A Murder of Crows

This is the story of a man who is asexual and falls in love. it is about how we define ourselves in the modern age, and what love means to those who have no physical avenue to explore. It is about the way we interact with our families, and how echoes of past lives filter through to us.

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12. La petite mort

 

I woke up the morning of my wedding, and the crows had gone. The tree, which had been their home for the last few months was bare. The black stubble that effected the branches, that had affected the sky, was absent. And now my life too was shorn of them. The cries, and caws echoed around the park like a tumble weed, and I felt a small part of me had flown away, but what part I don’t think I will ever know. Was this an omen, a portent, or just life continuing outside of myself, outside of us all?

 

Because, I love you

 

Why do we fall in love? I used to be so sure it was pointless chemicals in our brains, but it seems so much more than that. Why did I, someone who thought himself so separate and alien to this world, fall in love?  What purpose does my happiness have in either a biological or spiritual context? What does my love mean in relation to that? I slept badly the night before the wedding,  coldly staring at my trusted ceiling. The city outside refused to fall silent, refused to let me sleep and let my subconscious find the answer.  A nervous moon vibrated outside, peering through the gap in my curtains, whispering doubts into my ears and forcing me reflect on something I had already spent far too much time thinking about.

 

That could have been the problem, I thought about it far too much, and as a result forgot why R____ was so important to me.  Forgot that it was more than a chemical imbalance in my brain, or some latent lust that lives in us all. Is it that to be loved by someone, to open yourself up and allow yourself to be loved, is to accept that you are not complete? That there are flaws in ones character which this stranger, this person who we long to be with will complete us some how.  Opening yourself up to this realisation, means that if it were to break, where does one return to, not to that idea of self we had before, because love, or whatever we felt, has changed us irreversibly. We are broken and fixed.  I remember, as time passed, that R___ took shape in me, as a person who seemed “whole” and complete. That she would slot into my life like a puzzle piece made from clay. The holes in me, the flaws and scratches would be smoothed over by this person’s presence, constant presence, in my life. Surely we would not love if it were not for this absence in our lives. This feeling of being treasured, and made absolute, is what we quest for, and what love above any other emotion, gives us in abundance. If it wasn’t for this lack in our souls, would we seek one another out? Would we smile at the girl on the bus, or that boy in the queue? Or would we live in a bubble of self contentment? Would we float through life on currents that are different and invisible to us because love as triumphed over them all. There is a universality to love, like maths, that speaks to us all on some level, to recesses of our heart that can otherwise lay like dormant volcanoes for years on end.

 

Yet this lack, or absence, in our lives that this person provides answers too is a double edged sword. Why does this person who we crave, this master craftsmen who will fix our incomplete selves, wish to be with us. I spent many a night trying to find a reason for R____ to feel the same way I did about her. Why would someone as idyllic and perfect as that, want to be with someone so broken, and irreparable as I? Could her reason to love me as feeble as mine? Could it be as self serving? Love has a horrible habit of providing us with a never ending list of questions, and precious few answers, and yet like some sort of lemming, we charge head first towards it, never deviating, until we drown ourselves in its madness. In searching for someone to create this better version of ourselves, are we doing anything other than duplicating our problems? It is selfish, but I was glad that R____ hated her family, and was distant from them. I was glad I was not gaining another family, as I had more than enough issues with my own.  I can only imagine how her family’s perception of her could have clouded mine? How they could have painted a picture so far removed from the person I knew, that all I was left with was a series of conflicting statements I would never reconcile.  A nagging doubt that would gnaw away at me, and as time passed I would no longer look for the person I fell in love with, but the person described that I wanted to hate and extricate myself from.

