Ramadan Day 3 – Ok with the Headache

 

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I considered breaking my fast early today on account of this demonache that’s kicking my ass. Yesterday, I took 2 tylenols and then 2 motrin and still couldn’t kick it. Oh well.

Winnie called to tell me of her adventures. It was late at night, and I couldn’t speak for long due to the seismic nature of my brain throb. Winnie likes somebody but recently ended it with somebody else. She tells me she needs some space to address the changes in her life. It’s nice to be around queer folk with an active dating life; I think that maybe some of their energy will rub off on me. Winnie is asking herself how much space to take from the first huni as opposed to the second huni.

Some people need more space than others. It’s tricky. The balance of space as opposed to interaction. I remember a friend, La Profesora, who once told me not to take too much space during a conflict. It’ll get weird, she said.

I never get the timing quite right when I take space from people. More often than not, it’s because I miss them more quickly, or because I’m taking longer to process what is happening within my world, and so often, it’s because of external factors. Because we never really know how space lands on someone.

Maybe that’s the point of space, though. That it causes things to change so things are always a little awkward when two people come together again. There’s something new. They have to be willing to get to know this new person.

I’m not the best at distancing myself from my emotions, but when I go into a space of processing my feelings – I go deep. All the better to come back out with gold.

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Debbie used to tell me all the time when I was dating someone to stop talking to them about the problem. Spend some time together, she’d say, without the problem. Enjoy each other’s company. Constantly addressing your problems doesn’t help your relationship. You need to have fun to remind each other of what is truly great about being together.

This advice is now bittersweet to me. It’s also wise. Thanks, in part, to this advice I have so many heart-ripping memories of my time with Penny before we split. Debbie’s the same person who once told me that most relationships end because one or both people in it don’t have the tools to navigate difficulty. It has nothing to do with how much they love each other, she used to say. You’re either mature enough or you’re not, and both people have to be there.

Another friend, River, once said to me after a break-up that she was very hopeful for love. We were at a sports bar in Brooklyn taking refuge from the pouring rain. I’m single and I’m heart-broken, she said, but know that I have the capacity to love deeply, so if I can love that way, somebody else can feel that way about me too.


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“Allah wants you to take joy in your gifts. He didn’t give them to you to cause sorrow.” The Doctor always advised me not to worry about becoming arrogant or to be embarrassed when I did something great. He told me that even though empathy has caused some problems in my life, that it also allowed me to accomplish those great things. How much time do you spend thinking about all the great things you’ve done? Is it as much as you spend thinking about your mistakes?

There’s a secret blessing to Ramadan. Spoiler alert (but only if you don’t observe Ramadan).

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It’s a reset button!

No, seriously. You know how everybody wants to rest their mistakes, or take back those words that hurt you (yah I know it’s a song), or mend fences . . . well, it’s not that kind of reset. Sorry. In the sense that life isn’t about regrets. It’s a reset for your emotional state You get to reflect. To clear. To change yourself. And, one of my favorites, to forgive yourself.

While fasting, I lack the energy to fight the truth about myself and the hard feelings that inevitably arise from those truths. I only have one direction I can travel:

INSIDE

And it’s beautiful here.

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I thought about not going on the hike at all. McClellan Ranch Park. The beating sun. The wild turkeys. My headache had moved into the territory of aftershocks, but still. As we winded our way through the hills, we passed the cemetery where my father was buried. I tensed.

We made a single-file line through the path. My sister, one of my nephews, my mom, my brother, my cousin, his girlfriend. I was being given an antidote to exhaustion. My brother noticed I was lagging.

Do you want to sit down? He asked. Are you okay?

I looked up and said I needed to take a picture.

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There’s unresolved conflict between my brother and me, between my sister and myself, between (well maybe it’s me…hmmm…), but we were walking in the sunlight.

I didn’t have the energy to hang on to worry or doubt over how we’d resolve these fights. So I hung on only to the joy of being together.


Q: In your dreams what do these new structures look like?

Ocean: I don’t know if it’s possible to say. I just feel the dream. I would articulate it as… Is it possible for queer joy—outsider-hood—to be so mundane that, in that simplicity, it’s radical? To insist that this joy does not have to end in tragedy, in death, in loss? We can just simply sit at a table and be okay for the next five minutes. For a lot of queer people, we can’t even say that. In most of our childhoods, we can’t even say, “When was I okay for five minutes in my consciousness?”

From A Conversation with Ocean Vuong on Being Generous in Your Work in The Creative Independent


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