Revelation or The Watchmaker (1955) by Remedios Varo
My soulmates are scattered all over the world, lost and shivering, cold and alone, or happy and warm, laughing and dancing, but still longing for me. My soulmates are scratching and clawing to get closer to me, sometimes consciously, sometimes instinctively, sometimes without even knowing what they’re doing. My soulmates are climbing up tiny blades of grass, anxious for a glimpse of my boots plowing through the green tangle, ready to grip the edges of my pants and climb, climb, climb to their destinies. My soulmates can’t wait to bury their heads in my neck, breathe in my scent and then shove their entire heads under my skin and drink my red hot blood.
My blood is still hot and red, which is reassuring. As I grow older, I can’t help but imagine that my blood is polluted with the cumulative toxins of my many days on Earth, the engine sludge from too many years of fast food, not to mention the numerous mutant cells and their warped offspring and their twisted second cousins once removed. Once you make it past a certain age, it’s hard not to look at your body as a mysterious liquid country, turgid with all of your worst mistakes.
But that’s not how my soulmates see me. They crave my engine sludge. They were born thirsty for my mistakes. My soulmates say “Turn yourself into a tasty roast beef sub so I can eat it standing up in the middle of my living room.” My soulmates say, “Send me strands of your hair in the mail with a note attached, handwritten, something about how you want me to clip your toenails and shampoo your carpets and clean out your gutters for centuries to come.”
My soulmates can’t stop thinking about me, even when they’re tumbling around in the dryer or drifting above the ground with their friends, waiting for the pressure to change. My soulmates want more of me, more more more. They want to rain down on my head or keep the sunshine off my back. They just need to be closer. Everything bad about me is good to them.
“Every word you write belongs in a book,” they whisper as I’m typing another worthless newsletter post. “No one could ever tire of your words. Make yourself into a ham biscuit so I can rub it all over my face.”
My soulmates love me exactly as I am: the absolute worst, hot blood pulsing relentlessly through my unguarded neck, tangles of impossibly frizzy hair to climb, the stench of too much work and worry floating like a dark cloud around my head. My soulmates can read my thoughts like a newspaper in their hands: The delivery driver gave me a five-hour window and now I have to wait all day, and how does an eighteen wheeler even drive on our street, and what if everything is broken and I have to stand there and unpack it all while the delivery driver waits? They read each word inside my head and think “JESUS, THIS IS BEAUTIFUL.”
My soulmates wish there was more of me to go around. They know I have an ant bite or a tick bite on my neck that itches. They know I woke up at 4 am and wondered, “Ant or tick, ant or tick? Tick bites normally don’t sting. When I swatted at my neck, there was a crumpled black ant there. But then there was also a tick, which looked like it still had a head.” One of my soulmates is thinking “YES I HAVE A HEAD, OF COURSE I DO. DO YOU KNOW HOW FAR I CLIMBED JUST TO LOOK YOU RIGHT IN THE JUGULAR?”
My soulmates know I’m awful but that’s what they crave the most, my awfulness. They’ve longed for my terrible company for what feels like centuries. Of course I’ll be a big disappointment. That’s the whole point, that’s what makes it so romantic in the first place. Don’t I understand love at all? Love isn’t just a projection, something we concoct inside our heads to make ourselves feel more special, to make our moments on Earth feel more poignant, more delectable, more heartbreaking. Romance isn’t some tragic delusion that leads us all astray, just because we want to feel lovable, just because we want to feel safe for once, just because we want to be adored like gods.
True love is real, my soulmates want to assure me. I know because I can feel it, it wakes me up at night. Ham biscuit. Salty goodness. I can’t sleep anymore and I love it.
My soulmates want me to know that the things I consider romantic aren’t just empty novelties, reasons to work too hard for nothing, excuses to scrape and claw up a blade of grass, into the executive suite, across a continent, doomed from start to finish. The struggle is real and it’s always worth it. You smell like precious metals, you taste like springtime, you make me laugh until my tongue falls out.
