Stephen Fry makes me smile. Have a look-see and a listen-hear…oops I mean here:
There he was- a remarkable man; a savior who embodied calamity, conviction and intuition. Bewildered. She stared at him closely. She allowed her eyes to absorb the very nature of the man she did not know. Guarded. Her lungs absorbed an energy, a force, which was transparent in the open space between them. Inexplicable. Astounded by his ability to touch her soul, she ran. She ran into the open field, where fog thickly blanketed the air. She didn’t know where she was running to. All she could be certain of was that she was running from a stranger who made her feel like he knew her far too well.
Out of breath and out of time, she fell to her knees and threw her body to the ground. Afraid he may find her lying there, she grabbed onto the thin blades of grass, which demonstrated the only proof that wind existed, and pleaded with the man above to help her. She dug her face in the dirt and smelled the earth, ready to become a part of it and fearful she was fated to die. Silence became her. She could hear his body moving closer to where she lay. She dug her face deeper into the ground, reluctant; for she did not want her eyes to witness herself become a victim. She felt him standing over her. She held her breath and begged her body to rid itself of sensation. She became numb. Unable to sense what was going to happen next, she lay still, ill prepared to become his prey.
He stood there without much to say as he admired her in a submissive state. He was saddened by it. She lay there before him, withered, helpless and frightened. He could sense her loss of innocence, her obsession with self-destruction and her commitment to freedom and everything wild and free. He knelt next to her and asked if she was alive. She didn’t answer.
Somewhere amidst the chaos in the world, in their world, they found each other. It’s as if fate had magically worked itself out, as it usually does, bringing two lonely strangers to a place where being a nobody had lost its relevance. She hadn’t quite realized that her life had passed her by. She hadn’t realized that she wasn’t quite so little anymore. She had discovered that all was not right in the world. This became quite shocking for a frail girl with big eyes, a hungry heart and thirst for imagination. There, in the dirt, she lay disconnected from the outside world, in a tall field of grass listening to the crickets speak in unison with the speed of the wind. There was nothing ordinary about being ordinary to her. She forgot what it was like to change and be different, or perhaps it was the world she lived in that made it appear as though she hadn’t changed at all. She didn’t seem complacent or worrisome, yet there was a particular sadness that followed her- a certain kind of sadness that became addictive. Was she living to die or dying to live? Perhaps her blank face and routine days echoed a simple, yet profound statement about living such an ordinary life. Was she so different than the rest of her suburban neighbors? Undoubtedly no. Confined to this world, she became so plain because plain is all she could be if it meant blending in with a very, very unpromising Suburbia.
Although she hadn’t said a word about anything above, he was well aware of who she was and how she got there. He was intrigued. He lit a cigarette and handed it to her, “Now finish your story.”
Violated. He had violated her mind. Although she felt naked, she was compelled to finish where his ability to read her mind, had left off.
Do you ever wonder what life would be like without me? I often wonder what life would be like without you. I try not to, but it’s all I ever think about ever since you asked me if I would be okay without you. And when I asked you what you meant, you told me you wanted to leave. And when I asked you where you wanted to go, you said somewhere else, somewhere far away from here. And when I asked you where, you cried. I asked you why and without much hesitance you told me you wanted to go away forever; you wanted to die. That night, a part of me died inside because I felt like I had failed. All of these years I was trying to keep you alive, to give you life and there you were, on the phone, telling me you were tired and didn’t have the strength to go on anymore. I felt helpless. The sound of your voice crumbling on the phone mirrored the crumbling sensation of my heart. I begged for you to come home because I was scared you might never. I got on my bike and rode to you. Although I didn’t know where you were, my intuition guided me. It guided me all the way back home, to you, where you sat on the porch steps and cried. Mama, I know you wish life were different. I often wish it were different too, just for you, so that you could stop being sad and be happy instead.
It wasn’t always this way. I remember those days where you were happy, where you’d pick me up from school and catch me with open arms when I ran to you. I remember those days where we sought comfort beneath trees, soared to great heights on swings, and talked about dragons and princes and princesses in stories you read to me. I remember bike rides, picnics in parks, and our infectious giggling. I remember those days, but those days are a thing of the past. It was always this way, until the day you got sad.
