The Mapped and the Spoken

Originally published in Dead Beats Magazine back in August 2013.

The first warning you always gave me, before launching into your secrets was: “I need to know you’re not going to write about this, or fictionalize it in any form.” 

You would stop then, as doubt took over. You would turn to me and try to size me, as if you were weighing the advantages versus the danger and consequence that came with telling of your story. 

And then you would wait a full two minutes: a long, conscious soundlessness where the language I hear is the one spoken to me by your body–a vocabulary of gestures, a novel of wordlessness. 

This is your story too, and forgive me for lending it my voice; I know how much you hate to be misinterpreted. But words are all we have, my darling, despite how limiting–it is all we have to translate and to let others know. 

And because there is no other way for a revelation, let me cheat our memories by recounting it. Let me draw a clear demarcation in our lives, so that we can create a beginning and a possible end, and tell me how you like it. 

And tell me you remember what we once said, what we once meant. 

Remember how we painted the walls yellow while The Pixies blared from our stereo? When the landlord first showed us the apartment I tried to telepathically communicate to you: don’t look too eager, pretend we don’t want it. But your smile was wide and your eyes were bright with opportunity: we couldn’t haggle the rent lower, not with that so visibly naked grin. Back then you could accept, without hesitation, that things couldn’t belong to you, that the best we could do was to content ourselves with what we were given. We knew that owning things meant eventually becoming owned, and that was a concept we couldn’t let happen — not to us, not to our freedom. 

Did you ever wonder how our love solidified? How it started out as an idea, only to turn cogent, only to be embodied into something tangible that we can touch and see with our own eyes? It was never a priority, or a purpose. It simply came to be. It gave us different eyes we knew others didn’t have, a new perspective that had been there the entire time, except THEY didn’t see it. And so few were in on this secret—this secret new outlook—this startling, bewildering experience that kept us on our toes. We held in our hands, the secret to everything, the golden bud, the elliptical root to all our questions and causations. 

And so in our high and holy state we took our skates to the frozen lake and adventured there in the early morning. I remember gasping in delight— a hot, wet streak of a moan— as we glided to and fro its frozen surface, wobbling, our hearts nervous. Did you know I whispered a little prayer as you kept going further, testing the strength of the frozen lake— is this solid enough? Can we skate through? You brushed the fresh snow with the sharp, silver metal of your skates and declared—yes, it’s safe, you can come—and I trusted you, so I did. Like 

the days when we were barely seventeen, and our bodies slid against each other like skates ripping against smooth, polished ice, you would cup my face into the palms of your hands and whisper while trembling, “It’s safe, you can come” and I trusted you, so I did. It’s incommunicable: this feeling of safety. It’s so wordlessly wonderful: to be okay and to not be afraid. 

You touched me and lent me your life. You erased the history of my body and healed it. Every bit of violence was denied; you purged my body of its relentless history by pressing it against yours, by claiming it to be yours, by guarding it with promises of eternal safekeeping. And for that I will forever be grateful. 

It seemed in those times, we had been through the worst. Everything else was going to go smoothly. All that exuded from us was brilliance, confidence and enthusiasm for everything that lived. We moved to dance—eyeing everything—shivering in guileless, untainted ecstasy flowing in a bursting deluge. And there I was, trying to see everything you saw with fierce loyalty, purging myself over and over and over again with those never ending, purifying words. Words that bred stories—oh, we wrote the craziest stories. And back then, when I was out of my mind in love, it didn’t matter if they were true. Lies collapsed into truth and it made everything absurdly beautiful. We spent hours sitting on a park bench, digging each other’s souls to bring them out in the open, where we were cold and vulnerable. 

“We have to remember this moment—this defenselessness,” I would say to you, my eyes glazed with madness. “We have to write it down—so we won’t forget.” 

And we wrote and wrote until we were full of half-written stories and beginnings that never ended. 

Until one day, it caught up to us, the wild maddening frenzy of our lives, and we grew to hate each other. 

You began to doubt me, didn’t you? At some point anyway. You’ll deny it until the end even though nobody is listening, but on those nights that followed, when all there was, was the break of painful sobriety, you turned to me and accused me of my shameless promiscuity, of my endless euphemisms, of my dangerous wordplay. You doubted my professed love and tried hard to dig under piles and piles of hypocrisy. You took my face in your hardened hands and screamed until your throat gave out, senseless words with hollow meaning. 

