Opium

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Heart

The pitter-patter of a pubescent in a grown-up heart is magic.  Give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.

                                                                                                                                               
≈ Her Point of View ≈

I once had a little burgundy room, with deep red hand-woven rugs, silk purple cushions and Moroccan tables. I called it the Opium Room. In it, my writing desk sat between two windows that overlooked a heart-tugging Tuscan setting — in the Hollywood Hills.

A day came when rain poured violently, draining the trees and houses of color. But my poppy room was a pulse of blood, encased in glass and hovering over a watery world. It was a grand thing to sit in there as if the rest of the world was a dream in grayscale.

At my floating desk, I wrote about my addiction to pathos. And hard-hitting fixations that did away with my focus and incapacitated me for weeks.

I had developed a mad, irrational, overnight crush in which I thought I saw signs everywhere that there was a reason for it, something right about it, even if the ‘sign’ was simply matching phone digits.

The pitter-patter of a pubescent in a grown-up heart is magic.

The sweet ache of that crush, the burning in the style of old verse, syncopated to my every second. It spun within the air molecules I breathed. I was mercilessly in tune to words, songs, birds, a delicious breeze. And it wasn’t the first time.

I know it’s not difficult to fall in love because I’ve thrown myself off that cliff more than a handful of times. The ride through the air is human flight as the crash is human breakage. And it’s okay.

The way I see it, there are only three possible places to be when it comes to love: In its abundance, in its loss, or in its neutral absence. The third is the safest, sanest place to be. It’s also the most deadening. I recommend it only if you have important work to do, such as figuring out cold fusion or finishing a novel.

Actually, just cold fusion, because you’d surely write your best novel while residing within the loss of love — assuming you’re capable of writing through your personal human breakage.

As for attempting to get anything done while in the first stages of requited love, don’t bother.

It’s true that new love demands more attention than a nursing infant, but that’s not why. It’s because no matter what kind of druggie or alcoholic you may be, nothing skews judgment more than the first stages of love. Better to wait until your miracle is at least toddler-age. (If your love happens to produce an actual infant, all bets are off.)

Both the loss of love and pining for an unrequited love share the same context: Something you want but don’t have. The difference is, having had love and losing it dismantles you, while wanting it prior to having it, pushes together every bit of you to the brink of implosion.

In my Opium Room, I wrote every single day. I couldn’t help it.

He was a phantasm that both dwelled within me and covered me. I was owned. Years later, what stands out to me from that crush and others similar to it, is the addictive quality of the pang in the heart, both stifling and irresistible.

And still I say, give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.

Imagine all that tension and pining to be a cosmos of suns and shooting stars sealed in a jar within you.

Now, flash forward to the moment just before the first kiss.

You are face to face with the object of such universe of longing. That moment of culmination, the still micro-instant before the galactic combustion of your cells meeting for the first time, makes all torment over love worth it for me.

I would spend a lifetime prolonging the moment before the first kiss — or all first kisses — if love itself didn’t run the show.

My phantasm and I ended up together.

It’s rare for anyone’s fantastical crushes to lead to real relationships. My theory is, people subconsciously pick crushes they can’t be with because they’re addicted to the pathos, or the fantasy, or the dopamine, and don’t want it ruined by the reality of a flawed flesh and blood person.

Call it fluke or cosmic meaning, but in spite of warning that such consuming fires burn out quickly, he and I remained together for a good many years. We continued to burn for one another even after pedestrian dysfunction led to our relationship’s demise.

Until him, I had loved truly and deeply in the best of relationships that had not begun as crushes. And as far as crushes, he was one devastating out of many. Yet, he was also the only one who carried over to real life.

It was during that time when it dawned on me that my reactions to situations, rather than the situations themselves, were the actual cause of my torment.

In those days, the handyman not returning my call about re-glazing the bathtub felt like a strike to my body not dissimilar to my crush taking an hour to text back instead of the usual minute. I experienced all perceived rejection and censure the same way, be it getting honked at for cutting off another driver, or not booking a coveted acting role.

