Only the Animals [Jessica Caldas]
Tuesday April 26th-
my sister called me to tell me the husband of someone she knows has died. That he has committed suicide. She is shaken, anxious. We talk about what she can do to become calm again. she says she will shower. After we hang up she texts me that she is too hot to shower and I ask her if she is okay. She says she is, but it’s hard to know in a text. She tells me to tell our brother, who is crashing with me while he figures out his next move, that she loves him.
Sunday, May 1st-
my sister is going to the memorial and is once again an anxious mess. I tell her to text me as much as she needs. I don’t hear from her for several hours until I get a text saying that “he was a twin” and “his twin brother is here.” My sister and I aren't always very alike, but in this moment I know exactly what she must be thinking. We text non stop a few hours, our conversation diving into our depression and the ways we have handled the worst parts of it, how we have both thought about not existing, about death and dying.
“It’s always there”
“Acknowledging it and knowing it’s there makes it easier”
“Take away the fear”
“Existing is so hard”
“It takes so much effort everyday”
“Why wouldn’t you have known”
“Why didn’t I tell you”
“I was so ashamed”
“There is this whole part of my life..it never would have existed if I did it”
“But it feels like it’s constantly lurking”
“I have everything I’ve ever wanted...It’s why the lurking freaks me out”
“I think we are aware of it even when we don’t talk about it”
“Even for us it’s hard”
“How do you tell anyone”
“If it ever happens, just tell me and we keep talking everyday until you don’t feel that way”
Tuesday, May 3rd-
“‘Death is not something to worship now that you are adults,’ the matriarch warned. ‘It is the province only of the very young to want things to work out badly. The souls in the sky live only as long as we remember their stories. Beyond that there is nothing, not for them nor for us.’”
I’m rereading parts of Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey, which I read a year and a half ago in Australia. My favorite chapter is the soul of the elephant, but I had forgotten the story is about twin elephant girls who grow up worshipping the stories of their ancestors deaths and then die together.
Is depression and wanting to die sometimes, or more accurately, not wanting to exist, a kind of worshipping of death? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. Is it juvenile? I am positive it isn’t. I know far more adults who don’t want to exist than children. But my desire for oblivion was born young so I’m not really sure about this either.
It is about love? Loving yourself or not. Loving others or not.
I remember being struck by Donald Miller’s opening quote in Blue Like Jazz, another book I reread almost two months ago, and thinking about love.
“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”
Loving yourself. Letting other people love you when you can’t. Letting people show you how to love you.
Maybe existing is like loving. Existing is like loving.
Probably because I read this book so closely to reading I love dick at the Blue Mountain Center, it occurs to me to look up everything I wrote down from that book. But I’m disappointed because reading through the quotes reminds me that the book, the language, is focused on how we love someone else.
(recorded October 2014)
Pg. 54 “The sex-infatuation came after already knowing them quite well, adorning them and wanting to be with them in other ways. Whereas the sex-infatuations that’re male leapt out of nowhere, based on not knowing them at all. As if sex could provide the missing clues. Can it? In the cases of the male it’s like I felt some kind of hint of who that person was floating underneath the surface. Wanting sex to realize things I knew..and it hurt cause what turned me on in sex was believing that they knew me, that I’d found somebody to understand.”
Pg. 131 “That I don’t want to be the person who always knows anymore, who has the vision for two people and makes the plans. I never understood before people who would do this (i.e. turn their lives around)-I thought it was idle, self indulgent, another way of just avoiding doing things or the world. But will, belief, breaks down...and now I do.”
Pg. 245 “I had shown somebody both side of my life. Told him everything as sincerely and truthfully as I could. Take immense pains to explain things about my submerged life that really were disgusting and never could possibly see the light of day.”
It’s not unrelated to how we love ourselves. And obviously tied to how we exist. But it’s not what I was looking for.
What book is written entirely about loving yourself?
Advice for loving others is kind of like advice for loving yourself.
(recorded March 24th)
“It is not so incomprehensible as you pretend, sweet pea. Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and ‘loaded with promises and commitments’ that we may or may not want to keep. The best thing you can do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love. And, Johnny, on this front, I think you have some work to do.
But before we get to that, I want to say this, darling: 'I sort of love you.
'We’re all going to die, Johnny. Hit the iron bell like it’s dinnertime.' "
-Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
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