Being alone a lot sort of makes you hyper-self-aware. I have too much time to think / enough time to think (delete as you think appropriate) about my state of mind. Yesterday I was walking to work in the late afternoon and the sun was almost down. The light slanting across the path made even the tiniest pebbles and leaves cast long, thin shadows: small things thrown into greater significance. This is what it feels like to have too much time to think. More and more, I become the pathologist of my own feelings. I observe them, quite clinically, and like a nervous tic I find names for them. Saying the word in my head brings me outside of myself - it mutes things. Clearly this is a symptom of too much time. That it is also a symptom of anxiety goes without saying. I am coming to terms with it - again, by naming it. Sometimes I say to myself, "I am an anxious person." Oddly, it makes me feel better about it. Making it a thing isolates it; makes it easier to manage. When I'm breathing fast or tapping my foot, I take note and I stop it. Like a gas escaping, though, it seeps into something else: I find myself repeating words in my head, compulsively. Sometimes the same snatch of melody plays over and over and over again across my mind and I have to distract myself to cut it off.
None of this is so bad as to be distressing, though. On the contrary: I'm better than I've ever been. Oh sure, I'm bored and I'm lonely, but I've finally found a small puddle of calm inside myself that I can find and dip into when I need it. I feel less hollowed-out. More secure. Restless due to circumstance, not due to an army of ants dancing in my stomach and fingers and feet, keeping me ill-at-ease at all times. I'm not actually happy, which is hard to be in extended solitude, but I'm not unhappy either. I also feel better equipped to become happy at some future point, which is nice.
Ok, so this isn't an apology for not updating for so long, but it's an explanation. More to myself than anyone else, because I did wonder. And this is what I answered myself: I couldn't update in Berlin, because that would have meant either lying about how things were, or owning up, cataloguing the truth, and thus showing it all to myself, all stark and real. And because I'm a practical person, that would have meant making practical decisions. After all, the default option in most relationships is to stay (and this is really about leaving a person, not leaving a city). To leave is active, to stay is passive (it is when things are floundering, anyway); passive is easy, and we all love easy. There's nothing like the distance between two continents to complicate the simplicity of staying, though. So I left. Obviously. It's a punch in the guts to realise that, using a careless gaze, I probably mistook the memory of love - the sad ghost of it - for the thing itself. But what happened had to happen, and what I have now I will be thankful for. Amor fati: the love of what is necessary. A suggested recipe for happiness, from an unhappy man.
So I left the city and the person, and both partings were awful. I was browsing facebook today, and realised that he and Esme, Sam and Jess were the only significant people from that time who don't make me feel boilingly angry and contemptuous just to think about now. I don't know what it means, yet, that such odd people who are of very little consequence to me now make me so upset to think of. I guess I regret or resent something, but it will take more time and more will to find it out. It's in there somewhere, I just have to make time on my internal therapist's couch to talk it over. But I don't want to right now because it sets off little snappy crocodiles of annoyance in my gut, and it's probably not so important anyway. Maybe it's just as simple as that Jess and Sam are purely good and kind humans, and that he and Esme are the only ones of that small everyday circle of mine who are left with any will to pursue good things with some vigour. And we hate most what we recognise in ourselves. I certainly couldn't be accused of possessing an excess of vigour right now, but I excuse myself by saying I've put off the pursuit of good things until next year. In the meantime I need money, and to wait for my course to start, so the little snappy crocodiles will have to be patient.
I think in a few days I'll balance out this little slab of dreariness and text with a photo post. I've seen some nice things, dear readers, and you might like to see pictures of them.
This feels like a letter, so I'll sign off as if it were:
Yours with love,