My stubborn life. Not too much different from anyone else's life, yet not the same as anyone else's life. All these experiences and emotions, all this sense of purpose, it all leads to the same common, universal thing in the end. Love.

But why? Isn't life so much more than love? Maybe life isn't anything more than love. But love is as clear as glass. Tiffany glass, that is. Casting the melancholy glow of a setting sun into a disheveled, abandoned church. Like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. Love is so painful, but it's never hopeless. It endlessly repeats, as humanity itself seems to do, through the rolling wheel of generations, through the same cycle of patterns, endlessly bittersweet.


***


"You wanted the honey...but you were only just stinging yourself
 It's hard to watch"
 - Ryan Adams


Ash, I want you to listen. I want to tell you about Andrew. He was such an amazing person when I knew him...he still is. But he's searching so frantically for these things like knowledge and truth that it's keeping him from being able to find anything. He's in a pretty tough situation right now, and he's definitely gone through some things that are worth being bitter about. I can't really blame him for losing so much perspective. But he has.

I think he's attached his thirst for knowledge to his sense of purpose. That's so unhealthy. It's not as if he's constructing something within his own mind, building upon some kind of foundation. He's trying to drink from an ocean which is growing at a much faster rate than he could ever take in. And he will inevitably lose everything he could ever gain. I'm afraid that his purpose will turn into obsession. I'm afraid it already has. I'm afraid he will try to replace things in his life that can't be replaced, or that he's already trying to do so. I'm afraid that his thirst will replace him.

I mean, I don't want to sound like a bad friend here. I can respect that learning is important to him, and I know that he's learned so much. But...learning is not the same as understanding. I know that might not make sense, but it's true. To learn is to absorb a pre-existing idea or perspective. With it you also absorb the faults and limitations of perspective like bias and bad logic and inconsistency. Learning requires a kind of trust, it's inherently incomplete and it can never account for the bigger picture.

But understanding is simpler than this, because it comes from observing and experiencing something for oneself. Understanding doesn't need to be considered or calculated or processed in any way through the inherently flawed human mind. Understanding is whole, and instant, and seamless. It simply is. The mind has to be tempered, almost blunted in a way, in order to allow for understanding. I don't know that Andrew will ever be capable of this.

I told Andrew once that there are some things you can see but still not understand. He told me that you can also feel those things, and that feeling is a deeper kind of understanding. But see, I know that what Andrew said wasn't something he truly understood. It was something he had learned. Something that was given to him, among many other things, from a person he once loved so dearly. The idea that feeling is a deeper kind of understanding was something that he chose to believe, something he turned into knowledge in his own mind, but that's not what understanding is. I think he still loves her. I'm sure of it. But as he himself said, what a muddy mess though.


***

The human mind has always seemed to have a hard time comprehending love. It's almost as if it wasn't meant to be comprehended. That love is not the ship by which we navigate, but that we are the ship, steered on by love. Blind and unreliable love. Love is as clear as ice. Clear as a glacier, hundreds of miles deep. Who knows what lies at the center of those things?


"The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love."
- Samantha from Spike Jonze's Her (2013)


Ash, I can't make you understand anything. I can't make Andrew understand anything either. All I can do is try to show you things and hope you can learn from them. I want to give you my understanding so badly, but I just can't. My understanding is mine and his is his and hers is hers and yours is yours. At the end of the day I can't even make you pay attention. But please, please listen.

Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Each allows the other to exist. They don't have to be in perfect balance, in almost every instance there is more of one than the other. In most instances the values and balance between love and hate are in constant flux. But to have any measure of one you must have some measure of the other. Either both parts are present, or both are absent.

Andrew also told me there must be union and divide. And that's true. But listen, this is the important part. It's not the love that keeps you holding on, I swear. It's the hate. The hate is what makes you stubborn, and desperate, and what makes you try so hard to make things work, and to make the wrong size fit. It's the love which finally gives you the vision and the strength and the grace to be able to let go. And sometimes, usually even, you need to give in to hate for a while. You need to give hate its due time, holding on in sheer madness, before you're ready to let go. But if you give it enough time then the love will always shine through. And you will be given the chance to be reborn.


***


Love is as clear as a mirror. The most abstract, confounded, loveless thing in the universe. A thing which, in theory, will allow you to see yourself in the same way that everyone else sees you, but only superficially. How utterly absurd. It's no wonder humanity has come to such ruin, and yet is still so strong and endless. We're insane when we're left to ourselves, and we're insane when we've connected ourselves to one another. We must do everything, and yet there's practically nothing we can do. Here we are.

