Elias Attea was born under New York New Moon on one of the coldest times of Buffalo’s history, or so the legend goes. While a yankee in heart, Attea crawled six-hundred miles as a baby to arrive and endure Tennessee’s hot, humid southern sunshine. While proud to be a Tennessee kid, Attea now resides in a quiet farm house in Western New York, shoveling snow, shit, and soil whilst working on his practice as a spiritualist and writer (and paying the bills, somehow).
1 cnf piece by Elias Attea
DEAR FRIEND (OR HOW I MANAGED TO KILL MY DEMONS)
23, Août 2016
Dear friend (whom I feel I have the fair right in referring to as a friend),
I’ve been in Europe cycling for what has been four or five weeks now. With the wretched, sticky stench that clings and lingers to the sweat-starched wrinkles of cotton and polyester-blended fabrics, I have successfully reached the title as a bike tourist; fortunately though, not vagabond, as I do still have hopes, dreams, and an itinerary, after all. But with the essence of vagrancy, some things are unclear; like what things will push me forward and what things I should leave behind me. I’ve had you on my mind, I have. And I wish to share with you these lessons from abroad.
At some point, right before the dawn of this summer, I ran into you at an art gallery, some thesis exposé of an architecture student whose name I am forgetting. We talked briefly; though briefly, you thoroughly debriefed where you are, emotionally, after graduating college. I must add that, damn, I’m a bit startled by what you shared. Though I should not be surprised that since the first time I met you, you managed to disappear into the mechanics of university expectations, crawl for years in darkness, and arrive at the end: stranded alone at dusk in the middle of an unfamiliar field of wheat and vetch. It must be cold, but, my, what a feat it is to be done with early academia.
I cannot recall your exact statements that you shared with me at that architectural artist’s gala (after all, my own memory is so grimed with gunk, set in by a mean habit of star gazing, that it only remembers things all too briefly), but I remember that you were then teaming with ideas. You confided in me a map—a mental map, that is—marked with three distinct routes: There were road directions that could lead you to be responsible, to be challenged, or to escape (or in my mind, to rest). There was an idea that you had to make money, an idea to practice a different skilled field of work, and an idea to travel. Summarizing those options will not fully reveal the totality of what you were scheming in that wandering, lost, and lustful mind of yours, so do correct me if I’m wrong.
But words and dreaming aside, what was most apparent to me at the last time we spoke was the glazing in your eye. A thick varnish that dripped thick along the walls that held your lashes. Those stained windows of yours could neither let light come in nor let light come out. And, to be fair, less did it seem that light glistened in your eyes, than it receded. Your eyes were failing; tired, but not the tired that comes from a body made fatigued from a hard day’s work, nor the tired that comes from a mind made brittle from a long semester. No, you seemed exhausted by something that for five years, maybe more, you have had to carry, perhaps, wished to let go. What is or was that something, I wonder?
I had a set of eyes similar to yours at one point. I knew it for nearly two years, and like some chronic toothache that presses on the necessity of seeing a dentist, I ignored it and kept at my usual routine. For those two years, it was as if demons worked on me like termites. The first year went unnoticed. Then into the second year, elements of my life began to short, crack, and crumble. Sometimes the slightest of touch from someone would make pieces of myself snap in two or snap right back. Near the end of the second year, after ignoring the ongoing damage for so long, I forfeited. I closed my doors and sternly suggested that no one could come to visit. My porch, as I cautioned, would fail even to the most courteous of footsteps. I told everyone to leave. I had too. I couldn’t stand the thought of a roof coming down on anyone. None of my friends knew what to do with me so with apprehensive concern they avoided my block. I sat in my lot, quarantined by my solitary compliance, and witnessed the demolition. The demons had their way, whittling and waring through the grains of my wood and lumber. And, like a weathered, hallowed tree in even a mild storm, I came down over night. The wind, like some gentle reaper, set me down quietly, like a mother who rocks her child to sleep and rests it in its crib. When I fell, I didn’t even cry, but I laid there for a time simply confused as to how to get up.
At that point, I had nothing worth keeping as everything, save for maybe a few phone numbers and notebooks, had gone with the demons’ whittle-work. So, after already obliging, I followed through with the trip to Europe. Biking every day, sometimes for eight or more hours while the sun was still up. Those days never got easier for the first three weeks. Lacking a home that my heart once resided in, I shivered by the cold of night and baked by the heat of the day. And, while I have felt isolation and solitude before, I have never been able to measure out in emotional distance how far I’ve separated or maybe forfeited from what I once loved.
I fed those demons every last bit of everything I could until
Yes, they seem to have left.
Though I am not entirely certain if that is true. Either I ran out of grief to feed or tempt the demons, and consequently in hunger they took off in search for a new host (though, perhaps they will come back to visit over the holidays, I’ll keep it in mind), or I fed them so much that in their excited state of ravenous gluttony, they bellied up and died.
Yep, stomach exploded.
Who would have known that the lining of a demon’s stomach is as thin as the skin of a toad’s belly?
The good news is that it is not all for nothing. In some ways, I do feel like a prodigal son. Leaving, becoming dead and now feeling alive, again. I’m coming back together. I like to think that life is a lot like building a house, your own house. Those parts and pieces that you assemble your house with are much like the people and experiences that come in and out of your life. But, what I didn’t realize was how poor of a builder I was as to let everything be eaten and wither from under me.
In less than nine days, I believe I’ll be a new person again with sound floors and solid walls. The paint is still to be decided. Though, maybe I’ll go ahead and order my fruit trees for fall planting.
But friend, whatever it be that you decide that it is in your life that you need, or rather what it is in your life that you need to let go. I do hope you find the will and opportunity to let it go, whatever it is, that makes the light in your eye recede. It’s time to check the channels, clean the rooms, and make room for a new life that you know you deserve.