Even Sweet Girls get the Blues
I think I've seen this place before.
On avenue A in a bar with sticky tables and a disco ball turning even though all the lights were off I managed to get a corner booth. All the bars were a different kind of empty that Saturday for the holiday weekend which made people retreat to the outskirts of the city. Facing the window, facing really my brother, his girlfriend, and my sister who had used her expired fake ID because her real one had been lost, I watched the random sampling of city dwellers pass through. Most of them didn’t come in. Most of them kept walking. It was not their destination, but it was mine.
The two weeks preceding this arrival, to this bar which I had talked up too much and wasn’t at all trying to impress my brother, were sopping and swelled by my own sorrow. My therapist and I had our last in-person session before she’s meant to go upstate where she will be getting a house. My roommate had informed us she found a bigger apartment for her and the cat. Our lease was ending and our management company had yet to send the new one. Summer was here but not enough and June stood for all of that. The place where all this change would shortly be realized. All I felt capable of was crying. I’d cry just because I had to leave my house. Or if the cat meowed too loudly down the hall. Sometimes even the realization I was getting ready for bed sent a deep pain to the root of me. Preparation for a new day. A complicit wading toward change, even if I had no choice other than going on, was a surrender I both welcomed and detested. Though when asked what was wrong to admit that these were the reasons I saw in my line of vision was both entirely true and somehow completely wrong. They brushed the root of the issue but never revealed it. This was the terrible low of moving forward and the impossible middle. My mom told my brother about my tenderness toward life. We’d been due for a weekend together anyway.
Facing the window from my seat in the bar the horizon escaped me. Thompkins Square Park and outdoor eating gave at best a cluttered viewpoint for staring into. It didn’t matter. I could see enough, could feel the recognition. I’d been here before. Not to this physical place exactly but on this trek through sorrow. A well-acquainted context, a familiar case of the blues.
In our lifetime the various kinds of sadness have been articulated and fraught with conditions. We know the difference between a depression and a low. We can rightfully classify a wail from a sob. The blues are no different and easily recognizable. Attributed to cowboys, late-night singers, and drifters. They appear as a journey and something you pass through. Where sadness comes and goes it is we who are traveling when we arrive at these feelings. It's an outlier to sorrow for this reason and in a category all its own. Life itself isn’t heavy, but swelled and irritated by its conditions of existence. The usual comfort and understanding that everything comes to an end intensifies it all. It is precisely these endings, the arrival of them, which we are mourning. There's a kind of grief in the grief itself. We want to get better but what does it mean once we do? Everythings changing. The present is coated in a deep inky blue and the horizon has the same stripe across it. If you wrung out my memories of the past two weeks you’d find them soaked in the color of evening. The color made when the sun has set some ten minutes before and the sky is dark but not perfectly yet.
I know when I feel myself entering this geography of life, the best thing I can do is tell a story of the past because the future seems too excruciating. We writers are always looking for patterns. Let me know if you see the similarities.
It was warm only because we’d forgotten the weather could be this mild. On the train leaving the city toward New Haven where my brother lived I watched the window. Ocean and trees cut across the landscape. I’d done this trip many times, gone home, gone wherever, and always parts of it I struggled to remember and saw them again for the first time. I decided to visit my brother when in the middle of eating my ice cream I broke down and cried, the cause of my sadness lost to me. There was a pressure all around me, a haze in my line of sight.
In the car, Keil asked what we might want to do but I had nothing. Or else it was difficult to admit I wanted to do this, be around him, because we grew up a certain way. I simply needed my brother specifically, who would both try and not try to make me feel better. He was good at the balancing act of it. We sat in his living room doing things we just as easily could have done at home, but with each other. We laughed the way you can only do with people who’d been raised on most of the same shows, same jokes, and same dinners. It was all easy and it had not been easy for some time.
“What's going on then?” Keil asked while everyone was in the other room, focused on different things.
“My therapist is going on maternity leave,” I said though that didn’t feel like the entire truth. He nodded. There was a lot I couldn’t say because I didn’t know what was going on. It was the longest sadness of my life. I felt myself walking through it daily. I had started to think I might never make it to the other side. With my brother though I was reminded of this falsehood. I was comforted mostly I imagine because he was 7 years older than me and what had once felt like a chasm now felt like nothing. For a while, I had not really known him at all. We were closer to strangers than siblings. Now I felt the gratitude of our shared community, for the work it takes to be in each other's lives. We would not get those years back of being kids but we had now. I was reminded time would not heal all wounds, but it will always change everything.
