Today I made substantial gains on my book. I have to tell everyone I'm writing a book, because if I don't, it won't be done. And it must be done. I had to re-install Microsoft Word, because I needed a platform that I thought was worthy to keep track of everything. I have an exceptional amount of photos and video footage on my computer, and in order to re-install MS Word (Office, unavoidably) I had to delete some files. A lot of files.
I inquisitively watched all of my unnamed videos from questionable dates. This one was from almost one year ago, mid-December of 2015. I had just moved into a new apartment in Flagstaff, and I took a video tour of it to send my mom. At first I cringed and said aloud "Is that what I fucking sound like?" and then took in a short breath when I heard my video-self say "Dammit Cohen, move." And the video pans down to him, his head at my hip as I'm trying to navigate myself around him. You can also hear him whining softly in the background, begging to be pet and for attention to be paid to him. It's a sound I'll never hear again, and I wouldn't have been able to replicate in my mind if not for that video. I then thought of when Giselle and I were walking around downtown Ventura, just a month ago; I saw a man walking a Great Dane, and I turned to Giselle and drew a breath to say the words "I used to have a Great Dane." and stopped myself, because of course Giselle knew that. She lived with him. Giselle knew Cohen quite well. She knew me when I had Cohen. I still remember the day I told her I had to put him down. We were at Beta (the best climbing gym in Flagstaff), and I still remember the wall we were standing in front of, and I swear to god I still remember the climb we were working on. It was a traverse, and it was a V2. I remember saying the words and clenching my jaw at the sting of tears, and not being able to look her in the eye, because I knew I'd lose it. She was leaving for California the next day, and we both knew she wouldn't be there for it. We both knew I'd be alone for it.
So as we stood on that corner of two streets in Ventura and I told her what I almost said to her, I remarked on how odd it is that I'm at a point in my life where most people I interact with know me without Cohen by my side. I think there are few life events that distinct one version of yourself versus another, and that's one of mine. I wrote a blog post this past summer, early summer, about my experience putting Cohen down. I haven't had the courage to reread it until tonight, and I love it. It still rips me apart, and it's sad, but it's a very raw part of me that I am proud I wrote about. It was the worst night of my life, and I had the guts to not only relive it while writing about it, but share it with everyone I know + more. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to. Or reread it. For Cohen. And for me. It's titled "We write to taste life twice...".
This brings me around to my favorite quote of all time, which is from (my favorite author of all time) Chuck Klosterman. I've referenced this so many times before, but here it is again:
"When you start thinking about what your life was like years ago - and not in general terms, but in highly specific detail - it's disturbing to realize how certain elements of your being are completely dead. They die long before you do. It's astonishing to consider all the things from your past that used to happen all of the time but (a) never happen anymore and (b) never even cross your mind. It's almost like those things didn't happen. Or made it seems like they just happened to someone else."
Isn't that great? I tried to recall it once, recently, when I was drunk off of more than a bottle of wine. I butchered it, and I was so frustrated with myself. I don't even have that book anymore, but it's my favorite book. Chuck Klosterman has this beautiful way of intertwining his philosophies with music he listens to and his physical actions in the world. If you haven't read Killing Yourself To Live, I encourage you to. It should be at the top of your list.
The title of that work itself is striking.
The two days before Thanksgiving I spent in Moab, and it's the first mini/day-trip I've taken since my month of sabbatical/living out of my car on the west coast. I used to hate the desert, and that is so comical to me now. I still do not like running in it, but in the past year I've learned to love climbing in it, and also standing on the edge of a rock and looking out over it. There's something that happens to the soul when you see the sun rise over red - truly red - rocks that are mashed up against the Colorado River. The hues of purple and red and fiery flames it sets to your heart cannot be matched. I finally know what Evan meant when he said Moab helped heal him after his father died. I heard a stream babble from so far away, and when I got to it, when I approached this so very tiny body of running water in the desert and the one-inch fall that was making so much noise; I stuck my hands right in it and was shocked at both the frigid temperature and the sting it brought over my skin. I lifted my eyes and became incredibly aware of how restless I had felt before being there. When you are in the desert you're reminded of how powerful the Earth is. When you stare at a plant struggling to grow in-between rocks and the dry, red dirt you're reminded that sometimes growing into life is hard. And when you look at the brilliantly green leaves on that plant, you're reminded of how far your soul has come, and the enormity of a life truly lived.
And you strive for it. You strive for what you've previously felt, the extravagance of what a 24-hour day truly feels like. And you get it back. And you remind yourself that even though you live one thousand different lives while you're alive, you know what it feels like for your heart to be completely full.
And you chase it. With everything you have.