You’ve told me about the melancholic feeling history museums have left you.
Let me share mine.
I have never felt more alive in Armenia. There’s something in that place where the dead has somehow outlasted the living. No grief revisited can uncover how much tears were shed in the soils of that place.
Maybe in there is no scripture for this, I have brushed on the way Lot’s wife collapsed with intention, maybe, I’d argue that a country could do so as well.
I see Armenia as this woman who’s seen it all, all of her loved ones she’s treated with obligation or abnegation with, drowning in the firestorm of a violent god, but maybe in this context a violent god was the shadow of a genocidal mob.
I remember having been underdressed coming to Mt. Ararat, how as near as we could get at the peak, I could have been freezing to death. Wearing only a shirt, an oversized long sleeve, denim joggers and skater shoes, I found out how my body was truly alive.
I felt alive at the possibility of death and I wanted to collapse with all intention, be snow; a pillar of salt.
The very last day of our trip, we visited the Genocide Memorial. I remember going about the place, its spiraling bloom from a centerfold monument to these wings that spoke so much, like hands of a whirlpool. Imagine the feeling of emerging from sinking,to have never felt such weight so resonant in silence, it feels like the weight of clothing after arriving from water, where death have gathered and found respiration through the strong winds. I remember sitting down, feeling as if each heartbeat was counting the last pulse of those who died, small reminders of living.
I remember looking back to that place. How the weight of silence could’ve been a body, how one could collapse with full intention and never really look forward the same. How breathing, as strong as dead the could, made me so receptive of death. How I had so much rage in me. It has left me tender. How surrender was the only thing I could possibly do, they say that rage has no place in the world but in those moments. I remember the dead as simply dead.
When I told you how I felt so much pain in Jameel, it was pain in a sense that I could not possibly make space for. How it feels like all I know is the knife lodged into me and I have yet to have a language for my own body. How the knife was placed there by someone who's long gone and is kept there by figures who've promised me all attempts for closeness but disappear when I bleed or uncover something forbidden. How the history to form a language for my own body is rife with "American/International" "I can't" and "Excess".
Pain that has left even the detritus of what has happened.
I remember writing the line:
"...smidge of existence courting erasure"
If I twist the light enough and I could see the joke Farah and I made about your existence.
And I am left with a question hanging on my head.
How could I not make space for you?
Every time you do something with me, it feels like a joint effort, and I do agree that in time, our conversations, posts we sent, music we shared, poetry we conjured through social media will be a "smidge of existence courting erasure."
For the case of our own individual memories? That much I don't know, I don't know if some greater force of nature out there will grant us the bandwidth to remember, remember without tarnishing the source of that memory, but I am hopeful that I am changed enough after this to learn how to keep it.
Maybe I want to be destroyed, in a sense that having been so close with you I will never be the same, and I have to love who comes of me after. Transform everything I learned to make a language for my own body and pull out the knife, tenderly and lovingly, or collapse with full intention and never really look forward the same, or make space for pain I've never thought possible before just because it's proof—despite its risk of erasure—that I have loved.