Did my devastating false alarms and sundry untouchables guess they could be my pet obsession and latest form of self-torture, and still, it was less about them than my attachment to my internal jar of conflagration?

Suffering (for no apparent reason) for me meant having the proportional capacity to feel great joy, the yin-yang of intense feeling, paradoxical in the same way really alive persons court death through daredevilry. If joy is renewal and renewal is born through destruction, well, birthing hurts.

Oh but birth.

It’s the first day on a trip in a brand new country; it’s laying eyes on that new crush. Getting to know a crush is like getting to know yourself all over again because everything you say and do is fresh.

And you know your tragic loss of a child’s wonder that messed you up for life when you grew up? In those moments right before the first kiss, or right as you’re about to touch a stone on a Celtic castle, that tragedy eases a bit, because life, stones, the veins of a leaf, brim with intoxicating, incomprehensible possibility.

Of course, the grandest of all possibilities is the crush that translates into enduring love.

A friend once asked me, “Do you want to stop suffering?”

I thought for a good hard minute.

I was the girl who wrote from the petal of a poppy. I floated in a drop of beautiful blood.

I finally said, “No.”

Not if it meant giving up my romance with pathos. And my ability to perpetuate the moment before the first kiss.
 

≈ His Point of View ≈

Bitches be crazy.*
 

                                                                                                       
Cathartic Monkeyism

  • Fearing pain can keep you from great joy.
  • Joy and sorrow have more to do with internal perception than external circumstance.

 

*This piece was originally written in response to a Weekly Writing Challenge.  The October 21 assignment was on point of view, hence inspiring “His Point of View.”  The “phantasm” is a flesh and blood person who exists and remains my dear friend.  While he probably doesn’t share “His Point of View,” many men the world over do.


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37 comments

  1. P.J. · · Reply

    You really have a way to weave your words into a story. Though at times I felt like I was on the outside (not sure why), you brought me into the situation and made me reflect on my own experiences. (Though, to be fair, none of my fantastical crushes ever went anywhere… maybe one day?) These crushes have been a part of life and I wouldn’t change them for anything. And knowing things I know now, I do wonder if they would have been as wonderful as I once imagined or if it would have flamed to the floor.

    It also made me wonder if this fantastical crush is still a massive part of your life? Or if this person was part of your life? Or if he’s real? A dream? That’s what I really like about this piece — it can be read in many different ways.

    It’s easy to look forward to your posts. I just wish they came more than once a week!

    1. I wish I could do this several times a week, already I don’t have time to sneeze…

    2. P.S. – Yes, he is real and still part of my life.

  2. The Wife Life · · Reply

    Haha, his point of view is ON POINT. 🙂 Loved this. Thank you for sharing.

    1. And thank you for reading!

  3. My thoughts exactly. The man’s one.

    1. Of course.

      But don’t forget who actually delivered “your” thoughts.

      Fair is fair.

      1. Sorry. By that I actually meant that women think about lots of things and we think about very little. I didn’t mean what the man said. Just the brevity.

      2. I was completely kidding with you. You have nothing to be sorry about. You illustrated my whole point.

        Don’t ever feel you can’t say what you want here.

        And I laughed. I was being funny back, but in a hardass way…

      3. Dang it! You totally tricked me! For this, you will pay a terrible price. I will get out my bitter sword of justice and fight you with your sarcastic sword of truth.

        Let the battle begin. Actually, I’m too tired now. I’m going to go take a nap.

      4. No, you tricked yourself, but you can blame me for the nap.

  4. Paul · · Reply

    Well written. Your observational and descriptive skills are extraordinary. My opinion is that a great deal of the clash of concepts that you have delineated can be resolved with a “small” paradigm shift. I have to engage for a quick moment in full disclosure: I firmly believe that there is a higher intelligence. I am not particularly religious, although I certainly understand why some people are. To that end, one helpful idea from the Torah is that when two concepts are equally right and yet contradictory, there is a higher umbrella concept under which the two coexist.

