not in our stars, but in ourselves
A snowstorm last week, ludicrously cold weather earlier this week, and now temperatures so high that the snow is literally turning into vapor. Climate change? What climate change?
Okay, I won’t talk about the weather.
I don’t really know where I am. I’m not happy, and I’m not sad. I’m remembering a lot, and comparing wherever I am now to where I was a year ago. Sometimes, as I trudge through the snow or race through the cold, I think about Melbourne last January. I was a wreck. I would wander through the CBD in a haze, knowing that I didn’t have a home anymore, knowing that I’d have to leave soon, aching and sobbing and searching desperately for a way to stay. Sometimes now, I encounter something that brings up a flash of something from then: the hook turns, the corner of Bourke and King, the sign above the Queen Vic markets’ entrance on Elizabeth and Victoria St, the view from our old apartment, the way the sky seemed so much bigger, the shy little possums that came out at night in Flagstaff Gardens, the little courtyard at Fandango, the brown and cloudy Yarra, the noisy trams clattering along, the flocks of galahs and rosellas, the rainbows in wintertime, the 8:30 sunsets in summertime, the opposite crescents in the moon (that is to say, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the round part of the moon is on the right when the moon is waxing, and left when the moon is waning; in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite).
Flashes, you know. They’d be subliminal messages if they were in a film. But they’re in my mind, and I can latch onto any one, and follow every association I have with that image. They are bittersweet, to say the least. It used to be that I couldn’t think of any of these things without crumbling into ruins; I haven’t been crying quite as much lately.
My therapist told me that the best way to heal from trauma – at least the kind of trauma I’ve experienced – is to talk about it. Not to bottle it up, not to try to avoid thinking about it. Talk about it with someone else. Let yourself cry. Let yourself experience all those emotions again, but in a way that forces you to analyze them – simply because you have to, in order to form them into a story that you’re sharing with someone else. In therapy, with her, I’ve been doing a lot of this. It’s helped me to stop reeling in pain, I think, so that’s something.
The few people with whom I interact on a daily basis – my housemates, a select few co-workers – must be sick of me. It’s always “Australia this, Australia that.” I am haunting all my old memories; I think that’s it, rather than being haunted by them. I’m not the living person in this scenario anymore. I’m the ghost.
Several people this week – after I was, as usual, blathering on about Australia – asked me if I thought my attachment to the past was keeping me from moving forward and building a proper future. Yes. Yes, it is. I hope it won’t always be this way. Obviously, I tend to get lost in all sorts of pasts – my own and others. Australia, the 1920s, Pre-Code films, etc., etc. Things I can never have again. The challenge is not getting lost. The best advice and/or solace I can recall is from my fellow past-fetishizing friend, Vladimir Nabokov:
The spiral is a spiritualized circle. In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free. […] Twirl follows twirl, and every synthesis is the thesis of the next series. If we consider the simplest spiral, three stages may be distinguished in it, corresponding to those of the triad: We can call “thetic” the small curve or arc that initiates the convolution centrally; “antithetic” the larger arc that faces the first in the process of continuing it; and “synthetic” the still ampler arc that continues the second while following the first along the outer side. […] A colored spiral in a small ball of glass, this is how I see my own life. The twenty years I spent in my native Russia (1899-1919) take care of the thetic arc. Twenty-one years of voluntary exile in England, Germany and France (1919-1940) supply the obvious antithesis. The period spent in my adopted country (1940-1960) forms a synthesis – and a new thesis.
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis and new thesis. I think, I hope, I’m at the end of the antithesis.
Don’t worry, tomorrow is the Golden Globes. I’ll be back to less personal stupidity then.