Design by Erin Choi.
Image Description: a retro white and pink iMac PC and keyboard in front of a hot pink background. The screen shows tabs including Spotify, Teen Vogue, Wattpad, and a Google Doc that is open and reads “Dear Kurt Cobain…” . The image includes a cluttered collage of colorful girly puffy stickers and charms including Hello Kitty, hearts, butterflies, stars, etc.
Dear Kurt Cobain,
I originally chose you as the subject of my mental departure to assure that when we got to the part in the story where I snapped out of this despondency, it wouldn’t be too murky a reality to come back from. I am sane enough at least to see there is no chance with a person long gone. This decision was an anchor, tethering me to common ground. Or maybe, a life vest, a way for my future self to come back from the world of insanity, if I ever so chose. A precaution so if I got lost in the sea of my mind, I could fish around for this small floaty and hold the possibility of breath.
Well, the life vest proved less than satisfactory. I should have scheduled a rescue boat three years in advance (when I’d presumably (optimistically) recover and want to return to shore). I am doing better now, but every time I hear your voice through restaurant speakers, or at the pub’s Thursday night karaoke, it’s like you’re haunting me. Taunting me in sonorous reminders of those days, paralyzed. Those days up in a child’s bedroom weeping fleeting suburban dreams (ones I didn’t know I had until it all came crashing down), and mourning an innocent’s vision of romance as interactions with real-life men worsened. With you, at least, the narrative was in my control, when nothing else in my life was. And you were better to me than the boys in school or the guys in college, better than my father was to my mother. You didn’t spit on me while drunk at frat parties or look at other women in front of your wife and daughter. You were perfect because I wrote you, and in truth, my idea of you is probably nothing like the real you, and it’s probably better this way. I might’ve stored a bit of my soul into that picturesque romance that washed over .docx pages, accidentally.
It was a horribly embarrassing, slipped-into delusion, such that I would worry anxiously for the day you might be somehow resurrected. It’s a world-breaking story, single-handedly breathing life into otherwise mundane news channels and gossip sites, and I’ve gotten a job in the modern music industry. By fateful coincidence, I’m assigned the task of reintegrating you into the auditory style of 2020s alternative rock (given you’ve been dead for three decades) but I cannot complete this task because I’m brimming of guilt and embarrassment with how I once believed we were together and leaned on this story as an escape from a crippling depression. How lies were my only thrill, the only thing keeping my heart pumping when I wanted to end it all, and how I know that makes me sound. How I told myself that nothing is ever really real unless we believe it, and chose not to believe the lump in my throat or the memories of betrayal smacking across my face disguised as an ill father, but chose to believe in you, and I, whispering sweetly in sweaty tour busses. Dancing across dive bars in mounds of mismatched jewelry. You quietly stringing that guitar in a sacred little pattern stored in your muscle memory, marked as a love song for me. And the chords are sharp, because the air is stilled around us, and because you are entirely certain of each note’s message.
Or perhaps this unsarcastic, irrational worry is further proof of my instability.
I’m fearful that, after all, this maladaptive daydream with you at the center might’ve actually been held by that anchor I mentioned, as opposed to that life vest I’d hoped for. Moreover, I’m fearful that I did not nestle this anchor into the ground above sea but into the ground below it. I fear your presence will linger, smoking up my mind, tempting me back in when I long for those beautiful “someday maybes” and wander those “terrible nows”. I wish I didn’t need you any longer. I wish I could face the music.
But neither of those dreams are realistic. The shame from this method of coping is unavoidable, and you don’t need to be resurrected for this knowing to be alive, breathing inside me. I live with it even in the face of solitude. Anyway, I imagine it’s only realistic that during your afterlife, your ghost did catch wind of this imagined plot. So really, who am I kidding?
And yes, I do believe in ghosts.