What is love?

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Part 1, January 2016

It’s that 90s song. What is a parrot to his pirate? A departed soul mate reincarnated on their shoulder whispering reminders to live like a fucking badass? Keep yerself afloat girl. Over the holidays I was hanging with my friend who needs to move back from the desert four years ago. At one point she’s like so Neesh who’s your hotling bling these days? The question threw me off. But then considered it and realized the answer: my therapist. Oh boy that kinda year, at least I discovered crying in front of a mirror. Part of me went missing around 10:30 one night last June. Then a friend and I walked to pizza while I turned into the weeping willow. He brought two slices to the table and spilled all the red pepper on his because someone didn’t tighten the cap. We were a mess. Since then I’ve coated all the sidewalks with tears. San Francisco is not that big, it’s walkable and pretty, it would be rude not to. But the best place for crying is in front of a mirror and probably the one in my apartment. Whenever I get that feeling in my stomach I go there and hold my face in my hands and stare into my eyes. It’s mesmerizing to watch your face tremble, to witness the alchemy of pain which begins invisibly churning in the trenches of your soul, makes its way up over the bottom eyelids to fall as tears down your face. It’s underwhelming and loud at the same time. Except also quiet and fucking consuming. I’ve cried in the back seat of many Ubers and on the ferry deck with my hair down in the wind like it belongs in that Adele video. Still, save it for the mirror if you can. There’s really no telling when and where and how much. After enough times I wondered what I must look like to the good people of SF. All I know for sure is that when part of you is missing you’re not crying like anything. Just crying. I mean, they might as well be unicorn tears. If Bon Iver intercepted my headphones he would get a restraining order. Since that day I’ve listened to Skinny Love like four thousand times a day. Is there even enough time in the day for that? With the reservoir of unicorn tears I’ve got, I can pause time and do a bunch of other cool shit and pretty much anything.

That day heaven took a guy – one who the day before was still on earth next to me, reminding me to upload all my weird music onto an old iPod for him. I loved him so much it was inevitable. The kind that leaves no doubt who, why you are. Pessimism is dismissed in this realm, suddenly the world is colorful and everyone in it good. People have tried to talk me down but simply, nothing makes it ok. Now it’s impossible to make peace with each memory pulling the reigns on my feelings, the times I refused to open up and just say it back. For what? What the fuck was I waiting for? Retrospect can be a motherfucker that leads you to a dark, empty beach, strips your clothes, your beauty, your purpose, palms the back of your head and shoves it repeatedly into the sand till you’ve tortured every decision in your life that brought you there. Time has disappeared with my face in a pillow or pressed into a wall swearing I will treat those words like ramen for the rest of my life. You can’t save that shit for later. The concept of too late hits you like an invisible boulder that randomly gets dropped on your heart. Where does that leave me? It’s gonna be a hole. I flew 5000 miles to Tokyo to get the answer from a wise friend. You’ll be like spongebob, she said. What do I do with it? Decorate it, she said. On my last night she played a Nick Hakim song that extracted another wall of tears, and left me with difficult words to reconcile: love doesn’t happen often. Losing it targets every cell in your body. Everything hurts and nothing matters, people ask how are you and it’s a loaded question. I need your help, I need words. I need to find the part of me that’s missing, maybe you can help me look under some rocks, or make phone calls to people who know some people who are good at finding things. Sometimes it’s hard to articulate. By sometimes, I mean every waking moment. You bury the weight of every word in your sentence and nothing comes out. Because nothing matters, it’s impossible, he’s not here anymore.

Sounds may be the only thing that don’t suffocate in the grasp of grief. They pad the lack of explanation, especially when I’m removed to a perspective so far away looking down at earth. Cryptic beats and soft voices knead pain, often better than all

these words that will dry up on the skin

just like a name I remember hearin

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Part 2, January 2017

Well? It’s been an era of no makeup days, probably gonna cry it off anyways. Life became surrender, being frozen like that. Then the ice cracks and there’s a window to rediscover what matters again.

With unforgiving circumstances it was complicated. Partly because it happened so fast, all in. It was a lot in 10 weeks. Each week became a different chapter, the days in New York their own book. You love me I can tell, he said. I was going to tell you on top of the Empire State Building. You’re ridiculous, he said. We sat on a bench at 43rd and 6th narrating peoples lives, like the delivery guy stopped in his van at the corner, windows down. His stereo getting louder like fuck yeah Bruno Mars, this is the fucking jam. Dude, for that guy every day is the best day of his life. Nothing is permanent but 43rd and 6th avenue in Manhattan will always be that. The moment you realize you’re melting and floating in their arms.

We collected a few Michelin stars, hardly any photos together. Of the few friends I updated, one remarked he was living like he was going to die. I sent him the What Is Love? music video. He sent back Be My Lover by La Bouche. Who sent you? Thank them. There is no gravity when you’re here, please be here forever. I had plans to go to Bonnaroo when he died five days before I was supposed to leave. I was wheeling my suitcase around Nashville when I found out the service would happen while I was gone. The same friend said he would probably be at Bonnaroo over his own funeral. I tried to continue life like normal. I tried to do Bonnaroo like there wasn’t a huge hole through my body. It was rough. When I got back I hallucinated sliding off the foot of my bed for a week and I’ll never be able to listen all the way through Unsteady by X Ambassadors without turning into a puddle of emotion on the ground.

I followed through on as many plans as I could which lasted about 6 weeks. I couldn’t do things. Even those I did, I couldn’t fully do them. I stopped counting how many bars I’ve run away from unable to hold it together. My mojo went into hiding. The demons… fuck them. The memories, they’re like holograms, I’ve reached for them so many times and my arms fall through empty air. It lands a mild shock to the core. I met with one psychotherapist who referred me to another, revisited an emdr therapist, a hypnotherapist, massage therapists, yoga classes, basketball, dodgeball, surfing, airplanes, stoic philosophy, headphones and running shoes. Writing this shit. When there’s too much unanswered we turn away, and we can’t retreat inward and make it without music.

It’s a year and a half now. Still no restraining order from Bon Iver, and Nick Hakim is finally touring. I am quietly perpetuating the idea that Jamie XX is a genius. The pain is still and never going away, you get used to it is what they say. I didn’t know it was possible to cry this much. I’ll never forget what it was like to be that delivery guy.

How the fuck are we supposed to hang on to and let go of those who leave us? Yes, life is hard. Listen to these songs. I’ll be a badass till we meet on the other side.

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