death

suicide pact

She said,

I am in a deep funk tonight.

I said,

I mean, there’s no point to anything, certainly

Iʼve been thinking a lot about this thing you said that night back in Brooklyn when I went off to maybe have sex with Redford (I didnʼt, by the way — he just stretched my hamstrings for me and showed me several drawings heʼd done of different breeds of dog pooping), the thing about desiring some alternative category of togetherness for us

Because I feel that, too

And I was thinking that we could slit our wrists together

She said,

A suicide pact. I never even thought of that and here I thought I was more involved in the dark arts than you.

I said,

Well

Iʼm trying to be psyched about continuing to live this life so maybe thatʼs not quite the one I want

Itʼs just, like, this is all so BURDENSOME

But

I guess Iʼm choosing to gamble on the premise that thereʼs an answer

If only one in the form of some formula for survival

She said,

I donʼt feel very close to death. Let’s keep at it; we can do better.

I said,

Iʼm sorry living is so much work

I wish I could magic it away for you

Although I guess if you were someone who could be fooled by magic I wouldnʼt have nearly as much use for you

Use, admiration, appetite

Need.

She said,

Thank you for offering a vague sense of possibility that doesnʼt feel dumb or like lies.

I said,

I guess Iʼm going to keep trying to pack

Iʼm petrified of Berlin

I canʼt even figure out how to say “Iʼm sorry, I donʼt speak German” in German.

She said,

Berlin is amazing and everyone speaks English, they are ashamed of everything too. You will love it there I suspect.

I said,

Iʼm looking forward to some public toplessness, I think.

my voice is falling into disuse

She said, 

Are you seeing people? Organizing your room? Sitting in a cafe? Sending emails? Exploring? Eating vegan currywurst? 

I said, 

I just got back to the apartment after fucking around in constructive, aid-while-abroad-seeking ways on Facebook for most of the day over two cappuccini and a salad and a piece the vegan bananenbrod with some kind of peanut butter frosting which was EXCELLENT btw at the yes same one not-really-vegan cafe 

Trying to make plans for either tonight or tomorrow with the guy who works there, but he is I think Syrian under his German and so his English is pretty confusing 

Nursing some confusion about What I Should Be Doing Instead 

Feeling almost breathless with loneliness or some other kind of emotional vertigo  

In going through my Facebook friends to see whom else I should tag in my latest plea post, I discovered that this guy I had a mad crush on over my years in Boston with whom things never really got off the ground died in a bike accident four years ago 

When I think about it I get cold all over

I included him on my get out the vote for Clinton email in November 2016 

He’d already been dead for two years

I just redownloaded Tinder, although Iʼm not sure if thatʼs a bad idea or a self-forgiving one 

My voice is falling into disuse 

She said, 

What a swarm of things you must be feeling

I said, 

How can you tell?

A guy who was my immediate bestie on our freshman orientation backpacking trip sixteen years ago just wrote back being like Oh yeah I got sick of New York so a friend and I started an investment bank in Bucharest and for sure you can come stay on my pull-out for a couple of weeks let me look at the calendar 

And Pavel just messaged that he found me a place to stay on Île d’Oléron, which is evidently an island off the Atlantic coast of France, so now this is thoroughly a fairy tale I am unready for

This is very exciting if I can just figure out how to be scared only a non-crippling amount of the time 

I need to go to bed so I can get up and keep trying to move forward in some way even if itʼs not in the BEST way 

She said, 

Get up and do 10 push-ups first thing 

I said, 

Okay I will 

First I will put on a bra because how I look is the most important thing about me 

And then I will do ten pushups 

Eleven, even 

Itʼs weird how I waited for this for so long and then all of a sudden it happened

MARY WEʼRE ALIVE AND ITʼS SO TERRIBLE BUT THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE 

why aren’t we riding bikes on an island

I said

Iʼm like a little mad at you for not being here 

I had a great day doing a very specific and very detailed not much of anything, and youʼre on a list of I think 2.5 people I would like here with me

MARY WHY AREN’T WE RIDING BIKES ON AN ISLAND

She said,

Hi.

