related to death

My experience of death remains mercifully slight up to now, the most profound being the death of a dog with whom I had grown up from the age of 6 weeks to 12 years.

My girlfriend’s experience of death is rather more profound. She had lost both her mother and her father before she was 29. They died a handful of years apart, her mother a few before her father, both after long illnesses.

A year ago the boyfriend of a good friend of hers died in a slightly mysterious car crash, aged 24. They were friends too, she says, outside of her girl friend. How close were they really? I’ll never know, but I would wager with some confidence that they weren’t that close. Perhaps they all went out and got drunk together a bunch of times, likely no more than a small bunch. And she visited the couple’s home from time to time.

Nonetheless, yesterday, on the anniversary of his death, she felt compelled to take the day off work and visit him at a crematorium with her friend. Not his former girlfriend – she didn’t want to go – but with another mutual friend.

My fear is that she involuntarily romanticises death, feels a duty towards death itself. She can be a whispy, drifty, daydreamy character: easily distracted, struggles to focus and self-discipline. This sort of thing doesn’t help.

Of course the first anniversary of a friend’s death deserves pause for thought, remembrance. But this week she confessed to being more distant because she is thinking about this guy, her memories of him and also the memories of her grief and shock, the drama associated with learning about his death. It was awful, yes.  But to ponder it to this extent seems to me theatrical, dramatised, romanticised, indulgent, difficult.

Why? I struggle to empathise, am left bewildered, confused, frustrated.

Why not concentrate instead on the living, on life?  Don’t get drawn off into this ethereal hinterland. Maybe instigate an interaction with me from time to time, instead of letting me do it all the time.

For various reasons we’ve been almost a week apart now – which is some time for us.  And we’re not great at communicating over distance.

The other night I dreamt about cheating on her – which felt great and good at the time (possibly because the fictional other girl was blonde and more attractive and seemed to *get* me more instinctively and naturally; and because I am a bad, shallow individual).  It felt good despite a concurrent fear and guilt; then I dreamt about confessing to her and it was emotional and terrible. When I woke i felt disgusted and sad.

Apart, I feel we always drift a little, which scares me.  Although she doesn’t feel it and says I overanalyse.  Perhaps we should both prioritise moving on together, finding that equidistant place halfway along the motorway between us.

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don’t get the joke

Walking to the cinema I begin unpicking the wires of my headphones, trying to untangle them, make sense of their ends and loops.  Absently at times but stubbornly too, never giving in, I persevere as I walk, slowly growing more and more vexed.  On reaching the supermarket just before the cinema, I give up and stuff them back into a pocket again.

It’s a type of humour that I struggle with, that zany anarchic chaotic stoner humour often exported from the US, recently by Seth Rogen.  I can recognise that some elements are funny, appreciate why some laugh raucously, seemingly more stung by humour than reacting to a well-constructed joke.

But I can’t myself be moved in any way.  I am left confused and befuddled and feeling old, much as I was when I was at school.  So it was that I stared blankly at This Is The End, while others around me roared their approval.  It was quirky, the Hollywood A-Listers playing versions of themselves, an engaging enough idea.  But it soon descends into their indulgent riffing, playing around with a medium and their privileged access to it, simply because they could.  I leave about a third of the way in, diusgruntled, hot and as hayfevery as ever.  I can barely remember a time when my eyes didn’t sting and my nose didn’t run.

Stomping away from the theatre, distracted and irritated by my failure to compute the film, I pick out the headphones again.  At the bottom of one escalator I give the task my full attention, standing there for a full five minutes, picking out the tangles and unravelling the wires.

How the fuck does this take so long?

What is wrong with me?

Finally, eventually, I’m there.

I slot the one end into my iPod and hit play on some music.  The sound is unequal in different ears, thrown out, distorted, tangled like the wire itself.  Waggling at the port confirms that yes, the headphones at least, but perhaps even the iPod itself; something anyway, is broken.

Boiling frustration at my incessantly dripping hayfever, the heat, everything comes together.

Standing on the final escalator down towards the ground floor exit, I consider punching the already cracked screen of my iPod, squealing or growling or emitting some thing; a worthwhile representation of my frustration.

I don’t though.  I breathe and walk and sniff and feel all the worse for my suppression.