“All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood.”
My namesake, Rainer Maria Rilke, wrote that and it rang true to me.
I admitted that I never had the highest opinion of people, for my parents, or myself. Nothing about my parents was ever poetic, it astonished me that they even knew Rilke existed let alone wanted to name a child after the man. That quote sounded appropriate in regards to my whole being. My blood often boiled as a direct reaction of the dark speculations of my mind. Maybe in talking about himself he spoke about me or possibly directly to me, maybe we were connected somehow. Though it was few and far between some things just fit, some things just clicked. Not everything in this god awful place made sense and very few things connected with me, so when something did I held it close to this charred heart of mine.
I realized I would never see my parents again. I would never see Gerry again. Albeit under different circumstances. One was of my own volition and the other, out of my control. How much of our lives is truly in our control? When the dreaded time came, when the pain became too much, when the quality of life was deemed unfit Gerry would take matters into his own hands. I used to think suicide was so romantic. Dying was indeed an art, as Plath stated but not for the likes of Kranepool. Suicide was for the mythical, not the everyman. When the ordinary person fulfilled a death wish that only seemed sad, mundane, and worst of all, forgettable to me now.
When the greats self-destructed it was magnificent and further cemented their legend. Had the thought crossed my mind, sure it did, though I didn’t want to die as much as I wanted everything around me to die.
Hemingway supposedly confided in a friend, something I could never do, confessing that he was unhappy, fucking wasn’t as good anymore and the writing was gone. The words no longer came to him. His mind was shot, a different kind of malfunction than what afflicted me.
The voices in my head never shut up. The volume never muted. The static never stifled. I had gotten dressed in the locker room for the last time. My ipod was on the table, Portishead played Roads live at Roseland, Beth Gibbons’ enchanting voice rose up from the ear buds, surrounded by crumbs and litter on the scratched up table top. From this moment how can it feel this wrong. Almost every moment had felt wrong, Beth.
I said bye to the pin up girls and the skittish mice. I buttoned the second to last button on my camouflage shirt. It was my favorite shirt and I’d probably wear it all the time even if I had owned more than one shirt. I packed my book bag with what little I had. I taped a portrait I drew of Gerry on the back of someone’s resume to the mirror. I gave Ichabod a biscuit while I went into Murphy’s office. I left a stack of drawings for him. I took a nail from a jar he had on his desk and put it in my pocket with my box cutter.
I had my book bag on, I held onto Ichabod’s leash in one hand and a half a liter of Tully in the other. A new beginning inside a Manila envelope secured under my armpit with my new address poorly scribbled on the outside of it. I brought the service elevator to the first floor, waited a minute until the coast was clear and rode the front elevator up to the twelfth floor.
Although it no longer mattered what I did in my personal time, or with whom I still exhibited a furtive attempt at retaining privacy. I stood in front of Agnes’ door reluctant and uncertain of myself. I had suddenly felt exhausted. Still a bit tipsy. I thought, will I ever sleep again? Or will I stay awake every night for the remainder of my life over thinking each detail. Wide awake, wrestling with a blanket hoping for the end of the world, pondering the hazards of politics, the fragility of humans, human trafficking, which country will be invaded next, how many people were enslaved across the globe today, wondering if my mother was alright, if what a lover said was the truth or curious who an ex was currently stuffing her face with. I wanted to silence all the thoughts. I didn’t want to dwell on the past but I did so torturously. I didn’t want to pick apart something I said or something that happened years ago but I did with tedium. I didn’t want to hold every trivial encounter under a microscope but I was compelled to do so. I regretted everything I’ve done and retract everything I’ve ever said.
I didn’t want to be the way that I was. I was unable to simply live a normal life without my mind challenging it all. I would never climb out of my own head. The best thing I could do for Agnes would be to take Ichabod and turn around, get back into the elevator and walk out onto the street and vanish without a trace. Hop in a cab and disappear into thin air like a murderer. I felt like I was losing my grip, I had been for months, it was best I keep distance, and not bring disease into her life.
I was a fucked up person. I could admit that. Why would I want someone else to have to deal with my shit, it’s bad enough I had to deal with it. No one could save me. No one could cure me. Why bother?
My emotions pulled at me forcefully, the voices in my head screamed at the top of their lungs. I felt things intensely always, the highest of highs, the lowest of lows. I bottled it all up. Until the pressure blows the lid off and then it all feels devastating to me and I can’t bear it. I’m really happy then I’m really sad. There is meaning and then everything is meaningless. I would shift my focus on the negative and destroy everything. That is what I did. It’s a cycle. A recurring pattern of behavior. Hatred fills the pain that love bestowed upon me. I’ve never really learned how to move on from something troubling me, I’ve only weaponized my hate to cope instead.