I said, 

Remind me of how squeamish you are 

She said, 

Just nothing bugs

I said, 

Okay well today one thing I had to do was ride in a circle and go back a ways and inspect what was indeed a hedgehog smashed all over Rue Continière 

She said,

Tell me why you had to

I said, 

I guess because I was like, Is that a hedgehog?

And everything I am ever doing can wait

She said, 

This is an affliction of the bourgeoisie 

I said, 

Well what the fuck was I riding to?

My actual intention in setting out this morning was to find a starfish 

And so I had time to circle back for maybe-a-hedgehog.

And look at it from various angles

And take some pictures

And try to identify some of the organs on the road beside it

Does that even make geographic sense, that it might be here?

Where are hedgehogs?

If someone had asked me yesterday, I would have guessed Texas

Actually maybe I have an idea from somewhere that they are très français

And now I know!

Also today I plucked a billion sea snails from sea rocks with the idea that I would cook them for dinner

But then I got back and Sylka didn’t want me to

So now there is an olive container full of dead or dying sea snails in my backpack

I feel bad on many levels

She said, 

I wish that you didn’t feel bad at all

I said, 

Thanks

I guess I just don’t like killing things for no reason

I thought about walking right out of the door and messaging one of my stupid Oléronaise Tinder matches to be like, Can we make escargots de la mer at your place tonight? 

I have been carrying White Noise since Brooklyn, and Iʼm not sure if Iʼm not finishing it because I donʼt feel like reading it or I donʼt feel like reading at all or I do feel like reading, and badly, am Iʼm afraid of what will happen when I finish it

She said, 

Donʼt donʼt donʼt read it right now 

Rachel the world is falling apart 

I said,

But is it? 

I’m trying to imagine a future in which our capacity for happiness is less than it currently is

Are we standing in a bread line?

Am I dead of infection from a coat-hangering?

Lice?

It’s easy for me—with my sunburn and sack of discount bruised apricots and only a vague uneasiness at how the friendly fisherman affirm, to each other, “Juif” after I introduce myself—to be like, Everything is fiiiiine

But, like, everything is not fine

It’s terrible

It always will be, in various ways, and as things change, we will make changes, and we will go on

I don’t know what else to say

I am the engineer of a small-scale sea snail Holocaust

My knapsack is soaked in their seawater, which leaked from the olive box while, presumably, I biked home, but my journal is dry

Yesterday Sylka told me that her mother — 90 or 95 years old, I guess — had a dream about telling me, Rachel, remember me

I guess I will

Anyway, I promised I would

What else can we do? 

I’m not saying don’t care

But, like, run for office

OR find a way to keep enjoying the new and increasingly horrific world orders as much as you’re capable of enjoying anything

Italians are hard to read

~ i wrote~

What I want to tell you about is yesterday, when the two hot Italians I met in my dar invited me to go with them to Akchour, where there is the only real water near Chefchaouen, if I could just find a helmet, for they and their motos had taken a boat for 56 hours from I-don’t-know-which Italian port to Tangiers and are now motoring their way back up through Morocco and Spain and home to Milan and Verona, and I could ride on the back. So we got up early and they went to breakfast and I went to the square and started asking people, trying to have them want to help me but not think they might marry me, which is a fine-eyed needle to thread, and eventually one guy without teeth or anything else to do took me to his barrio, where we started knocking on doors, waking people up, going from house to house as directed by whoever. (I fell behind at one point because I stopped to photograph a puppy that was eating the head of another animal. At first I thought it was the head of another puppy — that makes a better caption, for sure — but now I think it was probably the head of a goat. I’m going to try to think of a zoologist to e-mail about the orthodonture, and then we’ll know.)

