Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The First Question Will Be: What Were You Thinking?

Dear [You],

Last week I was walking back from The Y, it was getting colder like it was about to rain and I was listening to depressing music because happy music is so you know, fundamentally dishonest. I was thinking about how it was looking like I’d probably end up spending Christmas alone this year (I did) and how last year I’d planned to spend it alone but Alex made me spend it with her family and I’m glad she did that. I’ve always said ‘I prefer to be alone’ but I realize now I’ve been lying about that. I just don’t mind being alone, but good company could be better than none.

I could be alone forever. Maybe that was a thing we could've done forever, together.

I don’t think you realize how much I miss you. But that’s what happens in arguments like these when everybody’s right/wrong and nobody makes sense and at the end of the day it’s me being me and you being you.



Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone but this year Haviland and her friend Ashley came up from LA -- it’s my fourth Thanksgiving with Haviland. You and me weren’t talking much then. I wondered what you were making and if I’d ruined it.

When Haviland & Ashley arrived the night before Thanksgiving, I was still in the hospital. Not a big deal but when you don’t have health insurance, everything’s an emergency, like having a pager in the 90s. After bcw/m. got off work, she met me there and I drank Dr. Pepper and we did a crossword puzzle and about a billion hours later, I was called back.

I’d been sitting on a bed back there for an hour when Haviland marched in and extracted me. It was very cinematic. I'd been in a screaming match with the senile World War II veteran who’d been yelling about the Chinese & the Jews and calling the nurses the n-word and then said something about my ‘tits.’

It’s sad when a person’s dying / sick / drunk and you learn how they really feel.

You don’t want to know how anyone really feels.

++

++

We left the hospital in Ashley’s Prius and it felt like a spaceship. I felt like everything was gonna be okay. I leaned -- or burrowed, really -- into m.’s shoulder, in that space between collarbone and chest and I felt so safe in there, in that car, with those people. Everything felt easy and peaceful in a way things haven’t felt in a while. Old love, new love, the future.

I’d moved into my apartment two weeks before Thanksgiving, after spending ~6 weeks on Taylor & Kelsey’s couch where every morning Taylor would make coffee or I would and Kelsey always woke up last, look who just got born. Most afternoons I’d be in m.’s living room -- smoking, writing, editing, talking to you on g-chat. I know you say I never talked to you then but I did.

Kids kept killing themselves in October. I feel like I’m working the suicide beat, I said.

Or m. would arrive at TK's looking defeated from the endless interrogation that'd been unleashed upon her after being brave enough to say to her now-ex, This is how I feel, and how I feel is that this is over.

You don’t want to know how anyone really feels. Honesty was never the point, we just need to believe that it is in order to do anything at all.

The key was to avoid eye contact. Maybe then we could avoid seeing eye-to-eye or looking too long but people are animals and animals are magnets w/hearts sometimes.

This was when I was still allowed to go there; to the apartment m. & her ex still shared while she looked for somewhere new/the future. But things happen and you can’t just go everywhere anymore. Things happen and people cry and your boxes are in the street.

People tell each other how they really feel, and then everybody’s crying.

You don’t want to know how anyone really feels.

That’s how life is. It’s fair. A person gets what a person deserves or sometimes gets what someone else deserves by proxy which is also your fault.

If life was all open doors and purple sunsets then it wouldn’t mean as much when the sunset would be so beautiful that you actually stop to kiss on the sidewalk. Even assholes like me can do that, I know that now. I can see the sun rise and set every day in California and usually it would set while we were taking our daily walk like old people needing a stretch. To Safeway, Berkeley, Piedmont, the city. Or just around. Sometimes we’d just walk around.

What if trees and sky were all I needed and I was just afraid to be a thing worthy of light? What then.

By the end of the month most of the walks were to look at apartments. First for me, then later for her.

I feel like everything is about to change for everyone, including you.

