Note to self: On writing.

Out walking today it dawned on me why my writing has been going better than usual these days. My fiction is flourishing, my pre-study notes are noteworthy. I noticed that in the latest things I’ve done, I’ve set myself a clear goal: some target to achieve with my writing. It sounds simple, and it probably is to most, but I’ve never really taking it seriously. I’ve always believed stubbornly in the grace of the muse, just coming down from the heavens, leading me on as soon as I let my fingers do the talking. It works sometimes, which is why I have been led on believing it to be the way for me. But after what has felt like a year of drought, where I’ve been stopped in my tracks more often than I’ve gotten on the train, where I have a hundred ‘saved drafts’ and a sad half-filled notebook of what can at most be described as attempts, it has finally started raining again.

Maybe it was the thunder the other night that woke me up, got me to realise that nature might just toast me any day now. I’ve probably already lived longer than most people in world history (how frightening a thought that is, how many poor souls left for dead in premature years). And I started setting goals before sitting down to write. Not much, necessarily. Just a theme and an ending — then let the words take form on the path there. It has helped tremendously with my ideas for my thesis, making sure I write down coherent thoughts instead of just scribbling down whatever loud nonsense came into my mind. And it has helped with the (still short) fiction I wrote to you yesterday (and plan to keep on writing). Especially that last one, the fiction to you, feels like such a shining light for me, telling me that I can do that kind of stuff, I can write fiction and be attentive to a storyline. Even if it’s just for a short period so far, it’s longer than 99 % of anything I’ve ever managed to concentrate on. It has a purpose, it has a direction. It might not be very original, and it’s intentions might be questionable at best, but it flows from my fingers like I’ve never tried before.

Maybe it’s just your presence that gives new life to my words. The whole muse-thing being true after all. But I like to think that I have at least found out a little something on my own as well. I’ll grant you the joy to write, I’ll grant myself the method.

It really has started raining now, and if it wasn’t because I’d been in front of my computer all day, reading papers for the thesis and spending indecent lunch break minutes continuing the fiction to you, I’d use the sound of the rain to write on. But I also strongly believe that every good day of work must come to its conclusion. And I’m hungry.

Simple love.

“It’s the simplest thing when we think about it,” his eyes in animated conflict, trying their best not to spoil the dream his lips were about to tell, “how easily we can make this work, just like breathing; it’s the most necessary things, like eating, breathing, loving, that don’t even take any effort at all when we do them right. It’s only when we hit upon a bumpy road we even notice that we’re doing these things. It’s not until you get a cold that you think about your breathing. It’s not until your throat is sore that you start questioning your appetite. And love flows easily, as easily as this, only when we forget about tomorrow and just drift with it.”

She buried her head in the depths of his chest, trying both to listen to his heart, to where all that romantic nonsense came from, and to tear it out before it all became too much, would become too real for them to escape this thing they had. She felt his hands playing with the strands of her hair, turning them around as if examining their degree of reality.

“There’s this philosopher,” he said, as he so often said, “who claims that something’s reality is determined by our ability to sense it. That my hands are my hands because I can see them and use them.” He turned his right hand around before his eyes before letting it fall to the center of her back. “But I don’t think he quite appreciated how different that makes the world for each person, depending on what they sense.” His hand moving in circles on her back, her arms starting to grip him in a tight hug. “Because surely I’m sensing a very real thing in this world right now, love, that only you and I can feel. I mean, sure, other people can feel love, but they won’t feel this love, not like we do.”

She tilted her head upwards, catching his gaze down upon her. Her legs moved, her arms moved, her face moved up right in front of his, matching his smile. “Let’s teach your philosopher about love,” she said.

Halfway to a dialogue.

“There’s a place I want to take you. It’s back home, right down by the water. A small pad of green grass and a sandy beach, a long jetty reaching out into the water, giving the most amazing view of the islands around it. There’s a bench for us to sit on, if we don’t just recline in the grass or sit on the edge of the jetty with our feet in the water, watching jellyfish follow the stream beneath us. I rarely swim from there because I’m oddly afraid of jellyfish and they always travel in great numbers there, like a horde of them, sticking together, trying not to get lost in the ocean. I’ve never understood how jellyfish function. I think that’s the reason why I fear them. I often fear what I don’t understand, like most people I’m sure. That’s also why I’m sometimes hesitating with you, because this is all new, and I don’t know where things go. I mean, I am usually pretty good at telling the future, but that’s because it’s all been mapped out for me so far. Now, with us, I have to make decisions I’m not used to. Decisions that matter. Decisions that form lives. And I don’t understand all the implications of those decisions, and I’m afraid of making the wrong ones, just as I’m afraid of picking up a jellyfish that fights back.”

Ghosts.

The last remaining part of a person, long after the physical body has left the room, is the ghost. A gust of wind, a soul searching for sacred halls, a will to live on or a desire to escape. The ghost is the last indestructible part of the person, looming in little things that earlier would attract no attention. But the fallacy is thinking that the person has to die for its ghost to roam the room. A soul can be split by the smallest of actions and left spread out over the world as tiny monumental reminders of who was once here, even as the person lives on in some other place. It was one of these living ghosts that I trapped in my room.

