In Pursuit of A Selectively Spotless Mind

I am accustomed to the despair that ensues in the aftermath of losing the people I love; a covert awareness and dread of an eventual end always runs parallel to the initial rushes of love. Yet the melancholy of knowing all the while that this too won’t last doesn’t offer any consolation. Each loss leaves its own mark; fresh invisible wounds quietly await time, the good old physician, to work its amnesic magic on them.
The first time it happened, I roamed around apathetic, gloomy and dazed for a couple of years; torturing myself with worthless hopes and analysis. The second time it was just a quick spell of anger followed by the relief of escape. The third time I was over it sooner than I would like to admit, and the ensuing guilt about this self-assumed fickleness led me to repeat to myself that of course I was still in love for an acceptable period of time (which in my mind is a minimum of two years). It bothered me how soon I had forgotten the face, the voice, the laughter and how I had felt for him, that I erected my own (and completely unrelated) idea of him, cherishing this imaginary love just because I was scared of admitting that it was a mere infatuation and never had been love. I continued to fool myself because its negligible longevity ashamed me.
Then there is this fourth or rather the real first or an intermittent second or maybe intermittent third or the only persistent and subdued and very complex yearning over the years, something that had never dared to leave the shadows and move into the blinding light of realization until now, something intermingled with hope and the lack of it, something vulnerable yet resilient to the passage of time, something that defies closure, something that doesn’t seek acknowledgement or reciprocation and is sustained by its own intensity, something that is beyond fear and shame, something that is unknown and elusive yet eerily familiar, something that wants to be declared unabashedly yet lingers in a sacred veil of secrecy, something that is as pleasurable as it is agonizing. I don’t know what it is, but it is like a splinter that had gradually burrowed its way deep into my heart; and owing to its tenacity and sense of belonging, the pain is just a minor deterrent to my existence. I had made a choice and I have to live its consequences.

We all seek to love and be loved. We crave the intimacy of being the only witness to the other’s life and vice versa. We want a common bank of memories, adventures, conversations, joys and sorrows. We want to love someone more or as completely as we love ourselves. There are no guarantees, there is no definite destination and there are no definite routes. It can’t be engineered or chosen, it just comes to you. Some get to journey along the scenic route, the rest gets the messy and tiresome route fraught with obstacles and insecurities. I belong to the latter category and often find myself dragging my weary legs back to the starting line after encountering dead ends. I enjoy walking on my own, and prefer solitude to the cacophony of dissimilar wavelengths of thought; yet have a never-ending reservoir of hope that there is someone meant to walk alongside me in a journey that reverberates with love, laughter, the good unrest, binding similarities, alluring differences, pleasant companionship, mingled experiences and memories, new adventures, long conversations, continuous individual growth, shared intimacy, and looking out for each other.
But the fourth or real first or an intermittent second or maybe intermittent third or the only persistent and subdued and very complex yearning of many years has to find closure before I can start anew. I don’t feel any anger, apathy or agonizing hurt this time. It’s just a somewhat uncomfortable and heightened restlessness that is not much dissimilar to what I had felt all these years. Even this will end someday, but I don’t plan to wait helplessly till time erases him from my mind. I need adequate distractions till then; new stimuli and work.
Here are my list of immediate distractions till I attain the relative calm of a selectively spotless mind, and curb any further impulsiveness and hurt:
1. Indulge in the only agreeable distraction: books. Read more non-fiction, and some contemporary fiction.
2. Join that Zumba class.
3. Write more (if that is possible!).
4. Take up whatever shifts that comes my way.
5. Continue the ban of all information overload from my life, except for maybe occasional tweets.
6. Overcome my laziness and ennui and re-connect with old friends.
7. Go back to the pool.
8. Overcome my dread of the kitchen. Make a ritual of cooking (I use the term loosely) dinner at least once a week.
9. Delete a certain phone number, mails and messages. Already done!
10. Use that language learning software and dictionaries to learn elementary German. Ask my sister to be my tutor.
11. Enough of the slow life. Get out of home more. Explore.
12. Maintain an essential detachment from all the problems that crop up in my life or the ones of those dear to me, to avoid drowning in panic and sorrow.
13. Not curb the thoughts of the one I am trying to forget, because I would end up fuelling reverse psychology. Let it be.
14. Revive the fervour of watching more world cinema.
15. Nights are dangerous and insomnia encourages irrelevant hopes; try to sleep early.

