A letter to you on your birthday:
Jon sent me the Jo(h)nband’s finally-finished album earlier this month but it took me until today to pull it out of the package, to look at the cover, to hold it in my hands, to put it in the CD player in my car and listen to it and feel so far away from them. They were the people who knew you and know me; we went together through all of the shit you put us through. We haven’t talked in far too long; they might all be done with me. I don’t have the energy to find out for sure.
Your friends know your birthday as well as your deathday so this week your friends have felt more like my friends and my friends have felt far away. It’s my job, I know, to ask them to be closer. But I want you to be closer and everyone, everything else is not you.
You were in my dream last night. You made us late to dinner at Julie’s house because you were baking cupcakes or something, I guess — I was just anxious about being late.
I didn’t cry until Mom sent me a card with money in it and the note said it was for a drink. I haven’t been drinking, but I do want an excuse to talk about you. I want to talk about you so it doesn’t keep feeling like I’m talking to a wall, talking to the moon, talking to myself.
This is the awkward time of year when it’s finally spring but I feel more drained and detached than I did a week ago when all blues were still attributable to winter at large and when I met, for the first time, a bunch of people who inadvertently asked me to pull them straight and deep down into the trenches when they asked me if I have any siblings.
Sometimes I ignore texts and letters and e-mails and phone calls because I know they are kind and thoughtful but I can’t help that they make me feel like I should feel a certain way: “I know this week must be hard” — must this week be hard? I wonder if it is hard. Yesterday my alarm went off at 5:38 a.m. and I snoozed through it for 13 minutes but still got myself to yoga just-barely-on-time. We were instructed to begin with a meditation: find a place in your body that feels congested, constricted — imagine a bird in it. So I placed a little brown House Finch next to my heart and it tried to flap its wings beneath the cage of my ribs where there was no space to stretch.
It was hard when I dreamed about my sister two nights ago and didn’t recognize she wasn’t possible until I woke up to remember she’s been dead for two years. It is hard when I have to try to understand what two years is. It is hard to not understand why I am so exhausted, why the days leading up to the day feel so slow, so laborious. It is hard to accept that the most plausible explanation might be that this week must be hard.
There was a moment today when everything felt good: the sunshine, the Crescent City Classic, the mimosas and the backyard game of Celebrity. And then my landlord called to tell me that Patrick and I had a week to be out of our house because we were being evicted and the thing I’d wished he’d known was how shitty this day already is.
Today at school I tested students. Or rather, I watched seven students strewn about a usually-unused classroom stare at long LEAP passages and trace lines on booklet pages and fill in bubbles and sneak glances — long glances — out windows and along ceiling edges.
This is my last week working here and I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with the time when it ends. In theory, I will return letters and e-mails, hang pictures on walls, cook meals in pans for more than three minutes — all of the things that I’ve lately been too busy or tired from working four-or-five jobs to even put on a list of things to do.
Really, though, the thing I’m supposed to do is apply to graduate schools. It is the thing I’ve been talking the talk of doing for so long now. It is the thing I have to do because it is the thing I want to do and that’s how it works these days. Except I don’t know if getting an MFA is the right thing or the best thing; it feels impractical and risky and self-centered and I don’t know if my sister would approve. Without her here, it feels more like what I do matters — like every decision is an act either of posthumous honor or of taking life completely for granted. Of helping or hurting, of good or bad, of win or lose.
This weight is not balanced — it is chaos.