Moth to a flame, guess I can’t stop returning to the places from whence we came. As though every city across the globe served as a collage of almost entirely healed stitches just waiting for me to pull them out and feel the pain all over again. What’s worse, I seemed somehow to thrive on visiting the more esoteric locations. This time it was Lyon. Granted, these geographical choices weren’t entirely my fault. For, in the time since you moved on, I’d found more gainful employment than when we were together. The kind that actually paid me to travel, in essence, for transporting conference materials and hitting the start button on what amounted to an over glorified PowerPoint presentation. Such was the nature of “high-level” business.
It was some hotel juggernaut constantly seeking to recruit “fresh talent” (a.k.a. people willing to swallow the shit of the bourgeoisie). I was, one supposes, acting in the field of mobile HR. Bet you would find that hilarious, wouldn’t you? Considering my once defiant stance against working for a corporation. Turns out, that’s the only way to stay afloat at even a baseline level. Though I’m sure you’ve still managed to avoid it in your own way. Even if that way involves practically choking on a silver spoon. I suppose getting it rammed down your esophagus and practically all the way down your arsehole is better than succumbing to a more conventional form of “the man.” In any case, this is what I do now. And it’s the reason why I’m forced to revisit so many of the places we once traveled to together in our flurry of Bonnie and Clyde “just passing through” bliss. In the days when we were hopelessly poor, I just liked you more. Hell, I even liked myself more. Now I just don’t know what I’ve become. Can barely recognize myself. Or any trace of a soul when I look in the mirror.
Lyon in particular was salty in my omnipresent wound. It was the last place we went to before you declared, “FIN.” And in putting an end to our seemingly never-ending Humbert and Lolita travels (minus the incestuous statutory rape element), I associate Lyon not just with Gallo-Roman ruins, but the ruins of my very heart. An entity, it is said, that can only remain whole until the ache of knowledge and the subjection to cruelty from the person we thought loved us the most tears it into little bits that soon disappear altogether. Or so I learned to believe from you. Graceless, unconcerned you–who swallowed me up like the Romans did Gaul. Imposing your ideals and desires upon me before retreating in the end out of weakness.
Sometimes I wonder where you are, but I know you can never truly be pinpointed to any one place. At least I have a headquarters. Like some goddamn flight attendant. It’s London, in case you cared to know, ever wanted to seek me out. But I’m sure you don’t–at least not for any purposes that would interest me. You’ve probably forgotten all about me at this point. And all about Lyon–its aura of tragedy still festering with traces of our extinction in my eyes. Appropriately, in the ruins of the theater. You always did relish a dramatic flair.
The day after I performed the monkey-like duties of the conference, I used my free time before leaving to return to it, the site of our own collapse. Just as the couple before me was presently sitting on the steps facing what remained of the ancient outdoor theater, so, too, had we. It was at this very spot that you held my heart up onstage for all the world to see only to stamp upon and splatter it for the art of the performance. I wondered how far along into the relationship this duo was. Were they at the sweet beginning, the middling middle or the bitter end? I could sense them getting skittish as I continued to overtly study them from my vantage point from down below, at the eye level of the stage. I even freely snapped pictures of them like a forensic scientist trying to gather and understand concrete evidence for what the hell happened. I didn’t care what they thought. Clearly, neither one of them had ever been broken.
Ah, if you were here now to witness my relentless obsession over trying to comprehend something that was completely arbitrary on your part. You would laugh and laugh your fucking head off. Tell me that I get off on being a victim. But I don’t agree. Maybe you’d call that a lack of objectivity. I’d call it being eviscerated by the fact that for as much as you claimed you loved me, it wasn’t enough for you to endure through the “rough patches.” Which meant, in truth, that you didn’t love me at all. And maybe never really did. Perhaps it was all part of the requisite make believe that comes with being youthful, of trying so desperately to re-create some of that Tristan and Isolde glamor for one’s own love life. Then you have to stop and realize that even those two were primarily under the unbreakable influence of a love potion. It wasn’t real between them.
Nonetheless, you were certainly trying to cultivate some of that level of romance for your own narrative. One you seemingly wanted to fill with anyone who could be effortlessly molded into the pages. Again, I am a refraction of the Gaulois. I reckon I was also the most “facile” to interweave into your domineering account of things, neatly scribbled into a folio since buried along with your memories of me and this place. Yet how can you forget that it was I who was the one to adopt and adapt to everything you wanted. Hence going from a decidedly stationary being to one willing to live like a gypsy if it meant satisfying you and your traveling whims–your perpetual wanderlust.
But, as it turned out, it wasn’t really a lust for wandering so much as testing how far across the globe you could go before I finally said no more. In the end, you were the one made to cry “uncle” in the face of my doggedness, essentially telling me you only had avuncular feelings for me.
I want to impale myself in front of this couple to demonstrate that loving someone will destroy you. Or, more accurately, wasting your love on the wrong person–someone who doesn’t really give a shit (other than the one they take while squatting over your fragile psyche)–will.
I throw them one last hard stare before I finally walk out of the ruins and back down the hill that will lead me out of Vieux Lyon. Abandoning the old for the new, just like you.