The thing that's blown my mind for the past few months is how people will hang on to a thing that's completely stopped working, if it ever did -- that is, the ex-girlfriends of many of my friends; the ex-girlfriends who fought to keep a tired thing or fought just to make sure everyone felt equally attacked. It's savage. It just feels so savage to me and I can't shake it.

Why spend your life sitting in a car on the side of the road, hazards blinking like a wolf crying.

All I really want in life is to never want a thing that doesn't want me back. Maybe that's even worse. I don't know how to fight for a person. I'm learning with you, even though it's not like 'that.'

No. I'm not learning.

But I'm studying.

++

On Thanksgiving m. moved into her new place and Haviland was here and everything felt easy except you, and we'd tried so long to run in opposite directions and still ended up where we ended up so I knew by then there wasn't any way to fix it. And that's the worst part. Someone on formspring asked me why isn't love enough? And I think I said, it is. Gotta give 'em hope, you know.

m. & Ashley made Vegan Thanksgiving ‘cause Hav only eats twigs now. Then m. played guitar and they all sang while I watched. It was super gay/perfect.

I love how I took Emily’s part and you took Amy’s, Haviland said to m., like we didn’t even have to discuss it.

The next night we played frisbee on the quiet street and I was wearing tights but can’t remember why. Later on we got stoned and I was talking about feeling psychic and Ashley asked me if I felt like I might have had wings in another life. Like that I could’ve been an angel or something.

You know better than that, though, don’t you. You know I’m not an angel.

Haviland has a lot of feelings about light now. Maybe I would’ve laughed at them in August but now it’s December and I like them. This is a thing she said to me:

Haviland: “You are choosing light now and I cannot explain the massive difference I see. You can’t control [people], you can only wish for them to make the light choice and keep doing it yourself. And surround yourself with other lightworkers.”

thanksgiving 2010

[I was lying before when I told you I liked the darkness. It was a defense mechanism, for when the other kids would be splashing away the goldenest years of their brilliant athletic youths and I’d be sulking inside with a book.]

[I didn’t know the darkness was a thing I could change.]

[I couldn't. Not in New York. In New York I loved the darkness. But I'm almost 30 so I have to stop that.]

++
Anyhow I was talking about Christmas, how I was walking back from the Y and thinking what if I bought a ticket to where you are. What if I just showed up. What would you do then. I thought about your hands over your face going no-no-no and pushing the door away and I almost cried for a second but didn’t.

I don’t cry much lately but I did the night I sent you that terrible email. It was lots of things: a fruitless day at the health clinic, my family losing interest it seeing me for the holidays and doing so too late for me to make other plans (but that’s unfair, probably, like “will you buy me a plane ticket ‘cause i can’t afford one myself” isn’t necessarily the best barometer of love). But mostly I was crying about you.

I do cry about you, I have cried about you. In the afternoon with pre-sunset whiskey, on my bed in child's pose at night, scrunched up like a baby dinosaur (my spirit animal).

I want you to like me again. I want you to admit that you still love me. I want you to admit that you know we still love you but that would be admitting that we’re not bad people and then you’d have to like me again.

What if me and you were just two people who met somewhere else at some other time. Like we were astronauts who spent too much time eating astronaut ice cream and not enough time shooting valiantly to the stars. What if we were waitresses together, smoking cigarettes and waiting for our rides after a dinner shift, blowing smoke valiantly towards the stars above us.

What if we were those people instead of who we are.

What if we were infinite? What if we were infinite and I showed up on your doorstep and said I know you don’t want to be fixed, but I heard from a friend who heard from a friend that you said you felt broken.

What then.

+
+

You deserve/need a giant girl with a heart bigger than your whole body -- I'm not just talking about you now but also you and you and you. You’d sleep cradled in the scoop of her enormous ribcage, which’d be larger than a significant tropical body of water like the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Huron. Swan Lake. What you need is a heart bigger than a jet plane. Higher and faster and bigger.

