She told me she’d make it to Saint Jo’s. I sat with this for a bit, must’ve been 10 minutes or so. I couldn’t think of a response that seemed fitting. All the while she had been moving along through her life, same as me, developing and learning who we were when we were alone with only ourselves as company. Estranged, gone, alien, I had no response suitable for this bold statement of determination. All I could muster was a deadpan “ok”. That’s all I had. I had long ago decided that I needed to be free of mind from the delusion of a happy life, one where love can find you seated in anticipation, patient and hoping, ready to travel with a young lady headed to Saint Jo’s.
It felt sad at first, the realization that there were things more powerful than the wanting, the need for companionship in being. After a while, though, I became numb to it all, nothing could bring me down. And so, with my aloof self I carried on, again hoping to move forward, tamped down by the great meat grinder of existence that doesn’t give a shit about you or your little depressive mind.
There are things known and unknown to me that live within my soul-stuff. The known sits undisturbed, a place for established half-truths to dwell in solitude with little contemplation; you think “what is known is known, why should I beat the horse who’s expired? Why should I shake the tree hoping for some long gone fruit?” The unknowns are a problem though. They nag and pry, peel your mind in the pursuit of the everlasting twin lights of knowledge and wisdom.
In my half-hearted “ok” there was still hope, regardless of how hard I wanted to believe that I knew better. Hope is a chain that binds, cutting off circulation to your extremities, making you think that you’ve broken free somehow, yet when you tug to get away it fights back and slams you to the ground hard and flat on your back. No matter how hard I struggle against it, no matter the lengths I go to in an effort to cast of this iron shackling, I cannot overcome it.
Aleksandr Tvardovsky once wrote that “There are still hard times ahead for me, but never shall I be frightened.” I love this quote, it often inspires me to struggle against the abyss of the self, the complacency that grows year by year strangling everything that I hope to pursue and experience in a life that I have always imagined would be more finite than average. But it does not apply to me. I am afraid, so afraid. This girl, who has decided to go to Saint Jo’s will carry with her a luggage of my own making, handcrafted from the finest bark of a shattered self, carved to resemble the high walls that now protect me from the world that engulfs us all. I still carry Tvardovsy’s words, again hoping, hoping that someday they’ll inspire some ember in me to blaze and burn away the fat and sinew of my ongoing, narcissistic self-deprecation. Maybe then I’ll be able to say “Hey wait for me, I’m headed that way too.”