What’s a heart break? It’s strange to ask that question.
I think that, like light bulbs, people hang in the dark when disconnected. Thin glass skin simply letting pass what exists outside already, the warm sun of the day, the visible dark of the night. But, link us up, connect us, and that thing that was always there starts to heat, to burn, to immolate with an innate science of survival that lets us really hear each other and ourselves.
We are not so strong alone. I am not. Together we come into the joy of our own light. We exist, and declare we exist, and make note we exist because we are light in that moment.
When I was in my heartbreaker’s apartment (this is an entirely unfair way of referring to her as, like all people, she’s vastly more complicated than her relation to me, but I only have so much to work with here so give me a break) I remember being tired and low blood sugared, but kind of soppy with hormonal curiosity. And we were both sitting on stools in her studio apartment and the counter was smooth and I was leaning on it and looking at her face and eyes and lips. And I asked her, based on some stuff about her sister having her shit together and not knowing how to run her own life, did she see herself as broken? And, with a crusted edge of defiance she looked at me and said yes. There in the dark and cold, ready to bear the whips and scorns of some petulant judgement from me, no doubt a readiness from her own inner flagellations (something I’m also trying to quiet) and I said I wanted to hug her. Really I wanted to kiss her, but a hug would be good too. The critical part of me tells me it’s because I get off on saving others (a critique that’s so bland and common that it’s hard to take seriously anymore) and the better part of me admired the strength it took to be so vulnerable. I wanted to hold that vulnerability. So we hugged and as I clutched her, and squeezed her back and felt the goosebumps on her arms against my own skin, I fell into that forgotten yet familiar state in which physicality gets lost amongst a person’s being. Holding their body is holding them. And in that moment I felt something stitch back up in my, as if I was a torn pair of jeans mending itself, a pocket watch resocketing itself, I felt a primeval hurt, one all of us are born with, receive the first moments of awakening analgesic.
It was a surprise to get a text saying she wasn’t interested. I spent the next couple weeks pulling my hair out, like any infatuated teenager, parsing with friends whether to text back or not (again, something familiar that I’d forgotten about, and in this case wish I hadn’t started to remember). And, besides for that part of me that believes everything exists in perpetuity (my parents will never die, my dog will never die, I’ll feel this way forever, this misery will never change, the US will always exist, love will exist to the last human and then even further, I will never die), most of me is ready to “move on” (what is moving on? Fading feelings? Heaping mounds of time on a coffin of memories? Regrowing an old limb?) But I can’t help feeling tinges of bitterness and cynicism and self-hatred and confusion and desire and plain ole hurt. I can’t. These things will all pass (except that part of me that thinks they won’t) and that part of me wants to celebrate my ability to feel these things at all. Structurally I’m capable now of feeling this kind of nasty stuff because I’ve fought tooth and nail past flat out depression, and it reminds me I am, right now, alive. But, there’s something else I’d like to do. You see, I hate the weird impulse (I don’t know if it’s cultural or social or what) to hurry pain out the door like an unwelcome guest. I’d like to sit with it, not so we can both hang in my own filth, but to hear its story. Pain and suffering speak in many ways, with many other voices, sometimes violently, with passion, sometimes in a drone. However if can be brave enough to be quiet enough to get to the point where we can simply sit was pain proper we can here its whisper like the song of a ghost. And it says, to me at least, my pain, something like this: delight that this all passes, not because it is hard to stand, but because it is the most intimate way we humans get to know the world as it is, by watching the whisps of time rend everything apart, sometimes gently, sometimes cruelly, and delight in this constant change because it will happen so often, so frequently, that all this will occur again and again and again, just like its new, and even then, as you live this all again, delight.
When we listen to this quiet song we are reminding of things joy forgets. We are reminded of the past in a sober light, with a certain serenity. Joy would have us exist only right now, and that is good, but we are nothing if now the time given to our stories.
I’m sorry if I’ve been talking to you in an overwrought manner, it’s just another way of dealing with hurt, to dress it up. I could be wrong, and pain just hurts and I just need to wait for better days. Maybe. But then again, I’m never one to pass up a good story, even when it’s from something deep inside that sometimes feels like a haunting. Let’s not banish our ghosts, but learn what it’s like to hang with them.
So what then is a heart break? It’s hurt. It’s frustration and all that joyless stuff. It’s also the effervescent weave that frays and braids in those forces larger than us: Time, Love, Memory. It’s life, man. However banal that might sound.