When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him.
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
I need sex.
I need a weekend in bed wrapped up in heat and sweat and lust. I need my body to shake with passion. I need to find myself in another person and for them to find themselves in me. I need the world to shrink to the space between us. I want my mind to be consumed with the pursuit of pleasure. I want to lose control.
My libido has woken up and I’m starting to obsess. It is making me reckless. The devil in me is starting to flirt with danger. I’m taking dates that I know I shouldn’t because I’m beginning to chase the thrill. Right now I’m in control. But I’m like an addict on the verge of a relapse, any day now I’m going to take the hit and to hell with the consequences. I can feel it drawing closer.
I want the anticipation. The flash of flesh in a low-lit room. The touch of lips on skin. The sound of a breath catching in a throat. A hand around my wrist. Desire searing through my veins.
Taking me higher.
Taking me harder.
Taking me over and over again.
It is funny how loss can blindside you. Most days I think I’m fine. I think I’m over it. I tell myself I don’t care that you are gone from my life. And then something will happen and the whole illusion comes tumbling down.
The most recent instance was when I was flicking through the first book. Most of it doesn’t make sense to anyone but you and I. The vast majority of it is nothing but messages between us, late night ramblings on MSN about everything and nothing.
I shouldn’t keep it really. I should burn the whole fucking thing and be done with it. But I tell myself that it is a record of that time, it reflects who I was then and how I have grown and so I keep it and occasionally allow myself to torture myself with it. I hate how pathetic I was. A girl so in love with the wrong world.
I found a message where you asked me if I thought we’d be friends forever.
I replied that we’d been through so much, survived so much turmoil (mostly instigated by me and my inability to deal with my feelings for you). We’d always found a way to move past it, to keep walking the path, I thought there was nothing the world could throw at us that we would not overcome.
Until it did.
As is the way of these things, the final straw was actually a rather minor matter. It could have easily have been overcome if either of us had been so inclined. But I think that I had reached the very end of my tether and you were so concerned with protecting your carefully constructed world that neither of us had the will to carry on.
So we walked away.
I had always said you were my heroin and so it proved in those first few days of cold turkey. Perhaps in my mind I thought that the silence wouldn’t last, that one of us would crack and make contact. That had always been that way of it before. I was determined that it wouldn’t be me. Not this time. You had overstepped the mark by miles and cut me deeper than I thought possible. I knew I’d get through it, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be the one to come crawling back.
And then weeks passed and still the silence continued. By then I had started to get perspective. Just like an addict I looked at how I was when I was in contact with you and I realised that I didn’t really like that person. I didn’t want to be that girl. I needed to get clean. You might have been the fire that set my soul alight but the blaze had grown out of control and burnt my whole fucking life down to the ground. Before that I had thought I needed you in my life.
Then came the realisation that I needed you like a fish needs a bicycle.
You needed me because I fed your ego. And while you were busy chasing bright lights and cheap thrills, you knew that I would be a safe place to confess your sins. You lived your adventures and revelled in telling me of your conquests. You said that you needed my wisdom. I think you that you wanted someone who would listen to your boasting and bragging and lap it up. I was the fool that couldn’t get enough.
That is until we had our own adventure. A journey that started by the storm torn seas of San Francisco, through the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, to the neon signs of the City of Sin and back again. Months later I finished my rendering of that story and that was the thing that finally killed our friendship.
I had tried to portray our experiences as accurately as possible. You accused me of trying to destroy your life. Of course, you had gone back to your ex. Of course you had. Your same old safe bet. And you thought I was so full of desire and longing for you that I would tear your world apart to make you mine. For once in our friendship I had all the control and that scared the life out of you. Like a cornered animal, you lashed out. You didn’t need to do that. All you had to say was,
‘Please Eden, I love your book, but keep it for us. No-one else.’
And I would have done that. I would have done that in a heartbeat. I never need it to be shared with the world. I just wanted a memory of you, of our adventure. For us.
