To Myself by Franz Wright
Just read about your adventure. And it was quite a trip! I hope you have recovered, or are recovering.
We are maybe in the same place, except that I’ve been stuck at home without energy whatsoever to do anything. I haven’t been taking care of myself and I am a complete mess. The other day I finally tried going out for a walk to clear my head. I bought some books, went to the movies. I didn’t bring an umbrella. Yesterday I woke up suddenly ill, and felt like dying. I spent the day in bed, feverish, reading a paperback I haven’t touched in two years. I can’t decide which I hate more — the sniffles, the runny nose, the whacking coughs that threaten to break my chest open, the migraines, or the chill I feel deep in my bones that intensifies when it rains. Here I am — sick not because of exhaustion from working, but because I haven’t been moving, and living. In my opinion, what you did was much healthier and I wish I could’ve thought of that too instead of wallowing.
That being said — I believe that you were very brave. I think this trip will be one of the most important things you have done in your life so far. It’s important to be alone for awhile, I’ve found. And I hope this will be the start of your annual alone-time/sojourns. You see, a few years ago I started doing this, although I haven’t found the guts to go far yet. I just book a hotel somewhere and hole up there for days. I don’t go out, I don’t shop or meet up with friends. I order room service. Watch TV. Eat. Sleep. Read. Smoke and soak in the bathtub. Those days were precious to me, and I tried to do it every year since then. I’ve missed a few — lately I haven’t been able to go. Maybe this is why I feel that something is missing in my life. Anyway — to me it’s essential that you set aside time to reconnect with yourself. Doesn’t matter if in the end you have more questions than answers (that’s life, no?). What matters is you are discovering new things about yourself that you didn’t know before, doing things you never thought you’d do, or going through something you never imagined would even happen to you. It would take time but those days alone would insert themselves into your life at the oddest moments, and you will find that the trip was worth it.
Speaking of worth, don’t worry too much about the expenses. Thinking about how much you’ve spent, and if you were foolish to put some of your savings into this thing instead of other practical things — that will just poison and sour your experience. You needed that trip more than anything. That was priceless. Believe me. The money will come back. Call me an idealist or a romantic, I don’t care — it’s just money, after all. When I went to Singapore for five days some years ago, I spent a ludicrous amount — it was also a spur-of-the-moment decision, the most impulsive that I ever made probably. By the third day I was feverish with worry, thinking, what the fuck am I doing? So I went to a store and bought a postcard. I went to the post office and sent myself a note. I was hoping that when I got home it would be waiting for me, but as usual our postal system wasn’t reliable. So I went back to my life, postcard forgotten, maybe a bit depressed and more than a little broke. And then a few days after, I got mail, and there was the stupid postcard. I have written, DO NOT REGRET THIS. I AM HAPPY AND THIS TRIP WAS WORTH IT. Or something along those lines. And it was like my past self talking to a future me, and after that I was alright.
I am repeating myself, but please know: what you did was not stupid. It was not bonkers. You are not going mad. You are, in fact, wonderfully, deliriously alive and human, and I hope another trip is in order.
Of course, not to say that all problems and issues are fixed. The withdrawal is natural, and maybe — well, this is the case with me — you would dislike this city for awhile and feel like shit because you are back here again. The fact still remains that you are here, and you need to take better care of yourself until you can leave again. So — coffee when you’re up for it? I could use the fresh air. We can just bitch about life like we did the last time, or it can be a therapy session for two. I’ll bring the tissue.
I hope you feel better, and I’m sorry if this comes across as a bit new age-y. I think I was Enya in another life or maybe someone’s mother. And—fine, dammit, even if it’s overkill—here’s a poem:
You are riding the bus again
burrowing into the blackness of Interstate 80,
the sole passenger
with an overhead light on.
And I am with you.
I’m the interminable fields you can’t see,
the little lights off in the distance
(in one of those rooms we are
living) and I am the rain
and the others all
around you, and the loneliness you love,
and the universe that loves you specifically, maybe,
and the catastrophic dawn,
the nicotine crawling on your skin—
and when you begin
to cough I won’t cover my face,
and if you vomit this time I will hold you:
everything’s going to be fine
I will whisper.
It won’t always be like this.
I am going to buy you a sandwich.
Would you believe it, I think I feel a bit better now. I am thinking, maybe this letter was for me, too. See you soon?