever after cursed those who dared intrude, all that will be left of me is a pile of books and page after page after page of scribble and dribble, proof of my own cursedness; by which I mean I have been cursed and am a cursed old-cuss of a profaning, furious, histrionic renouncer of god and stars and fate and fortunes of the found, lost, and mis- varieties.

brideshead-love-sceneLast night, washing my face, looking in the mirror, I wept. The contours my life has left there, shaped and worn and formed by what feels too-long a time, that slow accumulation of waste, the haggard deterioration evident in the landscape of this body that sleeps so often in other people’s beds; alone. Hired to watch their treasures. Beds of Queen and King size of which I use barely one side, and next to me, there in all the empty, I tuck and pile my clothes, my books, my notepads, my stuff-of-tombs, which is what I have to keep me warm. Or, rather, as warm as that man in last night’s mirror — fifty-four years old and never loved in a King-sized bed way — has managed.

I am so very much like that exhausted Sebastian; Lord Flight, though, rather than Flyte, and not to a Tunisian monastery, but rather, to this, blogging to the few followers, my Twitter-world (which is, indeed, grand) but sadly not even an Aloysius for companionship.

The day calls. My reality; I’ve two books on hold at my local bookshop but I can’t pick them up until the check from the last house-sitting gig arrives, which is now, more than a week past the date I expected it. I’ve four books on hold at the library but want to return at least two before picking up more. Because of house-sitting and holiday and now my back being twisted out while trying to manually up and down a broken garage door, I’ve not been gymming enough and have re-gained some weight I’d lost and lost muscle-tone I’d gained– so, not only will I not be loved, I won’t even be temporarily pretend-loved by fellows in the hit and run business. That in mind, must to the gym and struggle through machines at least, then grocer for anchovies, prunes, and hydrogen peroxide — diet essentials.

Oh Aloysius, where are you?

And so, I go, here where I am, here where we are, going.

 

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