But to accuse me to being this vicious, manipulative bitch. In that moment you utterly shattered my heart. You proved to me that you didn’t know me at all. You didn’t understand a single atom of my soul. And just like that bit in Labyrinth where Sarah realises that everything is junk and the walls start crumbling around her, I realised that this version of you that I had created was nothing but a simulation.
You weren’t this strong, wise, creative soul. You were just another scared boy who would fight tooth and nail to protect this bourgois fantasy you’d woven for yourself.
You didn’t care about Truth.
My book of our adventures was nothing but a mirror and when you saw it held up to your life you hated the reflection. You blamed me. You wounded me. I was so tired of battling your ego that I decided to withdraw.
I knew it would hurt me, I knew it meant leaving my book and everything I worked for behind. But I knew that if it meant I was free of you it was worth it. I needed to break the power you had over me.
And let me make it perfectly clear…
You have no power over me.
I may say that I miss you. I may say I wish to walk and talk and dream with you. But the ‘you’ that I want to do that with doesn’t exist. He never did. He was a figment of my imagination that was built on the fragments of fleeting memories. I took a real person – you- and rebuilt him into something that was worth my time and energy and love. You are not him and he is not you. You are a knave and he is a knight.
I believed your lies. Sometimes I got so lost in the illusion that I forgot reality. Blinded by deceit, I chose the door that led to certain death.
Now I’m reborn and my spirit is free. I know who you are and I am remembering everything I am.
This is a new beginning.
Golden sandy dune, indigo twilight sky. A familiar voice, a flood of relief.
He paced in front of me, kicking sand with his feet.
‘Have you any idea how much trouble you have caused? Any idea at all? Jesus Fucking Christ Eden. You’ve surpassed yourself this time! Talking to people about it? Uploading it online? Trying to attract attention to yourself in the biggest way possible! You would have been in a coma within a second of hitting return. You could have been lost forever, so you’d better have a pretty fucking good explanation prepared because you have pissed a lot of people off. Me especially. Well?’
I bit the side of my cheek, trying to avoid his gaze. I missed you, I thought.
‘You missed me? You missed me? You destroyed the world because you missed me? Well, that’s alright then! The entire history of civilisation, humankind, everything. Erased, all gone. Because you missed me? Any other repressed feelings you’d like to share? Despair perhaps? Or misery? I’m sure that I have a few galaxies lying around not doing much that would benefit hugely from a dose of your emotions. You stupid, selfish moron!’ He grabbed me and shook me harder than I would like.
Anger rose in my chest and I shoved him away from me. ‘ You know, you are usually far nicer to me in this world. It’s been a pretty shitty day truth be told, the very least I’d expect is that my dream-you would be a little kinder.’
‘Oh holy fuck, you think you are dreaming? Have you completely forgotten what is going on here?’
‘What’s going on here is that you are pissing me right off.’ I started walking away.
He caught up to me and gazed deep into my eyes. ‘Seriously Eden, have you forgotten what is going on?’
I shrugged, ‘What is going on?’
‘Fuck!’ He kicked the sand and muttered, ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck. You’ve been under too long’.
‘Too long for what? What the hell?’
‘Hell. Exactly.’ He shook me again, ‘Eden, seriously, I need you to remember’.
‘Remember what? You are talking crazy. And to be honest you are scaring me a little’.
‘I can’t tell you. It has to come from you. You have to trust me. You don’t need to be scared – well actually you do- but not if you remember. Quickly.’
‘Trust you? Are you kidding? Almost everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie’.
‘If it wasn’t I wouldn’t need you to trust me. Please. Try.’
‘I am trying’, I said through gritted teeth. ‘But you’re not exactly being helpful.’
‘You’d be surprised.’
‘Really? If this is helpful, can we skip obtuse?’
‘You know, you are really quite funny when you are angry’.
‘Can you fuck off and starting talking sensible?’
He sighed, ‘No. I can’t and you have no idea how much I wish I could.’ He leaned forward and touched his forehead to mine. ‘The point is you have to remember. That is the key to everything’.
