A February Carol

Listening to Here with meSusie Suh & Robot Koch, I try to capture the past week. I tagged along to Italy when my supervisor went there “for good”, in order to check out the place and with the hope to get some stuff done before I myself am suppose to move there. Intentions good, this really turned out to be a bit of a emotional bummer week. 

Upon arrival in Italy, late on the Monday evening, the ghost of Februaries past decided to make a visit. The realization that something that lately had completely consumed my thoughts, somehow slipped my mind, hit me with such an emotional shock that I could feel how the blood left my face. Both faint and nauseous I started questioning what month it was (and not on the scale of February-March but along the lines of July-November). The emotional intensity of the situation was completely exaggerated, yet no means of reason seemed to free me from my breaking heart. I wanted so desperately to be better than that. Better – despite myself, fruitlessly trying to construct some lingering meaning. For days (and still) I considered rectifying the situation. But the real damage was done years ago and also the reverse – the behavior towards me, forces me to believe that whatever might have meant could no longer mean. I tried to persuade myself that maybe, just maybe, this was for the best.

At the same time someone far, far, too far away’s immediate troubles were constantly present in my thoughts. Without enough courage, or any ability for that matter, to do anything, it followed me around like a shadow dog biting my ankles as soon as I remembered. All I could do to keep myself from bleeding was running away. The struggle of how to balance empathy towards others and not letting their problems become my own, constantly present with its apparent failure. 

The ghost of Februaries present kept on giving as me and my supervisor one evening stood in the train station’s cafe drinking coffee before heading back to the living room sofa I nightly occupied. In stepped an old homeless man, his hat tattered and his fingers hardened. His movements revealed the pleasure of someone cold experiencing heat – I knew as I moments earlier, felt the same. He slowly made his way to the counter to buy coffee, I readied my purse in case he did not have enough. Subdued, actively avoiding eye contact – probably avoiding judgments from others, humbled beyond how anyone should be humbled, was his person. On the verge of tears and in rage at this world, I did not pay any attention to what my companion was saying, instead I watched the old man sip his coffee as slowly as he dared before he with a sigh and a look of surrender slowly made his way out back into the cold. Standing there my heart already broken, I wish I had offered to pay regardless of his money, but cowardice runs deep. 

On a selfish plane the ghosts of Februaries yet to come engaged me in a soul breaking battle when I was told that if I move to Italy, I will have to start my PhD from the “beginning”, locking me to this position for the next three years with no means of finishing early.This would mean that I could no longer finish in the time-frame I had intended, something leaving my already heavy heart burdened by the lack of the freedom that has always guided my decisions.

Threefold temporal troubles defined the past week. Bathed in guilt, compassion, fear and cowardice, and despairing confusion about the time cage possibly waiting in Italy. All the problems lingering, with no resolve. 

It was really quite the bummer week. 

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