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1:39 a.m. - July 24, 2005
Some thoughts
Charles Can't-remember-his-last-name-right-now wrote a book about the slave trade called Middle Passage, and there's a vivid portion that comes to mind tonight, recurring enough to be distracting. When the winds died down as they inevitably did and the ship becalmed, the load had to be lightened. People were thrown into the sea in a desperate hope that this culling would buoy the ship towards a prevailing wind. There's a clip in the film Amistad that was taken from Middle Passage (and other sources) that I've seen once, an unbearable scene of ballast rocks used to weigh down a line of people, people who desperately claw the planks before plunging down. There is a Portuguese word for this lack of wind, another name I can't think of right now, that Equiano mentions in his journal, that was both a curse and a prayer.

Charles Johnson, that is the author. In another minute I'll remember the Portuguese term.

Tonight I'm thinking about how the past few months have been a stale period for me, a dark and terrifying place where I was - past tense - worried I would break and no longer run from the suicide that seems to skulk behind me. The terror of the end wa/i/s as real to me as it was for the slaves watching the ballast attached to their chains being heaved overboard, and then seeing one slave after another disappear over the edge, knowing with that petrifying certainty his or her demise was inevitable, was next, was right now. I wonder when in the moment of oneís doom whether there is a peace that lulls the terror, or whether the terror is unmasked and ugly and oneís last thought is rage. I think about this often, even now, but less so than I have over the past few months. And tonight.

When my ship was most becalmed and the ballast attached to my legs, I came up with reasons for a delay: My papers werenít in order. I still had a few vestiges of (gay) porn that had to be disposed of. I hadnít updated beneficiaries. The primary concern was saddling my family with a maze of papers and policies and possible debt were not everything clear. I wrote an instruction manual of sorts outlining everything alphabetically, where A detailed Automotive information, B bonds, C checking account, D debts outlined i-a, ii-b, iii-c, everything A Ė W (warranties, current) and most painful was the realization how short, how trivial this manual was. Here was my life or at least the life others would peruse and have to sort through, packaged nice and neat, as much an un-bother as I could make it and still it wasnít enough. Somewhere amid this need for order was a nonchalant disinterest, a liberating (of sorts) middle finger to the trivial concerns and worries that dictate a disproportionate amount of my life. I want to leave some trace behind showing that in fact I was human, I had personality, something me. There is not much to me aside from a love of reading and do-it-yourself-home-remodeling projects and thatís okay, thatís me. Something deep down yet not deep at all Ė thatís the way such things usually are, obvious and just beneath the surface and a surprise to none except the inquisitor Ė that boiled up and popped into my face was the realization that other than Aundrea, who would need to know I was Ė no longer available? There are few in-person people I consider friends, and people with whom I correspond online obviously are a few steps removed from the here and now of reality. I lead a quiet life, unobtrusive and distant, the outer me bordering on misanthropy, the whole of me not very connected to much.

Somehow, slowly, the wind began picking up again and Iím moving further along the path, I feel good about things, interested in people again. And while comparing the two states, I think about Chris and the last time we saw each other. Chris was a colleague who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge a few years ago. She was eccentric in an off-putting way, was isolated, would spurn casual conversation yet sometimes be funny and open. One could never tell. One night we were scheduled to work together and I was struck by how different she was Ė her entire body had lightened up somehow, she made eye contact, talked, was downright normal. She mentioned a romance, pleasure at having straightened out her life, joy in having finally purchasing her own home. The contrast was amazing and beautiful, an image that resonates simply because I envied her this vibrancy of sorts. And then two nights later she jumped, gone just like that. That scares me, the notion there is no escape, even if there is wind or not. Itís almost as if nothing can be trusted, there is no safety in saying there is no ballast in sight, I am moving quickly, my ship is secure, breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to what lies ahead when all along the suicide that long stalked from behind has somehow surpassed you and now comes from the front.

 

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