Too young to understand why, I took your pain and internalized it. I thought that if I internalized it, it would take some of the pain away from you and you would learn to feel again. You would start to feel better. You would learn to smile again. You would learn to be you, again, but again never came. I was afraid of the day you would forget to walk, love, and be happy. And so far, you have. Sometimes I wish you would remember. All I have now is a memory of how you used to be. Sometimes even I forget.
Do you remember when you came to pick me up from school that day and Mrs. B spoke to you about me? I’m sorry, Mama. I was too afraid to tell you that I was sad because you were. I didn’t want to hurt you more than you were already hurt. When Mrs. B asked me why I looked sad in class, I couldn’t lie. You always told me to tell the truth, so I did. I told her that I was sad because I had to be, because you were. She asked me if I wanted to talk to someone about it. With bright eyes and a naïve heart, I looked up at her and asked her if the person I could talk to was a magician. When she told me that the person to talk to wouldn’t be a magician, I politely declined. “No that’s okay, Mrs. B,” I said. I explained that the only person, who could fix what was happening, who could fix my Mama, would be a magician. I later learned that a magician couldn’t change things. This is when I started hoping, dreaming, and wishing.
I remember I was often a child that dreamed of happiness, not for me, but for you. Do you remember those pictures I painted for you? Those pictures of you and I with red painted smiles on our oval faces, beneath the sun and among trees and flowers? I wanted to be like the other kids. They were all painting pictures with happy faces and so I wanted to paint one too. You see, I was only painting it because it’s what my imagination wanted me to paint. It didn’t mean it was true. The teacher took my painting and stapled it to the wall with all of the pretty paintings, except mine wasn’t pretty. I hated looking at it, so at recess I snuck in the classroom and took it off the wall and when I got home I gave it to you. I wanted you to see what I wanted for us. I wanted you to see what I wanted for you. That painting was a glimpse of what I wished our life would be. You didn’t understand.
When I would go to sleep at night, I’d shut my eyes tightly and try my hardest to dream of a place where we had a white picket fence, a home not of straws but of bricks with a strong foundation which didn’t have walls for you to hide behind. I wished for a home painted with happiness and love. When I would dream beautiful things I hoped that they would have the power to move away from me and consume your mind, just so you could dream again; just so you could believe in dreams, never too big and never too small.
I often wished upon a star, on birthday candles, on a penny I tossed in fountains. I never told anyone what I wished for because I was afraid it might not come true. They always knew I wished for something great because I’d shut my eyes and squeeze my eyelids tight, hoping that my wish would make its way out of the chaotic world and rearrange itself in the universe and find its way back to you. It never did. When my dreams and my wishes didn’t come true, I was sad. I wanted to give up. When the world weighed heavy on me, I crumbled to my feet. I was unable to pick myself up and so I fell back on my knees. I knelt there and refused to pray because I hated speaking to God. I hated what He had done. I hated that He took my Mama away from me. I knelt there and pleaded for Him to bring you back. I wanted Him to create a miracle and transform you into the person you used to be, and if He couldn’t do that I wanted Him to empower me with the strength to carry you. Mama, He did. I am here and I always will be. I have always told you that I will never give up on you. I never will. I believe in magic and I believe that there is magic in people.
I often imagined you as a happy and fulfilled woman- a woman who hadn’t dreaded turmoil, in which you had to build tall walls to keep away. I imagined you as the symbol of liberty who had built bridges between beautiful places with rolling hills, beautiful sunsets, and skies blanketed in stars; a place filled with magic and possibilities- the magic I wish this world had to fix you.
I have always wanted to conquer the world. Well Mama, you are my world and I’m going to take all of the bad out of it and conquer it. I want to make it spin again; to have you orbit around the sun to feel warm again, so you can feel alive. I want there to be rain for the flowers that will grow within you, as beautiful as you are; to have those admire you, like we admire the beauty in flowers. Mama, you are but a dandelion, who has grown between cracks, to be ripped and torn out. But you didn’t die. You grew back again. Just know that you are not different. You are like a dandelion, whose flower withers and transforms into a thousand seeds. And when you do, I will pick you up, gently blow on you and make a wish in the hopes that all those little seeds will get carried out in the open world, landing somewhere to start over again- until you grow back again. And I will be there, to pick you up and protect you. I will blow on you like the wind, which gently whisks those white seeds from the dandelion and I will always make a wish, until you are better again.
