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  • Writer's pictureNathan Groves

Spiral Theory (Cloudy)

I’d like to ramble on a little bit this time if you’ll let me. I need to be honest about many things because it seems I struggle to do it in day-to-day life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately (shocking, I know). I’ve been thinking about the mystery of becoming oneself. Every action is a series of folding and unfolding into the past, present, and future: a cycle of thinking that you hold the understanding of everything in your palms and then swiftly being humbled. I thought I knew who I was at eighteen. A series of life events altered that. I won’t delve into the details, but know that things got ugly, and I grew to trust people less. But I went through much work to become whole again. 

When I was twenty-one, I moved to the city for the first time. I got a place in Pilsen with my best friend and his girlfriend. He and I spent the better part of six years side by side before moving in together. I considered him a brother. I knew that one day when I got married, he would be my best man. I knew that if I ever had kids, they would call him Uncle like I had called my dad's friends growing up. I lived there for four months—a blink of an eye. Swiftly humbled. Things were said and unsaid.

Most nights I don't dream, but when I do, I often have a recurring one. I guess a nightmare is what you would call it. I am at his funeral. Sometimes, I’m standing in front of everyone giving a speech, and I look down, and there he is, cold and unmoving. Sometimes I’m sitting in the back, and all I can see is a sea of people and his body is so far away. Sometimes, I’m fifteen, the age that I was when we first became friends. Sometimes, I’m my current age. But over and over again, he haunts me. He is a living ghost in my life. 

I recently decided to do something about it. This past weekend I went back to Pilsen to visit some of my favorite places while I lived there. It was a visit to provide closure on a chapter of my life. Accompanied by a spirit guide, I went on a long walk. I visited my old apartment. Right off the pink line, and thought about how my room shook every time it passed by. I went to the abandoned church right next to it. On its steps, I left my friend's boots that he gave me when I was sixteen. Boots that have since grown holes and got my feet wet every time it rained.

I went to see my favorite restaurant, which was unfortunately closed down, but it was my favorite restaurant because no one else was ever there. My spirit guide and I shared a laugh about that. I went to the field where I spent many days watching the clouds and people. That field was a sanctuary outside of my hectic apartment. I searched for a bench I was unsure existed. I, unsurprisingly, did not find it, but I found many other benches, and there are many more to be found. Perhaps it was the long walk, seeing familiar things from a new perspective, or perhaps the great company, but I felt a great weight off my shoulders and my psyche. I feel as though I’ve been set free from my ghost. 

It’s been two years since I moved out of that apartment in Pilsen. I’ve done a lot of work to become whole again. I often remind myself that I’ve lived a very privileged life. I grew up with two parents who love me and two older sisters I think the world of. I can make people laugh. I can create beautiful things. I was born, and I live to do these two things, I think. Always in service to others. Art has also become everything. It probably always was. After all, what is life without art but a strung-along collection of days?

Photography was something that I stumbled my way into. It was once a crutch to help me better understand people, but it grew tiresome and unfulfilling. It felt like something I did out of insecurity for never feeling like I belonged. However, someone told me recently that I capture love and light. A sentence that made me weep. The third time that I’ve cried this year. That might be as many times as the last five years combined. I believe she was right; she often is. The pictures I take are a reflection of all the love that I hold so dearly. Illuminated by reasons to keep on going. Something to show someone else someday. Something to show myself when my memory is not what it used to be.

It feels as though twenty-three different people have carried this body. Certainly, there are bound to be many more, but uncertainly, who’s to say and who’s to know? Certainly not me. Perhaps I will simply fall back into myself. After all, life’s path is not a straight line but a spiral of constant becoming and unbecoming. What was once a truth is always to be questioned. What was once forgotten can always be found again. I understand now that I know nothing. I am falling out of knowing and am born into accepting this life. Accepting it as one that I will not and cannot fully understand or control. A discomfort that I am learning to stomach. I am growing to trust people again. Trusting them to hold my secrets and bear my worries. I am growing to trust my intuition. Trusting it as I did once before. And I have decided upon one truth to carry. I have decided in my twenty-third lifetime that my love is mine, and it’s not going anywhere.


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