Evan Swenson – On leaving

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it’s like i never left. when everything was as fragile as a wet painting. disaster seemed to live in me, but that was when everything needed to be destroyed. but it wasn’t destruction. more like a willful abandon, an understanding that something new was taking shape, and that everything before it would be preserved in the way the sun is still preserved in the moon or the stars after it falls. everything before it would still live, somehow.

and i still live nights like this. torn by directions that never seem to end. it’s still a struggle to so much as breathe. i remember the trust that something would’ve come by now, and it has, but that doesn’t change the fact that my senses are always a mess. and so much speaks to me to breathe to me to tell me that this isn’t right.

and with everything living on like that, there’s only room for something new. everything waits for it. and it could’ve been then just like it can be now, just like it could’ve been last week but my mind suffers explosions of thought and memory and dream—

still.

this is ending. it’s been a year since i came here. and now it is ending.

and my heart hurts for everything. i want everything to be okay. there are people i haven’t met yet that will be the most important people in my life. there was a lit ship sailing on the lake tonight. there was the city from the rooftop, laid out like a map of my failures. lit, and beautiful, and confused, and collected like something fixed and enduring, but i just say that because this is where i’ve thought, this is where i’ve fought with myself and torn myself to nothing.

i could see it from there, lit by the fireworks from the white sox field just across the dan ryan. i know that someday it will haunt me, my year here, but i don’t feel much now and i don’t know what to do with that. i feel what the moment calls for me to feel, i feel the places my mind wanders to. i feel myself there, i feel that i’m there. and there is becoming here whether i want it to or not, as i need it to. i need to write this. i need to wake up tomorrow, take in the city and come home and write. i need something to break me further into pieces, because fragments are all i know how to work with.

i’ve been writing all the while i’ve been here. i’ve been living in these moments as best i can. like on the roof, when i couldn’t stop shaking. when the beer and the wine can’t even come close to the nerves. when i am walking and suddenly feel like i’m falling--

and i’ve been looking for a prayer. outside or within myself. behind all my thought there’s this one that i don’t need to say again. and there are moments that come when it’s healed, when i finally say to myself: this is why i’m alive. and the thought fades.

i erased those words like 'can', cause i believe these moments are always that alive. if my art has given me anything, it’s that feeling. that trust and devotion. i missed this. it didn’t come to me.

it’s one a.m. and i’m alone. these internal landscapes are never still. i feel so limited, like there’s no language anymore to express them. for a moment it’s something fluid, something warm and moving, and the next it’s dissonance, discord, denial. i haven’t had the energy to fight that when it happens, when everything loses its motion and drags me under. and it’s been happening so quickly, and i’ve been so weak. i have closed off my mind so as to just feel, i’ve rejected thought, learning, abstraction and calculation. i’ve been this whirlpool, feeling and receiving and consuming myself and everything i come in contact with. but that can’t last, and i now i feel myself emerging. now i feel myself needing to express, needing to re-learn the language that i’ve lost, and expand upon it in all the ways i desired to but for whatever reason couldn’t.

there is a line in this book written by someone with the initials p.s. and she speaks the phrase: “strapping on an electric guitar in pursuit of a new language.”

and every word or tone or stretch of the voice is another layer to this life. and i know that it’s something inherent in me, i know my existence has been built upon it. i don’t know why and i will not try to figure out why. i no longer wish to question it. i just know it.

everything that i’ve done, every choice that i’ve made since about a year ago, when i understood those lines without having found them yet, has had to happen. i can’t say why, but there was no other way. i would not be here in this moment in this apartment sitting on this bed in this situation with this book in front of me, this book with the pictures of the music makers, if things had turned out differently. since i’ve been getting older i’ve noticed that a year feels like a lifetime that you can barely see passing. and now i relinquish my judgements, i surrender all this anger i force upon myself. i can’t change it, and i wouldn’t, even if i could.

because the past has its place written in some singing future.

returning to what she wrote: “strapping on an electric guitar in pursuit of a new language.”

this is what i’ve carried with me all the while. every second i live i feel that everything and everyone is threatening to destroy me. nobody understands this. even if i never have tried to explain it, which seems like a waste to do. because there’s never anything i can say that will explain why i feel the ways i do. take now, when i want to lash out at everything because everything is lashing out at me in that way—

nothing feels beautiful. this is a new kind of bitterness i feel. she said: take care of yourself, and never compromise. she said that there’s poverty, she said that there will be gains and loses and heartbreaks but you’ve been put here on this earth to do something and that’s what you need to do. the need to create wont go away, and there’s nothing to gain from fighting it. it’s there, like the pain and the love is there.

music, and my health. the tautness of my muscles, the way i know my arms look when i hold them outstretched. pale, gaunt, blending in with the backdrop like they’re barely there, barely a part of my body or of anything. the way i know my breath stumbles into my chest drunk and mindless and unfulfilling, forgetting that it knows what it’s doing, forgetting that it’s necessary for me to live.

i wont try to do everything all at once. not anymore.

i’m slowly finding my way back to where i need to be.

(oh you break, to become your own sun.)

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