Here we are, in search of the endless dawn. But dawn can only be dawn when you're standing still enough to experience it. And when it's over, it's over. And we must face the day. It's just surfaces that we can feel. In love, and in other people. We can never really get on the inside, we can never get a comprehensive understanding of another person, and we cannot truly unite as people. If you ever want to have a chance at love then you must accept this.

 

But Andrew, don't you still believe in love? I've heard you use that word before, that disgusting, unforgivable word "soulmate," but can't you believe that humans were meant to love and love again? I don't want to see you drown yourself in all these meaningless quests, this endless searching. I want to see you drawn to that love again as if you didn't know any better. As if your hands were clean. I want to see you rise again. Don't waste your bitterness on loss, and don't waste yourself on bitterness.

You can find something. Something worth loving again. I promise. But not with your head in the sand. You'll know when you're ready, but even then you will still have a choice, just like before. A choice to grab the fire or to stay in the darkness. You must choose courage when the time comes. You must feel the fire again, Andrew. I'm begging you.



"And a verse I read in jest, and Matthew spoke to me  
Said there's a flame that moves like a low-down pest that says you will be free 

Only tell me that I am, tell me that I can, I can... 
Love you again, love you again"
 - Joanna Newsom

 

 

I love you.


***

I am not going to sit here and pretend
I ever fought an urge to touch you
because my heart wears armour so thick
it refuses to reach for things it cannot hold.
My brain cannot extend
the moments we spent into anything more
than those moments. The first rule
of being a daisy pinned against someone
else's side is don't tease yourself.
Wanting more is papercuts between fingercrooks
and lemons and salt.

I will admit, however,
that my cerebellum guards those moments
with the help of my ribs,
like dogs and dragons;
adorns them with meaning, the way you
adorn your pretty skull with
impossible aspirations,
the way you adorn your mouth with
raucous, lilting intention, the way that you
adorned my lips with your lips, that night at
McDonalds, which I still maintain is
the coolest thing that happened to anyone
at a McDonalds, ever
.

The night I walked past the bathroom and found you hunched
over the porcelain in the dark, naked from the
waist up, small breasts sheened with sweat, shoulder
blades cutting the night like knives,
I have never seen something so vulnerable.
You make my teeth ache.

The night we stripped to our underwear and
did cartwheels on the golf course, and the
two things I remember you saying specifically
were, "I kind of want to get naked," and
"I'm so hungry."

At the beach, cowering on a towel, knees
locked under chin like a safe even you didn't
have the key to, pale pink bikini looking
miserable and beautiful and startling; a mermaid
too scared to move. I never saw anything prettier
than you. Your green eyes gut me like a fish.
"When I was little," you say, "I got teased
at school for having eyelashes that were too long,
so I cut them off with scissors."
I silently hate you.
I silently love you, but
clumsily.

I wander from my boyfriend's house with plans
to get drunk, the way he is. You pull up beside me,
in your little red car with the stickers on the
dashboard. Get in, you say. You are
barefoot, toes painted the colour of a peace sign,
tiny feet perched on the seat instead of the pedals.
You are wearing blue boxershorts and a t-shirt.
Your hair is abstract art.
"Sorry for being in my PJs," you lie.
"I was just driving a friend home."
You have this way of making me question
why I wasn't doing the same thing. I suddenly
feel ridiculous for wearing daytime clothes.
I am ashamed of my normalcy.
You will always be the queen of being unnatural,
naturally
.


We are covered in paint and grins and
beer. Stumbling and giggling into your
pretty apartment with white everything and
into your shower. You take the first blast
of hot water and your nakedness is suddenly
three dimensional; I have never seen anyone
look so real and here and now. Your body is shelved
with as many quirks as your being, and I am
captivated with the way you don't look,
the way your breasts don't fall, the angles
your body refuses to take, the corners it cuts, the
negative space incisioned between all the pieces
of your skin made home. Afterward, you hit sleep like a brick
and I lie in your bed, mind swirling with
every colour the water loosed from you.

Competition could not exist.
The only thing I had on you was
a crush. Though when people speak of crushes
it sounds more like a gentle squeeze,
like the time we were walking home from
the forest and you snuck your hand inside mine,
then laughed at me like it had been my idea
all along. It is called a crush because
she crushes every thought you thought you
kept soundly about the world. It is called a crush
because she can wreck every fear and every dream
with one word or a look. It is called a crush
because in her presence you are reduced to
tiny pieces that don't exist if they don't exist
to her, and are left examining the shards
scattered across the floor on which she walks.
It is called a crush because you never had even
the faintest of hopes or ghosts of a chance not
to be, and you've never been more okay and not,
at the same time.

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