And I would look at you and ask childishly, “Have you stopped loving me?”, back when love meant that selfish, puerile need to be constantly with each other, to be a part of each other, to be able to rise above all others and announce to the world that someone’s will and being is yours and yours alone. 

And so, despite my ravenous efforts to remember, I did forget. The only thing that stayed with me in the next years is the blue flame from different coloured lighters, as I watched it light pipes, bongs, cigarettes and spoons. It was an image stronger than the rolled-up bills piling up in our apartment, than misplaced zigzags. I could trace half-visible tendrils of flame with my finger even with my eyes closed. I saw it in the roar of the lake, in the stillness of the Credit River. It was always there, like a constant reminder: this is the only permanence you can ever have. When 

you leaned over drunkenly while we waited for our train in Union Station, there was blue in your eyes, in your nails, in your breath when you asked, “Why can’t we belong anywhere?” 

I frowned then, disbelieving, miscalculating what you were truly saying to me, and you saw it—my ever so prominent doubt, marked in my face like a death sentence. And so when I asked why, you fabricated a reply: “I don’t know why I’m sad—maybe, I’m just making excuses.” When your body turned up at Kew beach, I saw punches of blue in your skin when they wheeled you out of the ICU, wires going in and out of you, strapping you to the bed like a prisoner. And when they tried to keep you alive, I couldn’t help but wonder why, when it was clear you had already made up your mind; it was us who couldn’t accept it. 

Your helplessness had always been hidden from me, although this story, in retrospect, may be biased in a desperate effort to stay linear and meaningful. That was your constant theme: this disconnect, this seemingly random, chaotic event we like to call life, and your constant helplessness against it. It began to take over you, until it replaced your existence with a little blue boy trapped in this place, in this depression. And how could I have possibly known, being an individual outside of your mind; all I can do is observe, interpret and within that realm, find somehow—a connection, if an answer is not possible. 

And so it did not dawn on me, until the very near end, that the ugly demon of depression had caught up to you. In the end all I saw was destruction oozing out of you in black tar nicotine; a deterioration so great, my grandest euphemisms could no longer deny nor justify it. 

And I’m so sorry I couldn’t catch you soon enough, my darling, I’m so sorry I didn’t realize you could no longer be guided back home. I’m sorry I refused to see the desperate sadness in your eyes, that I trivialized your pain for my own comfort, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the heaviness of this situation, so that I wouldn’t have to admit you were broken, and that this was something I could no longer fix. 

So I came to the conclusion, an explanation you can never fully grasp, that I loved you too much to continue doing this to you, as much I loved you, as much as I loved that day when we were seventeen and we yelled at the waves pretending it was the mothers, the fathers, the teachers and the friends disappointed in us for falling in love with each other 

So this is how you end it, in the simplest of terms—if words have to explain it, if it absolutely had to be defined—we were in “love” and then we weren’t. 

And if you can only see it the way I see it, this is what would have happened: 

You would have seen silence the day you finally left. The apartment that seemed so grand and capable at first, now barely existed. The only thing it carried were echoes of souls that once laughed and lived in the same room. It was no longer fierce or enthusiastic. It was just spidery- smoke thin—a hastily vanishing memory of what once was—and what could have been. The only thing left behind were traces of stories and barely readable chapters that spoke about our relationship, bookmarked by half-full ashtrays, sinking beds and furious lovemaking. 

You would have seen yourself closing the door for the last time, severing all ties to a golden era that could have triumphed over everything. And you would have known, that I saw you steal a glimpse back through the tiny space the door created before shutting it entirely. 

And that you saw me—still sitting, an insignificant strip of perspective, suffocating under layers and layers of silence. 

You would have known, my sweet darling, that there was nothing else left behind with me but your words and the names you used to call me. 

So I took it, either as reward or punishment. 

And if you ever feel like re-visiting your youth, remember the place that once owned us for it is the only witness to our intrepid mistakes. Once you do, recount our story. 

Map them out in the open, where we can lie naked and vulnerable. 

And there, you will find me waiting. 

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