"I feel like moving to California would be admitting to myself that somewhere, deep down inside, I actually might want to be happy. I’ve wanted many things in my life; happiness has never been one of them."
Today I turn 30 and today I am going to write a post on this blog.
But it's been ages since I've properly cut open a limb for you, dear blog, and I don't know where to begin. The scar turned perfectly white in a few years. I keep stopping and starting again. I'm better at deleting things than I was.
I live in California and I'm happy.
In lieu of deleting/starting-over over and over, I'm just gonna do that thing where I write down all the words as they announce themselves in my brain and then publish this blog post and then if nobody comments I will feel really insecure and delete the post like it never happened and eventually get over it and then one beautiful December morning you'll wake up to a brand new comment-worthy Sunday Top Ten about muppets or citrus fruit.
The longer it's been the harder it is. I have 10-12 stories to tell you about California but haven't decided if I should tell them all at once or one-by-one or another way. A way the universe has yet to reveal to us.
I'm not as busy as I was last year -- simply because keeping up that pace would've killed me -- no, that's a lie. Would've killed you. Because I don't have any regrets in life, not ever, but I regret editing that video instead of going upstate last summer. I regret leaving New York four months before my body actually left New York. I guess I was trying to detach, like detachment is a thing you can put on a packing list and check off before you check off "socks."
I have more work now than I've ever had but it feels more structured now. So less busy. It feels real. Like me. I'm 30 and I'm real. 30 entire years on this silly planet!
Today I turn 30 and today I am going to take myself seriously -- that I'm a proper grown-up, that it's okay that I don't have an "income" or own a car or a house or a tiny baby or a pet or a dishwasher or veneers or whatever a 401k is (I feel like I'll never find this out). It's okay 'cause I made Autostraddle and I have Marni and I have so many amazing friends and co-workers and I like the weather and all my cleverly planned meals. It's okay that I am getting things done in a different order than initially anticipated.
The morning we left for San Francisco from San Diego after my panel at BlogHer, a woman named Julia who'd been on the panel with me told me to "own it." We were sitting by the pool at The Marriot (where everyone stayed except us, we stayed at The Dolphin Inn, which I highly recommend) with a bunch of other gay-lady blogger-buddies, eating breakfast burritos wrapped in soggy sheathes of foil, and she was talking to whomever was sitting next to me. And then I saw her and said hi. She's one of those people you like right away.
So she goes "You act all like" [imitating me] "Oh I don't know, I just started this website and now it's big and popular and a-ma-zing, I guess it just like happened?" [being herself again] "You have to own it. Own it. You did this. You made this happen. Own it."
"Right," I said, in a voice I imagined a pirate might use to reassure his pirate captain that he was heading in the right direction despite the fact that the pirate had no fucking idea what hemisphere he was in.
"No, you have to own it. Own it, girl! You knew what you were doing."
In the car driving back to San Francisco from San Diego I tell Marni that I feel like Julia is right but I can't shake the cranky 12-year-old animal hibernating in my subconscious who'd like to argue otherwise.
Marni says Julia is right. Marni tells me that Julia is right every day. Not in so many words, but you know what I mean.
I keep trying for the whole car ride home to experiment with owning it. I am experimenting with self-esteem. It's like trying to clasp a stubborn necklace where you can only maintain almost getting it for long enough to believe you might really get it. So then there's the let-down, the cheap silver napping across your palm, her naked collarbone.
This blog is a novel about a heroine in her twenties lost in a giant dirty/beautiful city. She's swallowing hearts and breaking fingers. She's giving herself daily emotional autopsies and they're always inconclusive. She's being lifted and pushed against the hard white rock of someone else's townhouse and eaten alive. She let you fuck her in the cab and fuck her over on the stairwell. She's excessively maudlin at odd hours and doesn't know what to do when her shoe breaks on 14th street.
Now I'm in California. It's another chapter, or it's an Afterword that might never end. The Neverending Afterword.
I am far away from so many things but I have no room to miss you. I miss you too much to miss you.
16 years ago I had a choice: open your heart to the prospect of wanting to see a person you'll never see again, or stop wanting. I chose the latter.
I chose not to miss anybody. I just want to see you. We'll pick up where we left off. The phone calls and emails in between seem oddly tedious, like oil changes you're abstractly aware your car needs to keep running although you've still got no idea what an oil change actually is. Or maybe you do, and that's one of the 400 things about the world I missed in favor of catching the things nobody else cares about. But the phone calls and the emails do remind me of having you near, and make me miss you more, and want to see you more. But like I said I miss you too much to miss you.
If I let myself miss people I might even miss the 24-year-old who wrote this novel. She was so new /tender that reading everything she wrote makes my heart ache so hard I feel like it's crawling up my throat, begging to get out and give up/party.
No, I miss her because I feel like this now:
"I crave blogging. I crave sitting down and telling you about my day, or my emotional insight, or the mind-blowing sex, or what I’ve been writing today. All of which have been happening. It’s a challenge to be that open and honest here, for lots of reasons. What used to feel like a sanctuary now feels like a podium and microphone in front of hundreds of people, so I psych myself out.
What do I even want to tell you? How do I begin to explain the last six weeks? What do you want to know?"
- Sinclair Sexsmith
Maybe I am confusing missing something with wanting it back.
If I let myself miss people I would miss Ryan, my "other half" who by definition should've left me broken when he vanished. He's not even on facebook. He could be anywhere. If I let myself miss people I would miss Caitlin, and that would be confusing and hard. Like I said, it's hard to not confuse missing something with wanting something back. She's still everywhere, she listened.
I could go on but let's not.
If I let myself miss people I would miss everyone. I just want to see you. I will get on a plane and see you soon enough, or you'll get on a plane and see me soon enough, if you can wait. We'll pick up where we left off. We always do! In the meantime, I think about you and write about you every day.
I am 30 years old which means I can't use youth as an excuse anymore, which means Julia is right, I have no choice. I have to own this. I have to own what I've made.
I am 30 years old and a real live human.
I wake up every morning between 7:30 and 8:30. I have a meeting with Laneia and Rachel, who I love and have loved for so long. And Marsha, who is teaching us to be better leaders. I've got a cute apartment I might actually buy furniture for this weekend.
I ride my bicycle everywhere. I've already had two bike accidents.
I love Marni and she takes care of me and I hope one day I can be as good at that as she is. Love is so easy now.
Me: "I think I want to write a song to the tune of "I Fell in Love With a Stripper" but it'd be "I fell in love with a commenter."
Marni: "I think that has too many syllables."
I'm happy. I'm 30 and I'm happy. I haven't needed ambien or xanax for a year. I eat vegetables every day.
I'm sitting on my bed with a laptop and to my right is a notebook and underneath the notebook is Tinkerbell. And to the left is a chair and my backpack and a water bottle and a green tea bottle and a dustbuster and Claritin-D. At the end of my bed are the jeans I was wearing earlier.
I'm 30 and I'm smart and made a website that really matters to so many people and I'm a good writer and a decent leader and I love you and you love me. I'm 30 and my thoughts are really important and not stupid. I'm 30 and despite what I told you that one time on the boat on the day we set sail, I am not going to die before turning 30. Look at me! I'm still here. And so are you.