Tuesday, October 2, 2012

you know who you are.

Remember when we were wild? 

Riotous hair whipping as we dangled our upper extremities outside the car at sixty miles an hour. The music was always louder at night. I always feel braver at night. The road was dark and the air sank its fangs into every exposed patch of skin as we screamed at the top of our lungs for as long as we could. My eyes would start to water from the cold and the wind and my hair lashing into them violently. By the time I gathered myself back into the car, my face was an atlas of saltwater rivers and streams. Sometimes we'd see if we could get lost. Sometimes we'd see how long we could hold our fingers out of the open windows before they hurt too bad to bend. You never really know what love is until you find the people that finally make you feel comfortable in your own body for the first time. 

I still have that inside of me, you know. Sometimes it flickers across my eyes when I'm looking in the mirror and I know that even though I floss my teeth and wear hats and gloves and I've eased up on the black eyeliner, that something inside me is still as feral as it was back then. I still err toward recklessness even though I insist that I hate gambling. I do hate gambling, when it comes to money. When it comes to my life though, that's a different story. We made ourselves that way. We made each other invincible, and now we're just waiting to see how much that will cost us. 

I'm scared, you know. I'm scared of losing my ability to let everything inside me swell to capacity and just wait for the dam to burst and know that no matter what, you'll help me paddle to safety. I'm scared to stop moving, to really entertain the idea of building a life, making a home. When I need comforted, I don't look at old photographs or call those dear to my heart. I find the darkest road I can and I drive as fast as possible, careful not to pay any attention to the route I took getting there. I crave the sensation of being lost, of almost running out of fuel, of seeing how many different angles I can howl at the moon from in one span of darkened sky. 

Those nights when our hair was long and speed-blown, back in the warmth of the car, we'd comb the knots out with our fingers, but something about our manes always stayed windy and unruly. I'd wake the next morning to the smell of cold air and dark roads on my pillowcase, and I'd smile to myself. Everything felt like a secret then, a promise, an oath, a testament to the people we were sure we were brave enough to become, eventually. And then it was time for a new night, a different driver, the same roads, and thrills only we knew how to seek. We were shrieking like dying creatures into the wind, but I wasn't angry. That was the happiest I've ever been. To have a security blanket, a grid of roads that holds you gently and lets you go crazy, it's more than I could have ever thought to ask for and somehow it just knew to give. 

I felt like I was leading a double life at times, making the grade at school, staying off the radar of any human who could be deemed an authority figure, but destroying and stealing and roaming and gnashing my teeth when no one was looking. I'd curl my hair every morning before class, smirking to myself. Barely able to wait to bang my head around until each tendril straightened into individual strands and gnarled together into unmanageable clumps. 

I buy the big bottle of whiskey now, because it's more cost efficient. But I also pace the streets at night, wishing that something which offers an actual threat to my personal safety will make me feel fear instead of the idea of never again experiencing love at first sight. I wander around and wait for something to happen in front of me that will require a show of character, more for myself than the opportunity to do the right thing. I just want to know my character for sure, in general. I want to be tested and to come out on the other side of it knowing whether I passed or not in a multitude of situations. So I walk at night and I wait. I write stories in my head that I never get around to typing and I smoke cigarettes like it's normal to feel this arrogant about my own health.

But don't let it fool you, I'm afraid now of so much more than I was back when we were free. Sometimes I feel totally desperate for passion. Fraught with need for something to hurt me and scare me and yet to be tied to it so strongly because it's also the best thing I've ever felt. I just don't want to lose my ability to give myself over to it, to feel that way. To need to relent. I'm terrified that I'll never have that moment again, when you meet someone for the first time and it's chemical- you just know. Just know. Just know. Just know they're going to be important. It happens so rarely anyway, what if I miss it? What if I've used them all up, all those serendipitous moments?  It's disappointing how much less romantic life is than in the movies. It just happens. We crash into each other and break apart and fall together in such random patterns. Nothing is the way we grow up having it shown to us. Love looks so different every time it manifests itself. No two times look the same. It's like a kaleidoscope or something, always vaguely aesthetically pleasing, but kind of abstract and at the mercy of your own motions. Once you've shifted the frame you can never really duplicate what appeared in the viewfinder the last time. Don't even try. You'll never get that sparkly bit of ribbon to catch the light that way again. And the sun is setting anyway, so fuck it. It always looks good, but some patterns are more appealing than others to any given person. I've grown so in love with the struggle that I can't enjoy anything that comes easy or becomes easy. 