‘The way you said everything, it sounded like everything. Trust me, nothing in my head is that important.’
He squeezed my hands. ‘You are going to wake up now. You cannot forget that you need to remember. You have to take this memory with you’.
‘You said I wasn’t dreaming!’
‘I might have lied’.
‘I hate you’.
‘I often feel the same. Now…wake up Eden’.
A month ago I lost my mind.
I can’t remember if this is the fifth or sixth time now. I’m not sure that keeping count of the times my brain has lost its grip on this world is particularly helpful or constructive. I used to try and hide it, insulate myself from the world for two weeks and wait until the storm passed and I could emerge as if nothing had happened. Since I am not the most sociable of creatures, often it could be concealed to all but those closest to me.
Every episode has common features: reality becomes elastic, time reveals itself as nothing but an illusion and the walls between worlds feel thinner. Thin enough that if I were to find just the right spot and I were to push hard enough, I could slip through into an alternate reality. I always thought that in that other world our love was a certainty.
But now I am not so sure.
Something changed this time around. This madness blew in on a different wind. Or maybe when it blew in I was a different person. This time, along with the chaos it has brought clarity. Our story was never our story. It was never about you and me. It was about me finding myself. You were just the conduit by which I entered the labyrinth. You were the sledgehammer that destroyed the old version of me so that I could build myself into a better, wiser person.
Perhaps there is even more to it than that.
When we found each other again the last time around, the final time around, I was just beginning my study of philosophy. My books were talking to me of Jung and synchronicity and then you were back in my life and talking to me about Jung and synchronicity. In my head 2 + 2 = 5. I thought that everything was pointing to you. But what if you were just there to point me to the message the universe was trying to tell me?
If you were the white rabbit, I was so busy chasing you that I completely failed to discover Wonderland.
But now you are gone and Wonderland keeps calling. I think that perhaps it is time to find out if I am the right Alice.
Pride has stopped me taking this path. I thought that without my friend beside me, the journey was meaningless. The truth is that the journey now has more meaning. This was a path that could only have been walked alone. I clung to you like a child to a toy. I clung to the pain of losing you as proof that I wasn’t strong enough to face life alone. My sunken dream was all the evidence I needed.
My sunken dream is evidence that I was on completely the wrong path. You were a minor detour to teach me harsh but necessary truths so I could become who I needed to be. I set my sights far too low. I moulded myself to your beliefs. You were the chrysalis that bound me.
Now the blood is pumping into my wings and I’m fighting to break free.
No more running away from who I am. No more running from what life is trying to teach me. No more pretending to be someone I am not.
Each madness is a moment of transformation. An invitation to leave myself behind. A time to strip myself down to the atoms of my sense of self. A chance to rebuild myself as the person I want to be.
Eden version 7.0
Who am I now?
Someone who still believes in magic.
Yes I do.
Of course I do.
Above all things, Love.
The truth is you have broken me. It’s been almost nine years since I last saw your face and your voice caressed my ears. Nine years since the thrill of your drug raced through my veins. Nine years of building a wall around my heart to stop it being broken by love again. Thinking about it, I wonder if I built those defences to stop the pain getting out. The pain of your absence is the only part of you I have left.
It’s not like there haven’t been other men. My marriage was destroyed, that was inevitable. So I chased other prey. Once a hunter, always a hunter. There was the cliched relationship with a younger man, a couple of shameful one night stands and a particularly appalling situation where I was left feeling dirty and used by someone to whom I never should have given a second of my time. The inescapable truth is that each and every time I was trying to chase the high you had given me.
I should have listened when we walked under the stars and you warned me of the dangers of love. Maybe I should never have contacted you again at all. Now I walk like a wraith in the wreckage of my life and I wonder what would have happened if our story had ended twenty years ago in that field. If San Francisco had never happened, if I could delete every word we had written to each other, would I be happy now? You took me higher than I ever believed possible. Is the devastation of that loss worth the fading memory of the ecstasy?