 

The sky was lightening and so I got out of bed, and went over to the window. Twitching the curtain, I saw strata of rippled cloud cover the sky, it was pale grey, with a hint of marmalade struggling through the thinner sections. To the east, on the horizon was pale blue, and I had confidence that the clouds would pass. I checked the weather on the internet, and it said 24 degrees, sunny intervals, scattered showers. Could that have been some sort of clue to married life? Sunny intervals and scattered showers? I turned back to my room. My bed was a mess, and as always the floor looked like I had been inconsiderately burgled. Burgled by people who decided to take nothing. My suit hung on a hook behind my door. It was still in the plastic from the dry cleaners, and the metal coat hanger that stuck out of the top set my teeth on edge. I hated wire coat hangers all my life,  and yet only now did that thought crystallise, on what was supposed to be my happiest day I was still forming new thoughts and ideas about who I was. What was to happen if I changed, and R____ decided she no longer wanted to be with me? How would I cope? Or would I continue to change, chamelonically , and survive? I thought the whole point of love was that you couldn’t survive it, not really? While reading about crows, I learned that only humans, in the whole animal kingdom, committed  suicide. That when their hearts were broken, cat’s did not kill themselves, instead they would scratch and claw at someone, ensuring their pain was shared. Even crows, with their sombre, ruminating minds, would mourn and then move on. Yet I had contemplated suicide, and I think most people would struggle to deny that they would have thought about it at some point in their lives. As an asexual, I saw that the act would have little impact on my life, or on the wider species,  and I saw it as a viable option. For a while, until I realised that I had no real strong desire to die, and I was probably being melodramatic.

 

Time moved in an odd, and fractured manner that day. The silences were long and drawn out, like elastic stretched to  breaking point, and yet when things moved, it was with an anxious energy that made remembering detail difficult. The wedding was always going to be small, as was the  reception, just  my family, their close friends who I knew, and a couple of people from the asexual book club. The only member of R___’s family who was going to attend was her grandfather, her family having decided this was the opportunity to drive the final nail into the coffin of their relationship. R___ said she didn’t care, but I would have done, and I’m certain all human beings would have. I would love to tell you that in some fairy tale way they came round. That nearing the last minute, they walked in, in unison, and told their daughter they loved her, and were happy that she was happy. But they didn’t. That sort of thing doesn’t really happen, and I don’t think it ever did. They didn’t view themselves as being part of a story. A story where they should do the right thing, they just saw themselves as people who had been betrayed. Betrayed by a daughter who they had no right to hoist any expectation on. A daughter who was honest, and loving, and different, and rare, and all that was precious in this world. A daughter they had lost because of their arrogance, and misguided ideals of how the world worked. A daughter who was all but gifted to me, and who I would ensure till my dying day knew that they were wrong about her.

 

Till my dying day. My thoughts turned to death as I waited for the bride and the registrar.  I could hear the burble of my family behind me, of clicks, and the odd flicker of a flash bulb reflected off the shiny Ikea vase in front of me. I reached out and pulled a petal off it, felt it slide between my fingers. I crushed it slightly and brought it to my nose, the sharp  tin like odour  of chlorophyll, along with a sweet smell of caramelised sugar filled my nose, and brought me back to the present.  It is natural that when we are most happy, when joy is in its greatest volume, that we turn to the solemn and final. How, when caught in the euphoria of life, can we not think of the transience of it all, it’s impermance? What makes this thought even harder to comprehend and accept, is that although time passes irregardless of our will, or wishes, things stay innately the same. I am the same person as the man who met R___, and I will continue to be into the future. My opinions may change, and I may grow more right wing as I grow older, but the person that R___ loves will always be there, with the same flaws.  And maybe our relationship is special, because even though we are both broken, and unchanging, yet transient, and all these other wonderful contradictions, in our eyes we are perfect together. My father was there with me in those thoughts. His melancholy, mixed with his suburban love of me and his brood. His middle class misery, his autumn sweater and weekend drives to the garden centre.  And as the door to the registry office opened, the sounds of Miles Davis filling the room, and people rising to their feet, scraping chairs against worn carpet, creating static, I rise too and wonder what was the reason for being there? I could hear her moving towards me, clicking and flashing torrentially filling the room. And then it all fell silent, and people returned to their seats, as if  instructed by an invisible, silent usher. I wrestled with this idea of perfection, and what lay after it. Surely only oblivion and destruction? The only way forward for our love, after this one event, was a slow devastation of who we were,  and some  ever diminishing returns attempts to recapture it in a different form. I wasn’t sure if it was myself, or love that was making me think these things, but then R___ came into my eye line, and I looked at her, and all thought was wiped from my mind, and there was only her. In the lightest summer dress, lace and cotton, with a slash of palest blue, and she was my soundless summer morning., and extinction lay after her, and I ran to it. 

