He says: “Write! You must write and you aren’t writing. It’s because you’re worried it won’t be good enough…”
And “No,” I interrupt. “It isn’t that. It isn’t that.” I know I’m good.
There is no ear to whisper into.
This is the problem. I have always written. Since early childhood, every day, every hour, words, and the need to be heard, the powerful need to record, to make sense of this overwhelming planet. And it’s still there, that need at least to send out a little blip into the universe: “I am here! Where are you?” or I wouldn’t tweet, although I tweet personal stuff less and less, my tweets have less emotional content. I think of stopping daily, but I am aware that that, (seemingly a healthy move, or so all the sensible people with actual lives would tell you), would not free me up to knock out another book or a bunch of short stories or some poems. It would just represent total silence from me. On all fronts.
Since last June I’ve been very ill. I’ve hardly seen anyone (and I’m hermitty at the best of times); but that in itself isn’t a big issue. Some people do well alone, I am one (as long as I know someone exists that I wouldn’t mind not being alone with). I’ve been too unwell to keep up with my allotment, which I must now give up. And that was my last thread to having regular (ish) contact with other humans. *snip* and it is over. And then what?
Writing has always been weirdly linked to love, for me. A petrol engine needs gas to run. I run on love, on being in love. Yet not only do I have a health condition that prevents me from meeting anyone, the last time I met a partner who actually treated me like a human being was in 2007. And that was the first since 2003. All the intervening ones were exactly as awful and damaging as these things ever CAN be. And now I feel so alienated from … (I’m going to say “humans” because I no longer feel I am one) humans, that I cannot fall in love with one. They want things I don’t want. They need things I can’t give. They don’t care about the things I care about. They take things I can’t live without. They don’t see the things I see. I become exhausted explaining myself to them or pretending to be something they can understand. They frighten and repel me and I can’t get past it. I am the stars and the space between the stars. I am a spring flower. I am too simple for this.
I have no memory of most of my life. I only remember and repeat the stories I have told people. I know where I said I was and what I said I did. I no longer remember being there. And that is part of why I wrote, part of why I took photographs, part of why I kept every message. To remember. So when I found you I could say: I don’t remember how I got here, but here, here is the story, here is the map. Here are the things I saw and felt. Add them up, and you can understand me.
But there is nothing TO remember, now. Even the seasons are barely ajar to me. I walk to Tesco and smell the coal smoke on the air at the corner, the house with the parrot. And so I know it is no longer summer, that the fire is on, that the air is still and falling. I walk back. And there is no ear to whisper these things into.
I let go of the stories, too tired to hold them any more, and now most of them are gone. I don’t have a map of myself any more, there is just this moment. I exist, persistently. I enjoy the small experiences I have, but I have nothing to say about them. They are the same as the ones I had last year and the year before, but smaller and smaller. The ones I wrote down at the time make better reading than anything I could write now, because when I wrote them I believed you would read them one day.
I thought that there would be someone here like me. But there is not, just an endless sea of modern humans thinking of baked beans, and remembering – with perfect facility – what happened five years ago, and recognising faces, and talking of who is having sex with whom, telephone bills, and never noticing that the air is still and falling, full of the invisible burnt black heart of the earth, nor what that means.
And I no longer believe you exist, or that I can find you if you do. I searched the world when I could, but I failed, and so what is there. Some days hurt, some don’t. I don’t remember the days so it doesn’t matter. My life, minute to minute, is content, is contentless. I enjoy the moment. Fur, clean sheets, cold water, the tick and hum of the dryer, the rain, the unmown lawn battered down silver green, the glass that separates me from it, the days when I can walk, the days when I can’t. But there is no gap in the puzzle-earth for this jigsaw piece, there is nothing to say, no ear to whisper nothing into.