Love. That singular point in the universe that is you, all alone in the world, surrounded by people passing by, your life in the figures of others. I remember these figures passing me by, the people in school, the people on the street, the constant loneliness at home with my family, and that I had nowhere else to go, but into my heart and my mind. This was the room I locked myself into. Love was enchantment from that singular point of view. Love was that January, I delivered a letter of love so to speak, a love letter. She had told me that she lived “down there”, pointing at the corner of the street. That January I almost broke my neck slipping on the steps, Saturday at four o’clock in the morning. The things we do for love. – She never gave me an answer to that letter, though, because she did not live in that house. By “down there”, I eventually found out, she meant around the corner, at the literal end of that street, not the house at which I had delivered the letter, strange as that may sound. I sighed, but did not say anything, when I found out. I was in love with her for no reason.
I was in love with her for no reason, because, in my view, there was no reason for anything in the first place. Love simply was the material from which movies were made, images of speechless intimacy, which, cut into sequence by an editor, simply occurred, spontaneously. In a world where there was no reason for anything really that spark lit me up and let my heart beat faster. It made me feel alive again in a world in which I had survived my own abortion. And since I had survived my own abortion, my mother only thought it proper that I do my choirs. She never really loved me anyway, but was in denial of it, because, as a mother, it was her duty to love me, a social obligation, a household choir. I wanted to get away from all that. I wanted to get far away from her, but when I opened the door and went outside the world hit me like a brick wall of singular rejection, because I did not fit in. There is no reason for any of it really. But when I saw Sara, I thought that, perhaps, I had finally found someone out there like me.
Singularly sarcastic, dressed in black with a studded collar around her neck, Sara had no high expectations of the future. The management sucked. There was too much control in society. There was too little communication. We never spoke on the school yard, only when we sat next to each other in class. She once passed a note to me in history: “I have ‘dirty’ written on my thong. Smells like a teen spirit?” The teacher caught me laughing. But I never knew, if Sara really liked me, because the only time we ever talked was in the afternoon on the way back home or on evenings at the local pub, where all of us aged and under-aged goth and punk teens in this town hung out, forsaken by our parents and the world for seeing how forsaken they were.
The only time we ever talked was when she was not hanging out with her clique on the school yard or when I joined her band of friends at the pub. Was this a form of rejection or was there a possibility of being caught up in a conversation with her? One evening, Lina, a loose friend of mine, contacted me, saying it was urgent, that she had run into trouble with a guy she had broken up with and needed protection. Getting up from my chair and heading out, it took some time for Sara to realize that I was trying to say goodbye. She was focused on another conversation.
He had threatened her, she told me. He had poked a dog’s eye out with a stick. She did not want to be alone anymore. She did not want to go back home. She did not feel safe in her apartment. She only felt safe with us. I stood there, while Kurt went into the shop. Lina was shaken and sick of what had occurred, of this guy that had started stalking her. Kurt came out with three beers, one for each, as we sat there on the street and stared out into the night. Who does such a thing to someone he supposedly loves? Who physically threatens a person, who says she does not want to see him anymore? What kind of a person does not understand that ‘No’ means ‘No’? – “I’m through with that fucking psychopath.”, she said, finding some resolution in her words, thoughts turned into speech turned into action. – “Do you know where he lives?”, Kurt asked and outlined a plan, involving another friend of his, someone who could help him help her. I stared out into the empty street, feeling alone in all this, realizing that no one else but us was here. Did Sara even care about me?
She ignored me at school. She ignored me in class. It was the same as always, the same routine as the past five months since January, as I realized that night with Lina. And so I finally decided to write Sara another letter. Maybe I was projecting my love onto her like a screen. Maybe I was peddling a dream, riding by her place every day on my bike. Every movement that I made sparked up the dynamo of love, my yearning. But my crush on her was crushing me. I needed to know, if there was a chance… I remember the day I visited her house, when without an explanation she told me that she had already been taken, when she had told me that he was the hunter and she was the hunted and he had finally taken her as his prey. I remember that day, because I did not know what that meant, to be someone else’s prey. – “Now he has me.”, she said, wrapping her arms around her legs. But what did that mean? She had asked me, if I could wait outside for a moment, when she opened the door. She did not want me in her house.
