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what we hear in the dark

September 25, 2016


this one's probably gonna be a bit of a ramble because i've got quite a bit rolling around right now, but i'll try to keep it coherent...

friday, the granddaughter of one of my mother's oldest friends was married. my parents and i had been invited to the ceremony and reception following, both of which took place at a facility far from the freeway, deep in the woods and close to the lake: the blessed quiet country of southeast texas, the sole reason anybody moves here. it's gorgeous. that couple who got married, they're gorgeous. the granddaughter's family is gorgeous. they are, hands down, some of my favorite people on the planet, and i am immensely, incredibly grateful to have them in my life. they see beauty in me, always, even when i can't see it in myself.

one of the first things my father remarked on when we arrived was how quiet it was and how lovely. he started to say how it would be the perfect place for me to write but stopped because he remembered, i can't write in quiet. not usually. i usually blog in quiet. i almost always have to have quiet then because that kind of writing, for me, requires more thought, more conscious effort. but when i'm crafting fiction, i don't want to be cognizant of what i'm thinking. i need chaos, and what better place for that than the bar of a restaurant, close to the kitchen, the to go stand and the service bartender's domain. it's awful busy right there. it's really noisy. but more than the noise and the chaos, i need the company.

writing is one of the most solitary careers a person can choose. it's not THE most solitary one. my great uncle is a trappist monk, which means he's spent the majority of his life silently working the fields, raising cattle and making grandfather clocks and other things for family and friends, because he's also a gifted carpenter. trappist monks don't typically speak much to each other. they don't often leave the monastery. they don't generally interact with people. that's solitary. by comparison, writing's got nothing on that. but... if i had to spend my days in this room, this upstairs office in mine and my parents' home... like emily dickinson spent her days closed off her in her house... the depression i've battled since i was eight... let's just say its chances of winning would be increased exponentially.

it's five 'til seven p.m. on a sunday. this is my favorite time of day because the light in the sky is magnificent, and the air is glorious. but it's also frightening because the darkness is settling, and the world outside is quieter. so many are having dinner, so there's not much traffic. the air conditioner just clicked on. there's a dog barking. the only other noise is the clacking of the keys as i type.

if i spent my days here in this office, writing, i am confident i would lose the war i've been waging with my brain since childhood. i am confident that each day the darkness would settle sooner and more soundly over this house and within my heart. that it would smother me.

so i'm usually at pappadeaux's right about now. actually... i usually get there around three and stay until about eight. i catch the last bit of the lunch rush and the majority of that from dinner. i am there by myself, but i am not alone.

i can't worry about tomorrow... about when i'm going to find a job i love or a man i love or friends who will want to spend more than a few minutes with me or yesterday and how i've had jobs i've loved and a man i loved or how i had to leave that reception right after dinner because i just couldn't be in a room surrounded by all those gorgeous couples when i am not gorgeous and not part of a couple, probably never will be part of a couple. i can't think, really, of anything but the noise and the words my characters want me to write.

“Anxiety needs the future,” and “depression needs the past.” Thoughts?

my friend shane posted this on twitter this evening. i replied right away that i had thoughts but there were too many to share in a tweet, so i'd email her.

in reading the article published by the washington post by dana mich, who blogs at moving forwards by the way, i was struck by the notion that we should just be. like it's easy. like it's so fucking simple. just be. just go with the flow. the book i'm writing will be called let it be (mostly because i'm not capable of letting it be... it's sarcasm).

i'm SO, SO tired of people saying shit like that. don't you think i would if i could? don't you know i would LOVE my life a helluva lot more if i could? i'm a writer. my job is to figure out where the flow is going and how it's getting there. i can't just go with it. can't just be. no matter how hard i might try.

mich points out that there's almost always a word to follow be. it's used to identify the state of being. of being what? at present, i am in a chair. i am in a room. i am wearing a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and a baseball cap. am is what's called a be verb, a conjugate of be. if i were to say i am, you'd be waiting for the rest of the story, right? you are what? and then if i told you, i just am, you'd be like you're crazy. to which i would reply, yes, i am that. most assuredly. (because i've now been sitting by myself in the quiet for an hour. imagine what a full day would do.)

