Thursday, December 31, 2009

Confession: Hiding in Plain Sight

One of my best friends and most objective critics--Ariel, clearly--looked at me last night and asked where my blog was.

I told her I've been busy. With, you know, like, work, which slowly drains my words away over the course of a 10-hour stretch in a fluorescent-lit cube. And those oh-so-busy bustling holidays. And, um, my pro-antidisestablishmentarianism activism work in that commune in Johannesburg. Or somesuch. Ahem.

She called shenanigans on all excuses. (For the record, the draining death-cube part is true, but it's never stopped me from writing before, so...yeah. Erroneous.)

"You're afraid to tell the truth." Bitch. Acting like she knows me... 

...she does know me. I can't not write the truth. But I don't want to write it, because then it's documented, so it's real. So it must be dealt with. Dammit.

The partial truth is I get home at night, at whatever time, drained or undrained, and lift the screen. I put my spritely little hands on the keys, stare at an empty page--and immediately begin to panic.

Not because I've got nothing to write. I've go so much to write my life is bingeing and purging Post-It notes. I could sleep under them, like a bag lady under newspaper. I found one stuck to the back of my cell phone the other day. All it said was: "awkward hyena laugh." There could have been an interesting post in that phrase, but I've forgotten what I meant when I wrote it. There's also the two different totable notebooks filled with scrawl, handwriting spilling into the margins, frantic little arrows pointing to connecting thoughts disjointed by separate pages. "LOOK! More! There's more!" Plus two new moleskines received as gifts recently, already front-heavy with notes and dog-eared pages and----I know, I'm sorry----poetry. Lots of it. Point is, I've got stuff to write.

The partial truth is I've morphed into an anxiety-ridden, talentless bullshit artist being dry-humped to death by her own pathetic existential funk. Excuse me, Mr. Sartre? Could you get off please, I'm starting to chaff...

...and it's all rooted right back where this blog started.

The whole truth is that around the time of The 2nd First Date, Alex and I not-so-secretly went on a 2nd Second Date. And then a 2nd Third Date. And then a fourth, and so on, until we were not-so-secretly seconding right back into an intimate, albeit unlabeled, something that was obvious to everyone but us. And it was wonderful. I slept in his nook again. He looked at me with eyes that know every single thing about me. We walked our dog, together. We even not-so-secretly celebrated our six-year anniversary, as if we'd never split in the first place (even though the term "boyfriend/girlfriend" was blacked out of the syllabus entirely), and dropped the "m" word (m-a-r-r-i-a-g-e) again.

And then, lightning-fast, the brakes. Me, slamming on them. Again. Alex getting whiplash. Again. Me resting my head on the dashboard in shame and frustration. All the people who'd been predicting our inevitable marriage since we were 20 and wringing their hands gleefully over our romantic re-coupling watching the hubcaps rolls down the street.

The prediction most people made when I posted on this blog about he and I testing a reunion was that we'd get back together and the same problems  would still be there. What actually happened was that the old problems were essentially gone, but an entirely new garden of ragweed was springing up in its place, with one gigantic, choking vine in the middle, namely that--through listing, through life, through god-knows-what--I've become someone very different than the girl who grew up with her hand in his. He is still very much the same wonderful man. I do not know if he and this foreigner fit together.

It's been a revelation shocking to no one but me.

I'm trying to think of something to liken it to. This is one of the only things in my limited range of experience that fits:

When I was 17, the punk band I'd been playing in for two years blew up. A meandering impersonation of something we all aspired to be hit a streak of luck and local acclaim, climbed to modest (pre-iTunes/pre-MySpace) and centralized esteem, and set out on a half-cocked tour of the East Coast. Five guys, one girl, a U-Haul of equipment and a van. Eight exhilarating, sweaty, wild, debauched days in, we were cruising down the interstate at the Florida border at about 90 miles-per-hour, all six of us stomping out our own (assuredly heinous) double-bass beat to a Poison the Well cassette jammed in the tapedeck. It was glorious. And at THAT exact, blind, blissful moment, the hood of the van popped up, caught in the wind and slammed against the windshield, starring out the glass in a spiderweb of cracks and blocking the road entirely from view, causing the entire band to let out a sustained unison scream than would have shamed Macaulay Culkin. We swerved off the road and into a small ditch.

