The Damkeeper and the Baker

The dull ache that had made itself home in my chest was heavier than usual. With every breath and exhalation it tightened a bit more, constricting itself, adjusting its dense body and making itself a little more comfortable in the nook surrounding my heart. It was alive and it grew, just the same way any ‘thing’ that was alive grew. It needed the same essential ingredients for its survival, which I, though unwilling was bound to keep feeding. I convinced myself I could, at times, hear its hoarse rattling breathing when i stilled my own. It came from deep within; a low grumble, a tremor that I could feel like a shudder through my bones. Slight it may have been, but ever present. It had become a part of my existence, a weight I had to bear with every waking moment. The ache in my chest was like a living lump of coal that I had swallowed years ago that had lodged itself inside me, getting heavier and heavier as the days passed tethered to my heart and living off my grief.

What was the word for a form of love that was willingly given, but not returned? Like a cupcake freshly baked and warm out of the oven, it was made of chocolate with gooey melted chunks of rich goodness inside. It was decorated with a swirl of pink strawberry cream with a casual handful of sprinkles thrown on top. The baker had made these with her heart full, each one a little insight into what was felt inside, for someone. At first, he had taken them gladly, he had savored the warmth and gave smiles in payment. That was enough, at first. His smiles sent sunshine into the darkest of places and sent molten gold bubbling to the surface. His smiles spread smiles to her face, and those moments were enough to keep her heart full. But as time went by, the smiles slowly turned into passing comments; conversation which once flowed easily and smoothly like a river of crystal clear water downstream over the ease of polished smooth boulders allowing transparency into the depths underneath, had slowed down to a trickle of muddy water in damp, cold, wet sand and a desperate thirst hanging in the air. It was as if he had built a wall, a dam, across the river.

She had seen him carrying the bricks but had refused to believe he would ever complete it. ‘I’ had refused to believe that he wanted to, I wanted to believe that his indifference was only skin deep, and that he was good inside to appreciate a person who cared for him so much. Reassurance in our friendship was not something I ever received. And the smiles that never came anymore were replaced by silence. I could not bake any more cupcakes, when I didn’t know whether he even liked them anymore. Maybe the chocolate was too rich, or the cream was too sweet or just that maybe, he had had too many to eat these past few months.

I could only speculate the reasons, though they kept me up at night. The silence was deafening, and in a moment like this is when the Ache had creeped in. It had come silently, one night, starting off as a little cold pebble picked up from he riverbed as the water had started receding. I hadn’t thought too much of it at first, the hope that things will get better was still too fresh and continued to bake. The pebble had found itself a place inside me, and as the months went by, and though the cakes went unreceived, I never even knew if he took a bite out of the last ones I had sent. The pebble had grown, become harder and coarser inside, a living thing with its tail wrapped around my heart. It was heavy, an overwhelming weight in my chest, aching for its thirst to be quenched.

But the dam seemed shut, its walls even too hight to climb and peek over, and there was nothing I could do but sit on its shores and wait until a time when the Damkeeper might let his walls down, quietly longing for a small piece of cake because after all, the cake had been a small yet secret indulgence in his life. I didn’t know if that day would ever come, it was all but a fantasy in my mind, a wishful dream that he even felt the slightest bit of affection for my being. He acknowledged my existence, yes, but I could be nothing more than a face in a crowded bar with whom he nods the cordial hello, or passes a quick amicable hug. But his attention lasts only a few minutes as if he on purpose moves on to the next person in passing. Politeness, should not be mistaken for kindness?

Uploading Attachments

NETWORK CONNECTION ERROR.

The server is not responding. Uploads have failed to attach. System failure, malfunction alert, operating system crashing…

REBOOT.

. . .

Restarting your machine may take longer than expected, after all yours is a complex sentient machine. You have to process the data loss and re-evaluate the update.

You may not have realized at the time you began your connection that it was something you wanted to be a lasting feeling. You thought then, that it was just a mutual ‘coalition’ with an air of breezy romance coupled with flirtatious passing comments. Nonetheless, aura of new relationships never fails to excite you; though you may deep in your heart know that you do not have the patience to nurse this long and grueling process, so it may not even pass the initial stage of stolen glances, flurried touches, and butterflies tingling in your stomach, you still find yourself utterly disappointed when you realize the attachment you had been trying to upload has failed.

You find yourself questioning whether you acted too fast, if you made your move too soon? You obsess in spiraling roundabouts of confusion whether it was your inability to wait, to delay the inevitable climactic encounter that would ultimately impact, either with smiles or with sadness, the course of the continuation of your relationship. You look behind you at the road taken, and you are certain that it was not just your own conviction, but rather a reciprocated eagerness to partake in the kairos. So how could it be your fault that the server was not responding. Clearly there had been some kind of unforeseen malfunction, an underlying unmentioned dormant virus, laying beneath the surface waiting for the opportune moment to make itself shown, crashing the server completely.

The virus now had complete hold of the server, there was no way through its firewalls so high that you could not find a way to reach in and reconnect. No matter how you tried, the virus just kept sending in advanced defense mechanisms, the walls got higher, thicker and more and more distant until all connection to the server flatlined.

Your attachments, now fell crashing down. The crash caused more damage to the operating system than expected. You stand there at the foot of its pile of broken feelings, watching the integrity of the system failing around you, pieces falling out of the very floor you stand on, the sky slowly blacking out pixel by pixel, rejection and regret filling in those empty black squares one after another until you are wholly consumed by its sticky dark glue of self-depreciation.

