Episode 8 - Facebook Remembers You Too

Episode 8 - Facebook Remembers You Too

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Episode 8 - Facebook Remembers You Too

This week Julian reads an essay focused on reminders. A very specific one. A birthday reminder for the deceased. The essay explores bipolar disorder, suicide, and the things we didn't have the chance to say. 

Today's song was "Solace" by Reeder licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-alike License. Today's featured song is from their album "It is the Nature of Dreams to End". Find Reeder on Twitter. Find this song and all their albums on their Bandcamp here. 

 

Today's episode was written and performed by Elliott Rose 


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Transcript: Episode 8 Facebook Remembers You Too

Works of Love is a RoseCraft Production 

Julian: This is "Works of Love: The Podcast" I'm Julian Silver.  "Works of Love" is a meditation on a theme through listener submitted personal essays, that theme? Love, the possession of and loss of it. Today's essay is from Steven Christianson from Park City, Utah. His essay is entitled, “Facebook Remembers You Too”. 

Julian (narration): Facebook told me to wish you happy birthday. Joanna dreamed of you the night before. In it, the three of us and Alvin played basketball while Jim waited. After the game we were going to Six Flags. Facebook told me to wish you happy birthday. Alvin said he missed you. Joanna wore forum blue and gold for your birthday. Ada still thinks of you. Jim’s daughter is almost a year old. Your wife sees you in the faces of strangers at airports. Facebook told me to wish you happy birthday.

I wrote to you knowing you would never write back.

We were well-practiced in apologies. Both of us certain that we were both slight debits in the lives of our loved ones. “I’m sorry, I know you’re busy” is how we would open or close our phone calls to one another.

We talked about guns. Your thoughtful conservatism against my reflexive liberalism. I told you why I would never own a gun: my diagnosis which was also your diagnosis.

I said people like me don’t get guns because it makes it too easy to let the bad times win. I said that hoping you understood that when I said people like me, that meant you.

After you died things were rough. Life and love and more death. The important things. Eventually I reached the nadir. The fun thing about bipolar II and the downs is just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, you find a trapdoor and fall ever further.

There’s a lyric I love by Cloud Cult, “There’s a fine line between falling and flying.” How perfect for our diagnosis. I have a joke about bipolar: bipolar teaches you to be suspicious of joy.

There are two components to bipolar. The downs which are persistent and oftentimes oppressive. While the ups are seductive. For me I feel that for a brief moment I could be the sole engine for all the world’s creativity. Grandiosity is a symptom of mania and hypomania.

You had one of your ups and then you fell further than either of us.

When I started stand-up you thought there was a bravery to it. You said it was daring to go onstage and risk silence when you want laughter. It’s a silence I’m well aware of. After you died my mother had a stroke and my uncle died. After I told my boss I needed to go to California to attend the funeral I said, “The only good thing is if this rate keeps up I’ll run out of loved ones to lose in a couple of years.”

An awkward silence.

If I joke into the abyss does it cackle back?

The nadir. The abyss. A knife. Its supple weight in my hand was a comfort in that moment. Most people who let go are looking for relief. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking it exists at a knife’s edge.

I called my therapist and lied. I called Lauren.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“I am.”

She’s smart. She’s smarter and funnier than I think I’ll ever be.

“I can’t lose my best friend,” she said.

We both got emotional and then I apologized for calling her and hung up. I was in the bathroom. I hated the idea of making a mess. For thirty-two years I’ve been a living tire fire. I thought the least I could do was make clean-up easy. I also wrote out an instruction to my loved ones. When I’m being lowered into the ground please play “Everything In Its Right Place” by Radiohead. Let’s have one last laugh, shall we? A joke for an audience of worms.

You made a joke when you talked about your wife. You felt she was far too good for you. Beautiful, intelligent, fiercely loving and devoted. You told me your existence was a good argument against the theory of evolution and survival of the fittest. Then you listed off your qualities: pasty, oily faced, terrible posture, horrific eyesight.

“I shouldn’t exist,” you said. We laughed.

You always neglected to mention the qualities that most recommend you. You were one of the most fundamentally decent people I’ve met. You were kindhearted, open-minded, and loyal. You had a laugh that sounded like a dork hyena heard a particularly rib-tickling pun. You were also a phenomenal cook and your taste in gangsta rap was topnotch. You sang a show stopping rendition of “My Humps” in your living room that I still smile at during long cold walks alone.

I don’t think I ever told you that one of the great honors in my life is that you called me your friend.

The bathroom was the only lighted room in the house. Darkness outside the door frame. The knife. I walked out of the light into the black and laid on my bed. Many times I’ve laid there. Always my thoughts circle back to the fact that the entire history of two peoples exist inside me. I am heir to their survival. The last in line. I am the pinnacle of their struggle. I am their testament from the past to the future.

“What a disappointment,” I imagine them saying.

I thought of our last conversation, a text message exchange.

You: Do you think everyone has their Garden of Gethsemane moment?

Me: I do. But what matters most is what we do after we reach that moment.

I’ve always had a problem trying to be profound. I long to have my words carry some sort of import because words have always meant so much to me. David Foster Wallace said, “the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance”.

I wish my final words to you were “I love you”.

It doesn’t feel banal or cliché it feels necessary. In fact it feels more and more necessary as I get older.

In the darkness came a knock. When I opened the door Lauren and John were on the stoop. We had a smoke and then John and I hugged. Lauren and I embraced. What a necessary thing human connection is. John and Lauren, there for me again. It wasn’t the first time they had to deal with me and a suicide. The woman I was seeing this past winter threatened to kill herself. High tension, she promised to do something irreversible if I called the police so I had to text Lauren to implore her to call the police on my behalf. Lauren and John pulled through and after the girl was taken to the hospital, John and Lauren were there with beers and support. Sometimes good friends are the guidance we need.

I wish you had called me. I would’ve flown out to you. I would’ve stayed with you. But then I think about your wife, the therapist you were seeing, the two support groups you were going to and the drugs you were on and all the other friends who were trying to reach you. There was a galaxy of north stars wishing you home. But you couldn’t feel it. We couldn’t lead you back to us. I wish you could have felt a warm embrace on that black night of the soul. I wish you could’ve felt our arms around you. I wish a lot of things.

Facebook told me to wish you happy birthday.

I wrote to you knowing you would never write back.

I wrote, “I love you”.

Julian: And that was “Facebook Remembers You Too” by Steven Christianson from Park City, Utah. I’ve spent this weekend concentrating on reminders. At eleven pm every night my phone tells me to write in my journal, as per my therapist’s direction. Google with its various doodles for various underappreciated birthdays and anniversaries, seemingly chosen to delight and inform. But then there’s Facebook, isn’t there? Showing an old photo you posted when you were in the thrall of some now-forgotten affair. When you were with someone else. When you were someone else. These unwanted reminders that still come for you. I go back-and-forth on whether they’re a benefit or not. Sometimes forgetting is a blessing. Other times, remembering is one too. 

Hmm. 

It’s like Pablo Neruda once wrote, “Love is so short but forgetting is so long.” 

And listeners, I hope you remember you are loved. 

This has been Works of Love, I’m Julian Silver. Thank you for listening.