all the smoke in one life

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again.The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

~ Pema Chödrön

There's a sign that says IF YOU LIVED HERE YOU WOULD BE HOME NOW posted along the city's most classic bottleneck, a bumper-to-bumper corridor where you sit, just sit, idling, needing to pee or or needing to eat or needing to just Get There. I look at the apartment complex, vinyl and beige and tired. I imagine sitting inside it, home, staring at traffic, at nails and screws and that post in the grass, at a guy in a GMC truck tossing a half-empty Tim Horton's cup out his window. It spins through the air spitting brown drips before it lands, rolls, and settles in a puddle at the base of that damned sign. But then I'd be living there, and who'd want to do that?


I've contemplated that except not a sign. Maybe a little lapel button. HELLO I AM A GHOST. Since May 5, 2007, I've walked through the world assuming that most other people out here are alive. They are - you are - and I am not. She tastes food and I don't. It's false. I know it's false. I know it's persistent self-pity. I know I could barely look at him that first day. I could barely look at him the second day. I know that's normal. I know I'm supposed to be resolved by now. I know I'm wrong about that. I know the gifts dropped on me were supposed to turn into ash and scatter, as they did. I know I am supposed to doubt and question and reason those gifts away, self-protection to counter the hurt of how they turned to ash and scattered. And I know I am supposed to fail at that for the rest of my life, a perpetual grapple.

You were out of your mind. That's why you ran into the woods in the rain and talked to a tree and it talked back. That's why they don't talk back anymore. Because you're back in your mind, just like everyone else, and it's time to quit wishing you could be out of it again.

But I can't help it. I believe despite not wanting to. If I was accompanied—if he was—then there came a point when that accompaniment left. There's a presence, not so much a voice anymore but just a shaking head, if it had a head, and that's all. I reach out to it, for what it used to be, and it refuses, and that's an irreconcilable sort of lonely.

You don't belong here anymore.
Yes I do.
No, you don't.
Were you real?
Why can't you stay?