A guy weaving a rug on a loom in a half-subterranean chamber with doors open to the street gave a long answer in Arabic, and José (…Youssef) took me to some blue stairs and said, Wait here, so I sat down and waited and after a while he came back and said — I think — my Spanish is still pretty crap, as was his — something about how there was a helmet to be had but also a problem with the guy who had it, a problem 200 dirham would fix, and I was like, Yo that’s too much, whatever this problem is, and José shrugged and walked me up the hill that’s outside of town, toward Hotel Atlas, like, more up the side of the mountain, really, and there was some kind of construction crew doing something with a truck, and he said something to one of the guys (SO cute, by the way, that guy was) who said something back and then grinned and ran away, farther up the mountain still, until he disappeared, somehow, among the scrubby trees, and then after a while he came back with a motorcycle helmet and handed it to me and I tried to thank him in Spanish, and French, and English, and he just looked at me blankly, smiling, so cute. By then it was an hour since I’d left Erico and Mauro, who were in a hurry because they wanted to do our outing and then get on the road to Fes, and José understood and took us on a shortcut back that probably white women don’t usually think to take and at the fountain where we’d met I gave him 100 dirham and told him it was to share with the guy who lent the helmet, and he pretended not to understand, and I ran back to the dar where gli Italiani were packing their bike bags, and off we went.

Hiking in cannabis fields with a shirtless guide who said I could be shirtless, too, and what a luxury I have forgotten to remember this is, an entitlement to bare my skin without persecution. Swimming, orange juice. My guys had a definite partnership dynamic — one shared wallet, it seemed, fine-tuned motorcycle communication — but separate beds, and I remember they apologized to each other in a moment when their feet touched while we were all sprawled together on whatever you call the Moroccan furniture in the dar, smoking hash, the day before. Italians are hard to read.

Most amazing, though, god, was being on the back of those motorcycles. I rode with Mauro to the falls—a bigger bike, a bigger man—and I had the feeling that he either was a good, cautious driver or was taking extra care with me at his back, and it was just exhilarating enough, and the winding mountain highway and the sun, and sitting astride the rumbling of this huge machine as he accelerated, was just…wow. And then on the way back they said I would change to ride with Erico, and I was secretly disappointed because I had liked how Mauro had touched me on the hike, and Erico had ridden behind on the way there and must thus—I reasoned—be slower on his smaller, dorkier bike… But then he told me, unequivocally, to keep my arms tight around him rather than hold on to the handles at my hips, and while we sat in traffic behind a Coca Cola truck he rested his elbows on my bare thighs and moved real good, just a little, to the music carrying from the speakers on the dune buggy-type thing idling in line behind us, and when finally we got out from behind the truck and the rest of the cascade jam, oh my god, Cedar, he went so fast. The littler bike goes so fast, and I had the feeling that he was showing off, hot-dogging it, or maybe he was mad that the shirtless guide had lollygagged and in a hurry to drop me off and get on to Fes, or maybe that’s just how he rides always or what he felt like doing just then, and it was scary, tilting so close to the ground, taking those curves, getting to a straightaway with no cars coming in the other lane for many meters and just pulling past everything previously ahead of us, dodging back in line at the last second before impact. It actually felt a little like skydiving: I’d adjusted the chin strap on my borrowed helmet a lot at the outset but realized then, at a real probably-terminal-for-me velocity, that it wasn’t quite enough, that actually the whole helmet might get whooshed off my head; the eye shield wasn’t really adequate and I thought a little that my eyeballs might get whooshed out of my skull, the same as when I was free-falling out of that plane…moreover though, I think it was that I felt the real possibility of dying in a second and had to just trust in this stranger’s valuation of his own life and tandem care for mine in taking it to this tandem extreme. At one point I loosed an arm to reach up and try to cram my helmet back down in a same second Erico accelerated and we surged ahead, and the various properties of physics pulled on me in way that was a little too close to coming off the bike, and he reached back and yanked me in, and after that I held on tight and let the helmet do what it wanted, stayed close and low and just turned my head to watch a blur of the landscape, so colorful, sideways, and I thought that to die in this moment would be earlier than I want — I have a lot to do — and would make some people I love really sad but in other respects would be just fine. 

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