Everything is angular and rough. The concrete, brick, and stone city that I live in is unforgiving at all times. No fall will be soft or well-received. Each time I twist my ankle on an uneven cobblestone or slip on a metro step I am reminded that nothing is here to be good. No inanimate object exists to make your singular existence a pleasant one.
Navigating on this planet, through these streets, is difficult when you are not sad. But I am mourning the death of my roommate and close friend, the ghost who lives with me now and accompanies me on every walk I take in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. No trip to Monoprix is tear-free now. No sighting of a backwards baseball cap or thick striped sweater goes unnoticed, as for a second my heart rate speeds up and I believe his death was an elaborate joke.
How unwilling I am to accept this reality without Tyler. Therapy keeps pushing me towards the acceptance doors, and I am kicking and screaming, running backwards on the conveyor belt, running down the up escalator. If I had more time, it would be better. But time is not here for me or you; time is not here to be good.
So many of my friends and family did not know my roommate. My life with Tyler existed in a bubble, a bubble that only he and I lived in. It is so frustrating to speak to others about him, others who did not know him, because they make all of my memories feel so far away. In fact, everything feels far away. Everything I try to touch requires decades of reaching. Voices reach my ears more muffled than before. I exist as a solitary monad, distanced from the rest of humanity.
My energy comes in strange and awkward bursts. They are unpredictable and fickle. My happiness rests only in my ability to momentarily forget that Tyler is no longer present. Sometimes I can do this for several days at a time. Sometimes I cannot do it for even a minute.
Very few things make me feel good and I have very few desires. “This is a natural part of the grief process,” they say. But I am angry at the grief process. I do not want to grieve. Nor do I want to think about not grieving. I do not want there to be a future because Tyler is already gone, and that is not a future I want.
Those things too, are apparently “part of the grief process.”
When I was in high school I heard a weird Flaming Lips song on the radio that prompted an exploration. I soon listened to the song, “Do You Realize?” which contains the verse, “Do you realize everyone you know someday will die?”
As a teenager this blew my mind. In middle school I experienced the death of my two great-grandmothers, but this was acceptable. Great-grandmothers could die; they were 96, that’s okay.
A year after I heard this Flaming Lips song though, my grandmother, a vibrant, hilarious Italian-American lady in her 60’s, passed away suddenly without warning, without reason. I was devastated and angry. I had not realized she could just die like that. Death is the ultimate trap you don’t see; the uneven pavement, the step you miss, the glass door cleaned so well you try to walk right through it.
I was equally unprepared for the deaths that followed: a father the same age as my dad, my youngest aunt, my dog, my cat, and another father-friend who had such a huge impact on my musical life.
Nothing has made any of this easier, not even a Flaming Lips song trying to warn me that people do in fact die, a reality I am too familiar with. This life is so strange, so oddly short, so oddly uncalled for. Who asked for a planet? Who asked for bacteria with legs and then fish and then fish with legs and then apes and then humans?
Sometimes Life feels like being brought the wrong dish at a restaurant. I am trying to grab the waiter’s attention, to bring him over and ask him to take this plate back, it’s not what I ordered.