You also understand that though you may have entered into this chaotic simulation with mild intention, a subconscious urge for a fulfilling human connection, had found some eager feeling ready to formulate themselves into a solid program, and you may have developed a sense of blind hope in a glimpse of a possible future. Yet now, while you struggle in the solitary confinement of your own mind, you stare at your demons in the eye facing the dark shadow of what might have been. They ask you why you are just SO unlucky in love? What is it about you that makes you crave a deep affection so profoundly and yet despise the process of its creation so intensely? You wonder whether to blame only yourself in the mistakes of your past relationships, or were your choices mere reflections of an effect after a cause out of the world around you.

Your next step is to upgrade your system, with a stronger antivirus protection, and solid core stability. This update may take months or maybe years to fully complete. Yet you must decide whether updating to an abstinence program would benefit the system’s capacity for forming real personal connections in the future? and would it be worth it in the end?

The Room we live in.

“We believe if you let go of your need to find somebody, the universe will present you something wonderful in due time.”

“You can’t keep looking for it, it will come to you…”

“You are not alone, you have us!”

—-

There is a room, which appears to be perfectly whole at first glance. A room with four walls, a window and some furniture. There is sunlight entering the room through the window, lighting up the floor.

The closer you look you begin to notice that the room might not be as perfectly fine as it appeared to be initially. You might realize that the walls are cracking and faded in places, the wallpaper coming loose, floors creak and might even collapse if there is too much weight to bear, the chair has a broken leg, but is fixed together with a nail or two, the window is withered and yet painted to cover its scars, the sunlight illuminates the best features of the room so that anyone lookin in may not notice the damages present. A passer by will peep in, and think to themselves, ‘oh what a quaint space this is.’

They will judge my room, depending on what their own rooms look like. They will only see what they are used to seeing themselves. They will not notice my cracks if they don’t have cracks in their own walls. Everybody feels and thinks differently so who are they to judge me in my struggle?

It is easy for all of them to say, they have forgotten what it felt like to sleep in an empty bed every single night. They don’t fall asleep clutching as many pillows as possible, hoping to find some form of imagined comfort. The have forgotten the empty feeling inside, the cold hard dread, the barren wasteland devoid of emotion, a desert starving of human connection. The walls ready to crumble, the floors ready to collapse, the chair waiting to tumble, all into the depths of the emptiness beyond.

The emptiness that I sometimes find myself relishing greatly. I find myself feeling content in the calmness of my own mind, the steady stream of broken thoughts and questionable mood swings, the ideas swimming around the very concept of being alive and the meaning of life.

But what is the meaning of our inconsequential existence? It is purely to love, as many beings as we can, in all love’s forms and shapes. The only solution as I see it is to fill the emptiness that cannot really be filled with anything but love. I am not ashamed of my desire to connect with someone. When there is love to give, there should be someone to receive it too.

 

‘I can’t fix your broken heart’

“I can’t fix your broken heart…” he said, as he ungripped himself from my embrace. Shifting his arm from beneath mine and unlocking his legs entangled in my own, he got up from the bed. As I lay there, clutching the sheets closer to fill up the void he left behind. It was not his fault, I knew. Nobody could fix my broken heart, and he was not the one that broke it in the first place; but I had broken his, years ago.

So maybe the pain I felt now, as I lay huddled in the blankets, pretending to be sleeping, was what I deserved for the mistakes I made in the past. The feeling of being abandoned at the bottom of a deep well, wet and cold all around and the walls so close on every side…You look up and the light is only a small disc in the distance, fading in the dusk. Holding in my tears, allowing the light to completely disappear. Was what I wanted just a stolen moment to feel that deep sense of comfort in the arms of someone familiar, in the wake of the rejection I had faced only a few days ago? Or was it that I was feeling regret in ever letting go in the first place, and I wanted reassurance of the idea that I still exist for you too?

Maybe it was a little bit of both. It was strange business, to be close friends with your ex. Whose newfound happiness in finding himself a new person, who excites him, makes him smile and feel good about life with; makes you so bitter and cynical. I was feeling raw, exposed, vulnerable already. Sore hearted, heavy hearted, after knowing that someone I cared for, did not have the capacity to care for me in the same way. I found myself asking him personal questions, inquisitive, to mask my own sorrow.

“I have never felt happier in my life, with anybody else” he said.

The only words that rung in my ears that night, through a haze of drunkenness, we had talked, argued and I had flung my emotions out, yet they had not dried. Am I resentful that you are happy? Happier than you had been with me? Or was I offended that you had not considered my feelings when you raucously exclaimed of your current exuberant state of existence?… Either way, the words stayed with me, along with a sharp clinging painful fishhook in my heart, a memory of how it felt to lie with you, to feel that closeness again for a moment in time. Just a reminder, that I needed something, or someone, I did not know. Was it your embrace that I crave, or just the idea of your comfort? Am I bitter because I am jealous? Or is it because I do not know whether I could be happy?

I fall in love with people whom I know will not return it, ever indulging the cycle of heartbreak, like a necessary drug. And having pushed you away years before, the only one who deserved the love I should have given, I lie in a pool of self pity and stew in regret, wondering whether it was always a mistake to have let you go…

I hover like a dark cloud.