November 2nd, 2020
I am a forgetful man. All that was before, is now gone.
November 2nd, 2020
I must write this down, for tomorrow it may be too late. I must immortalize these thoughts.
Today I found myself in an open window high above the city street, poised to step out of it into the open morning air. I don't recall anything before that moment. Thinking on it now, I should have been more scared than I was. Before writing these words I was thinking of how fearful I must have been, but upon reflection now I feel it must have happened before. To write that this was the first time this has occurred, feels like a lie.
There are pages missing from this journal. Many pages have been torn out. You should know, I don't remember things, or people, places. I try to keep a record of each day’s events, otherwise life would be a near impossibility.
Back to today. I remember voices coming up at me from below. Many voices, I don't remember specifically what anyone was saying. It didn't matter. I must have had a reason for being in that window. I remember now, I did want to die.
There it is, that familiar cold feeling. I was angry about something. I remember, I was angry at the world. I don't remember if I was yelling back at the faceless people below ,or if it was only in my mind, but a ferocity brewed within me: one that erupted in that moment, and only in that moment did I finally get to articulate what had plagued me all my life. Which was that life, that meaning itself, had betrayed me. The very root of humanity, the core of what we are here to do, is to discover and declare our identity. To bring order to our own personal slice of chaos. But, that process, that privilege of everyone else, had been denied to me.
I don't know if I had been robbed of it my whole life, or only the last stretch of time until that moment today. I envied them, I hated them. I still hate them now. Even in this moment I loathe everyone else.
know that, standing in that window, I had every intention to step off that ledge, to surrender myself to oblivion, to give in, to give up all that I had, which was nothing.
There was a woman. Yes, I remember now, there was a woman behind me in the room. She spoke to me. I hadn’t known she was there. I don't know how long she had been there, and I hadn’t heard her come in. Her voice was soft, and it stifled the sounds of chaos in my mind. She asked what I was doing, but I couldn't answer. I tried desperately at that moment for any response that would justify absolutely anything about that situation, but nothing surfaced. I remember asking her who she was.
She replied that she was my wife.
The horror of that thought. I had, HAVE a wife? I can picture her face as she stood there watching me. She was beautiful. Her hair was brown, or blonde. Already she is starting to fade.
Was she telling the truth? Now, I'm not so sure. Who would marry me, with all my faults, my handicaps? To marry me would be to fall into my trap, my con. It would be a cruel gesture to con someone into marrying me. That's the only way I can describe it. I must have made her feel so hopeless, if she even was my wife.
She showed me a picture of her and a man. She was in a wedding dress. The man looked like me. I remember thinking that in that moment, but now I'm not so sure. I hadn't looked at myself today. What do I look like? Am I unattractive? She told me a story of how we met. As she spoke I studied her face for any hint or trace of recollection I could find. I don't know why I was so fixated on that. I think I was trying to catch her in a lie, or perhaps hoping for a glimmer, a spark, of a memory.
The memories are there, somewhere amongst the catacombs of the past. I often feel as though I am in a dark library. The books line the shelves, but have no labels, no order. Even when I find the memory I have been searching for, once it’s placed back upon the shelf there is no way of knowing if or when I will find it again.
Back to the window. I'm thinking now, whether it was reason or a desire that put me in that window earlier today. I know in the first moment I remember from this morning, I wanted to jump. Just in that briefest, tiniest, fraction of a second, I was ready. I could feel the faint exquisite pleasure of acceptance. But my hands never let go of the frame.
The thought loosely occurred to me then, but I don't think I fully understood it until now. Reason and desire. Which comes first, is there an order? Do you need a reason first to desire to degrade yourself, to freefall into the blackness of thought towards self-destruction? Or is it the other way around. Do you desire to recede from the world and then find existence itself the reason to shrink away?
The path to redemption is even harder to see. I don't think desire can come first. When you're in that dark place already, when there is no light, and surrender is the only thing that remains. You need a reason first to move upward. Harder still I think is that you need maybe not one reason to ascend, but many.
Perhaps it was some unknowable, unconscious slice of a reason that kept my hands in place today.
Maybe the woman was telling the truth. I felt more sure that she probably was. I have a wife.
Although this revelation led to a flurry of questions, my lips remained locked. Asking a question would risk learning an answer I may not have wanted to hear. Asking a question would risk that familiar cold feeling, losing that slim glimmer keeping me on that ledge. To not know, was the bliss I could find.
Her hand wrapped around me effortlessly, pulling me back into the room. Cheering voices rose from the street outside, out the window. I wondered whether my averting death was truly a victory. Perhaps the cheers were for themselves; that the tragedy before them was over, and they could return to their own perhaps-mediocre lives free of guilt and sadness. My envy for them returned briefly.