Our whole lives are spent searching for happiness. It can be attained. It can be lost. How daunting it can be. Happiness is but a flicker, a flame, a glimpse. Our reservoir of smiles soon runs dry, only to be filled with tears, until we find happiness again. We are overwhelmed. Hope becomes a virtue to live by; seeking smiles instead of tears. Whatever made us happy begins to lose its significance. What makes us happy doesn’t last a lifetime…
Then again, neither do we.
Dear New Year, Old Love:
We’ve begun another new year. I without you and you without me. I promised myself that I would forget you and if I couldn’t forget you, I promised myself that I would seek a way to. I often break promises with myself. This letter is probably an indication of that. Perhaps if you didn’t still hold such an important place in my heart, I would be able to forget you. Not all things in life are easy to erase. You are one of them.
I took a drive tonight. In a whirl of subconscious freedom I found myself driving down the road, which led me to the place, our secret place, where everything we experienced there was nothing but a great memory. Despite that I was aware of where I was travelling to, I couldn’t fathom the thought of turning around. I had to face it. I had to face the place where we shared greatness in us. You’ve always known me as brave and mostly stubborn and when have I ever been afraid? You’re right, almost never. I put the car in park and climbed out of the driver’s seat. I leaned on the hood of the car and took everything in. It was a little scary, being there, without you. I’m not sure if it was because it was dark, but it seemed as though a lot had changed about that place in so little time. The trees are much bigger, the grass is much taller and everything is grander than it used to be. They’ve even started building houses nearby. Everything has become bigger, grander, except our love. A lot has changed. So have we.
I walked to the spot where we sat that night in the cold; where you and I had smoked our last cigarette; where we witnessed the smoke from our mouths get carried out into the distance through the translucent air. I sat there tonight, between frosted blades of grass and buried my head in my arms. I shut my eyes tightly and revisited that moment of moments we shared, once upon a time. I remembered how we sat and stared at the moon and the stars, and breathed out the warm air from our lungs. I rested my head on your shoulder. You wrapped your arm around my left side and held me close. Neither one of us said a word. We just sat there in silence and allowed it to cloak us with comfort. I remembered how beautiful that silence was. There was something about it, which I relished and felt possessed by. The words in this letter wouldn’t be enough to describe the effect it had on me; the effect you had on me. Time stood still and so did we. We didn’t need words. Maybe it was because we couldn’t find the right ones or maybe our love for each other was important enough that it was able to exist without words. I don’t think we ever needed words to explain it, we just knew. Silence was enough. Sitting in the cold beneath the moon and the stars in silence, was enough. We hadn’t even kissed, yet inexplicable electricity between us, was there. Most would have considered it overzealous and silly to contemplate an unstated love as deep as ours. Perhaps it was, but that’s what made it shameless and beautiful. I remember how anxious I was. I remember how butterflies filled my stomach and danced about with excitement. And that knot in my throat. That knot. How I wish I could feel that again.
Tonight I touched my lips and closed my eyes. I tried to remember how kissing you felt. I tried to remember how seamless each brush stroke of your lips was against mine. I remember how you looked at me, how you looked into my eyes and held your stare. I remembered how you placed your hands on both sides of my face, pulled me in with assurance and confident strength, and kissed me. I remembered how deliberate your intent was. After I reminisced about that moment, I opened my eyes and I placed my hand on my chest to feel my beating heart. A lump formed in my throat, different than the one I had felt years ago when I sat there with you. All I felt now was sadness. That lump in my throat was the result of tears being held back. Panic electrocuted me. In that moment I realized I was there, alone, without you. In that moment I was afraid that I would probably be alone forever. I fell back and lay there and although I wanted to cry I felt an overwhelming blissful sensation of joy. I lay there with my arms behind my head and smiled. Although I was sad, I was interrupted by happiness. I suppose what they say is true: you can be sad and happy at the same time. Bittersweet moments seem to strike us in the most magical of ways. It’s finding happiness in sadness which makes a memory, a moment, very significant. When you can miss someone and smile at the same time it demonstrates true victory over a broken heart. It demonstrates that wonderful memories have the strength to last a lifetime.
