To whom do you turn when all you want to do is wail to the stars? When you want to scream to the highest of the high heavens? When you want to stamp feet and break walls and birth the shifting fit of pitch that is holding down your ribs?
There ought to be someone. Someone who can absorb all of that. There ought to be a person in a room. Not a priest. Not a holy person. Not a relative. Not a friend. Not a therapist.
The person you love.
And all I really have is you, my white blank page, so I will try not to kick too hard…but even as I write that, I am not sure it is a promise I can keep.
There will always be an awkward family gathering. This is not a new story. There will always be some new construction looking out over overturned dirt, workers using their air guns to rapid fire nails into wood in the distance, a picnic spread of too much food and too much drink. And I will always be dieting, ignoring every blessed apple, every silver drageed cupcake, as I scan the horizon overhearing couples fight without fighting around me. I will be alone and no one will ask where my person is. My sounding board, my punching bag. No one will expect of me to have brought anyone who leans in for my stories, who assures I have a drink refilled, who wants me to be happy and arches a curious brow if I get suddenly quiet and will talk to me about it later on the drive home…what that moment was and what it meant and I will say it was nothing, just my mother saying something that reminded me of a time at school when they took me to this special opportunity to study robotics in a big lab at the local university and I was very dumb and not interested in robots at all and that moment will exist again, however briefly, between our shared minds. No one will expect it. And I will not produce, as in this television program I have been mainlining, some secret romantic Darcy, some suddenly embodied Rochester, some long imagined and prayed for Tilney…just at the right time.
He will not turn to the surrounding room and announce that just as I had been looking for him, he will have been looking for me. For years, for aeons, for time immeasurable. And now, at just this set of coordinates, we are met, we are found, never to be parted again.
No, I will make strained small talk with the couples instead, with men who smile and say they remember me. For this there is only one possible frame of reference: I am remembered as sitting alone at other parties by these men who were also single once at those parties and about whom I entertained a single poisonous thought, men who were never introduced to me, regardless, and are now with eager and extroverted women who used to work where I work. I will sit there because there is no where to go. I will imagine a giant fork in the center of the table growing, growing ever more turgid and erect, tines sharp as razor blades. I will imagine rising up and standing on my chair so that I can leap and impale myself upon it. There is no fork. Just trays for fruit salad and ribs and teriyaki chicken which will fuck my diet. I will scan my phone to see if, amongst all this, the man who sent me a message six months ago, to which I accidentally read and made the inexplicable decision to respond to last night, has replied. He has not.
I turn and my sister is drunk and crying. My aunt said something kind to my mother and my sister performatively wrung out her sorrow because my mother is dying at some rate of speed faster than you or I. I consoled her, patted her face and hair. I was entirely Elizabeth Bennet at that moment. LSensible, connected, above the fray but deeply empathetic towards it. Looking after a crowd of curious relatives, none of whom know how to be social today. She calmed for a moment before blubbing again 10 minutes later to someone else. I push the gummy worms and fruit away and listen to my sister’s boyfriend’s treatise on a particular brand of corn liquor.
It is so strange to experience all this and have nobody grab you by the arm, sharply, so you can’t get away and say “Are you okay? I mean, is your heart….okay?”