“I am not physically tired, just filled with a deep, vague, undefined sense of spiritual distress, as if I had a deep wound running inside me and it had to be stanched.”
It’s all about language these days. Still. Even with the lilacs in bloom and the damp magnolia petals carpeting the sidewalk. Words caught in trees like abandoned balloons, limp and ragged and weather-worn.
Thanks for being such an awesome non English student member of the workshop, someone wrote, and my mind stuttered on the phrase “non English student.” Is that me? Is this who I’ve become? Identity is a twisted trying thing. The PhD students talk about cigarettes, all nodding their heads in knowledge, and what I don’t say is that the only time I’ve smoked a cigarette is when a guy said he’d kill himself if I didn’t join him.
Homesick, sick of home, one of my students writes.
Spring has been a long unthawing, a slow crawl into who I used to be. I went to a bar a couple of weeks ago, the first time in over a year, and the normalcy of it shocked me. I drank an IPA and ate french fries and danced in my seat to Gorillaz and answered trivia questions incorrectly. Do you remember this? My body asked itself. Do you remember who you used to be? French fries have played an integral role in many of my favorite bar outings, and the memories emerged slowly—G-Door, Twisted Rail, The Garrison—beer and fries and friendship. I couldn’t get over how much I missed being a person out in the world eating fries, how good it felt to be somewhere else besides my own dark apartment.
The trying to write feverishly, for the fear that you will never be able to express yourself in the same way ever again, one of my students writes.
I feel like you do really cool stuff, but you never talk about it, one of my coworkers tells me. Yeah, that’s true, I agree. I feel like I know nothing about you, he says, and I want to smash my head into the wall.
I feel like poetry is a boat on ice, one of my students writes.
I was annoyed at this one girl in Ohio who left without saying goodbye, but I get it now. The not wanting to say goodbye. Not wanting to engage in a ritual that does nothing for closure. It is so much easier to drive off into the sunset and turn your stereo on full blast. I leave in a week, and it doesn’t feel real. The goodbyes have already started. I’ve shirked many of them. Because. Because I can. Because I am tired. My grandmother’s memorial service is this weekend and I am supposed to talk and I’ve written nothing down, and I’ll create something in time, it’ll be fine, but everything is an ending, and the symbolism I’ve invented for myself threatens to swallow me, and one of my campers died the other month and I feel his mother’s sadness every time I open Facebook and see pictures of his small hands, his doted-on gravesite, and it is like this, you know? It is and is and is and it never stops. Everything is the last line of Gatsby.
Is putting all this time in words worth it? One of my students writes. Yes, he answers.
I love you! One of my classmates says as we conclude our final class.
I love you too, my professor answers her. Then all the screens go black.
(title of this post is from the song of the same name by Adult Mom)