Vanitas

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I am going to die. It is a fact. Sooner than I had expected. Sooner than twenty-seven.

Tonight I took my last shower. Before heading to the bathroom I was shivering like a person diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. All my muscles were largely out of my control. I was, as I also was a day earlier, a pebble upon a winter shore, similar to an ice cube except for the frost.

I am going to die and it’s not a shame.

I entered the bathroom, undressed and performed my last private pre-shower routine: air drumming. I flap my hands and wave them in the air, with facial expressions to suit the imagined song. I see my ribs being outlined on the mirror as my hands are above my head. I do this with the shivering, and I breath heavily and think, if only my cheekbones, if only my cheekbones. My lungs hurt.

After a mere two minutes of air drumming, an ensuing exhaustion invites itself, uncalled for, unwanted, but necessary. I step into the bathtub, making sure the water is hot, lethally hot. And memories sprout like water from the shower head, sort of a “your life flashes before your eyes,” but also not quite like that. It’s a feature of showers, they’re better than Freud’s couch, and I bet that would’ve been a novel discovery if I were living in the early 20th century.

But first memory, truly. Preschool and I’m imagining events. I’m predicting the liar that I am to be, so soon; the great fabricator, sitting in recess, thinking of all the possible happenings that are not happening, then going home, our old home, and relaying them to my mother.

Hot water strikes my not-so-European skin. I’m a beast. Je suis une bête. Une (la) béte. Feminine. I bite like Juno the dog, without reserve, hating everything. I’m an animal.

I’ve always been a follower of my eldest brother. Not a follower in the sense of a disciple. A follower in the sense of him being a role model, at least for the beginning part of my life, pre-puberty that is. Everything changes with puberty. Metallica (Segway to metal); LAU (Segway to pussy); TIm Burton (Segway to normal strangeness). In that respect I was a rather normal child. I cried when he hit me. I cried when I got hit in general, by father, by brother, by strangers. I cried when I was doing the hitting. What a pussy thing, but I guess it gave me intensity (a comforting lie).

Cry baby. But I’m not crying now when blood spurts out when I cough, when my ears and cheeks are blotched with such sanguinity worse than that of Andrei Sergeyevich Arshavin and Rafael Benítiz combined.

It has been stated earlier that everything starts with a promise. Being born starts with the promise of eventually dying. Meeting someone, starting a friendship seals the promise of future mourning. All acquaintances have a trace of a farewell. One must always go before the other. Surviving is the other name of mourning. But don’t be too excessive as to miss me in my absence; that would be unreasonable. Miss me in this moment, but not later on. Sadly the former does not happen, the latter always happens, and my death, all deaths become a falsely justified loss.

I never wanted voices and absences. I always wanted bodies and presence. Nothing satisfies me more than the people I love being here, not there, not far away, being elusive in their distance, feigning presence with an e-mail, a phone call, a message, feigning friendship.

And I used to run away.

I remember in fifth grade, 9 years old, telling girls that they are the juice (the triangular-shaped carton, a seminal part in every Lebanese’s childhood) and we (boys) are the straw. I remember it well, being threatened with expulsion for being knowledgeable and metaphoric.

And I remember everything past 2006 with the vivid clarity of nostalgic fucks. I remember how the joy ride ended on March 14, 2008. On that note, I remember last year’s tarnishing of what could have been the most beautiful, exciting, mesmerizing, perfect birthday ever (which eventually killed a large part of the summer among other parts of living beings). And on the night of June 14, I was in the wrong place, to say the least, in hindsight.

I don’t cry when I hallucinate, when the balance of the world disappears and things start closing in on me, or appear to be doing so. I don’t panic when the back of my head feels like it’s in a blender. I don’t cry when I suffer from severe air hunger because inhalation pinches my lungs like bullets.

I am dying and sometimes I hear a voice solemnly saying, “You’re going to die motherfucker. You’re going to die motherfucker.”

I’m thinking of a nice lollipop, the ones that have medicine in them, which at the same time is yummy and nothing else matters, not the failed promises, not the disappointments, not the insurmountable grief. A lollipop would make so happy right now.

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