There was a weird moment during my Japanese class on Friday when in between looking up hiragana in my textbook and the lecture on a clause modifier that something occured somewhere tucked away inside of me. It was stumbled upon like hearing someone's echo from deep inside a cave only to realize that the echo is your own...or like a wrinkled and faded receipt that you find deep in your pocket; a trace or watermark evidencing something unknown and completely unrecognizeable, and yet clearly it must still be yours because, after all, it's in your pants.
It was this odd moment during class that, without warning, I found myself holding back tears. I struggled against it, and yet as class ended and I filtered out with the rest, I was blinking back salty water and taking deep breaths. I went to the breakroom at work and lay down on a couch, staring at the ceiling. I was sad...I felt sadder than I had in a very long time. And the sadness was mixed with some confusion, because I had no idea why I was sad.
It passed, but left a depressive cloud in its stead, and it hovered over me. It hovered while I worked till closing at the Writing Center and walked with my co-worker/friend Whitney to her car. It hovered as I hung out with my friends and watched Quantum of Solace, then ate a chicken hamburger with sun-dried tomatoes at IHOP for dinner. It hovered while I read some Martian Manhunter comics Saturday morning (probably to subconciously replace ancient childhood weekend cartoons rituals). I checked my email and Facebook, then went outside to look in the mailbox. I listened to Dead Kennedys, Bob Dylan, Rage Against the Machine, and The Beatles' Revolver album. I did some Ethics of War & Peace class homework. I cooked spaghetti for dinner, borrowing Sylvia's tomatoe sauce for the upteenth time. I popped in the fifth disc of the second season of Six Feet Under.
It was while watching a character make a reference to the myth of Narcissus that I realized where the tears had come from. The trace, the echo. He was having someone take pictures of him while nude, and he was talking (more to himself) about how paradoxical it seemed that he was unable to take self portraits without being contrived, so in a sense he needed someone else to see him in order for him to see himself.
It was repetitive of a theme barely a day old with me: Friday afternoon, my critical theory class finishsed watching a documentary on Derrida. Derrida made a similar comment on the irony of archiving, recording, and autobiography - or, more specifically, the futility of authentic or "pure" autobiography. The documentary ended with a roof film crew filming the street film crew filming Derrida walking on the sidewalk. It was indicating Derrida's frequent sentiments throughout the documentary: there will always be a distance between an object or person and the observer, and any attempts to capture the complete essence of that object or person is ultimately quite useless. In the end, the determination of the essential is left to the audience, who "communicates" with whatever is being percieved. There will always be a third realm: language, communication.
This Derridian reminder is what made the moment from the Six Feet Under episode stick with me while I brushed my teeth. And when I was through, I looked at the sink, the toothbrushes, and the towel on the wall until I was looking at myself in the mirror.
And I recalled: earlier in the same episode, a different character had mentioned how sometimes people wait entire lifetimes for love, expecting that someone, somewhere out there, will find them and "complete" or "fulfill" them, thereby inhibiting them from completing, fulfilling or even finding themselves.
I recalled also my surprise in the afternoon when Jill and Chandler disappeared into the bathroom together. When a minute later I heard the shower water running, I asked Sylvia if they were showering together. Sylvia nodded. "Really?" I asked. "That's...that's really cool." I think I said "cool" because I couldn't come up with a way of saying I felt really jealous of their intimacy without coming off as a snob. But Sylvia had turned her attention back to her genetics homework. "It saves water," she said.
I recalled when I checked the mailbox, and my disappointment at finding it emtpy. My disappointment that there was still no letter from Ben. No letter telling me what he thought, now that I'd told him the truth about everything I'd been through, everything I'd been keeping from him for the past two years. And I wondered if he had decided not to write back.
As I realized that I'd been looking at myself in the mirror for several minutes, I simultaneously realized two other things. I realized that I would never truely know myself and what I looked like the way everyone else could, no matter how long I looked at myself in the mirror. And I realized that I'd been denying depression to the point of holding back months-old tears to distance myself from how profoundly, poignantly, and painfully lonely I feel. Every minute. Every day.