Yesterday, in between my family's Christmas and his, Aidan and I went for lunch and a walk around my old neighbourhood. He lived here at one point, too, but for less time. I don't think he ever claimed it as his.
Christmas is hard for me, and this year it is harder. We needed to be away and alone together, to tell our stories to each other in the middle of it all. We are lucky to have each other for the storytelling.
Photographs brings us around.
I like to take pictures where the gravity feels off. I want everything to float. I usually fail, but I like the feeling in my brain when I can see inside how it might look. It's the sense of the thing I knit together in my mind that satisfies beyond the actual photo. It feels like a warm meal of soft food mixed with an afghan your grandmother crocheted mixed with the weightlessness of paper ash floating up on heat waves.
And it's okay to fail at this. It is popular these days to tell us it's okay to fail, but they're lying. They work to twist failure into some kind of grand, alternate success so that the idea of failure is erased. The idea of failure is still wrong. We've simply misinterpreted our lives.
It's okay to fail, though, and it's not always a misinterpretation. It's okay to take bad pictures. It's okay to be unable to write anything akin to what you feel is a readable poem for thirty years. It's okay to know that the great American novel will never come out of you, and not just because you're not an American. The pictures and the poems and the math of a bad plot that won't resolve unknot you for other things.
This unknotting isn't a success on its own, but it is important work. It is a basic tool. It is no more a success than breathing. It is important for working out the kind of love you understand, the kind you can bring to this place.
It's okay to tell stories down the rabbit hole of your heart and mind. It's where you live best sometimes, and it's an unwinding spool anyway. You walk backwards as the rope traces your path; it peels out while the handles twist against your palms, feeding out the kite line to the beginning.
No one can see around the corners, not even the success marketers who would draw new boundaries to make you feel the false win, but you're feeding out your own line, tracing your own corners. You've already drawn the way.