jeudi 23 juin 2016

A cheater's guide to a tree of codes

E se eu fizesse minha árvore de códigos com Junot Díaz? Daí que eu fiz:

"And, of course, you swore you wouldn’t do it. You swore you wouldn’t. You swore you wouldn’t. And you did.

She says nothing. Later, in the hotel, she cries. You block their e-mails. You change your phone number. You claim that you were sick, you claim that you were weak.

And every hour, like clockwork, you say that you’re so so sorry. You try it all, but one day she simply sits up in bed and says, No more. You stop. You never see her again.

You’re fine for, like, a week. Then your moods become erratic. You’re the one I always wanted. You start losing your temper with friends, with students, with colleagues. It’s fucking scary. Before you can figure out what the hell is going on, they flip you the bird and peel out. It happens again and again.

Three times, drunk white dudes in different parts of the city try to pick fights with you. You take it all very personally. I hope someone drops a fucking bomb on this city, you rant.

That night, you drink yourself into a stupor, then spend two days recovering. You figure that’s as bad as it gets. You figure wrong.

During finals a depression rolls over you, so profound that you doubt there is a name for it. It feels like you’re being slowly pincered apart, atom by atom. You stop hitting the gym or going out for drinks; you stop shaving or washing your clothes; in fact, you stop doing almost everything. Your friends begin to worry about you, and they are not exactly worrying types. I’m O.K., you tell them, but with each passing week the depression deepens. You try to describe it. Like someone flew a plane into your soul. Like someone flew two planes into your soul. Breathe, he tells you. You breathe non-stop, like a marathon runner, but it doesn’t help.

Your little letters become more and more pathetic. Please, you write. Please come back. And then you wake up. You stop sleeping, and some nights when you’re drunk you have a wacky impulse to open the window of your fifth-floor apartment and leap down to the street.

You make it through both semesters, barely. It really is a long stretch of shit, and then, finally, the madness begins to recede. It’s like waking up from the worst fever of your life. You ain’t your old self (har-har!), but you can stand near windows without being overcome by strange urges, and that’s a start.

I’m done. You clean up your act. You want to turn over a new leaf. Takes you a bit, but you finally break clear, and when you do you feel lighter.

I should have done this years ago, you declare. You wait, what, a week for the bad energy to dissipate and then you start dating. Like a normal person.

One month, two months, three months, and then some hope. A little kissing, a little feeling up, but nothing beyond that. You know you should be patient. And you almost say yes, but then your idiocy gets the better of you. You know as soon as you say it that you just buried yourself. Right back into the depression. What are you going to do? Focus on me for a while. That’s what everybody claims. Easier to say that than This shit sucks. Not really.

You take your break. You try to get back to your work, to your writing. You get serious about classes and, for your health, you take up running. You used to run in the old days and you figure you need something to get you out of your head. You must have needed it bad, because once you get into the swing of it you start running four, five, six times a week. It’s your new addiction. You run so hard that your heart feels like it’s going to seize. Your body changes, of course. You lose all that drinking and smoking chub, and your legs look like they belong to someone else. Every time you think about the ex, every time the loneliness rears up in you like a seething, burning continent, you tie on your shoes and hit the paths and that helps; it really does.

Sometimes it takes a month. Sometimes six months. Sometimes a year. Sometimes longer. That makes you so sad that you go home and lie in bed in the dark. You’re afraid. I don’t want to go back down the hole. Finally, you give up. You sleep in. I know, that’s the dilemma. Yay, you say. You’re in bed for a solid two weeks. So now it’s your feet, your back, and your heart. There is no rush to the head, no tearing up your lungs, no massive shock to your system, but it’s better than nothing.
You make little advances. Of course you end up in bed. What the fuck, you say.

Revenge is living well, without you.

That year your arms and legs begin to give you trouble, occasionally going numb, flickering in and out like a brownout back on the Island. It is a strange pins-and-needles feeling. What the fuck is this? you wonder. I hope I’m not dying.

You’re probably working out too hard. Probably just stress, the nurse at Emergency Care tells you. You hope so, flexing your hands, worrying. You really do hope so.

You drive around, just to get a feel for the city. You have a couple of friends in town but you don’t call them, because you know they’ll only want to talk about old times, about the ex.

You’re surprised and excited and a little wary. What’s up? It’s like bad television. You asshole. You don’t know what to say or how to act. You are surprised at how hollowed out you feel. I need to stay here. I have nowhere to go. I can’t go back to my family.

Everybody had a blast except you. You were in the middle of the great downturn, which meant that you spent most of your time alone, floating on your back in the ocean or getting drunk at the bar or walking the beach in the early morning before anybody was up.

Are you fucking kidding me? Now you wake up in the morning in more pain than ever. This is what you write in your journal. I fucking hate you. This is ridiculous, you say. More bad TV.

A month passes, two months pass. You’re afraid to tell anybody else. Your back is agony, and the numbness in your arms is starting to become pretty steady. In the shower, the only place in the apartment you can be alone, you whisper to yourself, Hell, Netley. We’re in hell. Later, it will all seem like a terrible fever dream, but at the time it moved so very slowly, felt so very concrete.

Do you need anything?
I’m fine, thank you.

What the fuck do you want? All sorts of terrible fears race around inside you. You didn’t think anything could hurt so bad.

You’re not going to go psycho on me, are you? You don’t answer.

And that’s the end of it.

The rest of the semester ends up being a super-duper clusterfuck. What the hell else are you going to do? You ain’t got nothing going on, outside of waving your arms around every time they go numb. 

This used to be me, you’re thinking. You can’t help yourself. Nobody stares, because those ain’t real loads you’re carrying. It will work out, he says testily. And what the fuck do you know? It ain’t like your shit ever works. Can’t argue with that.

You look into his eyes. He looks into yours. That’s more or less when you know. It’s breathtaking. Don’t be a jerk. Cut the crap. A long silence. You ignore him. There is no significance in this, you tell yourself. You insist. You have to. You know you can’t live a lie. It won’t be good for you. Don’t you think it’s better to know? In all honesty, you’re thinking that he won’t do it, that this is where it will end.

Fuck, he says bitterly, fuck fuck fuck. Changes his cell-phone number and his e-mail account.

Of course you feel terrible. You think about the way the boy looked at you. With him, it’s like nothing happened. You wish you could be as phlegmatic.

The numbness in your arms and legs increases. From there, what little life you have goes south.

You want to move on, to exorcise shit. This seems to you like a good sign.

Maybe it was a mistake, you say. You work harder than you’ve ever worked at anything—the teaching, your physical therapy, your regular therapy, your reading, your walking. You keep waiting for the heaviness to leave you. It’s just a matter of will power: the day you decide it’s over, it’s over.

You never get over it. You take the longest walks. Afterward you’re in so much nerve pain that you can barely move. Finally, when you feel like you can do so without exploding into burning atoms, you open a folder that you’ve kept hidden under your bed.

You did the right thing. You go to more doctors. And then, one June night, you scribble the ex’s name and: The half-life of love is forever. You bust out a couple more things. Then you put your head down.

Sometimes a start is all we ever get."

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