The real difference between youth and age is not physical, or even mental. It’s just the added weight of all the years piled up behind you. You can call it experience if you want, but having a considerable past doesn’t necessarily confer any wisdom. It just compresses time so that things that happened last week and things that happened in the mid-1980s sit side by side in your memory.
… the overwhelming majority disliked [“childless” and “childfree”], with one being seen as stigmatising and the other gleeful and nasty in its implication that parents somehow need “liberating”.
… that’s one reason why – when absolutely necessarily – “doesn’t have children” is the kindest, most neutral descriptor we can hope for. Though we can also hope to be moving away from one’s parenting status needing to be defined at all, especially for women, who still face this question far more frequently than men. Language matters, and as ever it often says more about us and our assumptions than we realise.
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To me it’s the early mornings that lingered, longer than they should, when I groped and grabbed and nothing. It’s an empty bed, you weren’t there and I let you. I let you be alone, in another room, in the bathroom, the living room, sometimes in the basement, lying near the laundry pile, vomiting. It’s more practical there, you said. You grabbed a sheet, puked, and crawled to the washing machine and threw the wet sheet in. I would never know, for in the afternoon they would be minty fresh laundry. I’d just pick it up and went on with my day.
You never asked me how I felt. Lying there in the dark, I too, alone and torn. Desperate, frustrated, for you to share your pain. But it’s yours, not mine, you said. It’s not for me to take. I wished I had been more understanding than I already were. In my mind I would be more than a lover, I would be something closer, deeper, more meaningful than a companion. But it’s yours, and not mine to take. So I lay there sinking within a surge of my own pain.
Sometimes in the afternoon, when I slowly open the lid of your dryer, I forgot to breathe, for it was not yellow stain on the sheet, but dried up brownish blood. I tried not to wonder. Because it’s yours, and not mine to take.
i had a surgical procedure recently. i was going to be anesthetised, sure i’d love to be dead for few hours, sure, i’d feel nothing, sure but i knew it was going to be very, very painful once the drugs worn off, so i asked you, you who had lots of them thank you me, what did you do when you knew, did you give in to the pain, what did you think about when you’re in so much pain, where did you go?
you didn’t say but you told me you saw me in a meadow, wearing white, and that second you didn’t care about anything anymore.
how sad, how deafening the silence after that.
maybe, i thought, just maybe i’d think of you when i’m dying, i’d drown me in your blue ocean eyes and i’d forget everything, i’d have no care for the world anymore.
but when it stroke me, this immeasurable pain i’d never felt, i was nowhere thinking of you. i tried.
i tried to think about your eyes, i tried to picture Nantucket home, the cliff and the ocean, nothing. it was grave and i couldn’t find you anywhere even if i wanted to. i tried to think of you the same but you weren’t there.
And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.
Life After God, Douglas Coupland
day one. dark coffee, abandoned building, a pile of classics: joyce, dante, zola. day two. endless driving, darker coffee, my heart palpitated in halts. tiny déjà vu. day three. turned off instagram(s). lay around on the grass. napping. dreaming. a land faraway. day four. wrote about the ocean. so blatantly. mundane and irresponsible. called you to tell you i did it. you paused too long. i hung up. day five. long walks to the orchard. long walks back. hours on treadmills. more coffee. irish. my heart exploded. day six. wrote sonnets. iambic pentameter. bad. really really bad. read them to you. you said don’t hang up just yet. day seven. beachy sunrise. pancakes overdone. overrated poetry books. blogged mean things about you. you read it and kissed me. the end.
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