In the early days of The Shitstorm, because I so often purged the insanity of it all into collections of words on social media, I’ve now ended up with a weird journal of “on this day” memories to track the trajectory of our haphazard lives. Some days, looking back is too much, the shrapnel wounds left by our experiences still far too tender to revisit. Other times, like with this post below from when we were still trying to discern up from down, I can both immediately recall the emotion of that moment, but also feel a bit of [bizarre] relief at the way we’ve managed to settle into a routine amidst the nonsense.
Of course, I worry that as soon as I say something as brazen as that — “look at us, we have a routine!” — life will bitch-slap us with a new development, diagnosis, or catastrophe, as it so often is wont to do. I’m not saying we’re immune to such things. It’s just that living through the last five years of this bullshit has given 2023 Jeffrey a perspective that 2018 Jeffrey didn’t believe would be possible.
I may feel differently tomorrow. The rug may get pulled out from underneath our feet and I could again find myself trying desperately to merely distinguish dark from light. When that happens, I just hope I remember that old Rilke quote; no feeling lasts forever.
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
Facebook Post, from May 3, 2018:
I got home late from the office the night before last, just after 9 PM. I sent Chelli a text when I was en route and when she responded, she told me that she was already in bed. Since neither of us sleep as a matter of habit and when she does manage to get a few winks, it’s generally not in the bed these days, I thought it was weird. So, I did what I do when something about one of her text messages seems “off”… I immediately called and demanded an explanation, along with supporting documentation, a character witness, a PowerPoint presentation, and a blood sample. “I’m fine,” she said, “and you’re overreacting.”
When I made it home — a 30-minute drive that took only 22 — I found her in bed, just as she’d told me, although her eyes seemed vacant, she was unable to finish a sentence or tell me exactly what was wrong (“I don’t KNOW,” she kept saying, increasingly hysterical), and everything hurt. As fucked up as I realize that sounds — and it does — it’s also the sort of nonsense that occasionally passes for a Monday evening in this new normal of ours. Our life is just… strange.
Now a bit more than 48 hours later, she’s again spending the night in the hospital and I am again welcoming the overnight hours at my keyboard, trying to organize the chaos of the day into something resembling words. I’m tired, but it’s not the kind of tired that’s mitigated by shut eye. (Or, at least, this is what I tell myself.) I’m tired of the routine of it all… the worry, the mad dash, the half answer, the pushback, the hesitant sigh of relief, followed by the worry all over again. I’m frightened at the mere thought of losing her, sure, but even more petrified of what will become of us if this routine lingers unencumbered for another month, year, or decade.
Years ago, I struggled with chronic a-fib, my heart periodically deciding to beat in a way that felt like an unruly gymnast doing somersaults in my chest. Often, in order to stop a particularly belligerent a-fib episode, doctors would intervene with something called cardioversion, the process of applying a direct-current electrical shock to the heart — those paddles you see in movies, only nobody yells “CLEAR!” — in the hope that it would dramatically disrupt my heart’s skipping record.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to perform a bit of cardioversion on our current unruly chaos. We desperately need something to disrupt the bedlam, something to fundamentally reset our rhythm. I don’t know what that thing is, or if it even exists, but I do know this:
Today, a friend said, “let me support you in this,” so I picked up the paddles and said, “okay.”