Not just you, all of you.

What if my little heart’s more like a motel where you can sleep for a while but someone else might need the room tomorrow and I’ve gotta clean it first. It’s on a little brown raft crawling out to sea/see. What if I kept you there though.

Do you remember last October when everyone was partying in the room after the Equality March and I was sitting in the hotel hallway talking to you on the phone. I’m obsessed with how socks feel on hotel hallway carpet, dashing to see friends in the next room. For ice or something. What’s funny is earlier that day we’d been on the National Mall and m. and julia were both there too but I didn’t know them yet. I could hear Tess talking and Katrina loud-talking and Alex laughing because Alex has the best laugh in the whole world. She was/is/willalwaysbe my little lightworker, and the lightest thing I ever held in New York.

Do you remember that?

I’ve got rooms & rooms and my socks on the carpet and they’re filled with you all of you and I wanna live in every room forever but that would mean believing I'd ever been invited.
+

Everyone tells me you just need time but I miss you all the time. How long is time. I don’t think we’re meant to understand these things.

+

I can’t explain why it’s true that I love you in this/that way but can’t always be the thing you want. Nobody’s made me want to be everything as much as you have. I tried to do everything from here which is so far away from a place where I could touch your face and I ended up doing the worst thing of all the things.

It's a thing.

So many things can be true at the same time. Different feelings at the same time.

+

I never expected more than one (now dead) person could ever love me. I thought you were all lying. Now I don’t know what to do with all the people who probably really do love me but who I know, i KNOW, would not really like me if they met me, even if they’ve already met me. Every time someone tells me they love me, it feels like a surprise party.

I’m sorry I didn’t believe any of you who said you loved me. I’m sorry I just don’t know why you would, it just doesn’t make sense like why anyone would love Love Actually or beef jerky.

I realize I'm comparing myself to a bad romantic comedy and a piece of meat but maybe that's actually the most perfect metaphor I've ever pulled on you.

I was lying when I said I hate everyone. I love everyone. Everyone I've ever loved; I love forever. It's a long list.

I was lying when I said I hate everyone. I love everyone.

That’s the problem, Sid.


++

++

Sometime in October, my little heart slipped out on its own. I wasn’t unhappy. I think I was just outside. You weren’t the only one who complained and still even now I don’t know what happened because I don’t remember changing. Everything seemed perfectly natural and I loved you and everyone just the same.

It’d been so long since the world promised up oxygen I was semi-interested in breathing. I wasn’t writing things down because when you write a thing down it starts to exist. Sometimes i need to keep my stories in my head, close to me where nobody else can see them.

What if I tell you a thing and then I lose track of the meat of it, like a pen or my sanity.

What if I showed up on your doorstep.

My little heart was dashing around in slow motion or slipping into patches of darkness with m. where nobody could see us and we could forget about the rest of it -- an overhanging tree, some ambitious cross-fence foliage -- on Oakland’s night-time sidewalks. Corners. The damp, lukewarm California night. Fingertips. Her palms. My bones were on fire.

One night all four of us got kicked out of the hot tub, when only moments earlier there we were being sparkly wet and unemployed and fucked up in California at night in a tub of hot water with our shirts off? Stumbling home later, like sparkly wet animals? It was a Saturday night, it was a good night.

The feeling of being young. Not in the sense that I’m younger in years, but that feeling children have of life being totally infinite and incomprehensible.

++


Signing for my apartment in my apartment when it was still somebody else’s apartment

So now my life is pretty simple. I wake up and do Autostraddle and sometimes go to The Y, or take a walk alone, and at some point later, m. gets off work and at some point she comes here or I go there. Then I burrow like a thing. Like I'm a thing who laughs and smiles and everything.

I didn’t consider the possibility of this.

I don’t consider possibilities, good or bad, that I don’t have control over. My problem is expectations, my boyfriend said to me in high school on the dock of Green Lake, I just need to stop expecting anything, and then I won’t be disappointed.
I thought good point.

