“Hey sis,” His words hung soft in the thick air, gentle, like he was already beginning to lose his voice from all the pent up emotion floating beneath his diaphragm.
I didn’t know what to say. And it wasn’t for a lack of desire, because I wanted more than anything to have the right words, but the same reason I assume most people say nothing, which is because I was terrified of saying the wrong thing. I was terrified of entering into this raw, broken place and what it would do to me, and to him. In that moment, more than anything, I wished I was brave. But even with as much time as I have spent hopping from one dark place to another, I have yet to become so familiar with it that I could draw a map with the way out of it. Maybe because the entire city is just a street of dead ends and back alleys, and there is no way out. It sounds hopeless, and awful, but I think sooner or later you find comfort in the darkness of it all, in the absolute destruction. There’s something familiar about the broken slants on the front porch and the cob webs hanging from the rafters, the streets that have never been paved and are full of ruts, and the musty smell that wafts in from every direction. Once you have familiarized yourself with darkness, with grief, even though it is unwelcome it is familiar and it is lightness, pure joy, that seems like an intruder.
I spent months yelling at the sun because it dared to shine, at the birds because somehow they still had a song to sing while the only noise I could make was the one where my heart repeatedly slammed into my rib cage, reminding me I was still alive when I didn’t want to be.
I wanted the world to stop turning, wanted to not habitat the condemned building in the darkest corner of the city called grief, wanted to not feel like my heart was on fire. I wanted to feel normal again.
I know now there is no such thing as normal. Maybe I should have learned that ages ago. There is no secret back road that will take you out of this city. There is no road map, no survival manual, and no emergency number to call in case things get clouded along the way, and they will. This is a solitary journey, and one you never asked to be a part of. There is nothing I can say that will help you settle in to your new accommodations in a city you never asked to live in.
And so I will sit across from you in this bar called blackness and ask you if you want another drink. We will listen to Grace Potter and maybe sing bad karaoke and make dark jokes.
Because this I can do.