I found myself facing the woman who said she was my wife. How alien the moment felt. She was so beautiful, but I was momentarily immobilized in my speech. I managed to thank her for pulling me back, but my words were forced. Nothing lay behind them. The words tasted a lie in my mouth. She stared at me silently.
The door burst open. People filled the room as I thought to myself. Police, paramedics, more police. An endless flood of uniforms moved in an orchestrated dance. I remember not one person made eye contact with me as I found myself surrounded by strangers.
A cop pulled my hands behind my back and placed cuffs on me. The woman yelled louder and louder at them, pleading that I had done nothing wrong.
I think I did do something wrong, as I think on it now. I must have. I'm not religious, but I know I must have sinned. After all, to sin is to miss your mark. And that's what I did, I missed my mark catastrophically. But I realize now, I know that I missed. Isn't that the first step, to know when you missed something, to know that you’re off target?
There is a power in knowing that a wrong was committed. It is a difficult truth that must be confronted, but not just directly, it must be integrated. It must be folded into oneself. It must be draped over one’s shoulders and carried from then on until it isn't needed anymore. I feel crippled by the sheer weight, which is at a near-unbearable level. Perhaps that is the reason I found myself where I was.
The cuffs were tight. The steel was cold, I remember. The woman hugged me as the cop tried to pull her away. Remember, she said. I can still hear those words in my head even now. How soft her words were. How gentle. I remember a flash came to me, of her in the rain. She was laughing. We were happy. The flash went away, back to nothingness.
The cop pulled her away as paramedics closed in. A thousand questions they asked. How do you feel, are you ok, I remember them asking in between all the technical questions. The answer seemed evident enough for me. One medic said I was ok, and just as quickly the cop began moving me towards the door. It was the first time I had really looked around the room. It was almost completely empty, save for a chair, some books, and a small TV on the floor.
I realize now, I'm not writing this in that same place. How I got here evades me. This room is dark. Voices murmur through the floor. It will come to me. Back to earlier today. I must get this down before I forget the importance of it all.
In the hall, people were staring. The looks on their faces varied. Some looked on pitifully, others looked with shame, with judgement. The word sin popped in my mind again. No, it was a sin to kill yourself, which is not what I did. I didn't do it. I could have, I should have. It's her fault. The woman. My wife.
No. It can't be, it's not her fault. How could I put that on someone, anyone, especially someone I'm supposed to love, to care for.
It's me. I did this. I drove myself to this. I, me, not you, not her, me, I, that's who did it. I hate writing this, but it's true. Maybe I didn't step off the window ledge, but must have stepped off a ledge of some sort to arrive here. I was ready to do it. I was. It was in me, the strength, or the cowardice. Which one, I don't know, but one of them is true. But I was saved by her. My wife.
Her name, I didn't think of it then, but I do now. It's there, her name. Burned on my mind like a cattle brand. Ariadne.
I remember her name.
Ariadne was behind me as the officer escorted me down the winding steps of the apartment building. He didn't say a word as we descended.
In my mind I screamed my story to tell the people as I passed. I begged for forgiveness, for punishment. Anything I could to satiate my desire to not only be heard, but to have a purpose, or at least a perception of one.
Reality returned as we exited the building out on to the city street. A silence seemed to have befallen the crowd, as everyone stared in amazement. They must have thought of me as loathsome, a despicable excuse for a man. The pity of a dozen judgmental sets of eyes penetrated my very soul. A hand touched my back gently. It was Ariadne. She must have sensed my vulnerability. The feeling that she was in fact my wife was proven utterly and completely true in that moment. I yearned to redo the day, make different choices. But a cold shiver came back at the thought. I don't know what led me to that ledge. So how could I know, or even attempt to claim to know, how to avoid it. Destiny met me on that window ledge today. It changed me incontrovertibly. I felt it in my very bones.
Before I knew it, I was led to a police car. The door was open. A man in the crowd was clapping solemnly at me. I don't know what was meant by this. The sight distracted me from Ariadne moving in front. She said something softly. I can't remember now what she said. There was a sadness in her expression. She looked at me through tear-filled eyes. She kissed me gently. The memory came back, of her in the rain. I think she said she loved me. Even now, I'm not sure.
In that moment, I knew why I was on that ledge. Now, it is so clear, so tangible I can almost touch the reason. It exists, it's real, and I can see it now. I was there for her to save me.
Yes, yes that is the reason. I did want to die, at first, but there was something else, something deeper beneath the pain. It was a desire to be reached, rescued. By her, my wife. At least, that seems like what I think. I thought I had it, just then. I was so close. Perhaps I couldn't write it fast enough. It was right there, but now it's blurred.
At least I know a truth now that I didn't before. The truth is that now I don't want to die.