15 December 2008

6 the break up

my building has become melrose place. this is what comes of our proximity to depaul.

there was the kid who stood by my opened screen door discussing the intimate details of his girlfriend's abortion. then there was the guy who had a breakdown, set fire to his furniture and threw it out his window. and then there are, of course, the nights of well, FUCK you... no, fuck YOU.

but last night pretty much takes the cake as far as award-winning arlington place dramatic performances go.

in the dead of last night, from 12:02 a.m. to 12:37 a.m. and then again briefly from 1:13 a.m. to 1:19, a girl stood wailing in the street, screaming for scott, the boy that broke her heart, who either lived in my building or whose doorstep was close enough to benefit from the exceptional amplification powers of our courtyard.

acoustics that made it sound as though the woman scott had abandoned was now hovering over my bed, keening, in quite possibly the most visceral pain i have ever heard another human being be in.

i should be clear- we are not talking stanley kowalski. this was not STELLA! that was comparatively short. a shout in the night. it was something altogether else. you know kurt cobain's howl in the final 10 seconds of "where did you sleep last night"? imagine that- only it's a woman and it's dragged out over a collective 41 minutes and the lyrics are now i love you... you make me want to die.

maybe she was hammered. or in the midst of a psychotic break. because when we are in our right mind, no matter how much it hurts, we have our limits. we write poems/kiss our best friend/drink zima/watch dr. quinn. we have the mental and emotional wherewithal to step back from the brink and realize that, tempting as it may be, threatening suicide in the middle of a street in the middle of a sunday night may not be the way to win him back.

i'm rather ashamed to admit that while all this was going on, i did nothing. even the neighbor- after an especially shattering scream and the subsequent sound of a body making contact with a parked car- could be heard tiptoeing downstairs to make sure no one had died. but i remained in bed. partly because i could hear the voice of a sober, quieter friend chime in from time to time. and partly because i couldn't fathom coming face-to-face with someone in so much unleashed pain.

because as you move away from one relationship and into another, you kind of forget how badly breakups suck. you have to, otherwise no one would have another relationship ever again. these days, whenever someone is going through that, my less than honorable instinct is to recoil, to pull back. as though being in the vicinity of those emotions might somehow make them spill onto me. might remind me how big a risk we run every time we let someone in and set me roaming the streets, wailing grief for i know not what.

the thing that got me last night and haunted me all today is this: through the whole 41 minutes- in which the torment of this person i do not know was almost too much for me to bear- scott said nothing. maybe scott wasn't home. maybe scott had made a vow never to talk to her again. maybe she had given him a reason to ignore her. maybe she was at the wrong building.

or maybe scott was curled up in bed like me, paralyzed by the harrowing pain being unloosed on our sidewalk.

regardless, he said nothing.

she screamed into silence. she dropped her glove in the snow outside the gate she shook repeatedly. she went balls out crazy person on a night the wind-chill was 12 below.

scary, yes. crazy, probably. but seriously. how fucking romantic.


Linda said...

to comment would almost be like putting a tupperware of potato salad at the end of a fancy catered feast. But I don't want to NOT comment, lest you think no one reads/cares. So... potato salad it is.

I love this!

Les Savy Ferd said...

yeah, seriously. I musta wrote six different responses, but they turned out like overcooked lasagna, to continue Lindear's culinary theme. what a feast, O.

oline said...

i never knew you guys were so into potluck.

Osutein said...

I've been on both sides of this coin and I still can't figure out the proper response to the "person in obvious mental anguish" situation. It's not like physical danger when I think we have an obligation to do what we can. I know when it was me, yelling and crying and making quite the spectacle of myself (all the more so b/c I was a foreigner) in a small Japanese airport, I didn't want anybody to say anything. I knew I was making a scene and a fool of myself, but as long as nobody else acknowledged it, my pain remained seemingly private. I could tell myself nobody noticed, or nobody cared. Had anybody said anything, tried to comfort me or whatever, humiliation would have piled on top of the already-present heartbreak. Looking back, I'm *glad* I was left alone to wallow in my mental anguish.

Then in October, I was in Midway Airport and saw a young couple have a breakdown. The girl refused to board the plane (fear of flying? or fear of what waited at the end of the flight?) and while the boy pleaded with her to get on, she just sat there sobbing "I can't, I'm so sorry, I can't." It was awful. The plane left without them and the boy broke down too. An airport rep approached them and talked to them, but for a while, they sat there together pleading and weeping. I haven't seen anybody in such mental pain in a long time. I did nothing. Partially because, what could I have done or said? And partially b/c I remembered my own airport meltdown. But was that the right response? Would saying something have helped them, just a little "hey, it's alright, you're not alone in this wide, cold world?" I honestly don't know. I didn't want attention, but maybe it would've helped them. I don't know.

oline said...

i've been thinking about this way too much...

if the person in obvious mental anguish is your person or a person in any way affiliated with you and you aren't a total shit, you must intervene.

if the person in obvious mental anguish is in no way affiliated with you or a person affiliated with you and yet is casting their eyes about in desperation, you are morally obligated to intervene.

if the person in obvious mental anguish appears to be wallowing in said obvious mental anguish, you should leave them alone. never interrupt a wallow.

or maybe i'm just trying to justify my own unwillingness to leave the warm bed and brave the emotional immolation.

taramoon333 said...

In addition, if it is clear that the person mid breakdown already has a shoulder to cry on (airport situation and friend with the girl in the courtyard) then intervening is unnecessary.

Scott is a bastard, whether he was home or not. Being single allows me to make that judgement without hesitation or regret. It is my assumption that he was likely at some other chippy's house getting it on happily. Therefore, he is a bastard.