I just read this incredible breakup zine called “A Headache From Crying” by Lina Abascal (@linalovesit – go follow) and now I’m almost looking forward to my next breakup so that I, too, can use it to write something beautiful and cathartic, and launch it at a feminist reading party on Valentines Day with cotton candy and champagne.
(But actually, in case The Universe is actually listening, plz don’t call my bluff on this one bc breakups are probably the most excruciating, life fucking things since childbirth).
Anyway, I read these essays and most of the time I identified with Lina, a woman deeply heartbroken by an emotionally immature man who pulled a spectacularly unceremonious disappearing act after three years together.
“You had a meeting with your parents about how to do it right. Do it while she’s gone. That was it. Take everything that is yours and some things that are hers. Pack them in your car and park the car somewhere. Don’t tell her where it is. Just say somewhere on La Cienega, it’s a big street. Don’t tell her when you’re coming back to get it. Ignore her texts about where her things are. Come to Los Angeles for four days but pack in four hours. And that’s what you did. I had never seen you get something done so fast.”
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say I can relate.
But sometimes, reading, I wondered if I’m the villain in the story. The moody creative who from time to time slips into a depression so deep that they can barely sign a birthday card for their partner’s grandmother’s 80th birthday.
“When I get tired of hating you, when it feels like real work, I remember my grandma’s 80th birthday party at The Ivy and how you refused to go. How I had to buy her birthday present for you and bring the card to you in bed to sign. How you made even that feel like too much work.”
I wonder if it’s ethical to inflict myself on another person when I know with absolute certainty that someday I’ll be the one so deeply out of connection with the world that I’ll be unable to bring myself even to scrawl my name across a shitty Hallmark card in order to make the person I love happy. Leading to the end that at least one of us saw coming. Leading us both to blame ourselves erroneously for stuff that never mattered as much as we would obsess about it in the months to come.
“Leave the maturity. The maternity. How I let you be the one with problems. There couldn’t be two of us. At least not at the same time. How I knew that how bad it was was temporary but the lingering feeling you had was permanent, and how I was okay with that.”
When I allow myself to obsess over the end that I never saw coming, I only see one scene, played out in various bedrooms and hotel rooms and rooftops on at least three continents and at varying levels of sobriety over the course of three years: me sobbing too hard to breathe, hyperventilating, trying desperately to articulate – explain away – manufacture – a purpose for the messy, depthless terror that I now call clinical depression.
And lying next to me on all those beds, in all those countries, a not-quite-adult male just trying to get me to breathe, to talk to him, begging me with his eyes to go back to normal. It’s hard not to overestimate the toll that takes on a person. It’s hard to imagine a relationship that could withstand it.
“I try to rid myself of the parts of me that I have assigned the blame of losing you.”
But depression never really goes away. It’s always at the edges of everything, smiling when I venture too close to the borders of a sustainable level of happiness. And in that sense at least it’s useful.
With depression, when things end for reasons that no one is willing to explain to me I always have at least one concrete reason why It Never Would Have Worked Out Anyway. (For those of you who’ve never experienced the ravages of heartbreak, I suggest that you start looking for that thing now, because it will someday be crucial to your sanity.)
The problem with my particular thing is that it doesn’t leave me much of a road map for what to do if something actually does work out. (However, tbh national statistics and my experiences thus far haven’t made me super worried about preparing for that eventuality.)
“People get scared and run away from me. Sometimes they explain why, other times I just have to guess. Sometimes I get drunk and ask them, they rarely reply. Then I start over.”
Like a kid, or a third nipple, my depression will always be the one consistent reason I can’t have nice things. Most of the time I would rather have nice things than know the reason I can’t have them. But it can be weirdly reassuring to know exactly where the bar is set.
Vagabon is Lætitia Tamko. Her debut album is remarkable for so many reasons. The tiny lyrical details that cling to the inside of your brain for days and make a universal sort of poetry out of losing a lover’s cat. The effortless way Tamko snuggles RnB driven synth tunes in between raw indie alt-rock and lo-fi acoustic jams. A voice that is powerfully assured even as it carries the caution of past wounds. And (annoying though it is that this even makes anyone’s list of remarkable things in 2017) Tamko’s very existence in a genre whose white-maleness is rivaled only by maybe country music is, in fact, remarkable.
I thought about A Headache While Crying while listening to this album because 1) they each thoughtfully examine the bitter contradictions of love and 2) both claim artistic space occupied by another. In the case of Tamko, see the aforementioned unbearable whiteness of indie music. For Abascal, writing was her ex’s domain. In the introduction to her essays, she says, “I never felt as good at this as you – telling stories.” This lightning flash of audacity adds revolution to the already potent appeal of these projects.
Infinite Worlds is out February 24th on Father Daughter Records. You can stream the album early on NPR First Listen. Pre order here. For LA peeps, Vagabon has an upcoming show at The Echo on March 22 – tix here. Full tour here.