Saturday, July 22, 2017

Details

I've had a lot of time lately. To think. I spend hours in the sun, laughing at myself for the meager attempt at farming I've managed to scratch out of this wet hot American summer.

And I'm beginning to remember the tiniest of details in my story.

Like the bird's nest in the garden of our house in North London, Turnpike Lane, April. Saturday morning, the sun was out, and Liam and I were doing the Guardian crossword. We had already broken up, but we lived together, like we always did. I remember the baby birds, singing like they never sang before, and I was annoyed, suffocating.

I wanted to stand up and yell at him to make this work, to love me like I was willing to love him. But it was too hard. Always too hard.

Yet here we were. Like nothing had changed. Sipping coffee in the garden, listening to the screeching baby birds. Reading the fucking Guardian.

There are days I feel like I've been sitting on my hands for my entire life, listening to others map out a course that would be perfect for me, lists of things I should do, and biting my tongue.

The little girl me is kind of ticked off. Where did she go? Why did I tell her to get lost? When did depression find me? Huddled inside of myself, unable to tear down the walls in front of my own eyes.

And when I did begin to take the walls apart, I found that the clarity, thanks to my own imagination, was superb.

I probably punished Liam for a lot of things for which he was not responsible. It's okay, though, because I punished myself pretty hard with my next boyfriend, and even harder after that for punishing myself so hard with him. I mean, I liked my last boyfriend. We had some magical times, but we hurt each other pretty badly, and I surprised myself at the amount of total bullshit with which I was willing to put up just to feel like I had some semblance of the beginnings of a nuclear family to prove that I was, indeed, capable.

Yes. There was a time I took cute pictures with boys. 
Liam was good to me. Liam courted me. He wrote to me. He listened to me. He came to visit me. He stayed with me, gave as much as I gave. It wasn't perfect, and his list of cons is just as long. But that's the way it will be with everyone.

Plus, I was on the precipice of depression, untreated, and even I wasn't prepared for what was coming.

Every day I have to forgive myself. To remember that I am worth courting, worth chasing. Because I didn't believe it when it first happened to me, and I wasn't able to fully accept it.

The more I open up, however, slow down, breathe, half smile, speak softy to myself, the more I am able to remember those details and mine them for what they mean to me. What they can teach me.

On my last night in London, at the pub with the whole gang, my friend Paul asked me what the real reason behind all of my wandering was, and I don't even think I hesitated when I replied, " For my daughter, so she will wander further, live more fully, and be proud of me."

I may not have a daughter, or a son, but the message is still very clear.

Life continues. People are born and people die. Love is found and lost, and baby birds yell like little boys when they're waiting for breakfast in the back of some house in North London.

None of my experiences stand alone, and even the tiniest details, regardless of the circumstances, combine to comfort me when I feel lost, when I forget who I am and where I'm going.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Live for Love

I want to posit something to all the boys and girls, women and men out there. I want you to consider that perhaps existence has been presented to you in one particular way, and because of this, your subconscious and conscious life's goal has been to meet a manufactured set of criteria. But you already knew that. You just forgot. I forgot too.

I can't say for sure, but I can guess that I started to forget after I reached the age of being capable of baring a child. I was fifteen and playing the coveted role of Zaneeta Shinn in my school's production of the classic The Music Man. My dance partner and I, the featured "cute couple" in the show, spent night after night learning the most menial of steps, flirting but not flirting. 

He was popular, handsome, and ended up with his face on the hall wall for eternity after being named our equivalent to "Prom King," but since Prom was sin, we had to make it seem more prestigious. I knew where I stood and how he felt about me as soon as we took hands at our first dance rehearsal, and he told me my hands felt like grandma hands. 

We are animals after all. 

If I'd realized what was happening (had I been like five years younger) I'd have laughed it off as a "this guy," moment, but I was fifteen. I didn't want to have grandma hands because no one would love me. No one would love me if I had grandma hands! 

I felt that way too when my friends treated me like a freak for things like...eating tuna salad for lunch. Who will love me if I don't exclusively eat chicken fingers!?!?! When they laughed at me in fourth grade because I started getting boobs. WHO WILL LOVE ME IF I HAVE BOOBS?!?!?!?!

Shame. It's a shame. How terrified I was of not being loved, lovable. For what else was I supposed to live? But for love?

This is the message we get every day. That love is this thing to which we should aspire, that it is shiny, and plastic, and precious, and pretty. Just like America.

Except America isn't pretty. America is violence and horror, greed and rape. Her beauty is in her age, the monuments to her natural history. We the people package beauty and sell it like the ancient forests we decimate for parking lots without a second thought. 

So too is life. It isn't romance and happily ever after. It isn't good and bad. It's mostly ugly.

There can never be joy without pain. There can never be love without loss. There can never be life without death.

It isn't a game. And it isn't for sale. And you are unique out of every single person in the world. Shiny and pretty and perfect doesn't exist.

But you do. And imagine, just for a moment, that the love you seek is inside of you. All of it. The love you ache for at night. It's inside of you. And it is a well.

Live for that love.

"and you will have the suffrage of the world." Ralph Waldo Emerson.