“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”
by Wendell Berry from ‘A Place on Earth’
In the mornings I wake up without a single breath left in me from the night before. The air is cold around me; the room lingers in a warm embrace. I turn to my left and find an empty bed beside mine. She’s never home when I wake up; she’s never home at all. I can’t move when I’m alone. By the time I have the strength to get out of bed it’s never me at all.
I walk to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I don’t even bother to close the door, no one’s home. I wash my face and brush my teeth just like my mom taught me when I was three. She’s not here either; but that’s my fault. Maybe it’s all my fault. I look in the mirror and notice that her lips are still red from the night before. It makes me wonder what the hell she’s doing. I walk away from her; I don’t want to fight anymore. I go into the bedroom and ruffle through the pile of clothes that now acts as a table. I pick out what she’ll be wearing today and I fix her face with a touch of make-up; enough to hide the dark circles under my own eyes and expose the sparkle inside hers.
I never leave the house until I’ve had at least an hour to just sit and stare at the blank screen of the television. I light up a cigarette and turn to my left and find and empty seat beside mine. She’s never there in the mornings: she’s never there at all.
She’s always on my left side except when I am driving. My lips start to burn, and that’s when I realize that my cigarette has burned out. The lights come through the old curtains and shine a light on what this house used to be. When they were here the air was warm. Now that they are gone their memories keep the house warm, but the air is as cold as ice. Outside nothing is warm, for it seems as though there is no room for me in this place. It is as though I am playing a game of musical chairs with no chairs to begin with. That’s not the worst of it. Every time I play I try to sit down, only to fall flat on my face. That’s why I never leave the house; she does.
She takes the first step out the door. She looks back at me with bittersweet sadness. All we needed was a little more time, time for me to see. She wants me to take those steps with her. Those steps I have been trying to take for a while now. All I can do is look straight back at her and bow down to the floor. She looks at me with eyes filled with disappointment, and there is nothing I can do. She walks out the door, and as she turns away she plasters a smile on her face to go with the sparkle in her eyes. She’s gone; now I am really alone.
She braves the world while I brave my own world. A world I created that is just as torturous as the other. Whose to say which world is real and which is not. I don’t really believe in reality; ultimately everything is relative.
She lives in a place where she does no wrong. She walks on a streak of red paint that is never tarnished by the dirt on her shoes. Others have chosen to place her there, and she has chosen to stay. She’s never seen without a smile on her face; everything is fine. She’s never seen without a skip and hop in her walk; everything is all right. It’s fine that she’s abandoned me and it’s all right that she’s lonely. She lives in a world that makes it fine and say’s it’s all right. She lives in that world, her world, where she is queen, officer, and civilian. It is in this place where anything she does is right, nothing she does is wrong, and everything she does is accepted. In the mornings she takes her car and drives off to college. She never misses a class; she is the perfect student. She walks down many steps to find her seat. Front row; she is the perfect student. She always participates in discussions; she is the perfect student. She understands the material instantly; she is the perfect student. She stays after class; she is the perfect student. In truth, she knows that she is far from perfect. In reality, she knows that she has to be. I’m the only one that knows. She’s afraid and yet she’s never scared.
After class she heads out toward the benches that surround the department, and she’s not alone. She’s never alone, yet she is always lonely. I wonder if she secretly misses me as I openly miss her. She is with her friends that fit her perfect profile. She is at the top of her class; number two and number three will do. Almost instantly they involve themselves in an invigorating discussion regarding what they had just learned; they are perfect. Once the debate has been settled, they hurry of to the studio and start working on projects that they have been assigned; they are perfect. She was born to play that part. As for me, I haven’t found my part yet. I guess I am waiting on someone that just won’t show, not that she’d ever know. She’d never know that I am what she fears to be. I am always scared and I am never afraid.
She calls me on her way back home; I don’t know why. Maybe she thinks that I left, or maybe she’s just lonely. Sometimes I get the sense that she’s afraid she’ll have to die without me; if at any time I find the strength to leave, she’d never find me.
There is a moment everyday before she gets home when I feel as though I might be able to leave. The moment soon passes. It stays true to its nature; it’s fleeting. She is afraid that she will have to die without me. I am scared that I will die without ever being found.
She is home now. She’s left her world behind her while still holding it in her front pocket. I look at her as she sits down beside me. I can see her but she could never see me. I am happy she is home; she’s uncomfortable here. She is afraid of what she cannot see. She is afraid of me; I am scared she’ll always fear me. I am scared that I will die without ever being seen.
When it didn’t used to be so cold, we were constantly fighting; battles maybe even wars. With a bright red cloud that floated above the battleground, we screamed and we cried. The floor trembled under the hooves of approaching troops, and the walls turned their backs to the demise of their quarters. The furniture joined the passing winds in its chilling embrace. It stood in the shadows of many warriors and prayed for the passing of this dark cold day. Nothing was comfortable; neither of us was welcome anywhere on this field of passions and furies. The on looking faces of people and memories stared into the blankness to which they have been chained.
Our house became an abandoned field of dreams, dreams of a better place, and dreams of a home. The battles would last for what felt like an entire lifetime, and then they would slowly pass. Secretly I always wished that they didn’t. Face to face we stood and withstood the test and torment of time; at least we were together. We would reside in this horrible place for what felt like an eternity that was never ending. The place was filled with the nervous silence and loud forces of an epic betrayal. In this place where we stood together, in this place I now stand, alone. I did want to leave, but I did not want it to end. It did end, with me standing at the door and her walking out of it.
I wanted to be heard; I wanted to be found. I could never see her like she wanted to be seen and she could never hear me the way I wanted to be heard.
most of the times when we're sad we don't even really know why. and even if we do it isn't something that we can explain or share with anyone else. sadness is the most mysterious thing we face, because it doesn't have a name, it doesn't have a voice. when we're angry there is always a reason, when we're happy even if there is no reason we don't care. but when we're sad for no reason, it's like that dream where you want to scream but your voice fails you. sadness and depression are two very different things. i can't say which is better or worse because it's irrelevant. some people mistake the two, but they are in fact very different. not everyone who thinks they are depressed actually are. not all of us have been depressed, but i am almost certain that all of us have experienced sadness. it's weird that something we all share is so hard to explain or understand. so hard in fact that i can't really explain what i'm thinking right now. the way sadness works is one of the strangest riddles of the world.