By the time this song was put onto a mix tape for me, Jeff Buckley had already been dead for two years. He was only 30 when, late one night in May 1997, he waded into the Mississippi River and drowned while going for a spontaneous swim. His body was found a few days later, upstream in Memphis.
As 2019 draws to a close, I’ve been watching the rounds of photos comparing people’s current self to their self from the beginning of the decade. In late 2009, I had just turned 31 but was severely entrenched in anorexia and yet to choose recovery. I didn’t believe I’d see the end of year, much less the end of a new decade. By the end of 2010, I was attempting recovery. Cautiously, with only a little hope.
Life has shifted many times over the past 10 years. Many things have changed but unfortunately, some have not. I’m in treatment again and have been for a year. It’s 25 years since Jeff Buckley released this song, a year after I first developed anorexia. But this time, I’m hoping that with the right treatment, I can say the Last Goodbye.
Today I wrote two little words I wasn’t expecting to write until tomorrow. And yet, here we are. At this point.
My feet are tingling like they do when you have pins and needles, numb, as if you’ve been sitting awkwardly cutting off your circulation, but in that sweet spot, before the blood rushes back into the capillaries and it starts to sting.
The cells, the atoms in my cells, are vibrating with energy. The energy of having finished. It is a gentle excitement. Soft. Like the way you realise you are recovered. After the fact. You do not notice it at first because recovery, like writing, feels like a slog. Every step is an effort. You wade through concrete. You make progress. And you don’t. There is resistance. The task seems overwhelming and you pause at various points to take a breath. To rest. There is no ticker-tape parade upon success. No party. There might have been, if you’d noticed it at the time. But even as you were thinking your last disordered thought, even as you were writing your final sentence, you didn’t know. And then you did.
So what do you do when you finish writing a book?
You write the end
You drink cider in the sunshine with a friend
You buy yourself some flowers
You go for a run
You make dinner for the family
You water your plants
You hug your partner
You feed the cat
You write a blog post
You begin again, a new story
I have been finished with the story I’ve written for longer than I’ve been writing it. Soon, lovely readers, I will hand it over to you.