The night we first slept together ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘ was playing in the background. If I could erase and rewind it all, would I?
I want to love again. I want to feel something again. Anything.
I don’t know how to start piecing the shattered remnants of my heart back together. I don’t even know if it is worth trying anymore. Before you, I believed that love was the only truth worth discovering. Now I think perhaps ignorance is a kindness.
Plug me back into the Matrix. Let me take the blue pill. Wake me up when it’s all over.
And yet, somewhere deep down in my soul there is the tiniest glimmer of hope that tells me to take a chance at life again.
You are gone and these ramblings are the last fading echoes of our story. The final purging of a tale that must find an ending. One day I’ll stop writing and begin to live again. Every tap of the keys is a step towards being clean of you. I long for the light.
Silence will fall.
I remember a night when we walked under the stars. We talked of love. You had been its victim and I was a dreamer seeking adventure. You said that you had parcelled your heart up in a cage, put it on a train and you were running as fast as you could in the opposite direction. You didn’t care where you were heading as long as it was as far as possible from the pain and chaos of love.
I begged you to reconsider.
I told you that love was the most exquisite drug, the only high worth chasing. You said it was like heroine, a temporary fix that would wreck destruction upon my world.
I said love was the air in my lungs and its breath set me free. You replied it was the sickness consuming us from within.
I thought love was the divine spark that set our souls on fire. You told me it was it was an inferno that burnt everyone to ash.
‘That’s your pain talking,’ I whispered. ‘It doesn’t have to end like that.’
‘Love is pain. There is no alternative ending.’
‘I can’t believe that.’
‘You will. One day you will.’
‘Love is worth the sacrifice.’
‘You don’t know what you are talking about.’
‘Then show me’
‘You don’t want that. I don’t want that.’
‘You don’t want me.’
‘You have no idea,’ you sighed.
‘You don’t want to believe that I love you.’
‘You love the idea of love.’
‘You love pushing me away’.
‘I’m saving you from yourself.’
‘I don’t need your protection.’
‘If only that were true.’
‘Why are you being like this?’
‘Love did this. I’m trying to stop it doing the same to you.’
To avoid reality I dream. To reveal the reality of myself I dream.
The sky is indigo. The hour is late. My screen flashes yellow. I scan my fingerprint and it unlocks. A message awaits. It reads – Return to the Labyrinth
We’ve been here before you and I. Centuries ago you would have slipped away from your servitude on the whim of relief. Across the mud and dirt you would have appeared at the threshold of my door. The floor inside strewn with flotsom of a million adventures. The rose petals, the animal skins, blood scattered papyrus, and cracked and tarnished halos.
The sign above my door says ENTER. One simple word. It is a command, an invitation, a challenge. There is no warning. No words could contain the beauty and terror of what lurks within.
Everyone knows that something strange happens here. This is the road that leads to nowhere and everywhere. This is the place that vampires become victims. This is where pilgrims journey looking for saints and leave broken by their sin. Some that travel here never leave at all. Many are lost within these walls.
This is the labyrinth within and without the heart.
Tonight the threshold is the screen and the floor is lines of code. I let the book slide from my lap. ‘The Unfinished Tales of Uqbar’ falls to the ground. The clock on the wall carves out the seconds of this soul asylum but as I open the screen we have already fled. In the virtual arena a few zeroes to the left and our identities are changed. Binary is the mask that disguises us. I begin to type out a world where we belong. The landscape of our escape is the space between words.
Here the present is infinite. The past is nothing more than a fleeting memory. A ghost in a fog of misfiring synapses. The future is the untyped arrangement of endless possibilities. The truth is just a fragment of the whole.
Ever present, it leaks back to us. It leaks back in legends, in myths, in dreams. All we have to do is remember.
We enter the labyrinth as fools seeking paths not yet determined. We find ourselves in dead ends, we catch ourselves in our own traps. When we think it is over, it has only just begun. There is always a new possibility. There is always a hidden door. Take nothing for granted.
What is it I have to remember?
I build this reality.
This is the maze of my imagination.