Before we left I asked Keil to give me a tattoo. Tess his girlfriend had gotten him a tattoo gun as a gift and he’d done a few. He agreed. In the center of his living room, he tattooed along my ankle SWT GRL. Taken from a love letter, taken from the past because I could not think too far of what was approaching. I was waiting on too many things to arrive. My therapist's last day, my lease in the mail, my new roommate. Spring was beginning which only meant summer was just close enough to hope for.
We left and I was sad even after. It hung around the air for a few more weeks until one afternoon I got off the subway and I realized it was gone. To me, this was the most important lesson of my life. Some journeys through this world conclude without much of our participation. For no reason in particular and without pattern or formula. I took a note of the conditions anyways for the sake of it.
These emotions returned and on accident we made the same decisions we’d done in the past. Keil visited and I remembered everything. I remembered this weekend would not be a cureall but enough of a relief to keep going. Yes, everything here is still blue. How can I say it any other way? How do you wrap up this truth without thinking of the future? All I have to go on, for now, is the past. The most I feel capable of thinking ahead is the word I’m going to write next. Let me look back again. The view is clearer there even if for now I can’t appreciate what I’m about to say next. It all ends. I don’t mean the moment is fleeting, but that we experience terribly sad things in our lives. Things that hurt us in their own banality. Our lease ends and our rent goes up. Our favorite sock gets a hole, our earring goes missing overnight. What we thought we’d have a little while longer is already gone, even if we felt smart for remembering nothing is forever. We grieve for the life we had while we have it. Small parts, little cogs in the routine fall apart before you remember they could. We feel these micro-moments tremendously, worse than we feel we’re allowed to, and we can’t exactly explain why. The cards get dealt and you play the hand. Life calls your bluff and you call your mom three times a day to cry about it all again. The round ends, you figure out what you’ve been dealt next. You think you’ve been here before and you let that fact soothe you because the only way you can return to something is if you left it to begin with.
Even cowboys get the blues they say. Maybe it's better if they tell you the end of this story. They have a clearer view without bars and buildings in the way. I’m sure they know better than me the beauty of such things. How one morning you wake up and for no reason in particular that long horizon before you has returned to its usual color.
Take it away cowboys, I’ve still got a little way to go.
“I am grateful for all those dark years, even though in retrospect they seem like a long, bitter prayer that was answered finally.” Marilynne Robinson
The last two weeks of may have been a long succession of heavy days. May 30th, 2022 9:18 PM
There is so much purpose to me. I can hear the leaves sigh as the wind blows through them. I’m not trying to be remembered forever. I just wanna be here now. And to be loved. And to be well thought of. After that, I don’t mind if I’m quickly forgotten. I matter even if one day I won’t. May 18th, 2022 2:41 PM
Last June I talked about our yearly solstice celebration. A party founded on celebrating the small and insignificant parts of life. A party for the sake of wanting to have one. It’s hard to think about the possible 18 days ahead, but what is worth celebrating has already occurred. It might be nice to look back, to make a list of what that night will be for, even if it isn’t a long one.
Cleaning my apartment
Making it to June
Figuring out the outline of a particularly hard chapter in my book
Installing my AC unit
The song Boyfriends by Harry Styles
Being alive with the faith that though it is not all over, these blues will end eventually. Yes. I’ll drink to that.
June to me has a kind of vintage quality to it. A faded color about it all. The year is not quite new but the season is. There’s so much possibility but it’s all built on what has happened already in a way we are more aware of than normal. When I think of june I get the colors of those 1$ plates in antique stores. The reds and creams. Of course too, the stunning blues. Here’s June’s moodboard. Enjoy xoxo
Next Friday my Paid newsletter comes out where we will start talking about our book club book Glass castle. It is a newsletter full of romance, some art, and deja vu. To continue the journey of this theme subscribe. A good story awaits and more words, etc etc.
If not, don’t worry about it. We’ll see each other somewhere groovy soon.
That’s all this month! If you enjoyed the little conversation we had let me know! Save, share, and tag @chloeinletters
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Here’s to Starbucks Fridays, cowboys, and that radiant beautiful blue I keep seeing all over town.