Thursday, January 24, 2008

if I could I would let it go

A special kind of torture. Somehow W can call my cell phone from abroad and leave messages, even though my phone cannot make international calls. Yesterday, I finally sat down to address that, sent an email that was better suited to be a letter. Better suited to be a letter because it was the sort of thing you ought to write on a piece of paper and then toss in the garbage. But then again, that's not our deal. When I write to W, all the things I don't want to admit to anyone, to myself even, suddenly come spilling out. And I always press send before I have a chance to regret it.

It's all by design, you see. Maybe you've gone through a dark phase. Maybe you're a person who's gone through a dark phase, maybe you're not. I went through more dramatic ones when I was younger. I came back from a vacation in India when I was 21, a senior at university, came back and decided why bother with jet lag? I started living my life in the night, a strange sort of transformation took hold. Most of the time, I haunted the streets in the dark, when no one was around. I worked on my research project in the lab during late hours when everyone else was heading home. I slept in and missed classes. I just drifted, further and further into a sphere of my own creation.

Maybe some people get pulled out of such phases. Maybe some people have interventions, carefully staged with an outpouring of such concern that it crushes them with an overwhelming wave of gratitude. But it's all by design, you see. By that time, I had conveniently created a distance from my closest friends, from the people who would have said, dude, wtf? I had carefully picked out the people I'd kept around me, and they were chosen based on their ignorance, based on their inability to see beyond the superficial.

I couldn't sleep at night, and it was just me and the darkness. It's all by design, you see. Maybe you've had a dark phase. Maybe you wanted to have this showdown. You and the darkness. There, in the darkness, you sit there and wonder what is my problem? That question turns over and over in your head. It never occurs to you to ask whether you really have a problem, because the simple fact that it's 2 in the morning and you are sitting in a corner with your head throbbing tells you that you do, even if it's one of your own invention.

And then, that greatest of mysteries. That strangest of phenomenon. I can look back now and create a history, weave together a prettier resolution. I can look back now and say and then this happened, and I snapped out of it. But it's cheap and false. It's the frustratingly neat ending to a messy tale. But the truth is even more frustrating, because who dares to believe in magic? Who would buy that it just happened, without explanation or warning or progression, just happened? And then the clock was reset, and I got reacquainted with life outside the shadows.

You see, it's all by design. If you create that dark phase, if you bring yourself into it, then only you can get yourself out of it. Retrace your footsteps. Remember the last twist, the last turn, close your eyes and turn it all upside down in your head.

For a second, you might panic. It's tempting to try to start over again, but you can't. In the middle of the darkness, there is only one thing to do, and that's to go back to what you know. It's a dark phase, sure, but it's all by design. I've been here before and recovered, and I will recover this time too. Let me have my demons, my periodic pilgrimage to the darkness, like Persephone to Hades. I will return.

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