Photo by dmartinie
I remember having to write to you once a week. That was your request. You would say that it wasn’t too much to ask, and honestly it wasn’t. But I remember dreading that correspondence. My fingers were thick wooden trees, and as they fell haltingly to the keyboard, it felt like they were being felled from the forest, landing on a rushing river with an almighty blunt splat.
These correspondences always followed the same format. I would say hi; I would tell you what was due at university; I would talk about my skin and any other miscellaneous illness that had befallen me; I would talk about how much I was exercising (or more accurately, how little); and I would tell you what I was cooking. The scope of its subjects were as narrow as its superficiality was deep. And writing it I felt like a Russian prisoner, working an assembly line in a labour camp; it felt so monotonous and routine, yet so rigorous and intrusive. And sometimes I thought, if the only reason I was sending you these emails was to inform you that I was still alive, perhaps I should just send you a message bearing those words instead.
But maybe even then, it would have given too much away.
I am alive.
They were three words that harbored a sea of meaning. But maybe only for me. Maybe only because I remembered what it felt like to merely exist.
I used to fantasize about dying. I had almost romanticized death. I imagined being found under my blanket in a sea of letters I had written to people. I imagined the condolences, and the outpouring of support. For you, for me, for the life I could have had. There was a poetry to it that I loved, it seemed beautiful and special in a way that I had never been.
But I knew it’d be untrue, those tributes would have been for someone else. And after dreaming of it for so long, I wondered why I could never follow through. It was then that I finally understood that maybe the only reason I wanted to leave was to know that I would be missed. And while I thought that there was a chance you’d miss me, I knew you’d never miss me; because you’d never really known me.
But I never gave you the chance. I was so afraid of it. I had already managed to disappoint you so much. I had already been the root of so much friction. I was already so little. I had already tried running. I had run away from you. I had convinced you to send me overseas to finish high school. I convinced myself it would be the answer. I convinced myself I’d be someone new, I convinced myself that I could be what you wanted. But geography changed little more than the bed I hoped to be found dead in.
I could have been someone new, I could have been what you wanted. But I remained myself. And I hated it so much. I hated the way I felt, I hated the things they said; I hated that everyone else could see in me something I couldn’t see in myself. And now I was so tired, and now I couldn’t run anywhere else. So I’d sit by my window, and that’s when the wind would take me. It would start like a tingling in my fingers and it’d grow progressively hungrier. It would sweep through my body in physical shudders; it would paralyse me in place. And when I closed my eyes, I saw where it took me. I saw my stomach become a cave, a hole so cavernous it no longer seemed a part of me, but I a part of it. And at the top of the cave I’d see an icicle; slowly, it would drip.
And as every drop plunged into the nether, I could feel its echo as the water below received it. That sound would ricochet through me, a sharp and piercing frost. I would breathe deeply, I would breathe deliberately, I would breathe to fight it off. But I was putty, mere child’s play, to those all conquering reverberations. I could hear every drop, I could feel every echo; those waves would race through me, like a scream with no place to go. Like a me with no place to go.
I just felt so cold.
It’s been many years now since I last visited that cave. It’s been many years now since I’ve felt that cold. But maybe I never stopped running.
Maybe I never stopped running from you; and maybe I never realized it because now, people run with me.
But today I’ll stop.
I no longer think about death, it possesses no poetry.
But I know that I’ll be missed, those tributes will be for me.
The gay me, the only me, that I was meant to be.
Written by Justin J. Wee