"Only in winter do we know that the pines and and cypress are evergreen"
I realize that there are a lot of things I need to catch up on. Things I have been planning on writing for a while, but things that always seem to slip off of my priorities list, because there is so much else going on and expressing emotions never seems to fit the schedule I set for it. In April of this year, I moved into a two bedroom apartment in Brookings, Oregon, which was two bedrooms more than I needed. I was in the city for a job that I already knew was going to not work out, but had told myself to make it through two more quarters. All of my belongings fit in three milkcrates and two backpacks. It was a very large and empty apartment. I didn't know anyone in the city, and after my internet was installed, no one else would enter that apartment for three months until I moved out. I slept on a foam pad. I had a folding chair, three stacked milkcrates for a desk and an end table I kept my cable modem on. I had nothing in the apartment in the way of decorations. I slept in one of the bedrooms and the other was empty besides some books and unused clothing. I spent most of my time in the front living room, staring at the internet and...well, that was pretty much it.
It was six weeks into living in this apartment that our friend Ouroboros died. This was the third suicide of the year for me, and since I can't find a truly appropriate verb for my reaction, I will say I was "hollowed". There are many people who knew him better than me and who suffered much worse than I did, but there was one thing that was very difficult for me: we shared the same first name, Matthew. Hearing about "the death of Matthew" did odd things to my subconscious thought processes. At least one of our mutual friends responded to the news of Matthew's death with the question: "Which one?". Ouch. Anyway, in the aftermath of a traumatic death, intrusive or bizarre thoughts are common with the survivors. For a month after Matthew's death, the bizarre, irrational but persistent thought that popped up in my head was that this was an episode of The Twilight Zone with the twist that I was really the dead one. I had died in an accident, and my soul, floating in the bardo, was hearing about "Matthew's death", and unwilling to come to terms, was projecting it on to someone else. Even though I was sane and didn't accept this thought rationally, it kept on popping up, especially when I was trying to get to sleep. I had terrible insomnia. And I didn't know anyone in the city. In fact, the city did resemble a particularly odd little bardo shard realm. My classes were very sparsely attended through the spring, and one week in late May no one showed up for class at all. My theory of slowly fading from existence was picking up some collaborating evidence. I was in an empty apartment, in a town where I had no friends, in a job where I had no work. It was perhaps the most miserable time of my life.
It was a little while after this that I wrote one of the writeups that I am proud of: I always imagine those surrounded by time, but I walk on top of it. I am not proud of it because of the execution, but because I managed to take an idea that was confusing and abstract: our existence in time, and distill it down into some type of physical metaphor that was graspable by me. That writeup also helped capture the confusing emotions I had of being hollow: nothing about being in an empty apartment in a strange town and wondering which one of my friends was going to die next made me feel fixed in time. I felt like an unreal observer. That writeup was one of the writeups that got a C! from dannye: not something I have accomplished too many times. We even exchanged messages about it: I asked him if the light really did look different in the 1970s, and he assured me it did. Some of the things I have to say about Dannye are things other people have said before: there were times I hated him because of politics or gruffness, but I learned to respect him as a writer. But I should also say that I learned to respect him as a reader. Because despite political or social differences, he had an open mind. He could take some of my malformed jumbled feelingdumps and figure out what I was trying to say and appreciate it. Its an important quality. It was an especially quality that someone was listening to me as I laid on a foam pad in am empty room staring at a computer screen. This was also at a time when E2 itself wasn't very active. Of all the sites I had to view in my empty room, I chose an almost empty site. But Dannye, thankfully , was still taking the things being written on this site seriously. I am glad there was someone listening.
I don't know if these thoughts arrived at where I wanted them to arrive at when I first started writing. As mentioned, this emotional expression stuff doesn't always happen on schedule. But I am glad I can write about way that I miss two of my departed colleagues.