You Can’t Go Back

For a moment, let us be needlessly sentimental.

The day my oldest sister moved away to college I cried. This had nothing to do with losing my lifelong roommate who’d tolerated (albeit barely) my atrocious brand of childish messiness. I cried because sometimes the moment washes over you in a clear wave that tells you that nothing will ever be the same again.

Soon after, my family crumbled. We each retreated to our separate corners. I drowned myself in the depths of my bed.

I can’t say precisely that I love my life. I have been looking for something. A feeling that rushes through your chest. A feeling akin to happiness. Every now and then I feel it brush across my skin. The wispy entrails of feeling that could, potentially, solve the unknown question (42).

I find myself retracing my steps, looking back to the places where this feeling once brushed my life. I have returned to the place. Maybe the place has not changed, but the feeling has left. Like my sister leaving home, it’s become markedly clear that my life will never return to those moments of bald joy.

You can’t go back to those slippery moments of happiness. Why am I lingering, waiting for them to return to the places where everyone else has left? Why am I still the one, swimming around in the past, looking for those last vestiges of long-extinct moments. Why can’t I get out of my own superior, possibly imaginary, memories?

Let us find new moments. Let us find new happiness. This one is no longer waiting patiently for our return.

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Day Ninety-One: Happy People

Pretty sure Le Novio’s neighbor is watching Ellen right now while simultaneously singing Pharrell’s song “Happy” at the top of his lungs (that makes day three, he sounds like a dying squirrel). God, he smokes a lot of drugs, but he sure is happy.

I am less happy because, while I’m excited about my trip, I have so much to do before I go. Including saying a prolonged goodbye to Le Novio that will officially end our month of “not living together while both of us live in his apartment”.

I made a choice a few months ago to give up the life that was making me really damn depressed and try something else for a while. I wanted, and felt I deserved, to be happy. The eternal quest, right?

I couldn’t hold on the the remnants of things that made me happy and expect them to get me by forever. I need to make something new.

But nothing is ever going to make me 100% happy 100% of the time. I’ve had to give up lots of things that I love in this quest for happiness. Really, I’ve had to give up almost everything. People that mean the world to me, a city that I love, and the first awakenings of financial freedom.

Sometimes, you just have to tear down your life and rebuild.

So let’s start rebuilding.

With that, once again, I say goodbye to New Orleans.

Day Forty-Seven: Band-Aids

It really wasn’t much of a secret that I’ve been feeling pretty down lately. I got to New Orleans on Thursday with a distinct air of misery that led to unfairly torturing Le Novio.

Mardi Gras is this kind of magical thing in which every aspect of your normal life is no longer happening. You are not sad during Mardi Gras. It is not possible. It’s escapism at its most distracting.

I haven’t been down since that first night I got here. I’ve been tired, drunk, hungry, annoying, sloppy, sore, enthusiastic, excited, exhausted and frustrated; but in an immediate way. In a way where emotions are but the thoughts jumping into your brain at that moment and your brain has no capacity for more. It’s like when you hit your thumb with a hammer. You don’t think about he fact that you’ve been depressed for six months, you think about how badly your thumb hurts. So there are feelings, and there are emotions.

Somewhere along the line in my previous life (my old New Orleans life), I realized that I was living my feelings and not my emotions. I wasn’t thinking. I was going day to day. If someone asked me how I was I’d say “tired” or “hungry”. I wouldn’t have said “Questioning my existential reason for continuing to continuing to contribute to this planet.”

So that’s why I said, last week from the confines of my isolation cave, that I was down. I was remembering how to have emotions again as opposed to feelings.

It’s wrong to say that some people are “deep” and some are “superficial,” but there is a distinction between these two types of feelings. Some people will go through their entire lives worrying/feeling only things like their thumb hurting. Some people will try to get a bit deeper.

I am prone to depression, but, at least for me (and why I personally chose to ride it out rather than medicating), with those bouts of depression come these wonderfully soaring highs. There are so many shades of sad ranging from “hey, I got a stain on my shirt” to, well… sorts of overwhelming, bleak horrors of the mind that have even become too taboo to speak of (“Voldemort.”). Same goes for happiness. How can “happy” both mean “I got a great grade on my test!” and “I literally feel like my life is the most beautiful, cosmic ideal of perfection”? What incomplete and hollow words. Sad and happy. It’s too general to grasp any sort of meaning. Their meaning is entirely situational.

What I’m trying to say is, life is gonna cut you. It’s going to irreparably gouge you until you are a whole other shape than when you came into this world. You can examine that wound. You can look at it, pick at it, cry about it, stitch it up, or stick a band-aid on it. A band-aid isn’t going to heal the wound, or make it feel any better, but it’s going to cover it up. It’s going to push it from your mind. Hell, maybe you’ll even eventually forget that wound is under there. But do you want to?

Sometimes, what kills me, is that society wants you to wear that band-aid–to focus on job, money, kids, repeat. To only think about the movement through our day. And for some people,that’s perfectly fine. That’s all there is. They are the same people that have feelings, but very few emotions. And good for them. Statistically, they’re more “happy.”

But, what’s so wrong with digging a little deeper? When did our wounds become shameful? When did depth of emotion become wrong and band-aids become the central focus of our society? Our language barely even has a vocabulary to discuss these emotions. It’s all vague and word-less because no one seems to think it ok to talk about it. We don’t read Kierkegaard or Kafka in public. You read them alone in your room. We read James Patterson in public.

I like doing things that are simple. I like reading lists on buzzfeed. I like putting on pretty dresses. I like drinking Scotch whisky. I like hanging out with my friends and telling stupid stories. I like to do so many thought-less, superficial actions and they make my day go by without any complaints. In the most simple form, they make me happy. But they aren’t going to fundamentally–from the root up–inspire the sort of delirious joy I sometimes feel or prevent that lingering haze of depression.

Those things–like Mardi Gras–are escapist band-aids and when the true emotions deep within my being come welling up… well, I’ll bleed right through them.

I’m not hurting anyone. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just trying to explore the recesses of my own mind.