Diary Forms: Pulling an Untethered Rope

An overview of my entire piece.

This piece centers on my relationship with a close friend of mine whom I met at Sarah Lawrence but who no longer goes to college here. As she lives on the West Coast and I’ve always lived on the East Coast, figuring out how to maintain our friendship has been difficult now that it’s long-distance. This piece is about the new distance between us, trying to understand where our relationship was the last time we were both together on campus and trying to reconcile that our relationship will never be the same again, no matter what that looks like, whether we like it or not.

first square: 
her face is warm but our bed is cold
flush with the memory
of once fragile bodies
shattered across sacred sheets
stained with ash and sweat
shards that danced across delicately slick skin
now stand still in the silence 
idle in what once was
sitting in what could have been
had you let me prick your hand

second sqare
her face is warm but our bed is cold
burned by wandering hands
she still wishes to hold over mine
his sheets are smeared
with the hearts of others
; a pregnant distain
yet she still wants to call
for cigarettes waiting for her on the other line

third square:
her face is warm but our bed is gone
taken by the ashes of her own inaction
our lethargy
unable to wake up; to stay awake; to leave that fucking room
choking on the harmonious haze 
settling over our entwined bodies like a fine dust
stealing our held hands
to replace it with giving us distance
oh i wanted you 
i wanted you to stay in my room

now we will never step foot in there together again
first square:
her face grows cold
a chill like a distant memory
she’s out wasting on the beach
just past the path of sand cutting through
the coarse expanse of dunes stretched between us
like our bodies on a sunday mornings bed
i dont have to see to know her feet are in the water
though i do watch her from the unconquerable distance away
soaking in the gray sunlight
looking behind her 
at me
as the seas morning mist
washes her away with the tides winds

will this forever be the distance between us?
is this our goodbye?

how did she grow so far out of reach?
how did she get so far away from me?

second square:
she is cold.
you will forget me on the west coast
i will love you from the bitter east
and eventually forget you the same
no matter how hard i may not want to

would you have tried to stay?
only to clutch cigarettes close
to your bleeding chest?

or would you have stayed?
for me?

ill burn while i wait for an answer
sick with knowing i will sooner be 
a puddle of wax and emotion
than hear your reply

The piece begins with a set of images and a poem I wrote just under them. The images were initially supposed to act as both the title of the piece while being part of it at the same time, but they have ended up being the starting point of this piece, alongside the poem. The placement of the poem’s stanzas took the shape it did because I knew I specifically wanted the fourth stanza to line up with the middle picture, as that’s the mental image that the reader should be conjuring when reading. This first section of my piece serves as an introduction so the viewer has more of an understanding of where we’re starting.

first square:
i guess i don't know what i was expecting. maybe just that this was supposed to be us making up for lost time. that there would be more words to share between us, words that died trying to make the distance. obviously i know this weekend isn't about me, but it's at least a little about me, right? i'm probably just thinking about it too much. thinking about how much harder i hugged her than she hugged me. i don't know what to think, how to feel, what to do with these misplaced emotions. she talks about boys a lot, which makes sense. of course [redacted] is on her mind + of course shes going to ask about [redacted]. but

second square:
i dont know, it doesn't feel like it's that deep to her, doesn't feel like anythings wrong, which i suppose that should be a good thing. but it feels like nothings wrong in a blind way, like we're not looking at each other, wouldn't dare to make eye contact. like we're lying to each other, like there's something wrong and

square 3:
we won't just say it. she won't because of him, because we're just friends, because people who are just friends share beds + cuddle and spend days on end together and trace their fingers across delicately sweaty skin and sometimes friends make out when they're drunk, because she couldn't answer a question, because she doesn't feel the same way. and i won't because she never will, because i would never, could never put myself on the line like that, because the distance between us is insurmountable and i can't let it grow to be more. instead i'll let it die, let that pocket of time stay where it is, stuck in that tiny room between shared pink bed sheets 

square 4:
and her head in my lap. i'll let my words stay tangled in her hair, carefully sewn by my own fingers. i'll leave them all to wither and rot, reap the mold i had hoped would bloom. because it's easier that way. because i can't see her everyday anymore. because any possibility of anything more died the day she said she wasn't coming back to new york.
square 1:
i want to ask the question. i've done a lot of thinking as to if i should, if i really need an answer. but in this current moment, i want to ask the question. i want an answer.

square 2:
i want to break the thin milky membrane around us. i want to know what you think, what you think of me, what you're thinking. i want to know what you were thinking when you were kissing my neck, caressing my body, when your hand was on my throat, when we were about to kiss, when i asked you about it, when you went quiet.

square 3:
i think we should just kiss. maybe that'll sort everything out. if we just kissed we could figure the rest out. bestest of friends, sweetest of lovers. we know each other so well, who's to say we can't just kiss and figure it out? it doesn't have to be anything. it doesn't have to mean anything. 

square 4:
it just exists.

