What is your favorite type of puzzle? I ask myself in the middle of class, where someone is presenting on Art and Fear. Is it one of those animal picture puzzles, or a deconstruction of a famous painting, or is it a distant landscape disassembled?
My favorite puzzle is personal, as I view every person as a puzzle. This type of puzzle is only solved when you understand. When you understand the ticks and quirks of a person and when you begin to expect what you know so well before they even do it. For me to discover a person worth exploring is both a place where I find meaning in my life and where I find the uttermost devastation of self.
A relationship is a perfect example of this unfolding and configuring of a personal puzzle. Providing an environment ridden with potential and rotten with expectation.
Seeing someone for the first time is like the first glimpse of the puzzle box, the initial image, the initial interest is sparked from this 2-D judgment. There is no need for touch at this moment, no need for understanding.
No attraction? – Move on.
Attraction? – Open the box. Say “Hello.”
–Fast Forward to End—
I’ll start here.
Currently, I am returning to a singular reality after an off and on two and a half year relationship. I am now taking apart the pieces, now looking at each of them intimately, sadly, desperately, tracing their edges one last time before returning them to the box.
Many of those pieces once brought me security and purpose as I placed them in unison with the larger picture. But now as I separate them, breaking the surface tension, anxiety, confusion, and sadness wash over me. A tidal wave of emotions I wasn’t expecting, rushing me into the walls, filling the space that I left for my breath.
Sinking. I drown. Slowly.
In the perspective that time is relative, and that when looked at from a distance human existence is nothing but a blip, a hiccup, – a mistake that is already being erased, – I grow gills.
I take my first breath in this underwater, upside down, inside out world of self. Although I have just begun to unravel this puzzle, I find that I am already in the Mariana Trench, the deepest, darkest, and most unknown place on earth. The weight of the entire ocean presses down on me as I sit in silence with skeletons equally innumerable to the stars.
In this eternal inky blackness I feel utterly alone. I strike out again and again desperate to connect my fists to flesh, to know that another body, another person, is down there with me.
But of course I am not alone, that puzzle is a person too, and their pieces press in around me, arresting my body, like the ocean I am paralyzed. My only thought is to escape, my only action is to breathe.
My breath comes slowly, and at times it is almost too much to lift the weight with my chest. I rest and begin my own decomposition.
Over time I find that the skeletons are not foreign to me. The bones are memories and little bits of myself that I have forgotten, tossed into the abyss and perceived insignificant.
I disintegrate into them and remember. My body shifts sifting as the tide changes, turning in.
Pieces of me settle into shape as I become again, part of the landscape.