I hear things about them. I observe the things they choose to emit to the world. Sometimes frequently. Sometimes not for years at a time. I know they are all different people now. They are no longer subscripted by 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2015 -- the times I last knew them. They are all subscripted by 2016 now. I miss all of them. I yearn to communicate with them when the little ways and things of life nudge something worth sharing into my path like a cat against my ankle. But I do not wish to tread where I am not welcomed. I do not wish to interfere nor to observe anything beyond what they wish to project about themselves -- if anything at all.
I am angry at them. I am angry about the chances they did not take. I am angry about hurt, pain, confusion -- things that were said to me or even things that were yelled at me so loudly and with so much force that oblong strands of spit landed on my face and I had to seriously question whether or not to call the police. I am angry that I displayed so much loyalty and spent so much painstaking effort listening to problems, proposing hypothetical solutions, offering emotional, physical, and financial assistance, only to experience literally none of that loyalty in return and then be forced to witness that person happily giving such loyalty elsewhere almost immediately. I am angry at petty infidelity, especially because the only kind of monogamy I have ever cared about is emotional -- and yet those who were least faithful never even bothered to learn this about me or ask simple questions about my preferences. And, of course, I am angry at myself for the ways that I have failed these things, failed to pay attention, failed to adequately sequester the other problems in my life so as to not allow them to poison my interactions with the ones I loved the most.
I feel sorrow when I think of them. The alternate futures that could have worked out break my heart all the time. I used to think something was wrong with me because of this. The people I've loved have always seemed to so easily forget me and press on fabricating happy experiences for themselves. My friends seem to lose patience with the way that my heartbreak simply will not subside. I've just come to learn that other humans seem capable of absorbing the blow of emotional loss in a matter of months and just moving on. I am simply not arranged that way. I'm not sure I would say I've truly moved on from any blow I've ever received. They do not dissipate for me. Whatever mechanism that slowly drains away sorrow and replaces it with the excitement for new opportunities in other people does not occur inside of me. That part was missing when I left the factory. The emotional blows just accrete. I've learned not only how to live with this, but how to take joy it in. I am thankful because it shows me all the love I am capable of and shows me that I will not allow petty resentment or bitterness to live inside me. I am so lucky that the primary thing I feel about all of my past lovers is ... love.
I am amazed by the people whom I have loved and continue to love. They are beautiful, all of them. How to begin describing what a lucky man I am in this regard. There is nothing special about me to attract such beauty, and of course the chances of finding it again must always diminish with age. But I don't feel any torschlusspanik over it at all, not even a wrinkle of stress, owing largely to how fortunate I have been to share close bonds with people of such exceptional beauty.
My amazement with them extends so far beyond shallow beauty. For they have all been brilliant as well. Highly formidable human beings who shared amazing thoughts and creations with me -- who cultivated little experiences with me in the forgotten moments inside the front cover of a gifted copy of Oblivion by David Foster Wallace; in the seductive unzipping of a boot on what was an unforgettably wonderful first date; in you taking me to see Annie Hall for my first time at the Brattle; in us laughing about how there's no fish like tilapia; in the ink of a deepest sympathies greeting card marking yet another unforgettable first date; in you clearly letting me win once at Settlers of Catan in your old kitchen; in the brilliance of your libretto; in a pair of legs resting across my lap on a sofa in a dormitory elevator lobby in Hong Kong while I tried, in vain, to read Kierkegaard as you read Harry Potter; in a patch of grass just outside the Louvre; in a reflection in a Parisian mirror; in what was perhaps the most emotionally difficult solo train ride I've ever known; in my occasional affinity for Chris Bachelder, Say Yes to the Dress, Wes Anderson, and category theory. If I can be called eclectic at all, it is thanks solely to you.
My knowledge is fractured and incomplete, but to the best of it they have gone on to lead wonderful lives. They have found other lovers. They have moved and reinvented themselves when faced with a challenge. They have found humor, argued over their beliefs, reached new and different depths of passion. They have made commitments, solved problems, won jobs, and invented the creations weighing on their hearts. They have cooked meals, had sex, traveled, pushed themselves, rested, received comfort, built friendships, ingested books, albums, poems, and proofs. They have increased their loveliness and their brilliance. They are exactly the kind of people that make the world worthwhile. I am so proud of them, even if pride makes no sense in this situation. To think of such full and lovely lives, lived so differently yet each one so passionately. If a person can't take joy in it or feel proud when he sees it, what the hell else can life even be for or about?
I wish them nothing but wonderful lives. Even though I have been hurt so badly, I see no point or prosperity of any kind in wishing them pain or trouble. I am happy with even just a glimpse of the natural beauty, talent, and brilliance of each of them. It is a joy any time I am fortunate enough to see it augmented by experience, amplified by the communities and relationships they have chosen to inhabit now. There is a Taiwanese film, You Are the Apple of My Eye, that has touched me when I've watched and rewatched it over the past year. Maybe it's trite to punt to a film -- but if you've read this far you know I'm not afraid to be trite. If you want to know how I feel you should watch it and contemplate, as I do, how prophetic it was all those times when the kids in school called me foureyes.
Given the circumstances of my family that have consumed my life for the past three years, I think it is reasonable to believe I may never fully recover -- in the sense of leading the life I had worked to lead. And it's not unreasonable to feel that I may never cross paths with these four beautiful people ever again. I have to say I hope that's not the case, but if true it's far from a sad thing. Because it means that their paths have carried them on to new adventures, to new heights, to new achievements where their beauty and brilliance are appreciated, and where, above all, they are happy. I hope with such strength that they are happy. And that wherever they are, they know that they are loved. I love them. I don't believe I'll ever stop loving all of them.
“I have often thought to myself how it would have been if, when I served in the first World War, I and some young German had killed each other simultaneously and found ourselves together a moment after death. I cannot imagine that either of us would have felt any resentment or even any embarrassment. I think we might have laughed over it.” -- C.S. LewisSkip ahead to 14:04