    For example: “…paradoxical in the way really alive persons court death through daredevilry.” Overarching concept is faith. Or to rephrase: “Really alive persons actualize their faith by appearing to court death through daredevilry.” Paradox is gone. Love – best definition I’ve seen (it’s a rough first cut but is workable) is from Socrates: “The desire to be one with.” Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that we “love” and yet “Love” also exists as well, completely outside of our creation. In other words, if there were no humans, Love would still exist. So, we are endowed with the ability to create love as a reflection of the universal “Love” that exists independent of us. If the overarching concept is the universal “Love” then when we cannot actualize our own love, we understand what we are missing. In other words, we feel a loss: pathos. That pathos is apparently contradictory to love and yet is clearly covered by (could not exist without) the universal “Love”.

    As a side note – it has come to my attention (over the years) that that big concepts link together; to me another sign that there is a higher intelligence. For instance, if Love is defined as the desire to be one with – it is without a doubt one of the driving forces in our emotional existence. Yet, at the same time, Gravity can be defined exactly the same way, only applied to the physical world: all mass attracts (desires to be one with). It is a fundamental physical force that that allows the universe as we know it to exist, much as Love allows life to exist. Coincidence? I think not.

    Oh, your child’s wide eyed wonder at the world? It is still there. I picture the “progression” of our lives not as a line along which we “progress”, but rather as the rings of a tree – everything you have ever been, done, accomplished, etc, is all still there inside of you as you grow “older” by adding layers like rings. It is possible to access – it is not “lost” to time or circumstances.

    Thank you Gunmetal Geisha for getting me back to thinking again. Keep up the good work.

    1. This is incredibly beautiful, what you’ve written, and I can’t argue with its truths.

      As for the rings of the tree always within us, thank you, that is most comforting – not because it’s an artifice, but because it also, em, ‘rings’ true.

      I have lots more to say to you, but I have to think about exactly how to communicate it.

  5. mike · · Reply

    Beautiful writing. Any comment I would attempt would not do it justice so I will just leave it with great, as ever.

    1. Thanks 🙂

  6. “And still I say, give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.”

    Oh my good god. There were too many instances in reading this, where my heartbeat quickened and a smile of surprised understanding hit my lips. Too many quotes I could pull, which resonated. But the one above, most especially.

    I’m only sorry I haven’t commented sooner. Your blog is a firm favourite, and how trite even this sounds, when what I mean is “Bloody hell, how wonderful to find someone else who understands the sensuality of language, the true aversion to peace and calm when we could have Passion, and oh yes, old friend Pathos.

    These crushes. …They don’t inhibit the growth of love, as my mother has always insinuated (“get yourself a real man, stop daydreaming!”) Rather, they teach us more about ourselves. That part hit me hard, too – finding ourselves reborn through a new crush/lover. I’ve recently split from my long term partner. It was amicable, but we had run our course. I no longer looked to him for encouragement, inspiration or attention. It’s then that I know love is over.

    My latest crush is a married man… aren’t they always. Sigh.

    Beautiful and evocative writing. I feel inspired to do some of my own now.

    1. I could only imagine the gorgeous turns you would take with this particular subject.

      “Finding ourselves reborn through a new crush / lover” – yes. It’s much more about ourselves than the momentary ‘guest stars.’ We realize it each time we look back on particularly silly objects of longing…

  7. Reblogged this on celenagaia and commented:

    A blog entry that hit me hard in the heart, as all the best ones do. My affair with Pathos goes back a long way, to a daydream-childhood filled with crushes, into adulthood wherein my frustrated mother forever rags on about me finding The One.
    What if I want fantasy? What if I prefer heartache; the fever of anticipation, as opposed to the darkness of reality, dreams met and turned sour?

    And then again…frustration often has teeth.

    This entry summed it up far better than I could.

    1. First, thanks for reblogging it.

      Second, “frustration often has teeth”: You’ve written an entire world right there, and I bet you and I know its every continent and body of water intimately.

