Another volume of writing in one sitting – I spent a long and muggy afternoon writing this, and it felt like one long exhale.
When we reach the tail end of spring, days that are full of early darkness begin to elongate again: accomodating space for sunlight to expand into. I used to walk by the river for the longest time, feeling my breaths rise and fall. Since moving to a place with seasons, my body holds an accumulated craving for sunlight like dust collecting on a windowsill. I found it all too easy to sit by the bank of the river for hours, thrumming with warmth and adrenalin.
In those months, I listened to a few utterly beautiful songs on repeat. One of them was Mitski's 'First Love/Late Spring.' In the song, Mitski sings about love and the subsequent loss of it. As the drums sweep in, she croons, Mune ga hachikire-sōde, (my heart feels like bursting).
Mune ga hachikire-sōde. I felt the words ripen and unfold before me as I looked across the river, where every point my eye could catch seemed to glitter. The song lies somewhere vague on the spectrum that has melancholy on one end and happiness on the other. Mitski knows that fulfilling the desires of the person she loves will not make her happy, so she must let them go no matter how difficult it is to bear.
Rene Girard posits that desire is mimetic — how and what we desire is learned from the desires of others. These palisades and layers of wanting are created early on from the people closest to us. People emanate desire; you are changed simply by witnessing it for a prolonged period of time. Oftentimes, we are assigned roles in other people's stories and play that role so persuasively until we ourselves believe in it. We adopt the potential they see within us rather than what we want for ourselves and feel deep shame fill our lungs when we don't live up to what others require of us.
My memories are floating in a long clear pool that I dip my hand into and retrieve. I remember when you told me that at some point in our lives we outgrow certain people, no matter how well-intentioned they are. People who see things only from the sky cannot possibly imagine what it feels like on the ground. I grappled with this idea inside of myself, and I knew that you were right. I just didn't know how to hold the weight of it then. I hope I do now.
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” (Audre Lorde)
So many great authors have written about accepting selfhood rather than fleeing from it. I'll admit I've read them obsessively: Joan Didion, Eavan Boland, Natalia Ginsburg – women who have come to the crossroads of their lives and articulated their step towards agency with integrity and conviction. Their words convince me that, I too, am capable of living and loving without reserve. Without feeling bound to the dreams of others that I lean into now, which do not serve me when I need them.
What I truly want is to consciously make space for people in my life who are freeing rather than restrictive. People who supplement my energy with theirs. People who are warmth, and grace.
I want to ask you this: Can I be close to you? Can I continue to learn from you, and you from me? Here I am, extending my hand, through these pixels on a screen, and taking yours in mine.
Mune ga hachikire-sōde because the world is truly, truly beautiful. Despite all its complex messes. I don't want to detach myself from the world. Life is the feeling I experienced sitting on the bank that spring day that I've finally found the word for: rapture.
I hope I can be more like late spring: sloughing off darkness to let light take its place.