I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about some complex emotions.
A friend whose marriage may be on the rocks, who thinks her husband is cheating on her.
A friend who’s dealing with an immense array of traumas from childhood, from adulthood, from disabilities and ailments.
A friend who’s commemorating two lost parents in the last five years.
A friend who recently suffered a devastating loss of a pet, who is struggling to deal with a pain unlike any she’s felt.
A couple of men my age who are dealing with mental illnesses, in ways none of us have typically felt able to discuss.
A young adult who’s trying to turn their life around, who’s been (so far) unable to take advantage of all the tools therapeutic practice has to offer.
It’s not news, I think, that mental illness is yet another side effect of pandemic, of trumpian fascist politics, of a world in which hate and ignorance has some our from under it’s pointy hood.
We’re not well, broadly speaking.
Yesterday at a small gathering, two separate (beautiful) friends hugged me with a sweet, desperate affection. Neither they, or I, wanted to let go, holding a platonic hug far, far longer than would have been the norm not long ago.
Ok, I admit it, it’s never completely platonic with me. I’m aware of every inch of flesh that’s touching, and am damn pleased with it. Wait, i’m distracting myself now.
Maybe it’s the age group; maybe it’s that we’ve all had to confront things we’ve never dealt with in our white, middle aged, middle class, able lifestyles. I do not recall any time where so many of my close and intimate friends seemed so desperate.
I find myself in a cycle of needing both to comfort, and to be comforted, in ways i’ve never experienced. Not that this is worse; it’s not. But there’s a constant, traumatic sense of need that feels like it’ll never end, as we go into another winter of surge, waiting for something, good or bad, but something.
Wound’t it be easier if we could all drop acid and get in a naked, sweaty pile? God knows we’d all be better for it. Or taking turns with the whip, turns on the wall in cuffs.
I need to feel something stronger than boredom and dread, which describes most of my last three years. And I need to elicit responses.
I think that’s what made me go revisit my novella, because it reprensets both. It represents my own intensity of some 20 years ago. It represents a period in my life where everything I felt was dialed all the way up; when I felt everything, and engendered similarly strong responses in others.
I can’t be back there; it’s been an incredibly long 20 years. But I can visit that place, that time. Re-writing, and then sharing, are about that intensity of feeling in a way I can control. It’s about that sense of directed chaos. It’s the feeling of making someone else feel, in a profound and visceral way.
I’ve had a taste of it again; three or four friends who’ve read my work, in the last month, who’d gotten hard, or wet, who have reacted mentally, emotionally, physically, to my words, my voice.
It’s powerful, but it’s goddamn ephemeral. You can’t have a first time more than once, and so I find myself needing more first time feeling.
I want to extend that intensity to loved ones, friends, to the women I hugged yesterday.
I can make you feel, I want to say, I can touch you everywhere, without touching you, and you, then, can repay in kind just by letting me know how it felt.
Something needs to explode; I wish it could be all of us.