The 31st of October in 1986, Nata died.
I write this and wonder if that’s true. I also wonder if she existed. I wonder if what I think I remember are real things or if I have imagined them.
At 4 in the morning–which is when I normally get up, it’s not as shockingly intrusive as it sounds–I woke up feeling as though knives were carving up my chest.
I have learned this is what sadness feels like. I had not expected sadness to feel like knives, but it seems to. Actually, it may be loneliness. I missed Nata. I fell back to sleep, but still feel the same pain when I woke up to daylight. It waxes and wanes, but does not go away.
We have the school concert this weekend. I don’t really have anything to do at school. I am supposed to look after the girls, but they don’t need anything from me. I loaned one of them a safety pin. I also made sure no one stole the bottled water we had kept for the head of local government for about an hour. That was the extent of my usefulness. Other people speak in the regional language and I try to sort out what they are trying to do and can only work this out after they are well under way.
I miss C, because the time of the school concert was this intense experience for her, where she sort of came alive. It might have been because of me, or because she had a new boyfriend, or her parents were temporarily gone. I was consumed with worry, because they were gone and her boyfriend was in tenth grade and three years older than her, and I have been teaching boys for a long time, and pretty much boys in tenth grade date middle schoolers because they like the power trip and not much else.
So it was intense for me too, for different reasons.
At the show, a kindergartener seemed particularly happy to see me, so I talked to her for a while, and I was surprised to observe how little kids in Y-town can now speak English. I believe she may have been the kindergartener who came to my house, but I am so oddly distracted here that people are vague to me for a much longer time than they ought to be.
I let her sit in my lap, because Counter Xers have an entirely different sense of what it means to be in an audience and they don’t give a ripe fig whether the people behind them can see. If they want to see, they just stand on their chairs and God help you if you are seven and too short to see a thing. It’s been years since a child sat on my lap, and this was an interesting experience for me.
The thing is she sat there and I couldn’t help but think I sat on my father’s lap and he sexually abused me and I cannot fathom it. I really can’t. I don’t know how you imagine a seven-year-old as a sexual object, never mind the morality of it. I know, intellectually, it’s because you don’t see the seven-year-old. You see your own mind and assume that’s all that exists.
Then I came home, famished, having gone too school too early for dinner and gotten home well past my dinner time, and I chatted with C’s dad while I figured out what might be easy to throw together.
He said he missed me, which he says sometimes. I find it kind of disarming how unafraid he is to show a softer side of himself, like he doesn’t know men aren’t supposed to have one. Or maybe my idea of masculinity is 100 years behind.
Anyway, I said maybe I should call him. I was thinking he probably feels some kind of separation anxiety. C’s disorganized attachment comes from a family with disorganized attachment, I would guess, and probably no one has stable object relations. It’s possible I made the wrong choice in this situation.
We talked for a bit, and I think I was sort of overwhelmed with processing the evening and also the mechanics of life and I rather distractedly ended the call when dinner was just about ready.
We went back to chatting, and he said, “Did you hear me?”I had an idea he was still talking when I hung up the phone, but doubted my perception of this and anyway this is what Country Xers do. They are done talking so, click, they end the call. Goodbyes and hellos are not big things here. If you have something more to say, well that’s too bad, because they are done listening.
I did, however, feel like an asshole for hanging up on him, so I said sorry and asked him to repeat it. And I also called him back so we could have a do-over. I am not keen on being an asshole.
He said, I love you, which he has said before and I have written about on here and I don’t especially know what to make of. I said, “I love you, too.” Because I do care about him. I felt aware of his vulnerability, although he doesn’t seem to be.
We then had a chat about what this meant, probably mainly because I can’t grasp he means this in a romantic sense. Well, he does. I can’t actually connect those particular dots. Country X somehow makes me feel like a granny. It’s hard for me to understand that I have evidently not shown how I feel about myself to other people. Just because I feel like a granny does not, it appears, mean other people see me as a granny.
I was aware he had opened up to me and I couldn’t formulate any kind of coherent response. I told him I was speechless, which was true. I was aware that it’s probably possible to respond without hurting anyone too deeply, but I couldn’t think clearly enough to respond at all.
He is aware it evokes a sadness for me. He has said this before, that he feels he has hurt me when he shares his feelings with me. I didn’t respond to this well either. I think it’s ok to tell someone how you feel about them. Feelings are ok. People won’t always love you back, but there’s nothing wrong with telling someone you do. The sadness has nothing to do with him, and it only occurred to me later that this doesn’t mean he doesn’t see it.
The thing is Nata is fucking dead. She bled to death in my arms, and it’s hard to imagine how life just goes on. I have gone on, but in such a state that I didn’t entirely notice, but the rest of the world is not me, and it does not care. People fall in love, have affairs, give birth, keep their house clean or let it fall into disarray, eat, sleep, carry on with daily life.
C’s dad said he would ask me again in a week. I am, in a way, not surprised about this. I am a mess and it’s possible, unconsciously, my mess has invited other messes. When I might otherwise simply want to survive until after the day has passed, I have tests to mark, exam preparation to navigate, and an extra-marital affair to work out.
Oh, and Galay has a heart problem of some kind, and I don’t know the nature of the problem, because the doctors don’t tell people anything coherent unless you ask them yourself, and I am afraid he will die too.