I keep these feelings, this anger, locked up. At the jail where I volunteer, the sergeant tells me no papers with staples. That the inmates collect the staples, stuff them into the locks. I think about this. What can I stuff into my locks that will prevent the anger from getting out? I could simply collect all the locks and decide to throw them away and just let my whole self overflow. Overflow into the seat next to me. Into the space all around me. Unlocked and overflowing into something that no one can approach because every single space near and around me is full of something. Of skin and teeth and bile. Of memories hurtful and small. Of the angry air, which has just left my mouth.
“We are not merely always telling the truth; we are making it.” --Ira Allen
I told the truth that night, what seemed to be the truth as I was making it the truth at the time. I said I was staying.
Plus facile à dire qu'a faire. [i]
I said things like, “We’ve had worse before!” and I thought we had. This was part of my carefully constructed truth.
J’ai le cafard. [ii]
But in the making of the truth that followed, I saw that things could be worse than before because I had been incapable of conceiving “worse” at the time I was constructing that piece of truth, my own square acre of truth.
Ma faute. [iii]
Collectively, the worse was being made among our own truths, made obdurate. Their truth. Our truth. My truth.
La moutarde me monte au nez. [iv]
I said I would stay, which was my truth. It happened twice before. The second time, we were in Paris. We ate crepes on the street, assuaged that we had voted early. The truth: believing my vote mattered.
Laissez tomber. [v]
Why did I promise to stay? Why was it the first thing I said aloud, at the television, sitting alone? Who was I promising? Would I have made this commitment to myself, to the television, to the air, had my truth been more malleable? If I had some sort of imaginings of what was worse or the worst?
Je sais très bien mais tout de même... [vi]
I fell into fitful sleep where I dreamed of moving to Paris. I put down an $800 deposit to buy some kind of apartment near Montmartre. I had my choice of master-chef kitchens with cupboard doors with glass inserts of different designs: clear, or pinstriped, or free-formed hand-blown. After putting down the deposit, I walked out into the fall afternoon, smelling wood smoke, the leaves blood red drifting down onto the cobblestone streets.
What of this dreamscape-constructed truth?
J'ai aimé ce rêve. J'ai vraiment aimé ce rêve. [vii]
When I woke, I looked around the room, thinking that I could leave all this behind. The sofa, the bed, the side table. The lamps, the dishes, the desk. The blender, the radio, the television. Start again.
Je dis ça. [viii]
Instead, I went to a lecture about the truthfulness of fantasy and the fantasy of truth. I learned that I had a truth and was making the truth. And now I had a decision to make. A decision. Because in my life of reading, I believe I am part of a long line of thinkers. That I have inhaled the air of ideas from people who defined truth, and wrote about truth, and defined and wrote about truth. Now there is something else that I must do.
Je sais très bien mais tout de même… [ix]
[i] Easier said than done
[ii] I’m feeling down
[iii] My bad
[iv] I’m getting angry (literally, the mustard is getting to my nose!)
[v] Let it go/drop it
[vi] I know very well, but all the same…
[vii] I loved that dream. I truly loved that dream
[viii] Just sayin’
[ix] I know very well, but all the same…
(Please excuse the poorly constructed French slang; all errors are mine [and the internet's].)
Let me number these things as a semblance of control and order.
First, I want to write “Firstly” because it goes best with "secondly," even though we know I should just write first, second, third.
2. Or secondly. Or second. Last night I fell asleep alone with my arms wrapped around myself. Sometime during the night, I noticed I had rolled over, away from my own self.
I was awakened by the sound of nothing, which was the third thing I noticed, in which case thirdly does not work. The room should have been filled with the sound of gunfire or screaming from the television. Instead, there was a pause between murders and infomercials and election results and emergency weather alerts and the talking and the talking and the talking.
I did not know where I was.
4. I fall asleep with the television on, listening to true crime shows. I used to listen to the news, but it was too violent and gave me bad dreams of people talking into the nothingness, creating blue flickering forest fires of words they could never take back.
sometime after turning off the television, I noticed the dampness of my pillow for which no amount of folding and unfolding could yield a spot of cool dryness against my cheek.
Lastly, I folded myself into a yoda-origami of nothingness, making more room for myself while hoping that I didn’t notice myself or hold too tightly to myself alone in a sea of white flannel sheets.
In my loneliness, I turned the television back on and, with eyes closed, listened for the world to burn.