October 1st. A day of late in the year fresh starts. I don’t know how fresh, but there’s at least some points in my favor to get me going.
I have determined not to become the Lich Queen. It is really not worth the small bump up in power.
I have an eyebrow waxing appointment tomorrow.
I have ordered and picked up my groceries for a week – will try to stretch to 10 days – and am getting ready to start another load of laundry. I am thinking that the time and money I am spending eating out, which culminated last week in a veritable frenzy of excess and over-caffeination, can be used for exercise, for clothes shopping, for reading, for stashing away to buy someone a ticket out here if we can just agree that should happen.
I’m not feeling very well, but, that’s only my fault.
I have a very fragile heart, but nobody is swinging baseball bats.
I am in it for the titles, baby. The titles and the glory.
If I didn’t have this impulse that I wanted you to read this, perhaps I would find myself breaking away at top speed to write about all the goings-on of now. How we have leapt forward into some place new and how this means something I am nervous to decipher.
I won’t let you read it, though. That’s a silly idea. Not all the things I think are meant for direct transmission.
What a fumbling, stumbling, space I am in. My equilibrium is gone. We now have not only spoken, we’ve seen each other whilst speaking through the marvels of video-to-video simultaneous broadcast. This has been a generally pleasing development. But it drops a veil. It raises a portcullis. I am known in a way I cannot be unknown, not with him, or anyone. We smiled, giddily, at each other. I became, in some ways, a real person. At least for him. He has always been realer than anything I am used to, but nevertheless, I imagine J. will not actually become a human being until I hold his hand for myself.
I am not complaining that this has happened. I am just mindful that these things – romantic connection, delight in another human soul, caring about someone’s well-being so deeply you shudder with the weight of it – things I have so pondered for so long and been drawn to since I were aware they existed in this wide and often heartless universe are happening. They are unfurling their crimson sails and the ship is sailing where it is steered. Straight into the mists where lie rocky shoals or else some far distant land of milk and honey or else just more waves and water until we all run out of food and look thirstily at the salt-sea that surrounds us.
And now, today, I feel softened and urgent and needful. I put on makeup and set my hair just so in order to face this new reality of being visibly available, not just via voice. I have let go of security blankets I have clung to for eons. Negative and sour milk beliefs, deep sincere faith in my absence of worth, shackles of self-doubt to let this little engine that could, do have been poured out and run haphazardly down the gutters and gullies. All away and not towards me. If I can be honest and analyze this choice that hardly felt like a choice at all when it was posed to me, this is a Tower crumbling to the ground.
This is a level of vulnerability that is profound, visceral, and truly, one I never reckoned I could find a way to evoke. Now, regardless of what ends up happening in this relationship, this relationship I’m in, I’ve crossed this border. I’ve set foot here and I can find my way back. Mildred has just been silent, face agog, as I have marched along without her towards a life that can’t allow for her to be in charge.
This is not in alignment with you today. You want to not be solely these people who hit this pleasure button over and over again. You want us to have conversations. Be edifying and surprising. Give each other knowledge, tell each other about arenas and universes that are new, that we can be enlightened by, that we can be illuminated.
It is our remit and suddenly, he’s the raconteur with all the cards pre-filled with esoteric knowledge of grand cinematic or epicurean or psychological or miscellany and I hardly know how to take a breath. The absence of an easy, pat answer frightens me. I blank so hard I feel dictionaries crack against the front of my skull and break into individual letters.
I know about surrealism. I know about gardening. Trillium, delphinium, rhubarb, nasturtium. I know some French. Je sais un peu de Francais. Un petit peu. I know about…the sound my dryer makes as it tumbles on a Sunday night. I know about the route I take to work that snatches tires with its teeth. I know about panic, hot air hanging where it shouldn’t in your chest and ballooning until you lift your mind out of position. I know about feminism or the feminist lens as presented by academia ten years ago. Cixous. Rich. Valerie Solanas. A bit. I know about the red and the white, Emily Dickinson peering down through history at us. I know about the sestina, the villanelle, the haiku, the heroic couplet. I know about the saga and the fabliau. I know about Wyf of Bathe. I know about how to read a palm. I know about David Eddings (only about Sparhawk and the Elenium and Sephrenia, and once I recall the spelling of her name). I know about the river in the morning when you are the only one awake. I know about riding with relative strangers through downtown Los Angeles in the middle of the night, falling asleep at four am. Yet, he asks me for something interesting and I stutter.
I say. I don’t know. I’m not the kind of person who can talk about things.
Which is such a baldfaced lie and yet it comes to hand so quickly I have to try and swallow the last of it back before I think I mean it.
I like listening to him think aloud. I like drifting off under the melodic tones of his voice. I like the trust that means I can luxuriate in his presence.
But there is more to me than that. And more is needed to sustain us both. A bore who doesn’t think for herself is a depressing self-definition. What a grasping, anxious pit gets centered in my chest when I think about myself trying to be a lover who has no opinion but yes. please. okay. Not one of being beautiful enough, but of smart enough and that is a shock to the system. A piece I’ve taken for granted so long that suddenly my bluff has been called and I’m sweating.
How much has deserted me in this effort to keep myself away from the danger of being known? How much has been paid to an internet with no vested interest in insuring my intellect is exercised? How much of a quicksilver facility for fact and fiction has been mortgaged for a silence I did not want after the first day?
More than is fair.
Time to read up, fill this well, and let the awe of being changeable yet still, find the words that match its feeling.
I am waiting on the stoop for a sunrise to appear. I hardly know what to say these nights when I aim to be so occupied that the words in me dry up. My thoughts are singular, not kaleidoscopic as the work demands.
Where does the need to write go when it goes, if it goes?
It goes in a scrap heap, with every other sort of faith and belief in intangible things. Go to work, press the start button, buy the coffee even if no one particularly likes the coffee – it’s too bitter, type the emails, remember to check the mailbox, follow the steps, twitch and snort when out of view, taste the salted flesh preserved and simple, and constrain your metal heart.
If it goes, you go, really, with it to the scrap heap. And the robot runs the work, while you nestle without pain into the witch jar of rusted nails and half-broken thumb tacks and sharp memories claimed to be forgotten. You dream in the lemonade, you start floating around with the chili pepper, you burn and reformulate.
We do not say I love you afterwards, but it hardly matters when everything is kind and soft and urgent and sincere. Sometimes I almost do, and I stop myself. We do not say the name so we do not conform with casings and shells and polymers and masks. But we are somewhere while the body is the robot. We are somewhere and we are there together.
I find it difficult to remember because I am trying so hard to recall everything about it. Every breath and the way the voices sound as I make them, the one I lapse into without trying, this coquette, this flirt, this woman I never knew I knew so well. I want to name her, this persona so casually undertaken, but already she feels like dream dust. All of this feels like the sort of thing I would make up, with the bends in it to make it seem real even though it’s all a blue caravan trundling through the dark trees along the mountain pass. Steady and not stopping, no matter your curiosity as to the nature of its contents. It whirls in my head, that this is happening, and it’s heady like a drink first feels when the alcohol sets in. It is chemicals, the scientists say, and I say, but the body is a robot. This is me and I am elsewhere.
Today has been marked down as Friday and perhaps the world will end soon. Terrible things are happening – hate is just spilling out like so much acrid, poisonous sulfur bubbling up from caverns we had long held to be sealed. So sealed as to be forgettable, paths forsworn, unnecessary for any travel reasonable souls would undertake. Terrible things and as one of those things, we are given to watch from our robot eyes and these arms so new with such shoddy articulation that we have yet to finesse our grip.
Meanwhile, we are not there at all.