Yes, I actually did read over reading week. Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty
, and one of my comfort novels – Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood
. Still peppered with post-its from my last pass, I noticed how the book speaks to me differently on each return. Flagged this time:
Love becomes the deposit of the heart, analogous in all degrees to the ‘findings’ in a tomb. As in one will be charted the taken place of the body, the raiment, the utensils necessary to its other life, so in the heart of the lover will be traced, as an indelible shadow, that which he loves.
Aside from reading, the break meant I actually had to think about what’s been going on in my life, rather than just unreflectively living through it. Patterns of lost and found (or perhaps I just see it that way because my inner structuralist likes to impose categories? At any rate, a skewed equilibrium in which some sides are punching more than their weight). This past week of downtime meant I couldn’t escape thinking about what I've been doing, or not doing, for me. The double-edged sword of busy is that while it keeps you from looking too closely at what you’re missing the moments of loneliness hit harder – the end of the night when the computer shuts down and there’s nothing else left.
I've been debating about this post for awhile (well, at least a week). A friend told me to own it. So I'm trying. I'm missing some of the anchors in my life right now, and it’s hard. During a therapeutic pizza, wine, and roommate evening this week he laughed at the suggestion that I was an open book. He tossed off a detailed list of jokes, deflections, quippy rhetorical diversions that I use to keep people outside, and tried to explain what these moves have cost me. My usual strategy is to move on without looking back, but lately that’s been obscuring things – like how not looking back can be an expression of fear rather than strength. I'm trying to face and own up to repercussions of the past, of both messing up and of letting things get messed up. Not really a ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,’ because I always knew. It’s hitting harder now – the people that matter and what I need to do bring my life back into balance again. Like seeing strength not as leaving someone
behind, but something
– a habit of armour, a belief that intimacy and vulnerability are signs of weakness. Otherwise what’s lost could stay that way, and I'm brave enough to do better than that.