Even though I can be outgoing at times, I am best known for my silences. It’s not sulking, sometimes I’m not even angry or sad or hurt. Just quiet. Just nothing to say. Sometimes the silence comes on because things have gotten too intense and I need to inject distance however I can. Sometimes it manifests because I am at an impasse, and somehow the only thing that will solve the problem is to close my mouth. And sometimes, the silence begins as a question- every so often, I wonder if I am speaking to someone, or if I’m just enjoying the sound of my own voice. When I close my mouth, I wait to see if anyone speaks. If they don’t, they must not have wanted to know what I had to say in the first place, I reason, and the silence thus stretches out.
But it is a stretch. The silence fills a span, and then I get so overwrought, so taut, and I know, when I’ve reached that point, that I have two choices. I can snap back into place and resume the conversation. Or the elastic snaps, the connection breaks entirely, and there’s an end.
I used to be a person that didn’t believe in endings. Nothing ended, everything was temporary, all could be mended or broken all over again, and this was both frustrating and comforting. But now I know there is such a thing as permanence.
I know because, when the silence stretches out, there’s always a choice. Sometimes I’m not consciously aware of it, but some alarm goes off, and I come running back in a panic. Are you still there, is it too late, can we resume? When that happens, it no longer matters who was right and who was wrong, it no longer matters why the silence first came upon us, it no longer matters whether it will come again. I just need to speak, and I need to hear that voice in response.
This blog started because of silence. And I think this blog has been silent lately because the person who I so often had in mind when I wrote became a mirage, dissolved, disintegrated, irreversibly disappeared from my life. Not a ghost, just a void. A string wore down over the years and in the end it frayed with so little fanfare. It was a whimper, not a bang. But that’s the thing about a world ending- does it really matter how much violence is involved? Does that change the fact that it’s the end of the world as we know it?
It is the end of the world as we knew it, and I feel fine. But sometimes I don’t. I don’t know how to write about it, how to explain that a conversation which lasted over 15 years finally came to a close. Because it’s not heartbreak, this feeling. It’s an odd feeling to reconcile, when you know something you cherished so much is over, and yet you know it has to be and that it makes sense that it is. You wouldn’t do anything differently, you regret nothing- and yet, there it is, the silence.
Maybe that is the end- when there are no words.