I came for a visit and stayed for a funeral. Nothing proper, just casting away tightly bound pieces of myself in butcher paper and twine, letting the nearest waters figure out what to do with those parts. Even with the stagnant cut of Knoxville’s Tennessee River, something manages to sink or float and drift away.
As I watched those pieces leave me, I looked up to be greeted by the pale Tennessee sky. It’s open blue bonnet, though sunny and pleasant, is just a reminder that here the rain hasn’t, and I continue to predict, won’t come. Slowly something is withering by staying in this bittersweet city. It’s taken a lot out of me to be here, though I know much of my energy goes to actively withholding much of my energy—a seemingly sensible yet flawed tactic it is to resist a place, especially a place I once loved. From couch to couch, I’m reminded more and more how fortunate I am to have such a solid stand of friends. My roots here seem to have set rather deep over the years. Deep enough to stand this drought. Deep enough to sustain myself as I sip the last of the water that keeps me here. Being emotionally removed from a place means being resistant to growing in that place. It means refusing to take water, take food, take kindness or connection. While there’s nothing wrong with going back, I’m just not willing. And for what felt like such a long time of stagnancy being here may actually just be my own resistance to change—internally or externally—either in my life or in a city.
Bluntly, I’m being a bit of a baby right now; less harshly articulated, I’m being less than mature about my position. I got that attitude. Today, after all, is one of those days where the quiet feels more isolating and the darkness feels more abandoning. I don’t bring these things up to ask for sympathy, but to ask others the similar question of, “what are you also feeling?”
Why am I asking that question? Because when the world around you starts to make less sense or feel like it’s crumbling through, I can only help but to look around to see the faces around me expressing a similar look of concern. In hopes to confirm, “okay, I’m not the only one going under…I’m not the only one who’s got something wrong here…” Is everyone feeling this? Is everyone witnessing this? I came to visit and stayed for a funeral only to find no one is crying, or at least not publicly. It’s hard to find assurance when those like me are not visible. It makes me doubt pretty heavily. Maybe those like me are doing the same thing: hiding in a room, thinking too much, noticing how nice it is outside, yet not finding any justification to go outside. We’re passing mental notes to one another and wondering if those thoughts ever reach the other person. Doubting it’s so. After all, it’s easy to get lost in our own mind. Instead, I tell myself it will be okay even if from this window, even taking the time to clear out the cobwebs, it still looks like a funeral outside.