I keep having these flickers in my memory today of the big blue house. Kate and I rented it that year and it was the best house I've ever lived in. We had that huge backyard and I bought a lawnmower for $35 on craigslist because part of our lease was that we had to keep up the yard. I could cry thinking about the library, with the fireplace and massive doors leading into it. We had so much art between us, so many things hanging on the walls.  And we'd have fires in the backyard when the weather was nice. We'd take one of the racks out of the oven and wrap it in foil and grill mushrooms and egg plant and peppers and corn and sprinkle them with rosemary and salt and oil and then burn our fingers trying to get them off the make-shift grill, which was really a bird bath I stole from my parents' house. There was always wine. Always. There was a massive magnolia tree and lilies everywhere. Our bedrooms upstairs were grand expanses with high ceilings and so much natural light that I rarely turned on my lamps. We almost froze that winter because we were too stubborn and too poor to properly heat the thing, but even that felt right. Layering on blankets and crowding each other while we watched a raunchy comedy or some shitty horror movie. We'd gather around the kitchen for lively pasta dinners sometimes and other times paint while smoking hookah on the front porch. I'm sorry I missed so much if the little part that I was there for feels this way to remember. It's hard to describe the feeling. I miss it. I miss sitting in the kitchen and talking about the events that made up each of our days. Even then we were less wild than we once were, but I think with more of us present, living in the same city, it was easier to conjure it back. I have such a hard time getting there on my own. 

I woke up today to the sun coming through my windows, surrounded by all my art hanging on the walls. It’s like my insides are on the outside, I’m surrounded by myself in my apartment and it feels like home. I brewed hot water for tea. I listened to Fleetwood Mac on the record player as I slid over the hardwood. I sat in my breakfast nook and actually ate breakfast while reading a book that keeps making me lose my breath. It's like I'm finally getting to be the person I always had a picture of in my head. The person I always strove to be and up until now fell miles short of becoming. I love almost everything about it here. But, it's strange, scary, being here alone, too. I'm overwhelmed by all the possibility and don't know quite what to do with myself. Sometimes I walk to the public library. It's two blocks from my house. Little perfect details like that abound now, and it feels so fragile because it can't possibly be my life. I feel so desperately full of possibility. I guess I see how people fall quickly into boring and predictable patterns in the face of change, just to have something to grasp onto. Not necessarily what they wanted, but too scared of instead doing nothing and getting stuck standing still to take their time. It's a lovely picture, the best I've seen, but something about it feels tenuous. I guess I've always wanted everything RIGHT NOW. I'm trying to slow down and let things happen naturally, trust the Universe to yield. Time is the most frustrating construct because it’s required for almost everything and there are no short cuts. I just keep trying to bang ahead and race it but I never catch a clear lead. It just can't be real, this life. But it is. I can see the mountains from my windows. 

Doesn't it hurt that we're all works-in-progress?

It does.

I'm just one of those works of progress, bumping and jolting my way along the endless assembly line which wavers as it fades into the far away abyss of my failing vision on the horizon. I don't like to think about myself in the context of an assembly line, it makes me feel tame. Like I'm becoming a pet, something that needs to be fed instead of killing what I need to live. I'm afraid to feel anything other than half starved, because at least hunger means I'm still forced to pay attention. Sometimes I suspect that the habits I picked up to keep myself wild are only serving to dull my senses and eat away at my ability to focus. 

Remember how, those nights in the car, we'd sing? Our voices would blend together and the honesty of it was almost unbearable. We were a pack and we howled together in unison and pushed, really pushed, some invisible cage that held us. Slammed into it so fast that I felt the opposite of a collision. I learned to be whole. I could never limit you as just my friends after we became that kind of family, it's such a loose and fluid term for the people who keep the pieces of your soul that your body can no longer contain.  Sometimes I forget what it’s like to feel so sure of my own ability to sustain myself on noise and air and the sensation of moving so fast alone.

And you remind me. 


  1. i love you. it's going to be fine. it always has to be fine. take deep breaths, and we'll all do the same.

  2. "I'm terrified that I'll never have that moment again, when you meet someone for the first time and it's chemical- you just know. Just know. Just know. Just know they're going to be important."
    This hits me hard - the whole thing did really.
    I have three mottos in life. The third is : This too shall pass. Good and bad. Embrace it. You'll never have this moment again. Relax in your moments of peace and revel in your chances for rebellion. They're yours.
    (For whatever that's worth. Cause I have allllll the answers.)