Friday, September 25, 2015
-Nonsense. You are special. Everybody knows that.
-But I just read this book, she said, about these magnanimous characters whose lives were reduced to nothing. This famous actress lined up for greatness. Ends up a widowed theater teacher in small-town Idaho, dies of ovarian cancer. You know, all these larger-than-life characters – these people in their twenties – thought they were going to live big colorful lives, on the coast of Italy or on stage or in Hollywood or something, because they thought that they were different, and they WERE different, but… Take me, for example. I used to think I wasn’t ordinary. In fact, I used to be sure that I wasn’t. I am so obviously different, I would think. But these days, I have to ask how many people, how many “burn-outs,” thought that that they were different, special, extraordinary, and now they work a day job and are in retail or insurance or some other silly, shitty, arbitrary, black-and-white, colorless thing, and they never
(He interrupts her)
-You are very important. I have to think that you have some substantial impact on everyone that you meet.
-That is really nice of you.
-That makes me feel better. I think I am sad when I feel ordinary, so thank you for making me feel special.
-You are special.
No... you are extraordinary.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
And just like that, it was summer.
It’s the greenest I have ever seen this place. The air is cool at night. The sun stays out past curfew, striking the sky with defiant yellows and oranges. There is live music everywhere, all the time. It’s not even good, but I want to cry with happiness. I want to break all the rules. How I forgot about the cricket buzz, the chirp chirp chirp, the late-night energy and the drinking, the vibrant life in everything, the new friends and the old ones, that early morning sunrise. I have freckles again. And I'm sweating through my dress, sticky with booze and heat and easy, breezy laughter. “Cute freckles,” he says. “Welcome back,” I laugh.
We have new neighbors. Everybody says hello. It's nine thirty p.m. and there’s rap music coming from that place a few doors down. The dog is barking. The kid is crying. That couple is holding hands, radiant with the exciting newness of their sweet, comforting relationship. “How ya doing?” they nod as they pass our porch. “It’s summer,” I shrug, smiling and embarrassed. They’re charmed by my sincerity.
Is the red brick on those houses always that red? The trees always this glorious? The sky so captivating / the air so airy / and the roses oh-so-rosy?
That weepy Ben Harper song. She’s only happy in the sun.
And all of God’s people said:
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The funny thing was that I had everything I wanted. It started with my room. I had a room of one’s own, a room that I’d always hoped to create. So much white, so much simplicity. “A place where I could really write,” as the writers say. And I had the kind of friends that people die for, the kind of friends who constantly surprise with what life has taught me must be pure, unconditional love – friends who cooked me dinner and thought I was spectacular and answered the phone on the third ring. I always thought that was a testament to my friendships. My friends answered the phone when I called.
But the amount of “more” that I wanted was scary, and so juxtaposed the sweet, easy simplicity of the room I loved so much. In theory, I was happy. “She designed a life she loved,” the gift said, and I suppose by then I had. But I wanted the traditional idea of more: the fancy car, the important job, the expensive hair lady. How predictable I had become, a misguided rat late to the never-ending race. But not too late to join it.
My sense of self-disappointment was real and deep and foreign. So much so that even now it’s easier for me to write about it as if it is part of my past, and not actually, truthfully, part of my present. I wonder about becoming a very specific type of bored and tortured old woman, the kind who orders an old old fashioned because – to hell with it, an ordinary and defeated layer of the person I used to be, with no real stories to tell and no real experiences to hold onto. I ask myself if one day I will read this and just wish I would have been content in the now. That I would have just written in the present, forgotten the past, disregarded the future?
The funny thing is that I have everything I want.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Someone special (you) told me once that they liked the way I laugh because “it comes from here.” I wonder if you remember that. I wanted to say that that was my winter laugh, even though it was summer.
You should know that I'm onto you – that you are so predictable in all your senseless, roundabout unpredictability. I knew to watch out when you said you didn’t eat seafood or that you didn’t believe in the stock market, that my electricity bill seemed really high and maybe I should count the math. (I’ve never been good at math). But spring is two days away, and you better believe I’m counting.
Because my springtime laugh says, goodbye.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Seventy beautiful degrees in what should be the dead of winter. Loud noises late at night – things falling off the shelves without explanation in the pantry, the television turning on with no warning, the back door slamming itself open as if to announce an unwanted presence. People I love coming and going, coming and going. What are you even doing here? I ask. His reply is pedantic. It annoys me. Didn’t you hear? He says. Mercury. Is. In. Retrograde.
Later that day I walk against the wind. Embrace the chaos. Embrace the chaos. Embrace the chaos. I think about what that means. Then I think about what an incorrigible knot of hair I will be left with once the wind is done with me. My lips are chapped. Something’s in my eye. I can't see who you are or what you'd like from me or when or if or how I am ever going to get even a semblance of the life I want. Everything is sticky and tangled and uncomfortable. This is me, not embracing the chaos.
I get into my car, drive home, and take about twenty seven deep breaths. The unknowns are winning. I convince myself that in six years I’ll be Sunday-brunching somewhere wonderful with a rewarding career and a pile of important emails waiting upon my return on Monday morning, with a nice person and a nice dog and some nice Tupperware back at the nice apartment with the windows that I will look out of later that night, with a life that is full of shared calendars and kale salads and oohing and ahhing at friend’s plain-looking babies, where it will all be delightfully boring, terribly stable. I feel better and think again about embracing the chaos – appreciating this time for what it is, for what it brings, and for the future perspective it will grant me. A horribly stable life awaits you. Kale. Plain babies. Big windows. Some structure.
I feel better. My mind has been quieted, Mercury momentarily overruled. But downstairs I hear something that the hardwood floors cannot disguise – slow, steady, footsteps. I am not alone anymore.
Who is in my house?
Who is in my house?
Friday, January 2, 2015
Everything is white. It’s making me restless. The snow isn’t melting and sometimes at night it falls in big pieces and sticks to my hair and clothes and it’s everywhere, fluffy white everything, and it’s all really beautiful, and it all looks really beautiful, especially when the sun comes out the next day and you can see that it’s still white everywhere, pure and natural goodness covering everything. But it’s making me restless. It must be: the obligatory peacefulness that all white brings. Unifying the world into one giant entity draped in soft powdery nothing – hiding everything that individualizes us – your car, your garden, your hands, your face. Isn’t it lovely, she asks? The scars of the world hidden underneath a sheet of soft, white snow?
But I like the scars. I like the rough sidewalks, the uneven concrete, the T loves C scribbled in loud red graffiti. I like the dying flowers and the neighbor’s children’s shoes scattered in the front lawn. Now I can’t see anything. It’s just white, and it’s not melting, and I think I like change and I'd like to wake up to something new, but sometimes the snow and all of its staying power makes me wonder if a thing I should have actually let stay was you.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
She found it baffling that some people didn’t believe in her. Not offensive, just hard to understand. She was so sure that she would do great things, produce good work and move about the world with intention, surrounded by fulfilled and enriched people and things, that she was always stumped by those who told her, “You can’t.” She knew that she was flawed. She knew that she was riddled with imperfections, overcome with impatience and one thousand other brazen, unapologetic idiosyncrasies. But she was forceful and quick, smart and unique enough to counter the predictable and premature assumptions she knew you would make. She was a fighter, no doubt about it, and she would fight her way to the end, furious with those who said that she couldn’t, trusting in those who said that she could.
I got a note from her yesterday. “Do you still believe in me?” That’s all it said.
I have spent much of today wondering how to tell her that I don’t know.