I was drinking at a bar one night when an older couple came in and sat beside me at the bar counter. They were colleagues, they said, and I didn’t really give a fuck; considering I’m consuming my third glass of gin and tonic and I don’t really care about people’s relationship status—I stare outside vast windows for most of the nights I spend here—watching the midtown traffic’s stutter and impasse and stand still and haste or whatever else it does—most of my days are spent watching its transition while making eye contact with its drivers and strangers walking along the avenues and missing my friends nonetheless.
I miss them for a lot of reasons. I miss them when they are at home and I’m at work and I spend a lot of time there hoping they’ll just, you know, come see me.
I am getting off the track again.
They were colleagues. They were nice people I guess. I was walking from the wash room when the man asked me, “so what do you do?” and I didn’t know exactly how to respond. “I write,” I said. “write what?” “poetry, and lately some theory too?” “what type of theory?”
I paused. “ghost/love culture is how I call it,” “I’ve never heard of that. what’s that,” he asks.
I already feel stupid and absurd and a bit insane.
“It’s about presence and absence and the many places in-between them, I guess. It’s the concept of absence being a presence,” I said, “Like a ghost. Like love.”
He then asked me about Derrida and asked me if I’ve ever read David Foster Wallace and I said just a few excerpts here and there. He wrote a few book names on a napkin and as he did so I asked him what he did for a living. The girl he was with laughed.
“I’m not telling you,” he said.
“Oh, come on, just go tell her,” the girl said.
“No, I’m sorry, I really cannot tell you who I am.”
He called the bartender, paid with cash and told me, “don’t stop writing—you’re onto something.”
I never saw him again, but when I googled David Foster Wallace to read more about him, his biography’s wikipedia page came up, titled “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story”
Two weeks later I find myself in a class titled, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.
In which my professor very articulately recites— “every sentence is a fucking death sentence.” And apparently, that means more to him than most phrases.
Because desire desires to destroy itself, just as a sentence is constructed to contain sense and meaning before it ends—we try to run our lives the same way: to be meaningful before we end.
And this makes desire ghostly. It makes our living ghostly, it makes our relationships ghostly—our loves, our language, our words, our everythings—because once we have already earn it (that which we desire) we don’t desire it any longer; it’s an incessant discomfort. We find ourselves aching for what we do not know and we do not have simply just to know and have a feel of it until we no longer long for it.
It’s a haunting. It’s a fucking ghost.