outwait outrun outwit


an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
& other curiosities :: profile


Yesterday a zephyr visited, flowing through the house, carrying dandelion fluff and birdsong, and stirred me to try on dresses that recall other summery landscapes and events. I put on a yellow dress printed with white flowers, unworn since a wedding last year in Athenry, a medieval town laid out quizzically for the modern pedestrian, as complex as the heraldic crests carved into its ancient gravestones. Only fifteen minutes before donning the yellow dress, I had been wearing a white blue-striped dress, last worn in Crete, on a day so hot we retreated into our hotel room, to coffees and pastries and books about unhappy people in snowy landscapes. Dresses are personal histories, summoning days of revelry and ritual and composure with their folds and colours. In garbing myself in the recent past, I wonder if I am turning nostalgic.

Although I often trawl my past in remembrance, I forbear sentimental visits to certain ruins—of friendships, for example—for they are dangerous, fraught with failed intentions and destroyed hopes; so often it was I who failed and destroyed, I was the saboteur of our intimacy. Impossible things are nostalgia’s objects of longing; there are so many in my life, and if I turned to regard them all, I’ll become a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife looking back at Gomorrah. I can only concentrate on the present, on breakfast, novels, and my dog’s doings.

So I leave those impossible things behind, even when an email comes out of the blue, from someone you’ve known since you were 20, stretching out a gesture of renewal, illuminating the past with a shining strobe on those dark and wretched ruins, the source of misery and sorrow, and all you feel is a shame that compels you to archive the email, as if that act would efface it, and you can go on with your life, free from that responsibility, if not to others, than to this particular person. By archiving it, you achieve a semblance, if not the reality, of equilibrium.

Does it work? No, of course not. It’s still there, easily unarchived, readily summoned, calling you to respond, to feel not just shame, but also hope and love and all the worthy things that even the most difficult person deserves.


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