I sit down tonight to craft my goodbye. It’s a nice night, the city lights outside my window, the music is thrumming to the stuttering pulse of inspiration, to the everlong pulse of you. It’s a perfect night, I muse, the weather is cold and the air is heavy, pushing the yellow brightness in the bulbs into themselves, the origami love I feel into the impossible eighth crease.
It’s a surreal night, and I know now that it’s because everything is divinely ordinary, just how a winter night when nothing happens should be. You would be sleeping like most people do, and because it is an ordinary night, you will wake up tomorrow, safely surviving this risky business of dreams and closed eyes. An ordinary night with me looking for the apt feelings for all these lovely words.
I turn to history, to origins of religion, to wars with gory violence, to golden ages with flourishing economies and locked chests with shiny gold. I turn to books on science and inventions, on sizzling chemical reactions and that one vital ingredient, to laws of motion and laws of staying still. I grovel to ink for rescue on a restless wreckage, a crude clattering quest, for an escape from you.
Copper wires, sound waves, analogies, stock markets, prime ministers, Henry the Fourth, marine life, continental drift, distillation, Shaw - they all fail, for knowing more is remembering you, just as remembering you is knowing more. Of course, you’ve never been melody mustard fields, tearful trauma, lovelorn letters. Thinking typical love is nature’s diabolic way of offering me a tantalizing refuge, but I don’t do typical and I won’t for you.
We rattle away, about the north pole, black holes and poverty, materialism. I laugh at the irony, of how the crimson blood pumping foolish hope in me rises and falls parallel to our mind’s meandering discussions brought down from the endless universe’s starry darkness to the cyclic reasons for the ruin of humankind. I can see just how paper cunningly constructs the story of our talk, the myriad tangential possibilities of our conversation. I could say yes, like when I was ten, or put in an offhand you know I used to think.
Lackadaisical, such a nice word, the ploys of stationery. The many floating fantasies of being immersed in discovering your ideas on what life means and what you were like when you were eight, they could all come true, all within plausible reach, all this I let the black hole we are speaking about swallow into impossibility. The moment passes, the viabilities of a million vocals wiped out by a smile and by a mention of A Brief History of Time.
Don’t get me wrong, no, melody mustard field is not what I want. If I had my way, I would merrily explore the dead-ends and let you break my heart. I would let my childish ego break me down, and simmer through the gradual grudge. I would walk away from you, not enter rooms you had just passed, not ask you your name. Looking away, I’d manage to triumph, gleefully lay down the mosaic of your fleeting expressions, the what-he-said-to-hers I eavesdropped upon, and turn them over around upside down, reliving your day for you all over again and the many ways it could have gone.
Paper writes its own story, the ink writing itself. For that split second in time, my vocabulary consists only of that one word which I am supposed to write.
What do I say you you, then?
A goodbye to someone I wanted to love. A goodbye I want to say hello with.
I look at you, we are talking about Garibaldi. I remember how I’d cried when I’d read about Garibaldi once, about all that he did for his country. I’d wondered how someone could feel so much, do so much, what it would be like to know what you would honour your life’s purpose with. If I said that, we could probably get on talking about life and it’s meaning and how it’s all ending. Endings lead to goodbyes, and I could babble on about how nice it is to talk to you and how you’re a nice person, so funny.
Paper pain, origami love, the everlong pulse of you, the melody mustard field. I cave in to the paper’s pepper prejudice against me. Maybe, I reflect, the best way to say goodbye would be not to say it at all.
‘And then, look at Bismarck,’ I say, ‘Such funny moustaches, these people had.’