I’ve often considered, either in a spiritual mood or scientific, the Problem With The World. It’s that trouble lends context to comfort, that we only sleep so that we may wake again, that light means nothing without shadow. I’ve considered the hypotheses — never too seriously! — that if we all as a race united and prayed constantly for peace, we would have no war. That is not a spiritual argument — except that it is, and that it is also mathematical and scientific.
For as long as I feel it important to recall, I’ve believed the universe is in itself an organism — that biology is geology is biology is geology — and that The Problem With The World is some physical flaw. Simultaneously, I’ve always understood that pain is itself the meaning of existence — as much as pleasure might ever be. If you have two sides of one idea, each requiring the other’s context: that is love. So:
Cherish them or don’t: you co-own the most beautiful hours that will likely ever transpire in this life of mine. For a hot, dark, and then sunrising while, you and I were all of the universe.
The night I met you — we met at night! — was the night of the second worst day of my life. That day was the day after the worst day of my life. The worst day of my life was the day after a day so sad that I’ve mostly forgotten it, and therefore cannot rank it among the worst days of my life.
Ten years before those days, I decided to become an adult. I decided that the world around me was not an adventure. I left my home. I thirsted for unfamiliarity. I surrounded myself in people whose language I did not (yet) speak.
I grew up (for myself). I found employment and continued to seek purpose. My life grew sticky. I attracted love! It was not exciting; it was terrifying. It was also flattering.
Eventually trivialities intervened. A clerical error dictated that I leave one place for another. I didn’t take it seriously at first. Then: everything was gone. Then: everything was horrible.
I was exiled in paradise.
I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere.
My previous life called me on the telephone. It wanted to come back. It wanted to reason with me.
I told it: okay.
My plan was to say goodbye finally, in person.
I waited; it was painful waiting. I didn’t sleep for two days.
I hadn’t slept in three days when I met you. I hadn’t slept in three and a half days when I told you I owed her something.
“You don’t owe her anything.”
“I do owe her something.”
You didn’t agree.
Twenty-seven months have passed, and I have played my decisions in my head literally hundreds of times. I did, in fact, owe her something.
I’m sorry for being right about that.
I did not, however, make the right choice when I decided to try to pay her what I owed her.
The conventional wisdom has it that “Some debts are best left unpaid.”
I left you — I asked you to drive me to her hotel! — so that I could escort toward The End that person whose love was so dark and hard I feared it could have killed her.
I was right about another thing: I said she was leaving my life. You said she would never leave. I was right. It’s been twenty-seven months. She’s gone without a word.
I can understand how it looked to you. I can understand how it sounded. I can also understand how true it was: the person I was then needed to try to do what I tried and failed to do.
It was — I felt — about more than finishing what I had started. Maybe it really wasn’t.
Today, I want to tell you: I was right about owing her. I owe her much more than I can ever give a person.
I was also right that she would be gone.
However, I want you to know that, twenty-seven months later, on the one hundred and eighth week after we met, I have finally changed. Actually, I changed some time before now. I’m only taking the time to collect my thoughts at this moment.
The person I was then asked you, on that sweat-wet, destroyed bed, if you could drive me to meet her. This was the third time I’d asked, and the third time you said, “Why don’t you just stay here?”
Then we had the conversation again about my owing or not owing her anything.
The person I am today is as stubborn. I would ask you three times as well. However, on that third time, on that sweat-wet, destroyed bed, when you told me to stay there with you — my life was gone, anyway! — I would have said, “Okay.”
I would have closed my eyes and slept, for the first time in four days, and when I awoke, my old life would have been cleanly gone — as much as any spirit can hope for.
I admit I was terribly wrong — though at the time, I didn’t know I was also selfish.
Sometimes I am sad that I have not been selfish enough; sometimes I am sad to know that my lack of selfishness has often in fact been selfishness. So:
Again: cherish them or don’t: you co-own the most beautiful hours that are likely to ever transpire in this life of mine. We met at the right time (the lowest point of my life, a low point in yours), and we met at the right place (a tropical-hot beach at midnight), and we met as two people who were, for many strings of minute moments scattered across two short days, souls alive for one another. I loved you! I truly did. I loved you as I have never loved anyone else; I loved you in a way that made me know I had not yet loved anything else. I loved you for just those days — and for all the days after where I regretted in forensic detail my painstaking decision-failing process.
My love for you was dark and sharp. I’d been saving it for a long time.
Today I feel qualified to think that I hurt you more than I’ve ever hurt anyone. I could apologize to any of a multitude of people. Instead, I’ll apologize to you: I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you the third time. I’m sorry I didn’t fall asleep, and awake embracing your worthy adventure. I’m sorry I — like all of space — did not choose perfection. I’m sorry I let myself (and unfortunately us) learn from another mistake.
For a hot, dark, and then sunrising while, you and I were all of the universe. Of course, we did not unite to pray for peace. It was probably my fault.
I cannot forget you, or anyone. I will always love you whenever I remember you, for whatever worth you may find in that. I will love you — there, where we are still alive together — for as long as I am gone (and trying, very hard, to be better).
Congratulations on your wedding.
–tim rogers, oakland, california, 11 december 2012