So, I write this letter to you with tears and a smile. This bittersweet feeling I have is not a force to be reckoned with. If you’re wondering why, I’ll explain. I wrote this letter to come to terms with what I felt tonight. If this letter ever finds you, please read it with an open heart. Every word hangs from emotion. Every word is a glimpse of our past. I have always hated clichés, I have, but I couldn’t help but imagine a senseless, bold me, who had the guts to run outside in the gently falling snow, all the way to you, just to tell you how wrong I was, what a big mistake I had made and how much I wanted to recover what we had and how much I wanted to bring it back to life. Every New Year’s Eve, I pictured our reconciliation like this, but I never followed through. My pride always got in the way. I suppose the abolisher of fairytales, in me, always interfered. I sometimes wish we could go back to that moment where you and I sat on that hill, in the cold, where we didn’t feel cold. We felt like ourselves. Now I don’t feel like myself anymore, because you’re gone. Perhaps one day we’ll find ourselves on that hill where things would be different just to be the same, in the way they used to. If that day never comes, just know that I’ll be fine. I will forever celebrate a new year, an old love.
Your past love
I couldn’t resist. I had to post something to do with Edgar Allan Poe. After all, what’s Halloween without some chilling prose? You might agree that this is the perfect kind of story to set the tone for Halloween. Too scared to read on? Come on. I double devil dare you.
In The Imp of the Perverse, Poe creates a character who seeks freedom because he surrenders to the cruel impulses fueled by the devil. This leads the reader down an exhilarating path which leads the to the question, what the hell is an imp and does it really have the power to drive someone mad and to drive one to kill? Now, you might say that any person with a good head on their shoulders knows that murder is immoral and wouldn’t have the drive to kill. I’d say, “Why yes, you’re right” but Poe would say you’re wrong. He would argue that you wouldn’t be able to escape the imp’s compelling attraction. The imp is what drives us to feel because it drives the individual to abandon reason and to participate in doing cruel things. This causes you to embrace and indulge in sensations and raw emotions you thought you never had. Poe’s horrific, satanic, revolting, and blasphemous prose provoke us to feel the same as what we’re reading. The imp of the perverse is a divergence from morality because it evokes perverse, murderous fantasies and induces horrific feelings and thoughts into the reader’s mind. The narrator taunts and entices the reader to feel unsettling sensations just as the ‘imp of the perverse’ entices and excites the narrator to go on with the story.
After the chilling character commits murder, the ‘imp’ begins to tear away at his psyche. He convinces himself, “I am safe- I am Safe- yes- if I be not fool enough to make open confession!” Poe uses the recognizable “I am” found in the Bible and combines it with his character’s conflicting thoughts of wanting to confess to the murder suggesting that a man evil enough to commit murder is not a moral man. The imp of the perverse alters the sadistic mind because as Poe describes, “…that single thought is enough. The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing, (to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker, and in defiance of all consequences,) is indulged.” The narrator describes the pinnacle moments of this mad act and the moments where he is satisfied in committing murder. This murderous act suggests his allegiance to the devil. Horror and disgust saturate the mind of the reader because Poe intends on not filling the reader’s mind with pretty things. He’s driven to displease the reader so that our senses are awakened by what we do not know. The fear of the unknown is what makes us feel perverse because we’re intrigued by what the narrator is describing and we want to know more.
Poe’s narrator explains that he is“…of the many uncounted victims of the imp of the perverse.” The narrator is suggesting that every human being has a demon living within them and has the resolve to think of or want to bestow evil acts upon another, but most aren’t willing or aren’t mad enough to proclaim to the world that they’re planning a murder or have succeeded in murdering someone. Poe doesn’t actually give away gruesome details of the murder, so the reader is forced to think of the dreadful details on their own. After the murderous act is committed the narrator explains that “The next morning he was discovered dead in his bed, and the coroner’s verdict was, death by the visitation of God.” Ironically it’s the absence of God that provokes the narrator to commit murder.
Poe’s story swallows you up to fit the sadistic mind of the murderer. The reader surrenders their morality and freedom to the perverse imp, narrator, and Poe. Death, sadism and darkness become us because it’s all we can think about and it’s pretty much all I’m thinking about at the moment. Yeah, it probably wasn’t the best idea to read this kind of stuff before bed or in the middle of a storm (like the one we’re having now). Thanks a lot Poe. Now you’ve got me worried about that imp. I’m only hoping I’ll sleep well tonight, hopeful that the perverse imp won’t get the best of…Muahaha!
…Uh oh! I think I spoke too soon.