Now, the thing about all ghosts is that they don’t announce themselves when they’re left behind. They wait for you to find them. Nothing dramatic happened here, no murder, no crime, we just left the room, and I came back alone, everything seemingly exactly as we left it, no immediate difference to be noticed. But still your spirit hung in the room, like the dampness of a wet jacket; indiscernible until you touch it. It wasn’t until I started preparing food that I realized it. There was something more here. Something else. Someone else.

The conversations started all by themselves. I no longer recall who spoke the first word, but the ghost and I came to talking. About the world, the food, the plans ahead for us. I started feeling as if you had never left. The ghost would follow me around all day, from when I lay lazily in bed, trying to drag me out, until I went to bed again, tugging in close to me and whispering in my ear. I neglected my rational sense apart from a nagging thought wondering how you could disappear so incompletely.

As the days wore on, the ghost became as much a part of me as it was of you. I started wondering if my soul had split partly into a ghost as well, following you, since I could make room for your ghost inside of me. In my craze I started treating the ghost like the real you, offering it food, trying to look deep into its translucent eyes and searching for a hand to hold on to. I never noticed how insane it all was, to love a ghost as more than a ghost. I just felt it. And the feeling was real, the belief just wasn’t.

One night I woke up bathed in cold sweat, and I couldn’t feel the ghost beside me, as I had gotten so used to over the past weeks. Its weightless body’s weight on my bed suddenly lifted, and I threw open the blinds to let the moonlight in, its beam casting a white wave of light into the room, revealing anything there and not there. But little did I see that could be used to figure out where the ghost had gone. Not even its disappearance could be seen.

In the morning I went looking at all our favorite places, both inside the room and out in the world. I went to our parks, our shopping malls. I went through the kitchen cabinets and out to the open fields. Even though we shied away from beaches, I still turned over each and every stone searching for traces of you. But little did it matter. A ghost is a ghost until it’s gone. Then even the ghost turns into mere memory. But what is a memory if not also a ghostlike representation of the world as it happened. What is a memory if not an excuse to stop making new ones.

I packed my necessities and boarded a plane. If I couldn’t find your ghost, then maybe I could at least save you from mine. And maybe, just maybe, I could finally exchange my haunted memories for a real life if I could rediscover you.

European nights.

Dark blue summer sky and clementine moon, I’m indebted to your unseen brushes painting the world. They say gravity bends even travelling photons, and it must be true, for even when you’re not here, I still feel your weight in me, and the colors tighten in, a rainbow spotlight cone shining down, enhancing this private moment of remembrance to a universal melancholy of stars lost from their nebulae. Stuck in a home until we’re stuck without one. The struggle in every being and everything, being of a kind when day breaks, being necessarily on our own when night comes creeping like a blanket over our cage. But what is a fantasy felt can be as real as the waking pinch on the arm, and we’re never quite alone as long as you are in me and I am in you. We might be out of our nebulae, but we’re just passing through. Dancing our very own two-sun waltz, forever creating constellations anew. I sense you here, in the night sky, in the haunted moon, even in my own reflection I see you staring back. I sense you in the darkest rooms, whispering in my ear to hold your hand. And magic strikes as I grab at nothing but feel your warmth.

Bugs.

The only thing that hit me when I woke up was, boy there are a lot of bugs in this world. In these hot thunderstorm summer nights with dark clouds giving way to blasting sunflares, with electricity in everything we do and a humidity fooling your evening nature walk for a dive out off the coast of Australia, there are little black bugs in every layer of the air, from head to toe you become coated in a mixture of sweat and unspecified bugs, commonly referred to as thunderbugs, allowing imprecise causation to name whole species.

When I hide from nature and get inside with my computer or my games, there are a whole different kind of beasts that we refer to as bugs. They not so much happen in the world as they keep things from happening, going against the usual works of the wheels, throwing a wet cloth in the face of anyone trying too hard to get through these fictive lives. They’re never predictable, not named through an inductive inference like the thunderbugs, but they share a similarity with them nonetheless, in that we feel we would rather be without them, that they’re an irritating element of our lives, even if we realise that we’d have to change our lives dramatically if the naturebugs weren’t there. In like fashion our lives would be altered by the digital bugs not being there, for how often has progress been made when a genius encountered a problem in the existing web of truths? How little would we strive, if the world always everywhere functioned as we predicted it to? How quiet a digital life we would live without the digital bugs.

But then there’s a third kind of bug. And it’s the one that sticks out from the rest. The kind of bug we wish to be hit by, but is nonetheless a problem for us. It’s an emotive bug, a relational bug that binds us to people and things, and leaves us breathless–for a moment or a lifetime–while we try to feel deep down inside how this bug might shift the direction of our lives, leading us astray or finally onto the path, always blinding us with the sun in our eyes, feeling both too hot and never hot enough, always wanting more, always yearning to get closer to that all-consuming sun, burning our fingers, our toes, letting our foreheads melt in the face of the love bug as it bites through our skin, deep into the bleeding muscle beating life into our bodies. This might be the most dangerous bug of them all. But I never found an effective repellant. And I doubt I’ll find it now.