Today I felt myself slip away, and it is in the slightest changes, like a note sang wrong in a favourite song, that depression comes creeping back around the edges of my mind.
I did not add any creamer into my morning coffee today, I felt the jar was too far away on the shelf to reach for it. I did not shower today, instead drinking cold, weak coffee and chain-smoking. I did not notice the warmth of the sun on my skin today, because I did not leave my room to experience the day. I did not check my email or touch the pile of readings I have to do for class tomorrow. All I felt was a drifting emptiness, my mind spacing out, and I thought if I smoked enough cigarettes, the chemicals would right the chemical flaw in my head, eventually making me feel better, or at least well enough to passably function. Even this thought was flawed.
I ended up spending all day waiting for a text from you. It was 2 am before I finally felt the slightest need to escape this heavy, foggy cloud that had descended without warning, much like the calm before the storm. I broke into my apartment’s rooftop. In this city of lights I immediately felt relief when I emerged into the clear expanse of night sky.
Tonight there there is only me, the night, and my hurricane of a mind.
I gaze at the wide expanse of dark sky when I climb up to the rooftop — no skyscrapers to obscure my view. At the bottom of this cosmic painting that God painted for me was an exact half-moon, glowing through the enveloping clouds. My heart feels lighter when I see the moon. There is a spark of solidarity and recognition, like greeting an old friend. In fact, I am a mirror reflection of tonight’s display of cosmic wonderment: the half-moon is carved into the side of my ribs, the tattoo quietly lying under my skin, moving gently across the curve of my bones with every breath I take. The moon inhabits a secret basement in my heart, as opposed to the sun, or the stars that formed a Hansel and Gretel trail that stargazers hope to use to find their way home — a trail sewn in permanence into the velvet fabric of darkness.
I like the moon, its impermanence — it changes every month, but remains the same. It is constant in its changing phases.
I lean backwards and lie down halfway, the cement wall cutting into the small of my back. I place my hands behind my head and lose myself in the dark night sky. From behind my head, I stretch out my hands so that my fingers finally reach over the wall, grasping at nothingness. It is a 170 feet drop, a column of empty space that is strangely enticing. For a few moments I imagine stretching out fully on this tiny jutting piece of forgotten concrete, and eventually the matter that is my body will fall over the seventeen stories, and I will finally be able to escape the entrapment that is life itself.
It is 3am, the time when the soul is the weakest, where it is neither night nor day, where I find myself in the spaces in between. I start crying because my heart hurts, because of the terrible feeling of loss. I haven’t cried for years. This is the first time I think I’ve fallen in love, and it is with you. I think of all the men I’ve given my body to and I cry. I cry when I remember the unwanted invasion of my body, that one winter night in Seoul. I cry when i think of my estranged father, whom I haven’t seen for 7 years. How is it that one can lose emotional and physical bonds with the person whose blood continues flowing in my body, keeping me alive with every breath I take? My eyes are his, my blood is his, he is half of me.
I think of my grandma and her death and that fateful weekend morning I wanted to sleep in and how I heard her fall but I didn’t want to leave my bed even though I knew deep in my bones something was terribly wrong. How does a child learn about loss and the tragedy of life? She hears it. Her cousin’s scream. And then nothingness. 5 years of my life were a black hole. I lived in my head.
My grandmother used to be the first to wake in the early mornings. After she died, I fell asleep for five years. I tried to wake up through crimson marks on skin. My family was devastated by the simultaneous tragedy of my parents’ divorce and the death of my grandmother. We were all spiralling hopelessly into the same black hole but we couldn’t see or reach out to each other. It was the same darkness but we were divided by the same experience. That was also when I disappeared into my head.
All the people I have lost.
And now I am losing you, too.
I’ve fallen in love with you but tonight I am letting you go. I delete our long-distance conversations, where the only way I feel close to you is my fingerprints on the cold digital screen of my phone. I miss you, hope you’re happy with everything, I really like you and I care about you. Your words fade into where lost words and lost connections go in the void of digital space. The paradox of a long distance relationship really is in the mode of bonding: intangible love has to be communicated through tangible wires and electrical circuits that light up. There is nothing of you but some words on a screen. A digital, silent divide. I can’t have you beside me, I can only hang onto your every word spelled carelessly and sent into wireless space. Your voice fades in and out when we call each other, just blurred static across telegraphic oceanic lines. How does one love like this?
Please forgive me. I haven’t learned to love, before I met you. It is only with you that all the dark emptiness in this empty shell started to take shape; blood work and arteries and organs forming messily, emerging from the dark space that was a decade in hiding. I was beginning to feel alive and I think I even managed to trace the outline of happiness on that cold night we sat in your car, in the heavy monsoon rain, drinking beer and pouring my heart out in rhythm to the raindrops hitting the windows. I could almost feel the shape and texture of happiness, like a warm soft blanket on a cold day. You wrapped around my body and we fit seamlessly — happiness was you. The heart that grew lighter with every conversation with you, every smile, wink and touch, started to imprint and make itself known, in the way a smile begins to form on my lips, or in the way I breathed, which became deeper and heavier, like I wanted to stake my permanent existence on this Earth, rather than fade away into the nothingness I came from.
Our love is merely hope, potential, possibility. A long distance love is just a connection, the possibility of a relationship. But don’t you see? Hope is the mother of disappointment and despair.
Sorry, sorry, sorry. To myself and to you. I’m sorry. You were the glue that promised to hold me together but my inherent brokenness have proved to be too much for the both of us, already weakened by geographical distance and the loss of days not spent together. I don’t think I can ever find someone like you again, but in this dark night I have to let you go. I don’t even understand the irrationality of this amputation. You shall fade from my memory eventually, only coming back on wistful nights like these decades later, or like sipping coffee on a sleepy sunday morning and being hit with the force of your memory. I hope I feel a certain sort of nostalgic longing when I think of you then, like the come down from a passionate fever in the days of my youth.
I want you to understand that I want to love. I want to learn it, memorizing lines after lines on how to love, my hands studiously imprinting the memorized letters onto your skin every time we touch, every time we kiss. I want to love carelessly, ceaselessly, but in the wilderness that is my mind, love knows no well-calculated shape, but becomes jagged edges I cut and bruise myself on. I just wasn’t born with a neat landscape. The terrain of my mind is shaped by the raw force of nature, where things hidden in the secret basement of my mind haunt me in the unknowability of every crevice, every dense forest. I want you to discover this wilderness with me, braving the frequent storms and on especially bad days, hurricanes. The weather forecast and GPS never works in this frightening landscape. I want your love to smoothen the edges of rough rock, to help me make sense of this wilderness.
Your mind is a calm ocean, the waves soothing the sand bars, blurring the edges of land and sea. There was never a boundary when it came to the oceans and sands of your heart and mind. I would explore your beach with you, I imagine balmy weather and toes digging into grainy sand. I would walk hand in hand with you as the sun set, like how you would journey with me in my mind.
But I gave you up before we even began on this journey. I pushed you away because I did not know what love was. My depression lives like a monster I must slay in my mind. I couldn’t open my heart to you. In breaking your heart, I broke mine. When I told you I couldn’t do this anymore, all I heard was silence at the other end. No breathing, even.
I just wish you were here. These words I will never say.