letters from the past. 9th february 2018

dear j.

sorry I missed your call yesterday; Penny was here, helping me get Gary’s computer sorted (well, preliminary steps, anyway; she’s got more research to do) to get it connected back to the server. The one password he didn’t store in LastPass is the root password, because obviously that, his phone password, and his LastPass password were the only ones he needed to remember to unlock everything. She’ll be able to get sudo access though, and from there, be able to reset the server. She was able to open a terminal though (zshell) and it was a beautiful thing watching his code populate the screen once again. I happen to know that his code is streamlined and super-concise; no obfuscation, no mess, but it was heartwarming to get confirmation of that from another Linux user.

I gave her three of his most favored coding books; Beautiful Data, Beautiful Code, and I can’t remember the last but she was like “are you sure? These are really expensive”. Yes, I’m sure. They’re in good, useful hands now.

welcomed.

to the lovers of my lover.

How I wish.
How I envy the decades you have had
learning this man, evolving with this man.

How grateful I am.
For your caretaking
your taking care of each other until I could get here.
I wasn’t ready.
So many things had to happen, first.
so many terrible things.
I arrived, breathless, on your collective doorstep.
Invited in but still a surprise.

From 29 august, 2021

I was going to memorialize Gary’s Facebook page on the 4th anniversary of his death.
I needed to do it today, instead. I have been reading and understanding a lot more about depression, my own and that of others. I can’t wait to do this anymore. I need to move forward in an appreciable way.

(this newest relationship has actually been since October 14th of last year; this relationship has allowed me to cultivate the strength to do this today💜💜)

Additionally, I would rather it say “in open relationships” because I am in open relationships. Come on, facebook, open up to polyamory. You allow my relationship status to say “in an open relationship”, but not give the option for multiple, for polyamory. I am #polyamorous, it is not a lifestyle it is my nature, it is who I am.

So I fixed it-ish, made the first shot here my cover photo.

water washes away

sitting in my car, rain smashing into the windshield
coming hugely into the narrow slit I’ve opened in the window
smoke hazing around the inside of the cabin

It is pouring (again)

giant crocodile tears wetting my sweater
I don’t dare lower the window any further not even to tap my ash
thunder competing with the din of the rain on my roof

I have eaten and smoked and am grateful for the help I had in making it through this day.
I am not alone.

the seventh day. 13th september 2017/2021

I never heard your voice again that last day, today.

By now (8:18am) you had already had a stroke, you were already being prepped for neurosurgery. I never heard your wonderful, delicious, boomy voice that day again, today. That voice, when it was being clever and kind, I could listen to for hours. The last time I heard your voice, a few hours earlier as I was leaving your bedside for some sleep, it was pure and true and you told me you loved me and I take that with me into Oblivion.

I have the words you wrote to me, I have the texting we were doing about the kitties, about your anticipated relief from the meds they gave you every day to soothe your terror, I told you that “they will, my love.” You did not tell me about the stroke. You saved me from that. You gave me the most selfless gift of not having to worry when worry wouldn’t help.

I know that the last words of mine that you saw were that I was coming to you and that I would see you when you got back. I have that unbelievably beautiful post that you put on Facebook that morning. I didn’t know then that these would be your last words. You were so concerned with last words you had a whole book of them on your side of the bed. You didn’t want to end up like Pancho Villa.¹

I know the last words of mine that you heard were from my mouth to yours, to your ear, my head on your chest, your hand in mine. I know you heard me because the doctor told me you could hear me. I told you you were safe, that you were loved, that you were okay. That everyone was working on you to help and that you were okay. That you were still going the right way and that I would see you soon. That I wasn’t going anywhere. I told you that I loved you. I told you that I loved you. I told you that I loved you.

I am posting this to you directly because I want certain people see it. I want to know (even though I won’t) that certain people are aware of what today is, that certain people are thinking about you.

Of course I won’t know. Of course I know that that part is a useless, useless exercise and one that will not bring me any joy. I know that that part is petty and small. And still I feel the need to do it. Perhaps someday I won’t. I believe your memory deserves to be cherished in a way that perhaps your life was not.

I have been learning how to exorcise from my life the things that do not serve me. I have been learning how to be more patient. I think you would be amazed. Truly. And yet I don’t do these things to amaze you, I do them because I am finding my way towards happiness, for truly the first time ever.

I know that every breath you ever took in and exhaled is still out there in the air, circling and eddying and dissipating and coming together again.

I know that the electricity that powered the supercomputer that was your brain and that faulty thing that was your heart is still reverberating out here in the ether, in here, inside me. I know that the ashes and broken bits of bone and teeth that I have on my bookshelves, in the room where I spend most of my time aren’t indicative of who you were, that even at their most concrete, these remains are the most ethereal ones.

