There are many ways to get out of the responsibilities of love. Start by not shaving. A little hair grows, and you look at it with interest instead of dismay. Then another one blooms and then one more and soon you find yourself covered. You laugh and convince yourself it’s okay. It’s still you underneath it all.
Then become tired. Days wear on, mornings are atrocious, nights never end. It’s an irregular sleeping schedule, and you’ll call it habit. You take comfort in it. The whole world is wrong anyways. Who says you need to sleep at ten? Who says you need to sleep at all?
And besides with all that extra weight of the hair, you can’t help but be tired from time to time.
Then, don’t write. Convince yourself you will eventually. You see it now. Word by word, sentence by sentence, it’ll come. All of it will stumble out one day. Look: You’ll pen this grand masterpiece and everything will be set right. None of it will be said before because no other person will have your experiences and perspective. No one will know about those three days under the Eiffel tower or when you fell in love in Geneva or the second Christmas you spent with your girlfriend. No one will be you, and no one will write your words. Only you will, just not yet. You’re still tired from all that hair. Time from time wasn’t enough for sleeping. Now you need time in between time.
Some days you wonder about those words though. When you’re awake, you have felt that your private and peculiar moments are just a general pattern known by countless others. You walk down a street in autumn and damn if it isn’t the most beautiful thing where the rain tiptoes on the cement like a pillow and the street is diced in uneven portions of grass and road and the light from the lamp tickles the leaves, opening and closing, closing and opening, a dance for you and only you as you walk down that fall riddled path.
But then you read poetry, you read novels, and you realize that those feelings are a tapestry of events from others, collections from the whole of human experience. They are a jar, contained and self-imposed, and you are a firefly living in that glass prison like all the others who were caught before it. You realize you are not alone. You are not isolated. And you are not unique. You are a species, and you are the same. So no matter how hard you shine or how fast you fly, there will always be that jar and there will always be that ineluctable reality that you are a bug, and that’s all you’ll ever be.
Let belittlement define you. Forget about the people around you. Forget about those who you have said you loved and those that said they loved you. Forget what love means. Then forget yourself and from that point on, as you wallow and make excuses and pawn everything off as a joke because you have nothing to say, because there is nothing to say, because you feel like nothing at all, there won’t be any responsibilities of love for there will no longer be any love to be responsible for.
This, I am led to believe, is the inevitability of most of my relationships. I become complacent. Rather than actively seek and nurture the people I’m close with, I decide that it’s enough to be happy at the chance of happiness. Happiness as an end itself is too much. It involves exposing oneself to vulnerabilities. And often it is unattainable. There seems to be constant dissatisfaction in trying to achieve happiness. And if somehow a person does as much, they find a million of reasons to be unhappy. For one, they’ll never be this happy again.
Relationships aren’t meant to be stew of these mixed emotions, but sometimes I cannot help myself. On Christmas, this is especially true. We get gifts. We are joyous. And then the next day comes, and the one after that, and we find ourselves living perfectly ordinary days as perfectly ordinary people. Cynicism grows. Optimism wilts. And it goes on like that. It’s a perfectly ordinary cycle.
I imagine what went on in the last that between you and I. Some might say “So much happened this year” as though a simple connection of words can balance the gravity and gobbledygook, the seriousness and happiness of a year. It seems so reductionist, so terribly domestic and worn. But it’s true.
Because in a sentence, we lived.
A year ago today, Mocha’s death was still fresh, the ground she was buried in still settling. Seventeen years went poof. Gone like that.
We celebrated New Years apart. I was sending you pictures of the beauty around me. In -40 Celsius, I stopped snowboarding and took off my mitt. My hand shook, the cold biting my fingers. My skin was pale white, a perfect camouflage, but a painful reminder of the beauty in belonging: my lifeblood was sucked from my vessels. Yet somehow, I fumbled around and took a picture with my phone. I sent it to you, and it whizzed out an electronic poof. Gone like that.
A New Year brought on nothing new: chaos roared on to no end, and I was caught in the gunk of its trap. Like a mouse flailing in glue, I could not escape. For the most part, I’ll admit my sadness got the better of me. I was depressed, and worse yet, I didn’t recognize it. I sacrificed both myself and our relationship. To this day, I’m sorry. I could say that I hurt you in my dejection because I wasn’t myself, but I never again would be or will be because of it. I was, and am, Kacper still. I’m just different, hardened and cold and bitter. My jokes come off as insults. My insults come off as diatribes. And my diatribes masquerade as love, until those days when we fight and you wonder if we’re poof. Gone like that.
You’ve softened me. Days and days have been spent trying to re-sensitize me to my feelings and the emotions of others. I have tried, first and foremost with you. I have written almost weekly, though you don’t read the letters often. I text frequently, though you don’t read them either. I try to be there and suggest events to do together. We’ve played squash, went out to restaurants, studied, slept, and developed a schedule together. It doesn’t always work, but we’ve learned that not everything does. Contingencies are the first thing we put into our schedule because quite often they go poof. Gone like that.
There have been events so large that they crack a divide between then and now. Moments before seem lost, awash in sentimentality and nostalgia. Afterwards, there is only the pain and the reality of today, of now, of never going back, of all the days slowly, every moment after wrenching moment, disappearing. And then poof. Gone like that.
Then there are the small events. Those trivial moments that are amiss in the larger schemes of our existence. Take washing the dishes for example. Or maybe calling you back. Both are forgotten. Poof. Gone like that.
All that ever was, all that ever is, and all that ever will be can be contained in that. It is nevermore. It is forevermore. And most importantly, it is us – a combustible mixture of a year and four months that sometimes burps and belches and might one day explode in our faces.
If it does, at least we’ll have today, and yesterday, and every day before that until August 12th. There will be burn marks. Of course, this isn’t bad. They are evidence that you survived, and that in a moment so cold, you couldn’t help but hope for fire. They will etch around your body, a touch here, a kiss there, and all of me will show in your skin. I will have damaged you but also made you whole, if only for a little while.
So though we’ll have ended, there will be solace in spending some of your life in those peculiar, private moments which, though overwhelmingly generic, are ours alone. We can describe them like this. Or we can say nothing at all. I chose the former just to ensure that something very minimal like these words and this paper and the emotions that staple both together will remain if we go poof, gone like that.
Love you madly,