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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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A sense of loss

December 1st, 2011

BY BENJAMIN FELICIANO

I feel as though the more time I go without writing the more I have to say. My articles are somewhat like letters to an old friend I am growing further apart from, and I could make excuses to explain why I have been without time but I think you and I have become familiar enough to avoid such pleasantries.

I have lost a friend recently. His name was Ryan and I wrote an article about him several issues ago. Ryan’s absence has left a large hole in my life that I am without a substitute for. He was only a year or two older than me and was the third friend I made when I moved to Colorado two or so years ago. A few weeks back I found myself thinking about loss and how, statistically, there was a chance that someone I am close to could pass unexpectedly. This did not make it any easier to find out the news, but it made it seem obvious, as though I should have expected it.

When my girlfriend and I broke up a month or so ago (yes, the one who I wrote about recently) I noticed something about myself that scared me; I could not feel anything. When she left I went through the motions of heartbreak but I realized that there was no pain. The numbness was reflected in everything I did: work was routine, life was repetitive, and writing was contrived. I took time to finish my book and upon completion found that I still felt detached.

I fear that it is part of being a writer, to spend so much time thinking about how I would portray something that I fail to involve myself with the experience personally. This is akin to a person who spends his whole time at a concert taking pictures rather than enjoying the show, or like a photographer who snaps photos of atrocities in war-torn countries and thinks himself detached from the actual horror he is witnessing.

I hope I’m not the only person who has felt this way. This detachment is often as though I am watching my life and conversations while they are narrated for me by a voice that carries thoughts like storylines. When I learned that Ryan had died the voice was silent. It did not begin crafting this article to glorify the emotion and pain; it had shut up for once to leave me without a shield from feeling. I sobbed for an hour when I first found out and then several more times throughout the day, something I have not done in three years. I do not consider myself an emotional person.

It scares me that I am so cold. A part of this may be that I have had to have a stiff upper lip in difficult situations to better support those who it also affected, but showing my strong face for other’s benefit just pushes my own responses down until they are hidden and then forgotten. Not this time. Ryan is not an ex-girlfriend whose exit I can milk for poetry (which I have done), he was a friend who was very close to my heart. I am feeling again and it is uncomfortable, which is why I suspect this lucidity will not last long before my defense mechanism of stoicism returns.

Explaining this sounds pretentious and extremely distasteful but it is the truth. Ryan’s life led me to step out of my comfort zone (into clubs for example) to meet friends I otherwise would have never known, and his death and brought me to honesty. I am sorry that he is gone and I am sorry that I have used pain in the past for inspiration, because that is the same as asking for it. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Feliciano | Link to this Entry

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