in the middle of reading that article, though, i remembered giving a presentation in college to a group of students, classmates, in human growth and learning, a course everyone seeking to become a teacher in texas, which had been my goal at the time, was required to take. i spoke about child suicide. i spoke of my own struggles with depression, when they began and the influences. i wasn't a good daughter or sister or student or friend. the first time i thought about death i was eight. by the time i was ten, i thought of it with every breath. EVERY BREATH. i wanted it over because i was such a disappointment to so many in so many ways, and i saw no hope of ever being anything other than that.

when i'd finished giving my presentation, when i'd finished sharing my experiences in hopes that these future teachers might take the feelings of the children they would teach more seriously, one of those students, a man who was much older than i, looked at me and said, so you wanted to kill yourself because you're weren't a good daughter, sister, student and friend? i was incensed by his question. it took me a moment to come up with a response, but when i did, i sort of gawked at him. i said something like when you're eight, your only responsibilities are to be those things, and i was failing, horribly failing, at all of them. it's not your job to judge the weight a child carries. it's your job to help him or her carry it... and if you can't do that, then it's your job to find someone who can.

i'm forty-three now. i still feel like i'm a horrible failure at being a good daughter, sister, student and friend. only now i've added lover (interestingly, i feel more like a failure WHILE i'm in a relationship than when i'm not) and employee to that equation. it's a hell of a weight i carry. too often, i am burdened by it. too often, i crawl into bed at night, and the only comfort i can find is from the softness of the flannel sheets and plump duvet i bundle about me.

i am too many things to say, really. too many things to be. i am too much in my head. i am too much by myself.

all of these thoughts were bobbing to the surface as i read that article. and with them was the sadness i felt that this woman was deprived of her father because he could no longer carry the weight of his burdens. he'd been crushed by them. my heart broke for him. for her. for all who love them, whomever they may be.


and then i scrolled down a little further on shane's twitter feed and saw this post of famous women's thoughts on being alone.

i don't hate being alone. i've spent a great deal of time this evening telling how much it sucks and what happens when i'm lonely. but i don't mind solitude. i mind the way it can cripple me sometimes. but generally, i prefer it.

it's dark outside now. it's taken me the better part of an hour to write this. i dig pretty much everything about that article. the thoughts these women have shared are generally badass. i'm fondest of what chelsea handler said. yes, there are perils that come with solitude, but there are perks as well.

i have the house to myself. this evening my parents, much more sociable creatures than i, are having dinner with that couple whose granddaughter got married two days ago. i have the house to myself. it is a BEAUTIFUL thing. it is, at the moment, blessedly quiet. i don't mind it right now. i'm reveling in it, actually. if it were two a.m., this would most definitely NOT be the case. but for right now...

it's quiet because i don't give a damn about the dallas cowboys or the chicago bears, if you must know. i'd be hard-pressed to pick which team i'd want to lose that game. i hate them both.

anyway... solitude can be a wonderful thing. i'm more comfortable being alone, truth be told, than i am being in a crowd, especially when it's a room full of gorgeous couples like that friday.

that said... one of the members of that family--my mother's friend's daughter-in-law, if you can follow that--when she heard i was leaving, she made a valiant effort to get me to stay. she dragged me onto the dance floor, she said she was single, too (her husband had left an hour before), and then she groped my ass and my breasts. because yeah, she's crazy (and was probably drunk). oh, but god it made me laugh.

i'll see her tuesday. she's in a book group and invited me to join. i'm really looking forward to spending more time with her because she's so much fun, and she's so kind to me. and maybe i'll make another friend there. wouldn't that be nice? i've got about forty-eight hours to read you are a badass: how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life by jen sincero.

shane, by the way, blogs at sea salt secrets. and the clock in that photo above, or the pieces of it anyway... it was crafted by my munkle. he can't make them anymore. my parents brought it home because he couldn't finish it, which breaks my heart, too. click here to see him and the monastery's grounds (and me from when i was a wee lassie).

i've got a quiet house. perfect for reading. i'll get started on that... soon as i can get myself off the twitter...

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