Disintegration

Paris, 2006

Paris, 2006

A year ago, a then new friend told me, as we began to know each other, that more than anything, I seemed very far from home. It was true. I want to say not in the sense you would imagine, but now I’m having trouble imagining what would be an alternate way to read that statement. In any case, it is less true now. And I’ll thank him for sharing with me the courage to publish. And for so many other facets of our friendship.

Perhaps this is home today. This space, this electronic abode, where events, memories, feelings, hopes collide, settle, dissolve, coalesce. I can hang a picture on this wall over here…in fact, there are several hanging already. I can mount a degree in a frame and put it up somewhere if I ever get around to it… I can make tea. The kettle is boiling now… Tea is simple.

I’ve been reading Joan Didion, “Notes from a Native Daughter,” in Slouching Toward Bethlehem, which I strongly suggest if you haven’t read it. I am from Joan Didion’s California. Not the same place. Not the same experiences. Not exactly the same feelings. But close enough when she writes about how far New York is from Los Angeles. Not five hours by plane. Not to the real place.

As a sidenote, now The Palm is in TriBeCa, and I think that’s not the only one, and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos is somewhere south of midtown, and these are surely signs of the end of days. Don’t say it about the burger joints. Just don’t.

This is about how one ends up far from home. Far from self, far from peace. There are so many ways to do it. Wires cut and never spliced. Entire systems abandoned. What do you do about a pay phone out of order?

The disintegration of a relationship. The integration. The opposite of that. The falling apart, but the specific connections severed, betrayed, neglected, abandoned. The new connections formed that lack the integration of the two. Connections that are outside, apart, independent. Sometimes forbidden.

Disintegration. Two that once had chosen, or fallen into, integration. And the undoing of that.

It’s not so simple, no? It’s not a switch turned off. It’s power cut to a house where there is perishable food in the refrigerator. Where perhaps there is a circular saw running in the garage. Where alarm clocks are set, in the expectation that a normal day will happen. No, these connections do not always sever gracefully.

Or tangibly. There are friends. Who belongs to whom?

Is there a part where sinews cease to hold, but the things they held (kitchenware, a record collection, the wedding album, the children) are not yet connected anew to any rebuilt structure? I would argue yes. I would argue that some of these things are not needed at all, and can decay, and disintegrate at the molecular level. Return to carbon, nitrogen. Feed something. A houseplant, or a garden.

Other things. Other things. I worry over the things that hold their form, disconnected. I worry over the cast off toys, the cast off loves, the misfit projects, idle, abandoned. Scraps of fabric and thread. Needles and buttons. Three quarters of a college degree. Eight tenths of a novel. Half a false start at sobriety. A garden, gone fallow, where once there were vegetables and flowers year round.

I worry. But these things, these things are sometimes for the best. How many popsicles sticks with how much scotch tape will splint a misguided career choice into functionality? How much plaster and chicken wire to make a marriage look fine from the outside? And where do you put the airholes in that get up? You have to breathe somehow.

Sometimes, let it burn. In the committee of my mind, we don’t talk about hitting bottom. There are basements, and sub-basements unknown, so best not wait to stop skidding along some imaginary bottom to make a change. There are rotten planks that, looking sound from above, won’t hold the most innocent step.

Sometimes what comes next is going to be so much better.

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