Friday, August 29, 2008

Morbid affection

for the last few days, while i've been missing kim, i've realized how gorgeous grief can be. i don't mean the deranging immediacy of loss. but grief, years later, has texture and substance. it's like salt licorice: acrid and sour and sweet, chewy. you want to gorge on it. grief is as besotting as desire. it is desire. it gives you a place to go that is exactly the place you want to be, and so very much better than the place you are. during a conference session yesterday i put an attentive look on my face and then wandered off to printers inc bookstore, the san francisco docks, highway 280 under the stars. yesterday afternoon, i could hardly wait to get to the gym so i could be alone with my memories.

grief's syntax is beautifully labile. remember this ... and this ... and that other time. but also: oh, he would have loved conor oberst's new album, and the DNC, and blogging. no matter that it's not true; kim's taste in music was actually terrible, he would never take to bright eyes, he would have despaired of the democrats (he did despair of the democrats). the coordinates, the conjunction -- i like conor and i like kim -- offers a new way to work the old, a shred of licorice caught in a molar, something more to chew. in this way grief is different from nostalgia, which just sentimentalizes the past. grief wants everything: the past, the present, the futures that might have been. and you want it too, want it all, can't get enough. you want sight and smell and taste and touch. you want the past in the present, life for the dead, death in life.

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