Sudden Invitation to Coffee




Thich Nhat Hanh (captions in the YouTube video of the talk are poorly translated).

“It is very important for us to pay attention to the voice.” I made a 24 hr film about the voice. About the memory of spoken words. The voice of lovers talking to each other. Listening to each other, not listening to each other. Listening and not listening to lovers listening and not listening.

The first thing he told me when we saw each other again, in broad daylight, drinking wine early in the day at a bar called Freud (a bar I noticed when it first opened last spring. A bar I vowed to go in one day because I’ve been reading and teaching Freud all year) is that this summer he heard my voice. I realize now that getting a drink in the late morning was an alcoholic proposition on my part. But I only suggested it because of nerves. I wanted to ease our nerves and his sudden invitation to coffee would have only made our nerves—–our shock over running into each other–—worse.

After a year and 3 months of no contact he said heard my voice one night while riding his bike home from a party. It flooded him. I was talking to him at a loud bar, he said. It wasn’t even a memory exactly. It was “visceral.” The memory of hearing my voice talking to him. Not even at a specific time or place located in the past. He said it filled him with longing. He said it was “devastating.” He said he missed me. He (a melancholic) thinks everything is devastating. But not in the way I (a mourner) think everything is devastating. I am motivated to act, to hold on, because of grief. He is frozen by grief. He lets go because of grief.

On our sprawling dates we sat in bars for hours and talked. Kissed. Touched. The dates, as he recently pointed out, were long and full. Went on from 9-2 am. Then we’d go home together. Always to my place.

What does it mean when what you remember is a feeling? A sonic reverberation. When that feeling is the sound of a voice talking to you again in a room full of noise. In a world full of noise. Across time. In the future, from the past. Beyond time. Is God the voice of love? Is love the voice of God?

After so much time has passed, you hear a voice. You hear my voice. But you don’t listen.

Crossposted with Love Dog.

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