Morning Monologue on Things Inappropriate and Disregarded

At four in the morning the Middlemarch book brick tumbled off the bedside shelf, picked up momentum, took a cruel trajectory and landed on my face, book spine to nasal cartilage; probably as a sign of protest against its use as a bookend. I found myself awake at this early hour on a day when i was neither chirpy enough to dive straight out of bed onto the yoga mat nor poetic enough to press my face against the window pane and watch dewdrops trickle down the leaves of my favorite tree.
I wanted to read but the recently hazardous books didn’t seem enticing; so i logged on to stories that were safely encased in distant computer servers. I found myself browsing ‘The Paris Review‘ for love stories, even when that fat cherub, Cupid, had left an unpleasant taste in my mouth yesterday; it reeked of the black bile of indifference. I found one that was straight out of my Before-Sunrisey dreams and packed in serendipity, Edna St. Vincent Millay, long journeys, and a loft with a typewriter. I also learnt that in Yiddish, there’s a beautiful word called bashert that describes the person you are fated to meet, your soul mate. I read a cleverly titled ‘Love Stories‘ by Phoebe Connelly. The lovers separate in the end, but I could identify with the little things one does, unasked, uncalled for and often unnoticed, when gripped by the throes of love. I felt a sad tenderness for her when she started reading books for him, not out of curiosity or interest or compulsion, but out of affection. The aching familiarity was an odd comfort; halfway across the world a woman in love had done the same things that I had done, and felt foolish about later. Here is an excerpt.
…courting each other with words—our own, but also those of any writer we thought might impress. We certainly weren’t the first to go this route. But like every romance, and every reading list, it felt like our own. The question “What are you reading?” became a convenient excuse to chat when we spotted each other online, to send links, to write long, complicated letters in which the subtext was always desire. For him I read Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter, which I had dismissed, without reading, as rankly sexist. (My opinion didn’t improve much after the fact, but he argued that the main character was a true portrait of the male writer.) I sent him John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy after quoting a description of Smiley’s wife out of context. He told me it drove him near mad that the line didn’t come until the second-to-last scene in the book. I started compulsively reading novels set on the West Coast. A sticky  July was spent filling in the gaps of my Lew Archer catalog; I hoarded tatty James M. Cain paperbacks and dreamed of smoggy afternoons and winters without snow. Was I falling in love with F. or with the idea of a city that lent itself so easily to narration?
These lines wouldn’t mean anything to the casual reader, but i had to thrust my lower jaw forward and blink rapidly to block the stinging tears. Stupid, that’s what i am!
It was still early but a pale light had sheathed everything outside my window. It felt like a Norah Jones moment, and I brushed my teeth to the rhythms of ‘Sunrise‘. Try singing ‘and i said ooooooooooo‘ with toothpaste foam in your mouth. Fun, but not a pretty picture. Edna Millay was still on my mind, and I downed my morning coffee searching for an appropriate poem that spoke of my attempt to distract my mind from an inappropriate person for whom I had inappropriate feelings at an inappropriate time. Turns out she had written just the poem for it. Another proof that all over the world, beyond barriers of distance and time, people are linked by the familiarity of emotions. Here it is.
Intention To Escape From Him
I think I will learn some beautiful language, useless for commercial
Purposes, work hard at that.
I think I will learn the Latin name of every songbird, not only in
America but wherever they sing.
(Shun meditation, though; invite the controversial:
Is the world flat? Do bats eat cats?) By digging hard I might
deflect that river, my mind, that uncontrollable thing
,
Turgid and yellow, strong to overflow its banks in spring,
carrying away bridges
A bed of pebbles now, through which there trickles one clear
narrow stream, following a course henceforth nefast—

Dig, dig; and if I come to ledges, blast.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay
I try to distract myself; i read with that crazy glint in my eye; my writing typing threatens an impending carpal tunnel syndrome; i work on and off as i await an important outcome; i scratch dogs and strange babies behind ears and pretend they are cute; in the late afternoon i risk bursting my lungs on the cross-trainer; i nap snuggled under a soft, blue blanket; often i have giggling fits with friends; on weeknights i watch the drama unfold in a fictional hospital with a predilection for the unusual and even the promiscuous; sometimes i sketch bare trees on a winter landscape; on my Nigella days i bake umpteen coffee cakes; i dig up old songs too; i discuss books with friendly bookstore owners; obsessively cleaning sprees calm me down; i go on drives without destination; i surround myself with family and laughter; but no matter what I do, a name remains glued to my mind. Bashert? Unlikely. 

“Dig, dig; and if I come to ledges, blast.”