From the Diary of Catherine Elizabeth Harlowe

From the Diary of Catherine Elizabeth Harlowe

January 22, 1945

The same bar again. The same drink. The same faces.

Everything around me is the same as it ever was, and yet this year feels so different. Everyone I know seems to be carrying the exhaustion of the war over their shoulders; faces weary and postures slumped. And yet there's also a renewed energy and vitality to the conversations in this bar. Everyone can sense

that we're heading towards something huge, something world- changing, and no matter what it ends up being...at least it won't be this.

As for me, I've spent the last month with a constant low-grade fever. Aches, sloth, shivers that I just can't shake. Maybe weather. Maybe repetition.

"you go out just as poor dandling your bones in the clothing of the flesh
wrinkled to the soul tired of the bustle of the world
wrinkled to the soul tired"

I shouldn't read Tzara when I'm depressed. But right now there's nothing in my life that feels so much like home. Without art, where would I seek comfort?

Ah, yes bartend, I will have another.

On January 1, Bethany left for good. Apparently she had a scary run-in with some guy that used to stalk her Junior year. It really freaked her out, and then a week later she was gone, moving in with some pen pal of hers in Cincinnati. I barely got a chance to say goodbye. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, a promise to write...and there goes my best friend.

Since then this month has felt like being tied to the tracks with a train heading toward me in slow motion. Mounting dread, loneliness...how the fuck did I end up here?

And then my thoughts turn to Danny, and it makes me hate myself. I've always prided myself on being independent, strong, impulsive yet in control. So why the hell do I keep getting hung up on him? I left him for God's sake! Independence is the mirage on the horizon that looks so appealing from far away, but once your reach your realize you're still just stuck in the same damn desert.

Then tonight, he walked into the bar, and that train finally hit me.

I watched him all night from afar. My thoughts vacillated wildly between hate and lust, affection and repulsion. I argued with myself for what felt like hours, debating whether to approach him, or give him the cold shoulder. I had finally decided to go talk to him when he suddenly looked up, made eye contact with me...and

then with no emotion in his face, went right back to the conversation he had been having.

I had gotten the cold shoulder. Here it comes, I thought, my tailspin starts here. I braced myself for the self-loathing, for the tears, for the embarrassment. I think I physically winced.

But then...nothing. I felt nothing. The train had passed, and I was still here. In fact, if I felt anything, it was...relief.

Danny and I were never right for each other. He was too straight- laced, I was too impulsive. The idea of us keeping each other in check, of this whole "opposites attract" scenario, was enchanting, but ultimately nonsense. And I suddenly realized...I treated that man like shit! The dancing with other men, the barbs at his intellect and work ethic, the way I'd involuntarily shrink from his touch...I was awful to that man. He deserves better.

And as I finished my last drink, I realized that ultimately, it wasn't Danny that I missed. When you're with someone else, it's so easy to tell yourself that you're doing okay. There's always someone by your side reassuring you, telling you how great you are, telling you they love you. Once he was gone, there was no one left to tell me that but me. And I think I'm realizing that maybe I don't really believe all of that.

The train has passed, but I'm still tied to the tracks. But at least now I can start thinking about how to get myself free.

"deaf roads were losing their wings
and man was growing under the wing of silence
approximate man like myself like you and like the other silences" -Tristan Tzara
"The Approximate Man" 

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