by Ethan Seavey
I haven’t had a moment for words in weeks. I’ve been drowning myself in the minutia that sums into minutes. I take a nap. 30 second videos and 30 minute episodes on a screen my eyes strain to see. I spend half an hour making food and another eating it.
I feel the conflict within myself. I feel my body begging for satisfaction, for a good night’s rest and a home-cooked meal and a dozen eggs every three days and a good bowel movement. I treat the body like a puppy. I turn on Netflix and put my mind on autopilot: then bathe the body, cook for the body, bring the body to water, tuck the body into sleep. I treat it to plenty of walks and treats and it is happy.
But the mind suffers. It has to take care of the body and the person, Ethan, who needs to email this person and text that person. The brain must schedule this, and sign that. Plan and plan and plan for the future and block out the past and all the while the brain is itching for the phone.
The cure-all is scrolling. To watch more content online and be totally full of information and stimulus. The brain has no need to think for itself, to relieve the stresses causing my anxieties.
The soul, it’s the least important. It brings me security during the day to say I’m a writer and it relieves me at night to tell myself that I’m too tired to write today. The soul understands that I’m fighting a war here. The soul understands that it’s mostly a source of pain these days, and that to turn it off is easier. My soul’s really only satisfied as I sleep, as I dream of touching love’s skin and feeling safe, like I’ll never roll off the bed.
“Missing” doesn’t feel like I expected it to. Actually, nothing feels like I expected, except for sadness and fear. Missing or longing is an instability you’re forced to contain. My boyfriend is in Tel Aviv. I am alone and in a Parisian dorm room with a large panel of glass that only opens a few inches at the top.
It’s cold outside and it’s raining. I can tell without getting up from my bed. I hear the constant buzz from the Periphery. I think about leaving but to get anywhere I need to walk to the train and wait for it. The idea is very cold and as the sun sets I realize that I’ve missed my chance.
I look at my phone. Right now it is essentially my boyfriend. It is my access to love but it has been designed so that instead of supporting connection, I fall into a hole of content that numbs me up like a shock blanket. I rewatch a minute-long video of a watermelon being exploded by rubber bands; I watch a poorly acted prank video; I watch an hour-long video on a movie I’ve never seen.
I’ve forgotten to check my texts, and now my boyfriend’s asleep. And the phone is wide awake. Its light is soothing and distracts you. Missing is pain. Pain can be ignored.
A lot can be ignored, but often that makes you feel sicker. I know what to do. I need to wake up tomorrow and take out a notebook and write. I need to watch the body and the soul at once, raise them as twins. And I need to miss my boyfriend properly and I need to allow myself to do so.
But I’m so tired, and tomorrow isn’t good for change. I fall asleep holding my phone.
Happiness is stillness with a spot of sunlight on your cheek. It comes briefly after a deep dark night spent dreaming about the man you love.