Last night at ten p.m. I began moving my bedroom furniture. Comes the urge, I cannot rest until it’s done. I have been this way — with furniture and urges — for as long as I can remember. Even as a very young child I was one to rearrange things, make rooms new, find unique ways of positioning things to change the feel and flow of my living spaces.
Or my life.
It was just such an urge caused my retreat from Twitter three weeks ago. I thought to be gone a few hours, a day at most, but what I’d expected to be a brief respite turned into a discovery about my addiction and dependency and delusions and the amount of energy they were requiring, and the degree to which I was using a fantasy-life to avoid facing my daily physical reality.
The Twitter departure, coupled with an avoidance of as much news and media as possible, has left me with expansive periods of time and heartspace to fill. But, after a day or two, I realized the “urge” was about not filling those hours or assuaging the loneliness with a substitute diversion, but rather, to live in them, to live in me and who and where I am, be with me. Be me.
One must be careful about loving and connecting with people as an effort to avoid loving and connecting with one’s self.
Then, as I configured my bedroom into the shape it whispered to me it wanted to take, I began receiving texts from a sometimes-lover of whom I have grown fond, who is fond of me. He was the first of my many liaisons who was interested — nay, relentless in his determination to break through my “No Strings Attached” stand. We know one another’s real names, have shared some life details, and much to my surprise, we are comfortable in our togetherness and its apartness — we both understand that we can never be more than a same time, next year sort of thing — and, as has ever been my life story, he comes to me now mostly when he needs comforting or affirmation or courage. As has ever been my life story, he sees me as this very strong, very powerful, very wise sort of being, whereas, there I was, in week three of a retreat from the world (for which, I finally got it, Twitter was just a metaphor), trying to find a better, truer shape for my room, not having any idea where I am — in a larger metaphysical sense — or, even, if I want to know where I am (or am going) and he, meanwhile, is coming to me for advice.
He calls me “my love” though we are both perfectly clear that in love is not something we will ever do or be with one another, and I made him feel safe — hundreds of miles away though he is — again, in his world; a world I don’t even know if I believe exists. Or, rather, he is trying to make his way in a world which I no longer believe has much value or purpose. But he believes it does, and so, I play along. I prop him up. I listen. I hear.
When finally at 2a.m. he said he needed to sleep, we said far away goodnights and whispers of missing, knowing because of my schedule I had to get up at 5:30am I should have gone to sleep.
Instead, I cried.
I was not crying because I was unhappy; although, had we been born at different times in different circumstances, dangerous thought, what might have been? I was not crying because I was happy; although, it comforts me to know that as little faith as I have in my worth or the value of my existence or the existence of his world, it does me good to know I can matter to another.
But, no, not happy or un, I was crying because I am tired.
So many have ridden away. So many defeats I have known. I have edited and retreated and closed down and surrendered and tried to reconcile myself to where I am, have never been, will never be, and still, this empty space I try to make to let my heart and soul live free, at last, still, always, filling with grief.
Which took me then, at 2am, to Auden.
ABLE AT TIMES TO CRY
by W.H. Auden
Wrapped in a yielding air, beside
The flower’s soundless hunger,
Close to the tree’s clandestine tide,
Close to the bird’s high fever.
Loud in his hope and anger.
Erect about his skeleton,
Stands the expressive lover,
Stands the deliberate man.
Beneath the hot incurious sun,
Past stronger beasts and fairer
He picks his way, a living gun,
With gun and lens and bible,
A militant enquirer,
The friend, the rash, the enemy,
The essayist, the able,
Able at times to cry.
The friendless and unhated stone
Lies everywhere about him,
The Bothered-One, the Not-Alone,
The bothered and the hated
Whose family have taught him
To set against the large and dumb,
The timeless and the rooted,
His money and his time.
For mother’s fading hopes become
Dull wives to his dull spirits
Soon dulled by nurse’s moral thumb,
That dullard fond betrayer
And, childish, he inherits,
So soon by legal father tricked,
The tall impressive tower,
Impressive, yes, but locked.
And ruled by dead men never met,
By pious guess deluded,
Upon the stool of madness set
Or stool of desolation,
Sits murderous and clear-headed;
Enormous beauties round him move,
For grandiose is his vision
And grandiose his love.
Determined on Time’s honest shield
The lamb must face the tigress,
Their faithful quarrel never healed
Though, faithless, he consider
His dream of vaguer ages,
Hunter and victim reconciled,
The lion and the adder,
The adder and the child.
Fresh loves betray him, every day
Over his green horizon
A fresh deserter rides away,
And miles away birds mutter
Of ambush and of treason;
To fresh defeats he still must move,
To further griefs and greater,
And the defeat of grief.