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Sunday, April 02, 2006
  Work in progress, as ever

I felt the sadness in my sinuses first. A kind of swollen sensation, as if whatever emotion was beginning to build was making a last bid for escape through my nose, bypassing my mouth in case it caused me to make a sound. There was no welling up of tears, just pressure – pressure that spent a moment or two as a solid distorting my face before seeming to become the heaviest of liquids, filling my feet, legs, then arms, until finally the sadness was all that was left.

Emily leaving seemed to have shattered that window in front of my eyes that had always previously allowed me to confront an unhappy image and recognise its dramatic or distressing content, but stopped me short of actual emotional response. I now watched a documentary about a child dying of AIDs and wept for half an hour after the program finished. My cat died and on the bus home from work I stared out of the window so no one would see the redness around my eyelids or the damp sheen over my pupils. These were early incidents.

For a while I ascribed them to a temporary imbalance – her departure had upset a fine emotional register, which once restored would snuff out these embarrassing moments of quite naked empathy and restore to me the endlessly useful camouflage of seeming to care only up to a point. Weeks and months, eventually even years began to pass by. Emily was forgotten, forever smiling apologetically at Wellington airport and telling me that one day I wouldn’t care about her anymore. Of course she was right, and she was replaced in time by people who by being every bit as loving as her, repeatedly performed a feat I once would have thought a miracle.

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