Upward and Onward

Today I just realized that the last physical contact I had with another human body was over four months ago.

Today I also realized that the last physical contact I had with a human body was with a corpse.

And when I think about it, I’m not sure if I’m ready to be touched again anyway, even if that’s really what I want, as I have adapted to isolation and distancing, and my senses have sharpened again to the point where I fear I will not be able to ignore the peculiar electricity that even a simple handshake creates.

I’ve been really lucky to remain working and to not have actually gotten sick. Like, really lucky.

And as I shelter in place in my tiny apartment at the convergence of a few different neighborhoods, I realize that my neighbors in the building next door can see right into my windows — like very closely — when they’re on the balcony, especially my bed, and I wonder if they’ve ever seen me.

Or if they’ve ever watched me. And why not? Fuck, if I had that kind of view, I don’t know if I could ignore it.

But I suppose living alone in an old sound-proof building has its perks, and if anyone knows of a good beginner’s electronic piano, let me know.

It just may be time to finally do the podcasts I’ve been planning to record.

They put his ashes in a cemetery yesterday. I found this out after I had decided to take this week off for a vacation I so sorely needed, because frankly, I haven’t had any time off since I met him.

I didn’t go. I wasn’t planning to anyway. It’s been four months, but for me, it feels like a year, perhaps more, perhaps a lifetime I am departing that’s like graduating from high school in a sleepy town, and I didn’t want to revisit the past or have to bite my tongue for two hours more, as I have been biting my tongue for the last four months. This, especially at the first opportunity to gather with people I knew, the first time someone might literally open their arms to me in an embrace.

Could I recall all social convention, or would I just be an unabashed version of myself?

But it’s okay. I’m okay.

I was in the process of breaking up with him anyway.

There, I said it. I admit it to myself and to the world, as if all deaths of significant others are otherwise simple and worthy of a Lifetime daytime film. As if I am the only person who has ever experienced this. As if a different life script would result in a different outcome — the extermination of all of my demons — as if it were a certainty that that were possible or even probable.

I was doing it quietly and secretly because if he had any idea, he would create an emergency, likely financial, that would leave me stuck with him, and he seemed content to make me stuck with him by the end. I had plenty reason before he died, but after finding all the things he tried to keep hidden, I realized I was right, and it was okay: he didn’t really love me, and I didn’t really love him, and that’s why he didn’t stick around, and why I don’t feel his presence.

But I do believe that his old high school sweetheart will be in for quite a surprise at the moment of her own death to see Rick waiting for her, to wherever he’s qualified to lead her.

And I wasn’t yet out the door in April, but that’s where I was in my mind before he died and the clock somehow reset.

But I don’t feel guilty about that anymore. I don’t feel that I have to hide that anymore.

This isn’t a secret I want to keep anymore: it has an expiration that has long passed despite never coming to fruition.

He did this to himself. Really. Because if it wasn’t COVID, the drugs alone would have killed him. And apparently, they’re still coming to the old apartment because I’ve been asked to pick up his mail, so I can only wonder what other things he was expecting to swallow or inhale or inject into himself in order to hide from old age, a magick number in which his youth would be snuffed out?

His birthday is in six weeks, number 70, and he beat it, didn’t he?

And I don’t think anyone really wants me at a funeral where I could so easily peel away the snowy white veneer that funerals are supposed to be…as if anything I have divulged here was actually a secret, because if you have Google and some patience, you’ll know, too.

But I don’t think I should devastate his family or friends with the details that would have alienated all of them had they known about his secrets. I think I will be the scapegoat that is expected to carry these sins off the cliff.

But I’m no longer the sacrifice.

I’m still here, and I’m alive.

So instead of going over the cliff, I’m going to run into the wilderness, and I’m going to keep running until enough time has passed that I forget why I’m running so I forget to run all together.

But the real secrets? Those are going to his grave and eventually to mine, if I remember them by then.

*

You know what’s interesting? I can’t remember anything. I do remember, but I can’t let myself go back in time and indulge in memories. For so many other things, I can rewind in an endless loop the things I experienced and the feelings I had at the time, but right now, even trying to visualize the old apartment feels wrong, like eating the napkin instead of the sandwich.

Last month, I took a selfie that showed me that right then, I was looking every bit of 40, maybe even older, and it wasn’t fair to do that to myself anymore. It’s amazing what a little exercise, sleep, sobriety (because marijuana is actually terrible for sleep), hydration, healthy eating, and sunshine can do for you. It can’t keep the loneliness at bay, but it can make the body snap back from the brink.

And I am still tired, but not exhausted, and I am slowly becoming excited for new days and discovering the wonder of wide open spaces again, mentally and geographically.

And it’s wonderful to have friends and family to talk to, but not the same as companionship, because it is different, because your companionship needs can still be fulfilled by someone you don’t even really like so long as you are accustomed to their presence. Now, even better it it’s someone you like, even love, but that’s actually not necessary.

I’m not allowed to have pets otherwise I would get one…that doesn’t shed and is already housebroken, because I really love living without the mess or furniture destruction. Actually, I wish I could just visit other people’s dogs and cats. I would have taken a dog with me on the three-mile walk to Lincoln Park this week. I would have given it some leftover bacon, secretly, because I like having secrets with dogs.

It’s the least I can do for making them listen to me, because truly, the only secrets dogs can keep are the ones you tell them.

I’m okay with being single again. I like it. I’m not ready to meet someone even if I could because I really need some time to work on me. My transits and progressions show that I wouldn’t even likely be ready until I’m 42 anyway, and I think that a year and a half/a year is a good benchmark for me.

But here I am coming back to life, with my skin covered in the tiny golden freckles that summer brings and winter takes away. My hair is finding it’s copper hues again in the sunshine. While I would normally wish August away and dream of autumn so I can finally wear most of my clothes and be outside in comfort all the time, I’m finding that this is okay. I can live through summer. I can’t go anywhere, but I can live through this, and it’s not so bad, and it’s got its perks, like parking with relative ease and fruit in season.

And may tonight I’ll get some pho, or maybe a Reuben sandwich for dinner instead of the napkin since there’s only me to feed and one meal a day still suits me just fine.

And frankly, I’m excited to find my body again, revealing itself more and more as the weight comes off as I focus on my own needs.

So that’s my life right now, and I hope from here on out that it’s upward and onward, and hopefully doing a lot more work with Fugitive Umbrellas.

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