in the months before i moved to philadelphia i was certain that great new friends awaited me. i felt excited to meet them, knowing they might show up anywhere at any moment. when i arrived in philadelphia with all of my clothes and boots and books from austin and my collection of rustic mexican artwork, very few of these pieces made sense in philadelphia. i left most everything in boxes for the first three months. i got into bed and rarely got out during those months. i allowed myself to succumb to a depression that i’d been holding back for a year or longer. i let myself fall into the dark pit inside me. people closest to me knew about my depression because i had no energy to hide my sadness. my self-mocking revelation for that season was “depression is so sad.”
my father took the entire summer to die, mostly unconscious in a hospital bed. i waited with him in limbo, him in his hospital bed in austin, me in my king size bed in philadelphia. i waited for anticipated relief at his release from this earth. when he finally expired, i felt nothing. no relief, no sadness, no loss or gain. my depression remained stagnant. not worse. not better. nothingness replaced sadness.
i felt nothing for two months. i wished the nothingness resembled shock or any other stage of grief, but i wasn’t grieving.
last fall in a shifting conversation with the poetess, she helped me reframe my depression as an integration of nihilism. since adolescence i’ve understood that my pain and suffering and surviving are inherently meaningless but i had been able to keep the meaninglessness contained in an intellectual partition devoid of emotional response. at this point in life, i am despairing of the meaninglessness. this integration of nihilism is nothing new, not for me or for anyone who has traversed through this world. my singular goal of enlightenment is my focused attempt to transcend the meaninglessness or at least to suffer less from it.
i spent half the winter in austin, half in philadelphia. there was no winter in austin. patches of bluebonnets and redbud trees bloomed on the first of february. the trees continue to look like skeletons in philadelphia. blackened hills of snow are clumped along the streets.
i’ve made only one friend in philadelphia that i’ve mostly neglected this fall and winter that has become spring.
but something significant has transpired.
in the past few months i’ve deepened my friendships with my dearest ones in austin, people i’ve loved for years and never spent enough time with when i lived there full-time. philadelphia has delivered the great friendships i hoped for, but differently than expected. the newness of my friendships has emerged from a deepening commitment to my loved ones in austin. these friendships have grown stronger with cherishing recognition and devoted nurturing of their infinite value.