Sitting in the side of a drainage shoulder in Florida, broken down and broke and drenched in sweat, our bass player calling his mom for help on a brick-sized cell-phone, reality burned itself into our skin: we were not rock stars. We were kids. And we had no idea what we were doing.

That's what this is like--the sort of utterly unexpected, blink of an eye disaster that stops everything in its tracks...and was, in many ways, totally foreseeable to any of the more mature people around you.

Until very recently I felt like there was a direction. Forward. To Alex? To something. If not to the happy ending, then to a major footnote with illustrations and a bookmark. Now, no direction. I'm an awkward, domesticated house-cat, released back into the wild...again...and confused as fuck about where the Fancy Feast is.

The first time I left, and Hitch Listed, and settled all smug down in Brooklyn to write my gimmicky blog about rediscovering independence, I did it with one hand still holding on to some piece of my old life across the Hudson River. It was being held back in return. I checked items off the list and started to mutate into whatever I am now with the confidence that comes from knowing that, even if you fail miserably, someone loves you and will take you back if you show up on their doorstep and say, "I'm a mess. Please love me anyway." I confess the one hand is still partially there---however, the fingers are being severed. Have been? Are being. There's still an index finger and a thumb wrapped around the doorknob.

Now, I'm settled, not-at-all smug, in Brooklyn, wondering if my gimmicky blog is even read and what the point of it is if I can't write it with some modicum of knowing authority, some end-point in sight. I know the blogs I like best are honest, well-written and exciting because there is no end-point...everyone's along for the ride. But I always need to like the narrator.  And I know that I, personally, don't really like the floundering, confused, frightened me---or at least not her rambling monologue relentlessly being broadcast inside my skull.

So I've been hiding.

There's one question I keep getting from friends and family about slamming on the brakes again. "Why?" Okay, fine:

I want too much. He doesn't seem to want enough. And there we both somehow went.

That's the whole truth.


inflammatory writ said...

I just want to give you a giant freaking hug.

Who cares about the Hitch List anyway? It's just a guideline, it doesn't define you. This blog isn't about that list - it's about what brought you to write the list in the first place. That's the person who's blog I started reading.

Even if you did get back together with Alex permanently, you could still do a lot of the stuff on that list.

But you know that's not what it's about. The best heroes are flawed, my dear. <3

Polly Syllabick said...

ahhhh, the brilliant Writ. So much more soothing and less inflammatory...thank you.

Hipstercrite said...

I really wish you would write more. You are one of my favorite writers. You're so good at explaining how you feel and making it humorous, sad, and relatable all at once.

Abi Grace said...

The List is an excellent idea, but it's not the reason I keep reading your blog. It's because of they joy that comes from watching someone find out who they really are. You're extremely like-able as a narrator and the fact that you are imperfect makes you all the MORE likable. I only read two blogs regularly, and I read yours before I read entries by my friends of family.

cHolidaydds said...

I love your blog, it gives me something to be torn about.

Hannah Miet said...

I wish you would write more.

You're one of the best, truly.

But this will suffice for now.

I've been there and I understand. Also, we are reading for you. You're the center. Anything else is just an easily shed outline.

tee said...

I like this blog. I will read when you're confused, when you're self assured, when you're somewhere in between. Just write.

<3 always,

Amy Lewis said...

I take issue with your "talentless" statement (right before you ask Sartre to give you a breather). I'm willing to throw down in fisticuffs over it, actually, and I'm pretty dang strong.

Omniscience is overrated. Even of one's own life. (God not included, I'm too big a fan of His to consider Him overrated in any aspect of His character, :-D.) Flounder in confusion and ramble's entertaining, beautiful, and real.

End-points are fluid, and besides...your character's end-point is not confined to this story's. In conclusion: Keep dominating. ;)

Dean said...

Got a chance for the first time to take a look at your blog today...I'll say candidly that you are an exceptional writer and conveyer of thought! Everyone who has ever written has had to come to terms with this. For what it's worth...A piece of advice I too received that has always worked for me without fail.It came from none other than Ernest Hemingway; He said when he could not feel his way to write. "All you have to do is write one true sentence,write the truest sentence that you know". It works, give it a try.