Conversation 17 (equal parts unhappy and sad)

I didn’t think, I didn’t think of you

“Half a World Away,” R.E.M.

But I will not spill my guts out

“Slipped,” The National

How do you feel?

My back hurts.

You know what I mean.

I know. But I hate that question. It’s exhausting. Children in Texas were shot in church.

So you feel exhausted?

I feel equal parts unhappy and sad.

Those aren’t the same thing?

Sadness is being completely aware you exist. Unhappiness is feeling as if you don’t exist.

What do you mean?

I am sad about all the ways I am not enough, the inadequacies that make me who I am, that make me expendable, forgettable. Unhappiness comes with things not given, never even considered, things taken away.

Taken away. By whom?

People, the universe. Unhappiness is the gradual contracting of daylight minute by minute each day and then having time change. Yesterday’s 6 o’clock is today’s 5 o’clock. Darkness comes without any regard for you. Sadness is knowing it will happen, knowing it’s inevitable.

So there is no happiness?

There is the possibility of the absence of unhappiness. To know you exist, to feel fully that you matter.

You don’t matter? That’s how you feel.

Consequential. To be consequential. Like holding a warm round stone in the palm of your hand, closing your eyes, and not being able to ignore the weight of the stone in your hand. You walk into another room or run a thousand miles away, but the sensation of that stone stays in your palm and it matters. You couldn’t forget that stone if you tried.

And you don’t want to try.

So you want to be the stone.

I will always be sad but I want to stop being unhappy.

—P.L. Thomas