Many of my soulmates can’t get closer to me. They waste all day climbing one blade of grass and I never even walk by, or they write entire books about me that I never read. They hum little love songs that they’ll never record because there’s just too much feeling there, or they daydream about me while spending most of their time with people they don’t like that much, doing jobs they don’t enjoy, wishing everything were different.
Don’t do that, I try to tell them. Be awful instead, and see who shows up. Your entire world is packed with soulmates and you don’t even know it. It ends up sounding so condescending when I say these things, but my soulmates love it when I condescend to them. It makes them growl and whine.
But I mean, look at me. Terrible. Pulling grass out of the driveway and then sitting there, shaking the dirt off the grass and scattering worms and mud all over my clothes with the solemn reverence of a priest swinging an incense burner through the aisles of a cathedral. Or dancing in my ugly kitchen first thing in the morning, as if I believe that I’m a supernatural being who owns the sun and the moon and the stars. Or lying on my filthy rug with my dogs and telling them I’ll love you forever, even though they’re dumb savages who waste all their time daydreaming about sinking their teeth into the ass ends of adorable bunny rabbits.
A soulmate doesn’t always have to be smart or enlightened. A soulmate just needs to sink its teeth into the ass end of life.
I don’t blame anyone for not loving me. I would’ve hated me just a few years ago. If I observed me for more than a few minutes, I would’ve whispered in my own ear YOU CAN BE ANYTHING BUT THAT. That was back when I still wanted to be something else, just like you do. Yes, you — daydreaming of true love you’ll never find because no one is good enough, working for a future you can’t touch because you’re not good enough for it, mapping out a life that’s too good for you, endlessly approaching a new, improved you that’s too perfect to exist, endlessly approaching infinity or zero, it’s impossible to tell which.
Be right here instead and love me like you were born to do. Be here and cherish this absolute joke, me and you, creepy and cracking up. Who is lingering at the tree line? Who is drifting above your head? Who is stepping on your neck?
Today I’m having a picnic outside with some of my soulmates. They’ll have to enjoy me from a distance because I’m wearing soulmate repellant. No one can fuck with my good life. Nothing’s gonna bring me down. Nothing’s gonna change my world.
Once my husband said, of some friends of ours, “I thought we would be spending every other weekend with them.”
“That’s your fantasy,” I told him. “Let’s live in reality instead.”
What I meant was that you can’t bother thinking about anyone until they’ve climbed all day, all year, all their lives, just to breathe in your scent and tell you that they’re patriots to the mysterious liquid country of your body. Read me your poems. Press the sole of your bare foot into my face. Treat me like your ugly failson.
You know that’s how I feel about you. You’re disgusting and I love it. What are these fifteen music videos you texted me for no reason in the middle of the night? What is this four-minute-long audio message about a spin class you hated? What is this blurry photo of someone about to squeeze mustard onto a piece of bread on a bus that’s traveling from Stockholm to Gothenberg? I shouldn’t give half a fuck but instead I care much more than I can stand. Make your head into a Cinnabon. Shower me in your daydreams. Let me loofah your elbows until it hurts. Pour your stupidest worries into my open hands. Let’s live in reality. It’s good here.
sweet fuckin jesus balls you’re writing from my head again heather HOW do you do it? ♥️ you
I've re-read this five or six times now; I can't quite figure out why it's so compelling; I have theses, but the piece exceeds them. I suppose what I'm fumbling with in part is: it's obviously broadly resonant —many of us are responding to it— but it's composed of elements, concepts, relations, and images that seem novel / unique, highly idiosyncratic, etc.. It's extremely strange and via its strangeness achieves some kind of recognizability / familiarity... but what am I recognizing?! What is familiar here? I know this is all "normal" for great writing, but it's just so stark here! WHATEVER, it's truly awesome.