March 20, 2017 (Monday)

by Yule Heibel on March 19, 2018

The sun is out, which wasn’t the case when W. and I went for a longish walk yesterday afternoon. It was Sunday, not much going on. We walked past the library where I dropped off two books, unread. We walked down the main street, past [café], which was in its last hour of being open (it closes ridiculously early on Sundays). Of course, it was packed.

As we passed, I glimpsed V. sitting with a scraggly-looking fellow at one of the window seats. She looks amazingly unhealthy. Beautiful in lots of ways – great eyes, teeth, facial symmetry, frame – but her gums are too red and inflamed-looking, like she’s on the perpetual verge of some kind of health revolt, some sort of physiological flare-up, and she looks like she has absolutely no muscle tone whatsoever. If once there was a fin-de-siècle “vampiristic” beauty ideal, she might qualify for a contemporary début-de-siècle ideal, one created through food neuroses centered on the avoidance of animal products. Even as a very young girl she had eating disorders. When she and her parents came to a dinner party twenty years ago, they told me V. was “vegetarian” and therefore wouldn’t be able to eat meat. (Her parents, meanwhile, didn’t themselves follow a vegetarian diet.) Okay, I thought, and made vegetarian food especially for V. – which she proceeded not to touch, because, it turned out, she didn’t really like vegetables at all and preferred to eat only noodles and sugar (i.e., sweets). And even those she merely picked at.

As we continued our walk, W. commented that in some places and countries, being vegetarian works quite well (e.g., India). To which I replied, “Well, that’s culture, isn’t it? But individual(ist) vegetarianism like hers is just neurosis.” Then I added the corollary that perhaps culture is just collective (vs. individual) neurosis. Anyway, V. has had an eating disorder for a long time, and she looks like a walking corpse. Beautiful (in a sick way), but still …corpse.

We continued on, down the main street almost to the bridge. It was very cold because of the wind, but it was at our backs and I was in a not-too-bad mood. By the time we crossed over to the beach street the wind was in our faces, but we had warmed up sufficiently not to mind. The water looked ridiculously green somehow, its surface rubbed up by the wind, while the “landscape” continued in its leaden, unfriendly mien: everything on this overcast and unlit day looked especially harsh and barren. Garbage (of course), broken pavement (ditto), dirty snow now turned to ice still covering most of the ground, and not a single sign of life in those places where nature managed to poke through (dead grass, dead weeds), not a hint of green or future leafiness on any tree. On March 19. So cold and bleak.

And I said to W.: “I don’t want to die here.” It’s the nature (so harsh, not at all lovely), but also the absence of kith and kin, friends and family. I’m feeling my mortality a lot more these days, and everything that has ever happened to me feels like it happened only yesterday. Which conversely means that my death will be as soon as tomorrow. Or maybe today. What is time? I’m experiencing it like some kind of point, and I’m wasting my life, my time, my potential in this place I didn’t really choose to be in. (Shades of “mother”…) It’s freaking me out, not to be too morbid about it. I don’t want to die here, alone, without family and (real) friends. It’s a ridiculous way to live. But I’m not sure what to do with this feeling, how I can turn it into fuel for (good) change.

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