Things are still so hard. The pain is getting easier to bear. I have people who love me who are helping to ease the weight. There are times when I feel you in the room with me, when I am transported for a moment, and it is comforting.

There is so much I have to tell you; so many things I need to say. So much I need for you to hear.

I am learning so much.
I need to tell you everything.

bisous,

glitter

¹ https://truewestmagazine.com/article/the-lie-of-villas-last-words/

four years/forty years

Last year I turned off Facebook memories for 2017-2018-2019 for this week beginning today. Today is the beginning of the end. Today is the beginning of the last week that Gary was alive.

So much in my life has changed in the last four years. I am not the same person who I was four years ago. I am not the same person I was forty years ago.

Forty years ago is when my bipolar disorder began to truly manifest in ways that other people could see. When my behavior became outwardly observable. Things that only I could see and feel and experience from age five were finally coming to the surface. The person that I grew into, the person that I became was by necessity, a damaged, broken, angry, fearful thing. I was shaped by my experience, by the storms inside my brain that no one could understand, but the results of which everyone could see.

The person that Gary met, she was a powerhouse. She had divorced her first and second husbands. She was taking care of her cats. She was running her own shop, she had an employee, she was working a lot. She was working out a lot. She was taking care of everything around her. She was not taking healthy self care.

She was, however, manic 24/7 and hella cute and driven.
And on fire.

She is still here, in my brain, part of The Committee. She listens mostly. Doesn’t have much to say anymore, more an observer. She sits back and nods knowingly, joint in hand, smoke curling from her lips. She is Rosie Revisited, captured in a portrait, hanging on my wall. There are times when she does speak, a forceful, if gentle “STOP IT.” I have evidence.

your author. 📷 Gary Hoffman 2002

Four years ago I was forced to stop. I became incapable of movement in any appreciable direction. The formerly driven, push-through-ahead-no-matter-how-miserable-it-makes-you person could not go any further. The “attack wife” had no fight left. I had no accountability to any other human. There was no one there for better or for worse. My life spun completely and totally out of control. I lost things, am losing things I can never get back. And yet…

I have found a new self, a calmer, more even self. I am finding the capacity for euthymia, for a happy evenness above my emotional equator. A firm-yet-squishy pleasantness that exists beyond the edges of what I smoke and carries me through the day and into my involvements with others.

I am no longer miserable.

In voicing this thought, however, there is such exquisite pain for the reality that Gary could have been helped. That perhaps he too could have finally found some measure of relief, as I have. That we just hadn’t gotten here yet in researching. That given enough time, we would have.

We didn’t have enough time. But I do.

I miss you so much.
I wish you could see me now.
I wish you could hear me now.
I wish I could talk to you.
The only thing you can do is listen.

And all I really want is to hear what you have to say.

1042a 8th august 2021, sunday

I forgive you.
I forgive you for everything.

I did not think it would ever be possible
but in this moment
bells ringing
birds singing
breezy air soft and comforting around me
there is no benefit to questioning any longer
it doesn’t matter

none of the things we said or did to one another matter now
none of the hurtful things, anyway.
you are no longer here to protest and I am too tired to do so any longer.
easier to let go

let go or be dragged.

listen, here: https://recorder.google.com/share/5161f077-5e7b-401b-9b15-565e53ccc52f

i do not know if I can take being loved this way.

Yesterday was my birthday.
I turned 53 years old.
I spent the entire weekend with people and missing people who clearly love me and who I love so much.
I spent the weekend

I spent the weekend doing familiar birthday things,
Going to the Lyndhurst craft fair as I have done for decades
(maybe half the artists this time, different layout, timed ticketing, all due to covid restrictions)
stressing out from all of the unknowns
(known and unknown, thank you D. Rumsfeld)
wanting so much for normalcy
(but what is “normal”, anyway? I certainly don’t have a fucking clue)
feeling so much that I have to explain even though I know I don’t
It seems like all I have been doing for the past three and a half years is explaining and explaining and explaining because honestly I
don’t understand any of it.
Just when I think I do I get caught off guard and none of it makes sense again.

I suppose I’m not explaining to others so much as to myself.

I miss all of the things that we talked about, all of those things that we never did.
All of the ways we responded to each other, all of the good, all of the terrible.
The contrast, I think,
the contrast is what’s killing me now.
i do not know if I can take being loved this way.

I can say things out loud and
I can say things out loud and not worry about feeling stupid for saying them.
Being made to feel stupid for saying them.
I can say things out loud and not worry about
I can say things out loud and not worry about being instantly and immediately criticized.
I can say things out loud and not worry about who might be on my side.