So I don’t. But now it’s become everything: I literally cannot see tomorrow. Tomorrow does not exist. I can’t even write to-do lists anymore. I can't warn you of anything. Maybe her and I have the same problem, that way.

Expectations are too much for a writer/psychic -- give me a possibility and I’ve got the next five chapters and they’re so gorgeous I can hardly believe the pages are mine to turn. I used to want things. Ages ago. I remember being on the bunkbed in my Dad’s apartment, underneath my brother, where I learned how to cry hysterically silently so he wouldn’t hear me.

That’s what growing up is, or was. You learn how to cry silently. How to throw up silently. How to walk silently. How to feel silently. How to break silently.

Things happened that we didn’t want/expect/predict.

I mean since I’ve gotten to California.

Things like the purest most unexpected happiness ever.

I'm sorry I couldn't warn you.

I did not consider this possibility.

Because it’s not what I do, and because there were so many reasons not to.

++

The point of this is that I love you. The point of this is that I’m sorry. The point of this is that I don’t have a giant heart after all. I’m just me on this fucking raft.

I want to be a lighthouse but I’m only a flashlight. You know what I mean?

I love you though. I'm not what you asked for, but I'm still what you have. I can't touch you but you're a thing I am keeping and nothing can change that.

Not even silence.

I will fight for you forever even if you never let me win.

++

While unpacking I found a letter Carl had sent me a year or two after I moved to NYC. Not a letter really. A note.

A piece of paper he’d cut in a heart shape and colored red with a marker. And a note with it that said, be careful. It’s the only one I have.

We haven’t talked in ages, me and Carl. I put it on the wall on my bulletin board to remind myself of that -- that sometimes being careful with a heart isn’t the thing you thought it might be.



On Thanksgiving I gave thanks for my friends but I called them “my family.”

++

I'm glad Haviland was here, I told m. when they left. I'm glad she was in this space after I moved into it. Like someone from before.

Like she blessed it?

Yeah, yeah. Like she gave it her blessing.

A thing to be thankful for.
++

Did I ever tell you that I picked Berkeley for you and what I knew you’d need. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Things tend to matter more when you can’t say them.

I guess that’s the thing about us.

I could just tell you everything and anything and you’d get it and you’d tell me something and we could go like that forever.

I just wish I could still tell you everything and anything.

I wish my life hadn’t become a blog post you don’t want to read.

When for so long; you were the first one I told.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

love is a thing. it's all the things.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I love you. I don't know whether or not I'd like you if I met you. But I love you. whether you're a flashlight or a lighthouse.

Anonymous said...

Being loved is the strangest feeling in the world.

AC said...

Really reminded me of this Erika Moya poem (3000 days):

After three thousand days we stopped loving.

It left quietly, before the first blue in the sky,
while one could still see stars and long shadows.

It walked barefoot across the moonlit floor admiring its feet, holding a pair of shoes in one hand and an old toothbrush in the other.

It tried to look back but the thought of salt was too great. When it reached the door,
it shut its eyes going back minutes prior, with you in bed and your quiet breath.

It tried to memorize your lashes and creases in your lips, each a mini-wrinkle.

It wanted more time but knew more time was not an option.

It did not close the door entirely for fear of making noise, so that forever
after we stopped loving, everything was framed in the sullen violet of almost morning.

Almost something that was not enough.

Honest, warm but wrenching piece. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

i'm slowly giving up expectations, too. i don't know if it is good or right or "healthy," but it's getting me through the days.

Anonymous said...

I hate people who listen to happy music and feel happy.

I hate it when you love someone, they know it too but you won't have them/can't have them.

I hate that I love her so much still after all these years and she is not here.

I hate not having her here to tell all the things too.

I hate not loving myself enough without her.

I hate that she would rather be dead than be with me.

I hate light.

