Waiting is an enchantment: I have received orders not to move.
Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse (38).
Of late I dream of finality. Closing doors. Shuttered windows. Latched fence-gates. Ends of conversations.
I wonder: with how many people have I already had my last conversation?
I dream in this way because I have tired of waiting. Waiting, as Barthes writes, is an enchantment. An order not to move. I also think of waiting as a passionate exercise. Waiting is like doubting. To be certain is to shut the door. To doubt is to leave it indeterminately open. It requires daily effort and attention, it requires your commitment. Commitment. Now there’s a funny word. In waiting, one commits to a noncommittal. To an indefatigable uncertainty.
I dream in this way because I waited for a person for almost three years. I waited because our many near-misses strung me along with an unspoken promise that one day we might catch one another. When we finally were in the same place and the same time, I realized that he was telling me (without explicitly telling me) the exact same reasons for not wanting to be with me that he said in 2014. Back then, it sounded mature. On the recent evening in question, though, it sounded like a recitation. A script. A prefabricated request that I continue to wait.
But I cannot wait. I will not.
It is easy to believe that our problem was timing. But timing is for figure skaters and standup comics. You either want to be with someone, or you don’t. I wanted to be with him, to make a go of it, to at least try. But he did not want that. He did not want me.
And that’s okay.
I dream of finality because its arrival here was strange. I expected finality to come from him, for him to be the one to close the door, to end the conversation. For whatever reason, he could not do it. He would not do it. It had to be me. And I am trying now to recover from that.
To be the one who ends the passionate exercise of waiting is to be the one who must navigate a now-empty room. I shut the door on the room I made in my life for him, a room which he never intended to occupy. And now I have this empty space. How does one move forward? With what might one fill this space? Should one even try to fill it? Or should one simply tear it back down?
To wait is to receive orders not to move. But I have finally given myself instruction to forward march on feet that have fallen asleep and on legs that cannot remember which muscles are used to go on.
How does one recover? How does one locate happiness again, how does one’s theory of happiness have to change to accommodate this uninhabited room? I dream in this way because in shutting the door, in ending the conversation, in giving orders to move, I have freed myself from a prolonged enchantment. And I am uncertain what I want to do with my freedom first.