Dear Deuce

Dear Deuce III

July 10, 2021
1700 words · 8 minute read

In the nine months I didn’t write you, I was trying to grow more secure. The world was a mess, though I had been gaining more clarity. Small breakthroughs keep widening my heart. Large setbacks spur me on to greater things. You see, the older we get, the more ways our insecurities play out. Writing you, I then realize, is almost counterproductive in that it permits those insecurities to fester, invites them to lash out like an unruly child. Speaking to you becomes an unwitting indulgence, a luxury I can no longer afford. (I used to live in a world where adults around me indulged me, so did myself. I was allowed to be weak and innocent, like you could’ve been, although you never were. You were never a wimpy kid. You always knew how to defend for yourself, something I am only slowly learning.)

Writing you is indulging the very type of insecurity that cries: no one would listen. You are all alone. No one listens so I write to the one that has no other choice but listen. You; but really it’s what you epitomize: a perfect listener. The void and unknown after a permanent departure, the forever silent and attentive, the lack of respondence that allows for radical receptance. You are my childhood journal that I once lost and was never able to start again. You are the easy target of care and regret I was not too afraid or too proud to admit. I am writing to the you in my head, in my dream, in heaven and earth, up in the air and deep in the forest, in my daily and nightly thoughts. You are the part of every human connection that I am no longer able to reconcile, and every piece of heart that I can no longer reach. Through writing you I am writing to small pieces of everyone, and yet, no one in entirety.

If this is not the cheapest form of solace, the least courageous way of mourning, I don’t know what is.

But I couldn’t give you up entirely, even as your face grows foreign to me every day. I can only try, as unnatural as that is, placing myself into a gradually secure place where I can talk to you without conjuring up self-pity. With that resolution I am ready to speak again; are you ready to listen?

From that place we shall together remember the insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz, rising to the sky and falling into despair, running away from and rushing back into flames. Remember them as life’s most remarkable collectibles, while time marches on its nonchalant way in the background. It couldn’t care less about our little sentiments. It’s on to a much grander mission. Move! Move! It says. If you can’t move along with me, better move out of my way. It repines. I must march on, no matter what.

I am not really afraid of being moved out of the marching way, to the shoulder of the road where broken cars grumble, to the grassy field where dogs and men stop to pee. I am not afraid of anything.

Being out of the way gives me a unique perspective, I can finally judge those bustling around, as high-mindedly as I want: Where do you think you are going? Are you escaping, or returning? Are you lost, or found?

Were we once traveling at a normal speed, like those other cars and trucks whooshing past? Were we in those moments glancing at roadside stoppers and wondering, in kindness but not enough care, what had happened to them? Or had we always been either rushing into the traffic like a maniac, or veering to the side and halting so quickly that our hearts could pop out with all that inertia?

Now we travel separately. You are in a place with monstrous beauty, or endless dark; I have no way of knowing. I am chugging through this water, amazed at how far we’ve gone, and humbled by how far there is left to go. As to the roads we didn’t end up traveling together, I am content keeping them alive in the imagination. Conversations we would’ve had and actions we would’ve taken and more ups and downs we would’ve faced are all food for my idle reveries. After all, that is how I get most delight out of things that could’ve, but didn’t happen. They are now even more alive with enormous possibilities with which I can forever entertain myself. What happened is brute fact, but what could’ve happened is what gives the glow of creativity to our myopic minds.

I am maybe devoid of the real creative power and yet so eager to be a creator, and that’s why I choose to live in the gap between fact and imagination, between what happened and what could’ve happened, why I subscribe to foggy and muddled experiences, and why I will myself to unmerited punishments.

⋅ ⋅ ⋅

Between our last adventurous drive down the west coast, through flame and smoke, and this current one, nearly a year has passed. The last one felt homecoming, this one more akin to exile. I had uprooted my life in merely a day, stored away all my stuff that I didn’t really care about, and taken with me the only thing I treasure. I will just make sure he is okay. I told myself. And for that purpose I have to make sure I am okay too.

We drove through a uniform collection of towns that are almost identical from one to another: if you stop to rest, or get stuck somewhere, and talk to any locals, there is always a notable coffee place, a must-try ice cream place, a recommended pizza or burger joint. Does it matter where you are? I remember another town with exactly the same list. And I had tried all of them. It didn’t bear any real difference from any other town with any other recommendations, but I had intentionally made it special. The one rose in a rose garden that you happened to lay eyes on, and now it is different from all other roses. Other roses are not worse — in fact they are almost certainly better being unclaimed, but this one is willfully invested.

None of the nameless towns really matter. It is the attention that we paid to a particular one, even though it is not supposed to be any special, that gives it meaning.

From one erasable town to another, I wanted to remember something about each of them, but for once I think I should be the forgetter. There’s always one that tries to remember, and the other that tries to forget. I wish this time we could be on the same side.

There’s one town I was most eager to get to, Fargo, ND. It would’ve made the road trip twice as long and doubly dangerous given the poor road condition and lack of charging stations. But I had made my mind and set out for it. I was stopped halfway, in the most wretched way possible. I think fate, or some wise figure with a grander vision, is trying to teach me something with that moment. It had given me a warning, or punishment, for chasing lofty dreams, consuming unrealistic idealization without considering its price, and molding farfetched romance into shape before it’s ready. It had tried to stop me multiple times this year, but I jumped into the ocean anyways.

Live your reality! Now it had to deliver its wisdom harshly, stranding me in the middle of nowhere for days. Apparently only then would I listen. Live your reality and be patient with your dreams. All the good things will come, but you’ll have to be ready for it first.

⋅ ⋅ ⋅

“She’s so caught up in the moment, it’s like she’s living in a poem.” I find this an accurrate description of myself.

I love how time is continuous but we can make discrete marks to begin or conclude a poem. I love how I am only a coauthor of my poems, the unpredictable fate being the other author. Sometimes he holds my hand, other times I his.

With our imperfect hands and the even clumsier hand-holding fashion, I am surprised at the quality of my poems so far. We are condemned prisoners not to death, but to life. Schopenhauer says. And I think, more precisely, condemned to imperfections — death has none and life is all about that. But I am so, so grateful for the very imperfection that had defined you, and is currently defining Fargo.

Now in my lonely moments I speak to both you and him. I often say to you in sobs, “Come back to me.” And to Fargo, “Please don’t die.” Neither of them can be true, but it is the very falseness that carries a finality that feels soothing to me. Love itself never felt wholly soothing; there’s always some kind of shame when I love something intensely, like I am self-denying, I am baseless, like I have no other identity other than a lover of that thing. Finality, on the other hand, I can savor.

I know why I am still mourning, Deuce, because that’s the only thing I feel safe to do.

What would I do if you do come back? Or Fargo lives forever? Our callings are most authentic when they are not to be answered.

It’s getting dark out, and Fargo will start barking again. If I hug him tight he’ll calm down. But however tight I embrace the darkness of the night, it insists on running the ordained course at its own pace, all of which, in due course of time and in accordance with my wishes, will dissipate.