That is how it ended that day. She would not clarify anything else, so when I arrived back home, I stared at the wall of my room, which answered me with as much silence as Sara had answered my letter. She had said her piece and yet said nothing at all with her words. Who in this world, after all, would let someone else treat them like cattle? It did not add up. So I continued staring at the wall, as if it were able to reciprocate my feelings, but the tapestry remained blank. There was nothing else to do. Lina was still staying with Kurt, still waiting for his friend to come back from Berlin next week, a big and muscular man, a boxer. He had a simple plan to solve her problem. He wanted to intimidate Lina’s stalker. It made me wonder, how she was doing, until I finally realized that Sara would probably never return my feelings.
It was my mind that comprehended it, but my heart that was slow to understand, so I crafted a letter one third and final time, romantic and thankful for everything she given me (nothing), a goodbye letter so to speak, giving emphasis on what she meant to me (everything). Love, for me, was no stock exchange. It was a gift to receive and give. Nothing you could ask for in return. As impossible as it might be for a person like me to be loved, it is not impossible for me to love. At least that was what I felt that day. It was a Saturday in July, when I dropped that last letter at her doorstep, four O’clock in the morning. I wanted to leave some kind gesture, an appreciation of the beautiful person that she was, the beautiful person I sketched pictures of in class, when I thought she was not looking. And so I put a rose next to the envelope that I had left for her. This was my farewell.
Kurt told me that they were going to kick down his door. They were on their way now. The door rang. I opened. There was a woman in front of me with two large men behind her and the scent of roses surrounding her, Sara. She told me that her boyfriend had gotten jealous, because of the letter that I had left and that it had to stop, unless… she looked to her left side then to her right side, citing two muscular arguments standing behind her. She smelled of roses. She smelled as if she had plucked the flower that I had left her, squeezed and crushed its petals, and distilled perfume from it to wear on this specific day. – “It was a farewell letter.” I explained, just when she was about to speak. There was an expression of surprise upon her face, but also an expression of deep and calm relief. She nodded and, without a word, turned around, her two best friends following on her heels. Watching her leave, I could not help but wonder, what effect the visit Kurt was paying Lina’s ex would have on her situation.
Why Sara never told me in plain and simple words that she had no interest in me, remains an enigma. ‘No’ after all means ‘No.’ All that I know is that we graduated from this incident and went out our separate ways.
Two years later, a former schoolmate informed me that Kurt, who had helped Lina get rid of her ex-boyfriend, was stalking his girlfriend now. He was unable to bear that she had left him and could not accept that she had been very clear and blunt about the fact that she did not want to see him anymore. He wrote her an infinite number of letters, called her over and over again, tried to contact her at every turn, and frequently rang both at her door and the door of her boyfriend, who told me all of this. He entered the house, when the door opened, without asking. Instead of asking, he simply barged into the house not only with his physical body, but with all the pains and sorrows he carried inside his heart, as if he was the center of the world and all the world revolved around him, because he, of all people, had been forsaken. It almost was, as if he needed someone else to love him, in order for him to love himself. Pitiful. Ugly. Haunting. Who was this man he was telling me about? I did not recognize him. Funny, how, looking out the window, I, for one moment, caught a reflection of myself.
About the Author:
Daniel Schulz is a German-American writer and blue collar worker. 2015 he directed his play Humanity Incorporated for the 100° Festival at the Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin. 2016 he published a short story collection titled Schrei. In 2017, he undertook the inventory of the Kathy Acker Reading Room, i.e. the personal library of Kathy Acker at the University of Cologne, which he has curated since. In 2019 he co-organized the Kathy Acker in Seattle Symposium for the Goethe Institute and co-edited Gender Forum’s special edition “Kathy Acker: Portrait of an Eye/I”. His works have been published in Der Federkiel, Luftruinen, Die Novelle, The Transnational, Mirage #5, and the German anthology Tin Soldier. Forthcoming: Kathy Acker in Seattle.