But I love her.

Anonymous said...

Is [you] a number of different people or is it one person the whole way through?

Anonymous said...

After reading this I feel like sleeping forever. Or walking to the water in the freezing cold and looking at the sky and never standing under a roof again. I don't really know what it all means. But everything is like that anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hey. Riese. C'mere *hug*

-a.

Anonymous said...

"...have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything, live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Rainer Maria Rilke

Anonymous said...

this blogpost is up and down like a brides nightie.

enjoyed this.

riese said...

it's funny to me that so many of you are anonymous ... i used to get maybe 1 or 2 anonymous comments max on any given blog post. are you new people or are you the same people, but hiding? this is fascinating to me.

Anonymous said...

Same person. Hiding.

Anonymous said...

i've always been anonymous

Anonymous said...

this is perfect. i am in love with your mind. whoever [you] is could not be luckier.

El N said...

I thought being anonymous was what we were doing now.

stef said...

oh you, i love you, i miss you, i missed posts like these. i'm glad you're happier and i worry that all of those times you announced you were leaving new york city forever, maybe we should have let you... but things are looking up, kiddo. see you so soon.

Anonymous said...

i like you. reading you helps me understand me.

Anonymous said...

all you do is win win win win like DJ Khaled.

goneundercover said...

beautiful post.

Jack said...

"Everyone tells me you just need time but I miss you all the time. How long is time. I don’t think we’re meant to understand these things."

yes.

and there was more i wanted to say, but now i can't find the thing you wrote that made me say, out loud, "fuck, yes, that's my problem" so maybe i just wanted that thing to be in this post and it's not, or i can't see it because i don't want it to be true.

M said...

i feel like you step in all the puddles and tell me how deep they are so i don't have to be scared.

Haviland said...

I really love this, and love that you are evolving so brilliantly, colorfully, and very very full of light, sweet riesling.

This is true:

"The story of humans is the story of ideas
That shine light into dark corners" - Jill Tarter]

We're doing New Years. Let's get into it.

mmesucre said...

this is so perfect that reading it almost made me want to stop writing myself. almost.

and that is not because I agree with everything written here.

I don't know if having a big heart is a good thing, for example. it's not always - because it's not necessarily a good heart, too, although you keep trying and trying. there are times when you want to kick everyone who's made themselves at home in there out, and that can turn into sudden anger.
having a heart that is too big for you, or wants to grow, can lead to things like not being able to let go properly, because you want to make sure everyone has a space in there, even if they don't want to have it anymore.
maybe that is why we're sometimes sitting at the side of the road instead of going or driving. and I feel like it's not always about the other person, but if I have to let someone go I feel like I'm betraying myself - I could have done better because I should be there, I should still love and be open, this is what defines me as a person.

this comment is way too long and I don't know if it's a good reply or not, it's more or less what immediately popped into my mind.

Anonymous said...

what do you do
when you find people so easy to love?

people who are easily lovable don't need my love
and what do i have to offer when the only thing i have is a thing you don't need

i try and love you from afar
but i'm sorry
i'm finding it hard to keep it in my chest
when you are so beautiful

jasmine said...

your words do work wonders for me. like tolerating the lumps of wasteland that is me, myself and i. if only you'd write a book, i promise to buy a dozen and four.

and hey, you're not an asshole. nuh uh ma'am.

samantha said...

i feel that the internet is a better place for having insight to your beautiful mind. i would live there. thank you.

M said...

I have no idea who you are and I came across your page from Dorothy Snarker's page. This post is truly gorgeous and gut wrenching. I'm a little astounded by its beauty.

Torque Wrench said...

being complicated makes life more mysterious and full of surprises

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me understand who I was, maybe still am. I don't have a way with words like you do, and I don't want to get in touch with my emotions. But this piece you wrote struck me like a meteor of some kind.

Maybe interesting to know: your writing hits a tiny country in Europe.