I deflect from the tenderness expected from an epistolary beginning: I would be lying if I pretended you were dear to me. It’s been a while since we gave up on each other and although I’m doing fine, I sometimes wonder about your silence: are you pissed at me or have you finally let up on universalism now that you’ve converted almost everyone, even those who most despise you?
To be fair, it wasn’t always all bad. The partitions you’ve been accused of were often inaccurate: argumentation has always been a matter of emotion. I felt emotional, in love with acolytes of yours— men whose entire existences were devoted to the study of other men. We had sex and it was not bad sex, although your penchant for threesome felt contrived, too French so to speak, just as your contempt for jealousy: it makes no sense if you think about it, you kept saying. I thought about it and was still jealous.
I was in a relationship with your commitment to knowing and you, with what you called the truth without quotation marks. We went on this way. I was part of the truth. Which part, I asked. Only now am I beginning to understand. Contrary to what you believe, beginnings belong to the future and conclusions can only be reached in the past, which is where I am now, in this back and forth.
I’m trying too hard to locate the beginning of our end and think that things began to shift the night I caught my Dutch roommate playfully practicing self-suffocation in the living room. He had been discussing the Israel Palestine question with his expat friends, and had come to the conclusion that Zionism was entirely justifiable: there are arguments for it.
I felt jealous, resentful of your neutrality. Proving anything to anyone amounted to proving nothing at all. What you called common sense was only common inasmuch as it was widely distributed. Everyone wanted a piece of you: the fascist the zionists the racist the leftist the anarchist the nationalists, the cheaters and those who were cheated on. No one was wrong and everyone was right. There were two sides to every story, each faction claiming a share of your truth. You didn’t mind. You put on weight, settling comfortably into the underlying arrangements of a system you had devised to serve your autonomy at the expense of everyone else’s dependence.
I became dependent, relying on you to shield me from erratic behavior and other expressions of loss of control, the way my mother banged her black stiletto against the bedroom door, yelling, “Let me in!” She was a terrifying victim. If I could argue she was wrong then I must have been right. I grew addicted to your articulations. Each action had to have a reason or justification. How much hurt and deception fueled the election of a fascist, how much self-hate lied behind the blind embrace of patriarchy? I began psychologizing you, crafting narratives bent on humanizing the abject, stories inclusive of our deepest ideological rifts. What could be said could be understood, and what could be understood could be defeated. I stayed calm. I failed systematically. My mother was right: It was almost always night.
When my roommate received a letter from Mike Pence, I picked it up and left it on the kitchen table. I began withholding sex. The distance between us grew thicker. You went for morning runs that stretched into the evening. I won’t list everything you did wrong: what’s the point? You’ll have your reasons and I’ll have mine, and you’ll say that we’re both entitled to our point of view. To be honest, you’re just bad at being god.