I know
I know for sure
I know now that you loved me but I didn’t then. I never knew for sure. I never knew from one minute to the next.
You would rescind and retract your love like the outgoing tide.
Snatch it away from me,
away from my

craven, grasping, grubby little paws

I want to forgive you for saying these things to me.
I want to forgive you for this so much.

How can I miss you so much and still be so angry at the things you did to me?
That we did to each other.

I told your sister once that I never really had an accurate sense of your feeling for me, not that I felt I could believe anyway. That I always thought you thought I was stupid and not enough and too much all at once.
That now I can look at the last things you wrote, and know.
I can look at all the small lovelinesses you left behind.
I can look at those things and know that they are real, they are proof.
Not soon enough to be able to enjoy with you, no.

The very desperate need to hold onto them

((craven, grasping, grubby little paws)screaming to the sky to talk to you
for you to hear me

I am trying so hard to do everything I can to be well.
I am still so
I am still so unwell but I don’t feel crushed by having to hold up every other damn thing anymore if only because I have given up on everything it seems)

I can look at the small lovelinesses that you left and see them for the huge gestures that they were. Everything is relative.

I can see the unexplored and forever unknown possibility of us becoming better to each other, to ourselves.
Knowing how difficult it was even in the very best of us
knowing I would not be this person if you were still alive
proving my progress to the memory of a dead man
wanting so much to escape your critical eye, your devastating words
and yet wanting to show you that I am okay
I am not okay.

Yesterday was my birthday.
I felt loved, and cherished, and adored, and so sad for what we never had.
If you could see how people treat me now.
If you could see how people love me now and aren’t afraid to say, to show.
I know you would, too.

you got one life, blaze on. 11 march 2021.

¹ “blaze on” by phish

clear, warm(ish) night, listening to music over headphones, productive day, visiting with some of my favorite people and meeting new ones. there’s some stuff rolling around in my brain; I’ve said some, but it seems too harsh, too cold to say, but it’s true.

my husband died and I was able to become who I am now.
he died so that i could live.

I can barely even say the words without wanting to smack my own face in horror, but it’s true.

I think I’ve said it out loud to maybe three people, each time thinking my own skeleton will exit my skin when I say it. I feel like I am daring myself to remain conscious, like maybe I’m dreaming.
I’m not dreaming.

I mean this is horrible shit, right? I’ll tell you something else truly terrible: on more than one occasion but fewer than ten, I confided to best girlfriends that

fuck this this is terrible.

“…no place to go but everywhere…” ²

I’d said to these women, these women all married like me, in various states of dysfunction in their own marriages and relationships, all bent and dented and damaged and nearly broken. Like me.

“…I’ve been waiting for you, in sunshine and rain… won’t you look at you now, you mad molecule…” ³

oh gods.
Oh gods.

“The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free…
…it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways” ⁴

goddammit.

I’d said to these women wtf knows how long before he died
“If he could just be gone. I don’t want him to hurt, I don’t want him to die. I don’t want anything bad for him, not pain, not suffering. I just want to stop being in so much pain.”

and now he is and now I am. Now I am

I am becoming something more than I thought I could.
I would like the dissenting voices to kindly shut the fuck up, please and thank you.

“…I just want to say I love you
And make sure you feel it every day
’cause if today had been my last chance
It’s just something I wanted to say…” ⁵

I feel like you know,
in this way that my tenses and my conversations are still fucked up three and a half years in
I feel like you know
like you see
Tonight, especially. Now.
Like right the fuck now jesus fuck.

“Well I don’t mind sleeping alone
If it means I don’t have to play your crazy games no more
You’re the most precious thing I’ve ever seen
But I ain’t gonna let it slide when you’re mean to me
I know the love that I deserve…” ⁶

Deserve is a word I take issue with.
Earned is better.

I know, but I don’t really know.

¹ https://open.spotify.com/track/2f26s2OTd5PospyTITUR0n?si=RHDDOjtxRiqb-_hFCFs0aA&utm_source=copy-link

² https://open.spotify.com/track/0ErpHxNt1kTyCQGlh43wr1?si=0J9etAiGQ1uDfhNc4TJnAg&utm_source=copy-link

³ https://open.spotify.com/track/0lhou8W3tdUpLBwEEVpO4s?si=eX_u-E_VTki88NpRpYF1Qw&utm_source=copy-link

https://open.spotify.com/track/2fFfb1YL9Qx0EYx6jnVXON?si=o3ToLSEwQqeHgI_V2vgsrg&utm_source=copy-link

https://open.spotify.com/track/54rQxr2XJZ4vf0mRyGsqAo?si=T6QCJ3DvRk2wJEPJdSv2xg&utm_source=copy-link

https://open.spotify.com/track/646NxfLugCOxvB8V2bpHu2?si=ksNzleLdSDuWglnSGGomtA&utm_source=copy-link