I’m incapable of forgiveness, I possessed an elephant’s memory, I did not accept things, I couldn’t move on, I did not let things just be. My mind is armed with enmity. I was on the brink of detonation, as I had always been my whole life. The mental collapse was always so near. My psychoanalyst said it’s best to share what I’m thinking, but no one would benefit from that. I would be nothing but unloved as I am unjust to hold my loved ones to standards no one could ever meet. It’s impossible. Unachievable. And it’s unfair of me. Sometimes when we’re right about something, whether it’s intuition or a suspicion, we find we were wrong about everything. That was what I was accustomed to. Inexcusable behavior. I could never trust Agnes, myself, or anyone for that matter. I never trust. I never rest.
That night with Agnes, regardless of the interruption, though mildly embarrassing as it was, oddly enough, it felt right. I felt better than I had in a long time. The dilemma was that my feelings often deceived me. They will allow me to feel love and then tell me nasty things to corrupt that love. Was there any strength in simply trying to see if it would work out? What if Agnes was the outlier? Or was it so obvious that we were destined for failure and I was merely carrying out my usual self destructive tendencies? I couldn’t even trust myself. No one is on your side. Not ever. The mind tricks the body. The body thinks the mind’s crazy.
Life could be most intolerable. While there are real problems, real issues to fret over, we are all behaving like unsupervised children and unsupervised children will err. There was no way of carrying on a life without some amount of hurt. I made a game time decision. I thought it best to sort it out alone, in solitude, in isolation. The moment I decided to let Agnes be, before I could turn around and leave forever, Ichabod did something he rarely did, he barked. Ichabod tempted my fate. Son of a bitch.
The door opened, Agnes stood there in a v neck T-shirt and sweatpants, beautiful as ever with not a drop of makeup, her brown hair curly and alive. “What are you doing out here?”
“Talking to myself.”
“How’s the conversation going?” asked Agnes.
“Would you like to come inside?”
“Not tonight,” I said.
“Oh, I see. That’s disappointing. How come? Is it because I’m black?”
“No,” I said. “What? No.”
“I’m joking with you,” Agnes laughed.
“I know,” I said. “That’s the second time today someone said that to me. I wanted to talk to you about something but then I was going to leave, and then you opened the door and caught me.”
“Red handed. What did you want to talk about?”
“I wanted to tell you that I think you’re perfect.”
“Uh oh,” Agnes said with a laugh. “I’m not perfect though, far from it.”
“Therein lies our problem.”
“There is no reward without risk, Rainer.”
“I just wanted to be up front with you and explain,” I said.
“You don’t owe me any explanations,” said Agnes, petting Ichabod’s head.
“I just have a tendency to ruin things. And I do think you’re perfect, but it’s that very image of perfection that will fuck me up. I have expectations no one can meet. Something might happen, or my imagination might run away from me and I won’t be able to undo the negative thoughts, and it would ultimately destroy us. My mind would poison our relationship eventually. This is what happens with me but I care about you and I respect you so I’m just trying to be as honest as possible. I’d never intend to hurt you or waste your time. But I might do both.”
“I appreciate your candor, but I’m a grown woman and I can handle it. Would anyone bother to get together if they solely focused on the chances of breaking up? Nothing would get accomplished across the board if we stopped doing things out of risk of failing? So we might not work out, OK, but what if it did? How would we know if we didn’t try. I’d rather not talk about it and just let it ride, and see where it goes.”
I felt foolish. I wanted to tell her that if I ever have the privilege of hearing her say that she loved me I won’t believe it. I wanted to tell her I can be crazy. That fucking word, again. That I can be jealous. That it all comes unannounced and potentially unwarranted. I wanted to convince her I was no good, but instead I said, “Alright. As long as you’re prepared.”
“Are you going to come in?” asked Agnes. “I want kisses.”
I kissed her on her mouth. “Would you want to come with me and play house instead?”
“What do you mean? I’m confused.”
“Take the envelope,” I said, waving my elbow towards her. “Open it up. Gerry bequeathed his house to me. I am now Ichabod’s guardian and heir to the Nevins’ estate.”
“That’s incredible. How? When?”
“I’ll explain everything in the cab on the way to Queens. I’m probably going to need your help with the documents. Legal shit.”
“Gladly, I’d love to help you in any way that I can. Let me grab my toothbrush and some clothes and we’ll go see your new digs. This is fantastic!”
“Cool. Take your time,” I said. “I’ll meet you in the lobby.”