Category: m’fhear céile


I guess in a mostly unconscious but very real way, I’ve spent the last fifteen years on a strange sort of invisible, immobile, even static pilgrimage of penance with you at the center even in your absence, maybe especially in your absence. The problem is that there’s no jerusalem, no mecca, no holy land, no end, no absolution, not even an appropriate formula for an act of contrition.

Who would I confess to? Who could absolve me? How could I even ask for this burden of regret to be lifted? It’s all I have left of you and I don’t know what I’d do without it. In fact, I think it may have seeped into my bones. We’re inseparable, symbiotic, a new self-consuming life form with a skeleton made of barbed wire and sorrow. Without it I’d have no shape, no structure, no coherence.

You are still so beautiful that my breath catches in my throat when I see you. Your touch feels like home. We were so alive, the both of us together, and to be fair, part of what I mourn may be as much that time of hope for myself, when I thought I could be a better person than I was ultimately capable of being, as it is you. You raised my hopes for myself; I thought I could learn to be equal to our best moments, to our youth and optimism, to your creativity and beauty and often wordless but always present love. I shattered them, though, those hopes, and left splinters stuck deep, deep beneath the skin – the kind that never work their way out on their own, I’m now sure.

When I was cruel or callous to you, I was punishing myself. I can see that so clearly now. I might have even realized it on some level then. I didn’t know what to do. I did it wrong. And I never got a chance to fix it. And I never had a right to hope I’d get that chance, and certainly never had a right to anything but a sense of poetic justice when it was denied.

There’s no movement so I guess by definition it can’t be a pilgrimage. I’d call it purgatory except I’m not sure there’s any way out. I don’t think anybody is keeping score, or even paying attention.

What am I supposed to do? You can’t forgive me; you won’t even blame me. I can’t forgive myself. Because on some level my sins include not only what I did to you but also what I did to myself – murdered my own deep, true love, destroyed my own happiness (and, it seems, all avenues to any other happiness) through my own ignorance, selfishness, and cruelty. How can I forgive myself for that? If you were happy and well now, I could take some comfort in that and vow to stay away, keep my distance, let you have your happiness. But you are nt happy and well and even though I know its not all my fault, it still feels like my responsibility. I still have to remind myself that I can’t just beg you to come home, to please give me another chance, or at least a chance to make it up to you in some small way when you need something, anything. I cant give you anything but more trouble and pain.

There’s nothing I can do. I can’t do even the smallest thing to make amends (which, selfishly, might make me feel better too). I can’t fix anything for you, though I want to. I want to swoop in and stomp all those people and things and events and institutions that frustrate you or make you unhappy, that thwart you or are unfair or unkind to you, that hurt you instead of helping you. I can’t do that though – whatever steps or efforts I could ideally make by virtue of sheer righteous anger on your behalf, I long ago forfeited the right to take. I can’t fix anything. I can’t even really help. I can’t make you a warm, clean bed to rest in, I can’t hold you when you’re tired or sad, I can’t hug you or reach out to brush your hair out of your face like I used to. I can’t even touch you.

I can’t even see you. I’m not really allowed to be your friend, not really. It may be just as well, because when I do see you, my whole being floods with love, but its a love weighted always with bitter regret and a bone-crushing grief and a stinging sense of guilt, and as impossible as it ought to be, the length and breadth of this misery, it never stops.

The feeling is that I’m guilty almost of murder; it sound hyperbolic, but it has that feeling of horror, and of irrevocable things. No one rises from this gravesite, though, least of all me. I’ve had one foot in it for fifteen years and I don’t see any way to change that. I don’t know how.

Surely I’ve found the cruelest of faiths, celebrating nothing in this world and offering no hope in any other. But its one of my own making, finally – I just lack the means to change it.

Part One

Princess of Wands

I had a scab on my knee.  Maybe Nick had thrown me into one of the curbside garbage cans downtown.  Maybe I had gotten drunk and tripped over something in the parking lot.  But I don’t really know. The pages from those days are filled with half-assed attempts at being philosophical.  Writing for an audience of one is dangerous like that.  But it was sometime in late May or early June, after my first year of college was over and I was back home for the summer and you were home on leave.  If I’d met you before I don’t remember it too clearly, but I know I saw you out somewhere early that summer and wondered who you were, and somebody told me.  The most coherent, least preposterous thing I wrote then was, “To realise that there’s more to life than extremes.” — 5 June 1991, 2.05 a.m.

This is just a way to tell it.  A way to start.  Because I can’t ever tell it.  I was never any good at writing about stuff I was happy about, and I didn’t write about much of us then, much of you and me.  I wrote “He can’t come this weekend” and “We stayed at Duncan’s house” and “I miss him” and “He got a haircut.”  I wrote that in between Oscar Wilde quotes and the drips of blood and the drops of candle wax and the sometimes spidery lines that got out into the margins and wandered their way down as the ink got all mixed up with Boone’s Farm and my brain got all mixed up on the fumes.

“The princesses represent those numerous elemental people whom we recognize by their lack of all sense of responsibility, whose moral qualities seem to lack ‘bite.'” — Aleister CrowleyI was a mess, a raging bundle of loose ends and spliced wires, and you were making some sense out of the tangle.  I don’t know if you knew that.  But I broke down a lot, and when you weren’t there — and, really, I guess, even sometimes when you were — I just fell, and landed, and stared stupidly at the ground, blinking, unable to see quite how to climb back to my feet.We were so young.  When I look at the pictures, I can’t believe how our skin looks.  We didn’t have as many scars.  But I’m pretty sure that when we met, I had a scab on my knee.

Two of Cups

I don’t know how we managed to find the money to get the apartment.  You must have saved most of it.  You paid for nearly everything then; minimum wage back then wasn’t much and I was unemployed in the summers except for the time I watered that old lady’s flower beds.  You must have paid the majority of the rent and all of the bills.

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Naps – strange dreams of voodoo houses and boxes of heroin and being left behind.

I don’t know how to stop loving him.  I don’t know how to stop hurting over the whole thing.  I don’t know if I’m still in love with him, with the man that he is, or with the boy that he was the first day I laid eyes on him, blond and tattered and gorgeous in Linda’s living room – with the boy I fell in love with, the man I left years later, dark-haired now and hurt and lonely.  Or if I’m still in love with a  concept, with the idea of loving him, with us… no closure.

And I haven’t let go and I don’t want to and now I carry around the secret of him like I did when I was with lovers, the presence of him always there, making me make myself feel guilty for not being with him, with him, with him who I love, loved, am loving, will love. Should I use the conditional now?  Should I use the past tense?

Past. Tense.