 

They say that the easiest people to fall in love with are those we know nothing about. We then avoid all the baggage we have, and they have, and meet that little kernel of a person we try so hard to hide. And when we know this small person, we can build up the flawed individual slowly, share this imperfect self with each other. Maybe it is the need for us to share. To share our experiences, to leave a story behind that we can tell the grand children? I don’t see how I will have grand children, so what purpose does my life have? What purpose does my story have?  Yet by being human beings, means we will always be separate to one another, and always be different. We may think we think a like, but we don’t. I loved the fact that R____ was asexual, but that was where our similarity ended. We didn’t reach this moment in time the same way as each other, we didn’t even view asexuality in the same way. We just gravitated to one another, and then grabbed on for dear life because the fear of never experiencing this again was too terrifying to comprehend.

 

My view of R___ was and is subjective, and changing, like an optical illusion.  It is the same as my view on the world I suppose, and at that moment, I grasped the fact that I had made a choice that I wanted to last forever. The registrar said her bits, and then we repeated. There were no vows, because promises exist only to be broken, and I wanted our story to contain no broken promises.  Obviously I am simplifying our story, we do that when we narrate our lives, and especially those that rest on our hearts. I have omitted so much detail, like our million and one disagreements. How I wanted to keep the ketchup in the fridge,  or how I would always sleep with my left arm under my shoulder,  meaning I would jab R___ in the back while we slept.  I have avoided these so as you read, you don’t think us petty, but also because once aired, they loom over you, blanket covering you with a fine alluvial silt that doesn’t wash off.. It tarnishes everything with an impending sense of doom and failure.  I am not naïve enough to think that this story does not have, hanging over it, the thought of “How does this end?” Surely, this day, when I said in front of some court ordained official, that I loved R___, it made it real. Surely the only way was down? We didn’t have the joy of child birth and parenthood to look forward to, so what was left after this day?

 

And then the moment came, we were asked to say ‘I do’. I had already had to repeat certain key bits because nerves had gotten the better of me. I managed ‘I do’ though. Then it was R___’s turn.  The registrar spoke, and then there was a pause. That long, fat wheezy pause,  R___ looked over her shoulder, right at the last, and looked to the door. Did she want to run? Did she expect to see her parents there? Or was she just looking at her past that was history? I never asked her, and she never told me.

 

“I do.” She said, and a roar and cheer went up behind us. And then we kissed, and she was shaking in my arms. I have always kissed her with closed eyes,  yet I didn’t this time, and I saw tears streaming down her face.  We broke apart, and she stared right into me with her quicksilver eyes, and she smiled and I was no longer there, no longer with anyone but her.

 

The rest of the day is a blur, photos in some municipal gardens, a lovely meal in a pub, followed by much drinking and dancing.  My mother’s tears, the ghost of my father and all the fear and excitement that lives in our world.  At the end we were driven to the airport, where we flew to the south of France for our honeymoon.

 

We sat in chairs on our balcony over looking the Cote d’Azure, boats were bobbing in the marina, and the sea was a large, shimmering tactile mass. Lights highlighting  cresting waves, and the sounds of people eating, and laughing. We had drunk a fair bit, and R____ turned to me.

 

“What if, some time from now, one of us wants to have sex?”

 

I can’t remember what I said, but she drew herself close to me, and we watched the night pass in silence, and the sunrise.

 

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect[1]

 


 

 

[1] Richard R. Powell

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