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Twombly 2

 

I formulate the words, yet I’m beginning to understand that it’s you who writes the script; in it, my protests sound like Greek tragedy, the unwitting assurances of a character that is bound, by an elaborate twist of fate, to annihilate the very person she seeks to protect. You predicted that I would leave you; this is one way of looking at it. Another is to ask why, from the moment we first understood we were in love, your mind leaped ahead to the end.

I am turning this into a book, I said. Is that OK, I said. How many blog entries will you have to write, you said. I don’t know, I said. However many I need to work through this. I am writing about love because I want to understand what it is. Take a guess, you said. Eighty? I said. Oh good, you said. We aren’t even halfway there.

Another way of looking at it is this. To understand what you’re writing, you need to know how the thing will end. One day I write something, and suddenly I understand that this is how the various things it describes will come to a conclusion. All at once a circle closes and the entire conglomeration crystallizes, acquires form. But I’m not there yet, I say. I have no idea what it’s about, I say. Eighty entries, that’s halfway, you say. We still have some time, you say. I am perplexed. Are you saying it will end with the book, I say. Do you really think that’s what this is about? But what use will you have for me after that, you say.

Another way of looking at it is this. You’ve decided it’s over, or will be. You’ve written the final scene, you’ve fine-tuned the lines: they’re exquisite and sad, and you ascribe them to me. I am the character chosen to recite them, but when the moment comes I stand there, perspiring beneath the hot and blinding spots, and remain silent.

When scripts collide, it’s time to turn off the lights, to shut down the stage. There are entire stories that still need to be told, and none of them as well-crafted as a book or a play, all of them far messier than that. Half of them preserved in a kind of amniotic sac of amnesia and the other half stuck in the muck and sludge of experience, but all of it life, and very different from this.

Twombly

 

Birds everywhere, countless squeaky hinges and a single repetitive tone that sounds like a cell phone ringing. It has come to this, dear birdsong. The long-legged-insect-umbrella-like way the leaves of the great chestnut tree outside my window emerge from their tightly packed buds; the incredible softness that post-pubescent geometry unfurls into. How commonplace the miracle, and how ancient the information that enacts its annual performance.

We are at an impasse; we wish each other a good day, pace the border like sentries as we gently but firmly dissuade one another from crossing the line. You are especially keen on preserving your good manners: it is a matter of principle for you, and I try to comply as best as I can. The ache is thereby delayed, but not for long.

What is it like for you? You claim to have seen me turn a corner and not look back, yet I’ve never left, I stand here, rooted to the spot and unable to move, or to speak. A man who can see into the future and a woman who can read minds: is it possible we were both mistaken? That the future you saw in that one blinding moment was not our future at all, but a phantasm of your fear? That the mind whose signals I absorbed was scrambled by the same? How to write about this without betraying you, without betraying myself?

There are parts in each of us that still hurt so much it can even be dangerous to touch the scars. I pick at them nonetheless; like a dog caught in a vise, it’s the only way I know to free myself. I will gnaw off a part of me in the process, if necessary. Does this repel you?

Haven’t you realized by now that I only want your freedom, too? Diving into the wreck, it’s been called; you breathe differently down here. You, a diver, would understand this. We are the half-destroyed instruments that once held to a course, and no way to find that course again without plunging beneath the surface to scavenge for the fragments of whatever is left.