swallowing me whole

Dear Internet,

It is oh so very late. But is this not the perfect time, my friends, for confessions and madness? Is this not the perfect time for moving back the veil and saying hello to the little man who controls us all?

Yes, yes it is.

Whenever I come up to the cabin, I am always expectant to see a bear lounging on the front deck, a deer moving near the fire pit, some kind of animal making its presence known. I never see those things and I’m almost always somewhat disappointed by the lack of fauna. But today, today was different. Today I saw a lump in a chair and upon closer inspection, it was a dead bird. A robin to be exact. Fresh enough there was no maggots, still full bodied and bright red chest. I called TheHusband in a panic. What the fuck am I supposed to do? This was never covered in Girl Scouts. “Dump it in the woods and wash your hands,” he replies logically. I will, I said. Soon, I promised myself. But the night got carried away with long talks and friends coming round. The bird lays still, untouched by any predator, waiting for its final place of rest to be chosen by me.

So here we are, at 4:30AM and I’m on the front deck listening to the silence. The wind is not rustling, there is no movement within the trees. The driveway leads up to a road, which buttresses up to a t-section. I stared intently into the darkness. There was no light, not even from the stars, and there was no sound. It was utterly still and I thought this is what death must be like. No light at the end of the tunnel, only the ever present darkness that envelopes you into its embrace.

When I was 10, maybe 11 or 12, I decided to write a book about suicide. I began the research at the local library, a small offering in a town of 20K souls, many whom would never leave beyond the confines of the city limits. I can still see myself of the then so clearly, biking to the library, checking out my books, and then riding out to a cove I had found, packed lunch in tow, that was on a shaded embankment on the St. Clair River. I would read for hours, the river rolling by and Sarnia nearly in my grasp, then pack up my things and come home.

Thinking about it now, all these years later, I remember no one knew what I was  doing. This quest of mine to find an answer, a string, a hope that things could change. I was determined then, oh so very young, that I could puzzle it all out. That even the complex and academic texts I was reading would not deter me. I envisioned the book being published when I was 15, I was very adamant about this, and the book was going to be my ticket out that place. I would win awards, accolades, and scholarships. Everything would turn out fine.

So no one knew, and thus, no one stopped me. The librarians left me alone — they were tired of my incessant questions, reading above my pay grade, and winning the summer reading program every year without fail. How does one kid read so many books? But it never occurred to any of them, why is this child checking out books on suicide? Why did no one contact my family? Or take me aside to talk? Why did no one care?

I think of me then – what drove me to do this? What was the seed planted that lead me on that path? Why couldn’t I just enjoy my Barbies like all the other girls my age?

I was so solemn in my youth and so alone. There are flashes of insight of the then. A birthday party here, slumber party there. But I was almost always alone. Every adventure I took, ever place I cycled to, every ice cream bar I ate, every fort I built – alone. What was I protecting myself from? Why did I always feel so isolated from the world? What drove me, at the age of 10, 11 or 12, to want to write a book on suicide?

Tonight I peeled back layers of my armor and let myself wallow in music. I began with the 2007 remaster of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, followed by Interpol’s first two albums, Antics and Turn on the Bright Lights, and decided why the fuck not? And hustled on with Elbow’s first disk Asleep in the Back, moved on to their second disk, and made half-way through their third before finally saying enough.

I cried. I never reached the point of ugly crying, but I did get close. I understood I was grieving; grieving for my father, whose been dead for over a decade. Grieving for that lost soul of my youth, wandering around trying to find answers to questions that were too big to be asked. I grieved for the could have beens, the missed connections, and alternate universes that would never come to be. My heart felt raw and exposed, but I knew I had to push on, to not keep it contained. If not now, it would never happen. To find joy, you have to feel the pureness of sorrow. Fuck, that sounds so cliched, but perhaps because it is a universally accepted truth.

Was the book ever finished? No. I don’t know what happened to the now abandoned project. At some point I must have stopped. But when? And why?

On the drive up, I obsessively listened to two songs. 12 tracks between them. For a 100 miles, before I swapped over to another band, only to pick back up on my quest on the last 20 miles to the cabin. Even now I cannot stop myself from listening to those two songs as I write; as if they had the power to change the past.

I knew what I was doing. The songs themselves didn’t, but the behavior does. It matters to watch patterns. I need to be aware, but the exhaustion of constantly being ON to function within society can wear thin some days. I gave myself goals. I can make it to Big Rapids. Now I can make it to Cadillac. Now I can make it to Kingsley. Now I can make it to Cedar. Just a few more steps, then you are at the cabin. Now you can turn off. But the music still plays on repeat in my head, even when there is silence.

I stopped listening to music a few years back because I couldn’t to bear what it was doing to me. Music was once the surest ways I could feel, but then I stopped feeling and I thought, what was the point? But now, I need to always feel. I need to always feel the needle marking its way across my heart. I need to let the ghosts go free.

It is oh so very late. I am not afraid for I can feel the weight of all that love that surrounds me, keeping me upright and ready; it is what propels me to go forward even when all I want to do is disappear. I wish I could live in a world where all those I love could be always near and not hundreds or thousands of miles away, so that they will never leave.

I have so many people to love! So many of them love me back! I would put weights in all of their hearts and marry them to my charm and grace.

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2012, 2008

  • Laura Dennis

    This my favorite thing you have written so far. I read it five times in my inbox and once again just now on your site. Fantastic work. So clear and sensitive. Very emotional but still, very controlled. Love it. 🙂