Hoping for a Good Life Everybody is Exhausted

Hoping for a Good Life Everybody is Exhausted


Healthy living through unprecedented times, I knowingly isolate and am reintroduced to the suburbs. That’s not to say that I had forgotten the buffalo grass, the dads receding to their half-open garages, and the constant rush of the distant highway irregularly pierced with bird calls. I trust it was and will be here all along, but to see it – lying on this side, the removed side – answers for that lost feeling of reunion.

The suburbs are host sites unconcerned with recollection. I trust we were isolated before we were isolating. With spaces perfectly poised between real moments of purity and the non-experiences of banality, I impress on myself to become self-abandoned and wholly obliged by family and poorly maintained routine phone calls with friends and consistent commenting with vapid admiration on acquaintances’ Instagram posts; and my lack of intention and consideration quickly begins to show. Dehydrated by empty attempts at sustaining connection, I am thirsting to mouth that I live here and live there and cannot get back and cannot leave here, and there was a takeover there and a take over here and …

I joke with a friend, a friend who is more family, ‘I feel nothing yet I still love you’. She returns with a passage: ‘to understand just one life, you have to swallow the world’.

She never tells me the name of the book and my sister once told me our skin is the barrier to collective empathy.

Later I asked her for details of the study and she said the skin functions as an affective barrier between the organism and its environment. This barrier reminds us where we end and another begins. With this separation, we are able to distinguish when pain is happening to you and what pain is happening to me. It is what stops us from spilling into each other. In place of stats she shared poetics. She had actually forgotten the data in the study.

My hunch on love is a yearning for osmosis, a border crossing, a desire for the skin’s permeability to weaken so that all I contain can transfuse with that which makes you whole. I’m aware that I have not applied the science correctly, and given the current teachings on personal boundaries, this is not an appropriate remedy to the feeling of isolation.

Extract from the text ‘Hoping for a Good Life Everybody is Exhausted’ by Bahar Sayed, originally published in ‘BODIED’, ed. Rachel Ciesla & Robert Cook, AGWA, 2022