Disconnect me

Utterly perfect blue sky. The clouds have a touch of tangerine to their undersides. The freshness in a breath, the pale light—qualities in the air that never fail to remind me of new life. Springtime, here again.

Angelic blue in the morning. Light filtering in from the long, thin windows of the bedroom. Water boiling noisily for coffee. I disconnect and retreat into my mind, where everything is fallow land. Left uncultivated, this land has grown wildly, weirdly. I lack the awareness—or maybe the courage—necessary to weed it. So I relinquish the need to curate every thought and feeling I have. I give the budding flowers wide berth, out of deference to the dignity of their future beauty. Their tiny petals look cool to the touch. The fruit on the vine is pallid and misshapen but tender with promise. My phone is dead.

I watch an epic-in-the-making in my city’s biggest movie theater. I rest my chin in my hand. I resist the urge to tap a rhythm against the sticky floor. Why can nothing huge and mythic faze me anymore? The noon light shimmers hotly at my back when I raise my hand to knock at the doors of El Dorado—but then I pause. Fist in the air, I lower my hand. I return to the desert of my neighborhood and I wander its sidewalks under the gray sky, the green and ruby lights. A man smoking a cigarette almost runs me over with his bicycle. My mind is experiencing a drought. I find it impossible to be nourished by anything I read. Everything rolls off without absorption, as though the skin of my mind were coated in a layer of repellant. I kick at the rocks and feel something like comfort.

A holy night in spring. The moon is as full as longing is long. The air has a bite that never fails to remind me of my old life. My old life—neurosis like a gold rush, butterflies migrating up from my stomach to clog my veins. When Strawberry met my parents, he said to me: “I understand why you are the way you are now,” and I thought about my years kneeling by the river, panning stubbornly for gold, and forever finding bullets instead, stained brick red with my father’s blood. My old life—something I bury every winter and that will resurrect, without fail, in the breath of the following year in summer, a season of fireflies and vegetation, pain and forgiveness. “I understand why you are the way you are,” he said, and on that tree of knowledge I found the perfect fruit: the peace of closure. Tragic, infuriating but perversely validating, like a lesson learned twenty years too late. Now all that’s all left is for me to understand why I am the way that I am.

There’s no thread to this, I know. I knew before I started, because everything I write lately has this disconnected, restless spirit to it, like a bare path that meanders across a canal, under an overpass, above the clouds, through endless time. I cross swords with myself over and over. I win and I lose. I sit by the water and strum a few dissonant notes with calloused fingers and I hope that you will trust me, and that I will trust myself. Springtime, here again.

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