This week in a melancholic fit I taught myself the chords to Landslide. I laid my body out on my bed, held the guitar close to my chest and really belted out those lyrics. Let the reverb knock around in my chest. I ate a family-sized bag of Ruffles potato chips. I almost bought a pack of cigarettes. I was standing in Plaid Pantry and when she asked if I needed anything else the lighter was in my pocket and the “yes” was on my tongue, but then you texted me and I said Nope, all set and handed her my debit card. I’d left work early to cry in my car, and I’d left my car to cry in the forest, and I left the forest to drink beers in your sun-drenched backyard pretending nothing was wrong.
The forest took all the things I wanted to say. When I get to you I am out of words.
Have you ever seen a butterfly drag itself out of a chrysalis? There’s no sudden flurry of color as the former caterpillar bursts fabulously from its entrapment. First they use a gland in their proboscis to moisten the inside of the shell, softening it. Then they claw their way out. Tediously they emerge, sticky with their own fluids, wings soft and useless and crumpled. It takes hours for the circulatory system in their wings to become functional. The wings slowly expand and harden. They become useable.
You asked me once if I’ve ever been depressed. Not just sad but, I’d-kill-myself-if-I-had-the-energy, “Depressed with a capital D”. I don’t remember what I answered, but I know I didn’t tell you about stepping into a river at the tail end of Montana winter. I know I didn’t tell you about the night I invited cheap tequila and a bottle of dilaudid into bed with me. How we flirted all night, but the next morning those pills were still in that bottle. I didn’t tell you about the nights I self-soothed with visions of self-harm. I can’t explain how imagining the blade kept me from using it. I can’t explain how knowing I could leave kept me from going.
I honestly don’t know what I said. When face-to-face with such obvious pain my experiences felt invalid, like I’d been playing dress up; trying on different degrees of distress to see which one fit me best.
I tell the trees I am hurt, and I am angry, and I am confused. I tell the trees I am scared. I tell the trees I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this, I can’t. The trees keep their own counsel, but they nod to indicate they’re listening. “What if we didn’t know about wind?” You said once, forever ago. “Would we assume the trees were dancing?” I don’t know how I answered that either.
My horoscope says see everything that hurts through the eyes of kindness.
My friend says you should just get more Xiao Yao Wan it'll help.
My therapist says so what if it’s an ultimatum?
My head says Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. My heart keeps its own counsel but nods to indicate listening.
The last time I see you I won’t know it’s the last time. In my yellow bedroom I write the words and they feel like only truth feels. I hold the landslide in my mouth, the taste like birth; like slow struggle. Outside no such thing as wind, the trees are dancing.