XXVI

disquiet; noun, [dis-kwahy-it]

  1. lack of calm, peace, or ease; anxiety; uneasiness.

I was shuffling up the stairs earlier when I heard voices from the hallway:

“I have this theory that Phoebes are really liberal, quiet, intelligent, queer, or maybe somehow sexually confused, kind people…”

“Yeah, that sounds about right. Sounds like the Phoebe I know. She goes to Harvard, though.”

I wanted to laugh. I waited until the voices dissolved down the hall before gingerly cracking the door open. Coast clear. Sharp left turn, last door before the corner, key in, click.

The room was twilight dark. I shut the door behind me, waited for the soft latch of the lock, and breathed out. Pressed my cheek against the wood, closed my eyes.


I’ve been knuckling through odd headspaces lately. (Everything except exams, which I should be worrying about, but I am fairly exhausted of thinking in general so I’d rather rummage through weird small loves instead of unwieldy topics such as kleos and Athenian political climates and the usefulness of formanifera as proxies in determining the catastrophic events at the K-T boundary). 

On Monday I thought about Emily Dickinson. I wondered if she ever felt this way when she tucked herself out of public sight—if she felt the immensity of the world on her chest. If she ever felt terrified yet enraptured by her hands.

On Tuesday I thought about Hinterlands by William Gibson, which is probably one of my favorite short stories ever. I thought about what it must feel like to be denied madness. To be left with the lonely task of helping and waiting and watching.

Today I thought about Aleppo. Because how do split yourself. How do you ache all over after seeing the videos and pictures, how do you put on a straight face and go study for your LitHum exam. (You just do. The world is unforgiving and this is the haunting reminder of media and globalization: you get to write analyses about the masterpieces of western literature while a city across the world burns. While people die. Because it is what you do and what you have always done).

To cap it all off, my brain seems intent on coming up with persistently creative ways to malfunction and misfire (read: uhm, chronic depression and several forms of anxiety. there. i said it. i finally said it). The trouble with this diagnosis is that I’m afraid once I slap labels onto my brain, people will avoid me like gag reflexes. I can’t blame them for that, but I also don’t want pity. I just want to learn how to deal and cope and survive. I want to get better.

Which brings me to this Hugh Laurie quote:

“There was an episode, one of my favorite moments in Star Trek, when Captain Kirk looks over the cosmos and says, ‘Somewhere out there someone is saying the three most beautiful words in any language.’ Of course you heart sinks and you think it’s going to be, ‘I love you’ or whatever. He says, ‘Please help me.’ What a philosophically fantastic idea, that vulnerability and need is a beautiful thing.”

I don’t recall ever saying those words in that order during the course of my brief, weary lifetime. Perhaps ‘please help’ or ‘help me’ but never ‘please help me’. (It speaks volumes, though, that I’m afraid, even terrified, of saying the phrase). Because, cuss if I know, it’s been a semester and I’m unsure of how much distance I have left to slip. (Insert melodramatic music. I wonder if I’m making this all sound more  dreary than it actually is. Depression is like that black knight in Monty Python: “Tis just a flesh wound!” my brain says as it proceeds to burrow itself deeper down the hole of despair).

I used to pride myself in being wholly optimistic and hopeful about humanity. I still stand by the latter part, but the former has eroded and manifested itself in some muddy form of fraught emotional tension. I also realize that I care more about other people than I care about myself, and somehow I’m okay with that, for the time being.

Yesterday I thought: I am I am I am is an unbearably brave phrase, because it’s infinitely easier to say, I was I was I was.

Anyhow. I should sleep now.

Maybe I’ll dream about flowers.


 

Postscript: still, though! There will always be things to love, i.e. Tiffany and her emails this week. Shoutout to her GIF-t series, which has been a brilliant beacon of smile-laden light.