My grandfather will die soon. We’ve known for a while but now this certainty has a time frame: “within the week.” I imagine him now propped up at an angle in a bed in a hospital in Baguio, a wristband indicating DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) hanging below the tattoo on his forearm of a lady in a grass skirt. He doesn’t have the strength to tighten his fist, to make her dance.
The news came on Saturday, only hours after learning that the older brother of a friend from high school committed suicide. My parents ditched their vacation to jet from Hong Kong to Singapore to Manila to Baguio to get to him as quickly as possible. I took the A train home. I listened to sad music. I tried to sleep. I rolled out of bed. I went to work.
Near the end of my shift, the loathsome radio started playing “Hotel California.” The store is dead quiet when The Eagles spit out the lines, Some people dance to remember/ some people dance to forget. This prompted a purchase of whimsy - a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah/Carmenere blend I had picked out for my father when I went to visit my family in the fall. This is a wine I have sold to customers as being like “a warm blanket,” or “a big hug.” The bottle weighs, like, two pounds with broad shoulders but the wine itself is soft and mouth-filling. Dark chocolate, blackberries, herbal spice. I share the bottle with my roommates, distracted, and take the last glass into my bare room. I think and then, I remember.
I have made two New Year’s Resolutions. One, use people’s names more often. Two, get on Tumblr again. The second one is ridiculous, but I’ve been trying to get in the habit of writing again but every time I sit down by my window with the sun pouring in, a cup of tea or whiskey or last night’s wine on the sill, I get so caught up in the idea of writing that I hardly get anything down. Writing for an audience might be the sort of pressure I’ve been lacking.
Anyways, I’ve been listening to a lot of “slowcore” the last few months. I lay some blame on one of my co-workers, who has smuggled Kinder Eggs over the border and thinks he might be dead, since he introduced me to Codeine. Also, it appeals to various ideas I’ve been forming in regards to deliberate action, empathy, and statuary.
Sad music’s coming people. Just thought you should know.
Everyone should read “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. It’s been heavy on my mind lately.
Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be performing Dmitri Shostakovich’s 8th string quartet - my last major chamber music performance. Tuesday will be my last orchestra concert and probably the last for many years. A week previous, I conducted a full orchestra for 15 minutes and I might never have that opportunity again. This weekend will be my last acting gig. And while I intend to continue writing poetry, last weekend was a very certain end to my life as a college poet when I was a contestant for an intercollegiate competition at Mount Holyoke. In a farewell note given to me by the college liaisons they ended by saying “you seem a true Renaissance man to us.”
It’s funny now, looking at that sentence and considering all of these “lasts,” these finalities. I chose to come to Sarah Lawrence because I would be allowed to do everything and all at once. But now, I realize I couldn’t keep it up. It’s like in that recent chapter of Naruto.
At least I didn’t die at the cost of trying to live up to an impossible ideal like Itachi or inadvertently turn my little brother into possibly the most wanted criminal in the ninja world - but I have lost and I have caused others to suffer. As graduation approaches I’m letting things go. I’m not trying to be perfect anymore. I realize I prefer a slower life anyway - I’m just going to focus on doing what needs to be done, on the people who are important to me, and on enjoying my time.
Because one thing’s for sure - I don’t want to screw up so badly ever again from such a self-obsessed complex and only come to realize it after I’ve been resurrected by a disillusioned half-snake orphan man.