Sunday, November 15, 2009

Preface: The Return of Color

I prayed to God, God couldn’t be bothered. The Buddha remained Gone Beyond. Who showed up was Clarice Lispector (died, Brazil, 1977), wrapped in a shawl the green of dragonflies and looking entirely ferocious. She had no tolerance for self-pity. She took me by the wrist. She used her nails. The door was flung open. She led me out of the house, away from the alcohol and the collection of benzodiazepines. “You are going to the park,” she said.

Ten days later, out the door of the Malaysia Hotel in Bangkok. The taxi cabs are flamingo pink, the motorbike men wear orange vests and the vendors blue caps. Everywhere death has not been nailed down there is green. I clutch the door frame. The guard (pink shirt!) smiles encouragement.

Sweet Mary Mother of God: someone has turned on the color.

Depression is such a misleading word I wonder if the government isn’t somehow behind it. “Panicked frenzy of self-loathing” is somewhat more accurate, but I prefer to vote with tradition and say demons. And I do not believe in demons either – but try telling that to them.

The demons steal away the color, the world goes out of reach – it can be bumped against, it cannot be touched. What remains is a flabby putrefied fly-swarmed maggoty self. The easiest test for depression is with a mirror: check for a corpse. (This also works the other way. Occasionally I think I’m just adorable. And this is a very dangerous sign.)

The demons are not impressed by prayer. They like to see me beg and bang my head against the floor. The demons like liquor and adore psychiatry. In Tokyo it is possible for them to get a visa to stay almost indefinitely.

Nonetheless a moment comes when one is released. Fuck if I know why. There is not a moment when the guard opens the door and says that one is free to go. More like the kidnappers throw you from the car. I find myself suddenly out on the street and still in prison clothes.

And there is a breeze, an actual breeze, which touches your skin and is not off-limits to you. There is a space around things. The sky goes up and up. Men are wearing pants that don’t hide much.

Almost immediately I become busy. That’s all right: the nice thing about being functional is you can do things. Life is underway and demands attention. Oh, hello, I’m in Thailand! Oh goodness gracious, I’m married aren’t I?

Looking around me now, I walk a little faster. This is no permanent reprieve. This open window may hover for a month, or be gone in an hour. There are repairs that need to be made, windows to be taped, books to read and suicide notes to burn. (Suicide notes must be written afresh for each occasion: this is how one buys time.)

Above all, there are people to be loved, people with sharp voices or curly hair, people smelling of shampoo and sweat and curry. People with problems of their own. Actual people with hands to be held, with real mouths and real ears to hear as you walk around together exclaiming, “My god, look at the colors!”

No comments: