The Calculus of Dread

I’m blanking out, I feel it; that discomfort of staring at a blank screen. This blank text box staring back at me, utterly devoid of personality. I’m out of my element. I feel lost but I am forcing myself to finally do it – give in and conform…to what everyone else is doing: Blogging.

My brother found a binder in my parent’s attic a few weeks ago brimming with bitter, tear-stained scribbles of heart-ache and loss, valentine wishes, pictures, poems and secret notes from lovers yellowed from over a decade of acid decomposition. I sat there swallowed by this tiny time bomb, smiling as I unfolded carefully folded notes in amazement. We don’t write like we used to. We text and email now. We blog. The days of note writing are gone forever, never to return, unless that is, you’re my brother.

One particular letter in there really hit home. It was a letter sent to me from Florida by Evelio, my first boyfriend’s best friend advising me to leave him. In it he jokes, “I’m gonna marry you!” followed by a poem titled the Calculus of Dread, which is brilliantly written. I don’t know what happened to Evelio. We lost touch around 1995 when we stopped writing to each other. The poem is about death, growing old–the idea that all that is beautiful decays and is eventually swallowed by the earth under our feet.

When I think about Lawrence’s decadent pile of ancient typewriters and sheets scattered everywhere with tiny black drippings of ink on paper and I’m suddenly jealous. I am making these marks in the wind and one day they will cease to exist entirely and all that I am and have been will be forgotten while his papers will live on. There is something real and substantial about ink and paper and thoughts scribbled on napkins. There is something real and unequivocal about things written that can’t be edited, changed or otherwise taken back; that can only be erased if destroyed. Destruction itself is finite and irreversible.

I’ve burned and shredded memories; watched each note crumple like a fragile leaf under a slow flame. I’ve held on till the very end, as the heat threatened fingertips; gazed as the ink and the words and the feelings fled from the page; becoming nothing…thoughts of me, poems…declarations…destroyed, never to exist again. Somehow deleting e-mail just doesn’t feel quite the same; doesn’t carry with it the same satisfaction or sadness or weight.