There are older drafts– not of this but of others– and sometimes I wonder what will become of them. My roommate wants to throw out everything when he moves. That’s what his boyfriend says, “he likes to get rid of everything.” I say, “me, too,” but only after I keep everything first.
“That sounds like you,” he said.
Sixth months ago, at the doctor’s offices I addressed some anxieties I was having by just getting all of the questions out. My body and head are full of twinges, pinches, flashes of blinding pain. I asked him what an anuerysm feels like, what a stroke, an infarction. It was so satisfying to discover that they are either persistent, perpetual, agonies or completely painless. So– should one of them happen, I will know or not know. This is so much better than the precarious limbo of threat.
More and more, I am able to control the terror of catastrophe. I know that terror is it’s most potent effect. Like the brain disaster, it will either be reparable or irreparable, painful or unnoticeable. Deadly or not. And I only have to make it through the catastrophe. On the other side I will again be faced with keeping everything or throwing it all away.
It’s in boxes, drawers, cabinets, files, folders, tins. It’s on websites and in emails, in other peoples’ homes. My roommate wants to know if I need a new toothbrush. “Yes,” I tell him and choose the blue. “What about ten, then?” He has a handful now. It’s hard to believe that he’s the one who likes to throw everything away.
I flew to Colorado for a few days. Over breakfast my brother handed me a bottle of apple whiskey. My mother wore her new uniform to dinner. For the first time I can remember, I got altitude sickness. A few days after I left I got a phone call to tell me that a fire was raging just miles from my childhood house.
I cannot enumerate the things I have lost in the last few weeks because it wouldn’t be respectful to the people who took them away or back or into their own holds for safe-keeping. It’s Yom Kippur and I can tell you what I’ve gained.
Every day I remember a little more, rely on drafts a little less. Catastrophe, which used to make me comfortable, is beginning to scare me. And all the rest– all the rest is breaking into sometimes unpredictable gradations of joy and pain.