When I was younger my dad had a Placebo phase. This meant that he merely listened to a few songs of their extensive oeuvre on repeat. These went on a continuous loop for weeks on end until the phase was over. Unfortunately, as we both lived in the same house, this meant I had a Placebo phase too. A Placebo-phase-by-proxy. By the end of it I was able to sing along to all three of those songs with utter determination. I probably still could, I realize, sitting here in this silent waiting room.
This determination never faltered whenever one of these songs played on the radio or at parties, until someone burst my bubble and informed me it was Pure Morning, not Pure Mourning. Oh.
It is always pretty embarrassing when someone reveals that lyrics you thought were fact, are fiction. Even worse when you are singing the wrong lyrics to a song because: 1) singing along to a song always feels strangely private to me. When someone is actually paying attention to you, it feels like they have just invaded your exclusive karaoke session. Luckily, I escaped part of this embarrassment as mourning and morning sound alike. The embarrassment here existed only within myself. Other than this; 2) finding out a lyric is actually Morning instead of Mourning killed my pre-teen assumption that I was pretty edgy and deep, and it killed the confidence that notion gave me.
But alas, I am old(er) now and I realize that it is Pure Morning, and that a friend in need is a friend indeed, but a friend with weed is, in fact, better.
Mourning, however, is a peculiar concept within the English language, and morning, at first glance, could not be more of an opposite, despite its similar pronunciation. Mornings are associated with new beginnings, and a new dawn; a blank slate. Mourning, on the other hand, is what is experienced when someone has died. It is associated with darkness, gloom and melancholia; the uncomfortable realization that endings do exist. What if you are mourning someone or something that is not dead?
The same aspects apply, an end of someone you knew but is not there anymore. One could say that an ending without a death is a new beginning, a new morning. In that sense the two are more intertwined than you might initially think.
Getting caught in a belief that turns out to be the complete opposite – which could be as insignificant as a lyric you were sure of – may bring on a feeling of displacement; a place in between beliefs. This limbo can cause a period of unsettled transitioning, in which the acceptance of a new framework of thought can take up only a few seconds or a few months, depending on the situation. There is a need to stabilize after a rug has been swept from under your feet. This feeling is not foreign to me and is exactly how I would describe my state sitting in this waiting room.
Same chair, same time, same place. Every week I am at least 10 minutes early and every week they are least 10 minutes late, and yet time and again I seem surprised to be sitting in this chair for so long. Maybe I should loosen up my own time management to match theirs. I usually try to kill time a little by analyzing the room I’m sitting in, but by now I know it like no other. Today, however, there is something different. Coexisting with a permanent atmosphere of dread, there are multi-colored garlands hanging on the walls. I secretly hope that they may have hung them especially for me, “congratulations miss, you arrived too early for the 7th time in a row”.
I trace the garlands along the room and see that they meet at the big plastic square in front of me. It is a large office attendance board with eight names on it. There are only a few of the names that I recognize, which is probably a good thing.
The person at the top of the board has a red sticker next to its name, which is also new. It says “60!”. Suddenly I notice that there’s also a big ‘Happy Birthday’ behind me. Ah, maybe the garlands aren’t meant for me after all.
After the third time here, I challenged myself not to look at my watch from the moment I entered this exceptionally beige building. This time I took it upon myself to examine the letter on my lap.
Every time I do read its contents I feel caught in an entirely different manner, because this letter is about me but is not for me. It feels strange to read, as if I am eavesdropping on a private conversation or as if two people are talking about you as if you are not in the room with them. Somewhere, halfway through the letter, I am summed up in one paragraph, neatly characterized in bullet points. Or, to be more precise, I’m not being summed up, parts of me are. Even though it doesn’t feel like just part of me anymore. These parts were not mine before but are now suddenly inextricably linked to me. And I feel engrossed by them.
The problem with these words and these labels is that when you are reduced to a few letters on paper, the bigger picture seems to cease to exist. You suddenly belong to classifications you didn’t even ask for yourself, and with this, you are often put in categories from which it is hard escape. Categories of being that are now in the foreground of every interaction you have. Categories filled with prejudices and assumptions.
Of course, I also see the irony in this, as you spend the majority of your adolescent life explicitly looking for a category to belong to. Simultaneously, you spend just as much time loudly proclaiming that you detest labels, are highly exceptional, and are impossible to be placed in one subculture.
Now that I am finally a part of a group of people that experience life the same way I do, I see both sides of the coin. I am more aware that I am not alone in this journey, yet it still feels lonely.
I wonder when my body and my mind will become my own again, instead of a part of someone’s day and a few words on paper. There will come a time when I will reclaim these parts of me. However, that time hasn’t come yet, and until it does I am in mourning. I am mourning the person I thought I was and the person I thought I was going to be. That person vanished. This isn’t to say that I won’t survive this snag, of course I will. I will adjust and find my way. For now, though, I’ll just wait in this chair and put my faith it in the hands of the people on the attendance board. In the meantime, I don’t think there is anything wrong with some pure mourning.