In the creation of this work of art, the piece really started here as I flew out to Portland for my friend’s sister’s wedding. This was the first time I had seen my friend since this past February, so I was anticipating the energy between us would be stronger than it actually ended up being. The journal entries I wrote relay the emotions going through my head at the time. The photos, objects, and receipts are all from this visit. This first chunk is before the wedding, which was the Thursday and Friday of the weekend I visited.

line 1:
the silent impossible prayer of wishing things

line 2:
could've been different, could've gone differently

A, B, A, ≈, C A
Now that I've worn out,
Worn out the world
I'm on my knees in fascination
I'm looking through The night
And the moon's never seen
me before
But I'm reflecting light
I rode the pain down
Got off and looked up
Looked into your eyes
The lost open windows, All around
My dark heart lit up the skies
Give up the ground
Under your feet
Hold on to nothing for good
Turn and run at the mean dogs
Chasing you
Stand-alone and misunderstood
square 1:
[it's] like im invisible. i'm right here like we're eating dinner + we have nothing to talk about + you'd rather text [redacted] than think of smth to talk to me about. idk maybe im being dramatic. or not putting in the proper energy into making things into the way i want them (i.e. i make conversation)

square 2:
but she says that she'll miss seeing [redacted] working [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] + maybe that's because it's obvious/a given that she misses seeing me everyday but it wouldve been nice to hear her say that, even

square 3:
if she had to say "of course that's a given" afterwards. i just need to feel important to an overall extent past "this is my friend from college"

i'll let it roll off my shoulder
like water on a ducks feathers. 

what is there even to talk about

square 4:
i wither + ache

square 5:
i'm in a stall right now
i think [redacted] and [redacted] are in the handicap stall rn lmao
i am in high school again
im at the farmers market my second year of socapa avoiding my friends

square 6:
i am 13 and walking around anime boston avoiding sam, 13 and skiing right past gillian on our last day of ski club.
square 1:
i just feel in the way at this point. the way i feel when i go to a party w/ [redacted] and they only know me so it feels like i have to babysit. i feel like extra luggage. like im a weight she has to carry around

square 2:
i don't even know if she's realized im missing yet, that she hasnt seen me in a sec and hm, shes not sure where i am. i don't know

square 3:
i wish you didn't care about me the way you don't care about him
but you would probably fuck him again if he asked

i wish you didnt care about me in the way that it woudnt matter if we fucked

square 4:
i want you to not care about me the way you don't care about him,
i wish i held your attention the way he does

it hurts it hurts it hurts.
bit i will let it
make it
roll off my shoulder,
wash over me + down my back
it's ok
you don't want me the way you want him

This second section takes place during the wedding, continuing the use of the film photos I was taking and the journal entries I was jotting down during the wedding. Some of the entries in this section are from when I was I was sitting at dinner, hiding in the bathroom stall, and when I was sitting alone outside of the wedding venue. I would also like to note that the crumpled page that can be seen in the first photo is the note my friend wrote her music lyrics for when she sang to her sister for her wedding toast.

square 1:
i find myself filling in your gaps. some are somewhat intentional in the sense that i've thought about it a bit, like growing out my hair or [redacted]

square 2:
[redacted]. but there are other things ive begun to notice too, like how you and [redacted] used to be smoking buddies, but now [redacted] and i smoke together. it wasn't at all intentional, but once i realized, it kinda hit me like a train. what i do when i miss you, when i have to fill in your gaps. whether i realize it or not
square 1:
it feels like theres nothing between us anymore. no common link, no recognition, no buzz. i look for something i say to make your eyes light up, but it doesnt even feel like the candle is there anymore. nothing for the fire to light.

square 2:
a lonely flame cursed to burn without a wick to hold her. i kept waiting to hear that low frequency hum again, that subtle buzz tingling on my skin like diamond sunlight catching rippling ocean waves when we were together. there was only static and silence from you. i dont know if you know what you do to me, how you drive me crazy. and that's something

square 3:
i am going to lose when we lose touch. that's an awful sentiment to have to live with right now. to sit and stew in. was i only ever a college friend to you? am i not someone you want in your life forever?
i can't believe we're losing, giving into the distance.
you make those 2000 miles feel so much farther.

This last section is about my post-wedding sentiments and inherently the closure of my piece. They’re reflecting on our relationship as it exists now, the absence between us, and the emotions I’m processing as I’m beginning to realize that I’m witnessing the death of a very important friendship of mine. It is the only conclusion I can seem to find at this point.

Author: Marlowe Conway