fixations of childhood, obsessions of adulthood

Do you remember when I was in middle school and so obsessed with John that I created an imaginary friend named Jay who looked just like him? He was like my mind’s replacement. I think I said he was twenty-three (much older than I was at the time but still tame, although inwardly I wished he were older) and had blond hair and green eyes, but I could never keep track of the eye color, so sometimes they were blue instead. I imagined he walked with me when I went out, and he slept beside me with one arm draped around me. I never thought I was starving for romantic affection, but I was, and desperate for a man to accept my obsession. I don’t know why. I don’t know when it started. Back when I was eight years old, I fell in love with a forty-year-old singer from American Idol, and I don’t think that was the first time. I loved the Doctor because he was nine hundred years old. I loved Motorcycle Man, the 33-year-old from my church. I was absolutely dumbstruck by every single male pastor and teacher and counselor I ever had, so I kept up with ten-page journal entries about every single one of them and I gazed at them, chest aching, from across the campfires of youth group retreats. I ought to burn all the journals I kept before ninth grade. At least after ninth grade I began to learn to hide my obsession.
At high school graduation, I proceeded down the line of teachers with outstretched hands to shake, and instead, I hugged all the ones I loved the most, and the one I’m too scared to name said “thank you for everything, Emily” and when I sat down I realized they could not see me the same way after this. In adulthood, everyone is the same. But the way I love men is divisive.

It is not eerie to be in a room, but it is somehow eerie to imagine a room in your mind with no inhabitants. On what plane does the room in your mind exist? How can you picture the way it lies suspended in memory? Why is the real lighting normal, but the lighting in your mind perturbing? In death, is that realm the one you explore forever? The realm in the mind, which closes in upon you from all sides like static, like darkness? There is no sunlight in your mind. There is no fresh air, no tactile sensation, every unsettling detail expanding infinitely in magnitude. It’s as if you have always existed — only stored in a corner of that memory space, preceding your birth, preceding the birth of time. You found physical form outside of it, and when you lose your physical form, that space is where you will return.

the latitude of memory

there is a version of me trapped in each memory like a snowglobe. me, thirteen, long hair in a ponytail, running across the beach where the water is just an inch deep because I love the way it splashes. me, eight, staring out the car window and thinking how strange it is I’ve only been on the earth for eight years and yet I feel like I have always been here. me, eleven, in New Mexico, on Christmas, staring at the luminarias lining the sidewalks. me, sixteen, listening to my writing instructor’s voice break. memory isn’t a continuous and chronological line, not even a line at all, and I don’t know if that’s what time is, either. my life is a room with no walls that holds a hundred thousand memories suspended in water. I jump from moment to moment out of order and everything else is just the space between.

There is nothing to do but wait.

I think of my grandparents as still alive. How could I think of them as anything else? How could they not be somewhere parallel to me? Where are they, that could be unreachable? Is this God’s plan for us? Live side by side until one timeline breaks and falls away to he-knows-where-but-I-do-not? Is Papa safe? Is Grandpa George safe? Does suicide take you to the seventh layer of hell? Does hell exist? I think there’s something very wrong about all of this. There is nobody to ask. There is nobody who has gone and come back. The only ones to ask are the unbroken. The dead know now what my body squirms daily to discover. I could have asked them in life but they did not know, not then. Only now. This is unfixable. Unknowable. Putrid, obscene ignorance that sticks in my flesh like shame. It feels like a sin, gathers together suddenly in waves of pure, destitute panic. It’s strange, the way the vulnerability in desperation can sometimes feel akin to an orgasm. My mind lurches to fill its empty spaces and finds no information with which to do so. Nature is infallible because she doesn’t pretend to be kind. God, however. God allows my suffering and still proclaims he is kind.

Dissociation.

Spreading your fingers out flat against the table. Friction stopping your soul from falling backwards out of your body and into the maw of hell.

Reality twisting. But what is reality? It’s shifting. This isn’t the truth. God is withholding the truth. This is a simulation test. Soon, the world will turn into focus and you will face judgment.

You love drinking because alcohol is glue and it slaps your halves together.

Doubt.

Is it your instincts that lie to you? Or your insecurity? Or reality itself? Stop thinking about reality. It doesn’t matter what’s real.

