I have, in my own slightly peculiar way, been striving to write something over this last week. I say striving because it feels like that. Like a repeated attempt to pull my own body weight up a tree and falling back down every time. I’ve wondered what I need to write? What I had to say? I found a few threads, pulled them and came up empty.
It occurred to me this morning, as I pushed myself out into the world in pursuit of coconut sugar for tomorrow’s cake, that the only thing I can offer through this blog is direct reporting from the window ledge. And sometimes that comes easier than others. I don’t know why. I’m humbled by and grateful for those times when the poetry breaks through and I can feel my heart soften and expand, even as the weight of the world sits on my chest. Sometimes it’s just the weight of the world, I can’t find a way into myself, and that place that I know so well is an unforgiving place to be.
This blog is becoming kind of practice. A kind of discipline even. I am practicing showing up and reporting somehow, anyhow. As Leonard says in the lyric of Famous Blue Raincoat, to Jane, ‘I hope you’re keeping some kind of record…’ I’ve always been hogtied in this position, from anything much, and especially from writing. I’ve got so very stuck here, waiting hopelessly, furiously, to feel better/different, so I could write. I think I’ve been waiting to feel better, as in not depressed, so I could live. I’m learning I can write from here. That like my dance practice, it sometimes flows and flies and sometimes grinds to a terrible, lumbering stall. I don’t have to wait to feel lighter to be able to move or write. I don’t have to wait to be someone else, to live my life. There is a lot of life inside my depression. Yes, even when I can’t feel it or find it. Even when I doubt it. Even when my despair has no music in it whatsoever.
On my way back with the coconut sugar, I was pondering on the difference between high functioning and non functioning depression. Sometimes, in a grass is greener sort of way, I yearn to break. I imagine falling to the ground, the coconut sugar rolling into the gutter and everything that it’s attached to, disappearing. I see myself let go of all the threads that bind me and the ambulance comes and takes me to the psych unit. This is not how I roll. I keep functioning, albeit with much creative adaptation. I keep walking, even if I’m stuck in bed world, I am walking on…
From this thinking, as I walked home with my coconut sugar, looking I imagine like a middle aged woman walking, I had a very powerful memory flash. I am walking through Darlinghurst, Sydney. It’s the early hours of the morning and all the gay clubs are emptying out. I’m walking up the road beside a boy who’s face I can see but name escapes me. I probably haven’t been to sleep for a long, long time. Crystal meth is everywhere. Our friends are dying of a disease that doesn’t yet make any sense. I have sex with everyone, especially back-room bar, leather men. I am a kind of mascot I think and besides I have the good drugs. I’m walking along and then suddenly I’m falling. Free falling. Everything breaks in my mind, in a single moment and I am crying out, ‘it’s happening… it’s happening…’ It is an extraordinary sensation of falling and shattering. I do fall to the ground and everything does fall away. No one comes and takes me to that quiet white room I sometimes long for. No one comes at all. The nameless boy stands over me and swears and then walks away. It is that kind of world, especially when the drugs run out.
I rarely remember those days, these days. I am touched by remembering like this today. It is linked to being a functional depressive. Linked to being one who keeps walking on, even when she’s falling. And even though those were brutal times, I still remember that experience of dropping away, with a certain kind of wonder. I think it might be that, that I yearn for. Maybe it will be like that when I die? I imagine opening my arms like a beautiful bird and dancing in the tail winds a little. I can almost feel it. And then I fold my wings and fall into the falling. In this fantasy I see all the people who make up my circles of love, waving, and of course Leonard is singing me into the mystery.