21 February 2019 in Writing

“Your emotional reactivity will get the best of you,” he counseled.

This became a daily routine, the multi-vitamin of their relationship.

On Monday: “Do you want to let your thoughts and emotions control you?” Then Tuesday: “Your suffering is yet another one of your imaginary narratives. If you can accept it as imaginary, then suffering shall cease.” By Friday: “Unless you want to suffer.”

He said all these things with the same blank face he used to negotiate fees for his work, or to tell his mother he loved her at the end of a holiday visit.

“You could try meditation and send your thoughts down a river.” He lobbied for passivity and corrected himself, “I mean, observe them flowing by.”

He particularly liked correcting anything that was an exaggeration. Like the time she insisted he hadn’t touched her naked body, under the coverlet, in “more than two months.” “No.” He was always very matter of fact. “It’s only been two weeks.”

There was never any money, but he always wanted home and garden improvements. He pointed to the stone wall that wrapped around the pool, with its nooks and alcoves “perfect for a Buddha statue.”

“You could really make this a Shangri-La,” he’d say, as if she had no desire for Shangri-La, no desire for shrines to Buddha. As if implying the desire to be touched under the coverlet was an irrational attachment to a typical idea. Just her emotions getting the best of her.

“You could put those emotions in a jar in your mind and screw a lid on it,” he’d suggest oh so casually while making backups of backup drives that didn’t really need backing up. “You could try to sit with those emotions and do nothing. Nothing. And see if they don’t disappear in a day, maybe hours, maybe minutes.”

He liked pinning things like that down. He sought comfort in his diagnostic assessment of her psychological being. If she could dissipate all her turmoil, desire, angst, and strife in a matter of mere minutes, then he knew precisely what he was dealing with. He could lie there, feigning sleep under the coverlet, having never undressed from what he’d been wearing for days. He could—eyes closed, hands clasped, limbs folded one over the other—wait out the storm of her.

This became the routine, too. Waiting out the storm of her. Waiting out the blistering bikini weather of her. Waiting out the indecisive spring rain with fierce sun shining through of her. Waiting out the stark late-day Amsterdam shadows of her. Waiting out the fury of the dragon, her jaw unhinged, eyes wild, velvet tongue lolling about, screaming, “Fuck Buddhism! Fuck mindfulness! Fuck the thoughts in the river!”

He feigned sleep, silently preaching, eyes sewn shut, legs and arms securely knotted across his heart, while she raged on, joyously.