When you imagine having conversations, your words flow freely alongside the current of your thoughts. But when you really speak, time freezes like a Tomb Raider quicktime action, only you aren’t allowed to think because everyone is yelling at you to be clever and by everyone I mean you. You hold reality in your hand. That’s a lot of responsibility. And you can’t even keep up with a conversation.

Your instincts are your compass and your compass is broken and there’s no way, there’s absolutely no way, that everyone else feels this incredible sense of urgency.

Aching self hatred.

Stop fucking obsessing. You pathetic fucking worm.

You know if you could stalk people and get away with it, you would. You tell yourself you’re just fascinated by people. I’m sure that’s true. I’m sure it’s normal to fantasize about someone you’ve known for one week. I’m sure that’s normal.

You can’t even fucking kill yourself. Because you’re so afraid of death.

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

I thought you knew that God couldn’t be pinned down. You’ve said so many times that his nature is incomprehensible. Why do you tell me we can’t know the concrete truth, but then, with the same tongue and absolute certainty, tell me I’m wrong? There is no absolute truth. I know you think that’s a logical fallacy. But you ignore every logical fallacy I bring to your attention, and you know why, don’t you? You know it’s because there is no absolute reality. You know that, because even the color red changes from human to human. Even eyesight, depth perception, hearing. I’m deaf in my left ear. I can’t hear the birds chirping in the morning. My best friend is schizophrenic. She texted me the other night about the way the voices seemed different than they usually do — they were alarming when usually they’re calm. How come you hate vanilla ice cream when I love it? How come I care so much about hell when you don’t? How come I’m wrong when I say that truth is relative?

Vanilla ice cream is delicious. There is no absolute truth.

Everything about life is subjective. That is the nature of reality and the beauty of it, too. God will not damn me to hell because he did not reveal the same truth to me that he did to you. God is Abba, Father, Mother, Protector of his/her children in life and in death. He knows where our differences lie. He knows that fear will never be solid ground for my faith, even if it is for you. We aren’t the same.

You know that God is the God of second chances. You know the parable of the Farmer and his workers. He hired men to tend his vineyard, and they worked all day starting in the morning. When afternoon came, he found more men waiting for work, and when he asked them why they were waiting, they said nobody had hired them. So he hired them, and they worked until the end of the day. When the Farmer paid all of the workers the same, the ones who had worked from morning complained. “‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.'”
(Matthew 20)

God is in control. He will save some of us now and some of us at the mouth of Death. We will never be penalized for waiting.

I’m waiting for God. All of the faithless are waiting. We cannot be cast into hell for the knowledge that is withheld from us.

The road to truth is dim and slippery and every human being is given a separate route.

Evanescence (I’m not talking about the band)

Sometimes I hate reading because I know I can’t remember every beautiful thing I’ve ever read. The dredges of humanity produce such beautiful things, and I despise the linear process of my mind because there’s no way to comprehend all of it at once. Enlightenment comes one thought at a time. Realizations are transient, and I love poetry but reading it is so ridiculously sad. Like falling in love with someone in a dream. I write things down, but there’s only so many places to write them, and what if I even forget where I put them? I used to keep a detailed daily journal, and it stressed me out because I couldn’t write everything down. Even if I could muster up every scrap of memory accumulated throughout the day, there would be things I’d forgotten that wouldn’t reach paper and would thereby cease to exist. I don’t keep a daily journal anymore, so I don’t stress so much. Except for those moments when I realize how much I’ve neglected to write about that I’ll never remember. Those memories just slip away. Does the present even matter if you won’t ever recall it? Is what’s happening right now worth anything if it’s impermanent? When I read a really great poem that really speaks to me, there’s a lingering panic like static in the background. I might forget about this poem tomorrow. Maybe only an hour from now. What seems life-changing right now won’t mean anything soon enough. My life rolls on and overlaps and folds into itself like frothing little waves on the shore. I remember a poem. Maybe two. A couple of books that are just as great as all the other great books I’ve read that I don’t ever think about. I stress because I’m afraid I won’t move anyone with what I make, but even if I do, it’ll only be for one minute, and that minute will be trampled over and left behind. By the time the earth crumbles and the sun over-saturates, every dent I made in humanity will be rendered so insignificant I might just as well never read any heartfelt poems at all.