donovan and caroline. we lived together in memphis. after he dumped me during a rogue wave concert so he could go out with a waitress, i fled to chicago. because he drunk-dialed for months after, we didn't speak for years.
we didn't speak again, donovan and i, until that awful winter of 2009, when i wasn't sleeping or eating and had watched bright star every evening after work for five nights in a row.
he was moving from denver to mississippi, driving the whole way, and asked if he could call. over the course of eight emails, we established that he could and that, when he did, i would answer.
he said, "hi oline" and i said, "hi, ovan," though i had not called him that in years.
it's funny how the details that once seemed so important slip away and what you're left with is a handful of conversations on a few winter nights.
there are people who are a part of us always. they are fundamental.
he called from the hospital. i was doing laundry. i sat on the floor and leaned against the dryer, because it felt as though the firmament were shaking. things i'd thought were solid i found were not.
partner was sick. she got better. hearing he was, i knew he wouldn't.
that was very nearly exactly one year ago.
information has been relayed over all manner of insufficient technologies. events that beg for the concreteness of paper and penmanship, demand to be written down, are instead dragged out across multiple texts and emails and facebook messages through an entire day or three or four.
it is the communication of things that need to be communicated and yet it intrudes. it diminishes. so that either life is completely mundane or death is, but one or the other absolutely must be.
my intuitive response in times of crisis is to become A Writer. to write the story as it is being lived, as though the actual living of it could be bypassed. writing organizes things, controls them, sustains some of the oncoming blow. hence the clinical distance here and the exploitation of all available ironies.
last wednesday night my dad said he was flipping between a documentary on the falling man from 9/11 and 'notting hill'. that strikes me as the best possible analogy for the disconnect. it is a situation at once whimsical and deeply pathetic (from french pathétique, via late latin from greekpathetikos; see pathos).
a light-hearted back and forth with a friend about an apartment sublet is punctuated by harrowing texts from another about donovan's status, donovan's dying.
the issues of parking on arlington place and septicemia collide.
the profanity is followed by emoticons.
my inability to feel true horror at the use of emoticons in this context makes me wonder if i am numb.
i've never been so aware of how many devices i have. too many. there are half a dozen venues at least in which this news could be relayed. i am unrelentingly tensed, waiting for an explosion that has yet to come. for one of these electronic things to inform me that someone who is integral to my world is no longer in it.
i'm squatting in an alley as i write this. typing it out on my ipod. even i am denying it the concreteness of the page. instead, placing it in the ether, on chips and bits and bytes, things with which i'm so unfamiliar that i can't even fake knowledge of the proper terminology.
i need to write. at the same time, i cannot bear to put this down on paper. cannot confront what is about to happen- what is happening (what has, in fact, happened).
in producing content for a blog for the last six years, i've always assumed grief would be dealt with afterward. never in the moment, but only later. once it had time to clot. to become LitrAchOOre.
this is not LitrAchOOre. it is words on a screen because i could not put them on the page. could not bear to see them on paper, for fear i will not know how to read my own writing. for fear that what i have written down- the cold, hard, horribleness of it- will creep back in, will be truth, will become real.
in lieu of crying, snot pours down my face. emotions will, apparently, inevitably find their way out.
i threw away everything donovan ever wrote me. which was, as it turns out, more than any other man ever has.
pitched it all. after one too many drunk 4 a.m. phone calls, new year's day 2007.
words mean more to me than most things and, at the time, i no longer valued his because so much of what he'd written had failed to come true.
now i see how it has.
there are people who are fundamental. still they slip away, leaving you with only inside jokes and a handful of conversations on a few winter nights. something so insubstantial that it might almost have never been.
the irony is that i threw his words away and now, in the vacuum left by his absence, in the great gaping hole blown into my world by his death, words are all i have. so faulty, so lacking, so offensive in their inadequacy, and yet they are the only concrete thing. the surest surface.
i know no other way to pin this down. there is no other means by which to inhabit the horrible wrongness.
that i am here. that he was here. that this has happened. that it is.
i am in this city because of him.
i am oline because of him.
he is fundamental.
he is dead.