      1. Very much so. I mean to keep up with your blog in particular; it feels like a twin of mine. Wish you were on this side of the pond so we could talk properly over wine! As it is, your blog sparked my mind no end today; it was feeling a bit worn out, but I feel reinvigorated. Thank you, dear friend. I feel I can call you this, after a meeting of minds.

      2. The mere mention of “wine” confirms it all to be true. And I’m proud to be called your friend, lovely friend of mine.

  8. For a subject that has been written about so many times, reading about it here made it feel very new. But I suppose that’s exactly the point.

    Thank you for this. It was a good, happy, misty way to start the day- particularly the day I get to fly home to my family.

    ccd

    1. Lovely, thank you. Enjoy your family.

  9. Wonderful from start to finish … I feel you should be immensely proud of your work here, to make naked such thoughts and imagery is staggeringly impressive. I think it is true that the value in knowing another is in coming to understand your own truths, your own merits and flaws, and ultimately that understanding is (sometimes) as defined by loss as it is by acquisition. That has certainly been my experience. A fine, evocative piece … thanks for posting 🙂

    1. Happy you read it and many thanks for your kind words!

  10. bgbowers · · Reply

    Exquisite and evocative piece of writing that hooked me from beginning to end.

    These lines are my favourite:

    “But my poppy room was a pulse of blood, encased in glass and hovering over a watery world.”

    “Imagine all that tension and pining to be a cosmos of suns and shooting stars sealed in a jar within you.”

    “He was a phantasm that both dwelled within me and covered me. I was owned. Years later, what stands out to me from that crush and others similar to it, is the addictive quality of the pang in the heart, both stifling and irresistible.”

    “I was the girl who wrote from the petal of a poppy. I floated in a drop of beautiful blood. ”

    Personally, through my teens and 20s I did not experience life outside of my poppy room…now, I inhabit a whole house, but my poppy room is the heart of it.:)

    Again, exquisite piece that evoked powerful memories, emotions and yearnings for me (as all great writing should). Bravo!

    1. Thank you so much my dear!

      You picked my favorite line – petal and blood.

      I will have to find a picture of my poppy room and include it…

  11. Meg · · Reply

    Please never stop suffering! Not if it means you stop writing and living and moving others to do the same. Beautiful piece!

    1. Ha, I won’t! Not that I’ve ever explored whether or not I have a choice in the matter…

  12. Beautifully written. Ah yes, the moment before that first kiss. The draining of blood, the human breakage that comes later…

    1. Life without anticipation – somehow it just wouldn’t do…

  13. “here are only three possible places to be when it comes to love: In its abundance, in its loss, or in its neutral absence. The third is the safest, sanest place to be. It’s also the most deadening.”

    Dang. (That’s right- DANG.) Sometimes I read something that actually makes me a little bit uncomfortable and even a little bothered. This is one of those things. And then I have to dissect, rationalize, file away (it gets tedious) and make sense of my feelings. In this case, I know why it pricks my side: because it’s so true.

    I just ended a 7 year relationship with my BFF boy/man (17 years my junior) who needed to go off and find his own life, wife, kids- etc. (Isn’t that nice?) Since then, I’ve dove head first into continual hours of academic research, pet grooming, and a flurry of household chores that won’t allow me the reflective time to stare too long into the looking glass. ;0) I’m too “busy”. I think you hit the nail firmly upon the head!

    “Poppy” drew me in here (duh!) but yes, I’ve learned something.
    Thanks for that. ;0)

    1. Seems besides the INTJ / INFJ personality type we share a similar boy / man experience. 12 years my junior, 5-year relationship. If you ever look at my post “Dating for Martians,” let me know if anything sounds familiar.

      1. I’ll be sure to check that out in a bit!

  14. “As for attempting to get anything done while in the first stages of requited love, don’t bother.”
    Preach it sister. I have a grin from ear to ear and I keep saying I’m going to write, but I’d rather breathe in the scent of her body for hours, let her back be the keys I compose my love upon, let her lips be my instrument, bury my mind in hers, and that is the art I am making right now.

    1. Certainly sounds like art. Happy for you!

  15. I adored this. That is all. You inspire me to be a better writer. 🙂

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