There’s a restlessness happening within me these days and I’m choosing to embrace the feeling because when the world swirls in ways that I don’t control, that’s when the magic happens. It also might be when the scary stuff happens, but I’m on too much of an adrenaline rush these days to feel any trepidation.
All of this is to say that my thoughts are kind of bouncing around in my head in a way that’s not really linear and I find that I move from fully-formed musings like, “It’s utterly clear to me that if I could sit down with anyone from Saturday Night Live’s history, I’d make a place at the table for Lorne Michaels, not one of the stars, and I think maybe that says something interesting about who I am,” and “If it’s cold enough outside, I really don’t need to wear a bra when I wear this shirt that’s cut down to my belly button.”
I’m all over the place in my head and my dreams have also been vivid and haunting. I’m getting nocturnal visits from people I have not seen in decades and I’m remembering what they said to me and how some of them held me close and I wake up still feeling their breath against my ear. I don’t question my dreams these days; I’m not interested in the analysis of my psyche – I’m just enjoying the reunions.
It seems when there are things that are left unsaid – at least for me – that the people who didn’t get to hear my apologies or my anger refuse to leave that inner part of me. I wonder what would happen if I picked up the phone and called some of them, if all these years later, I would be able to find some peace from a reconciliation with someone who is no longer in my life and hasn’t been for a very long time.
When is reconciliation worth pursuing? When does the loss or the anger subside? At what point do the ghosts dissipate into the cold air like steam?
I’m getting a bunch of text messages these days from a man who is on a road trip. He’s someone I’d consider new and unproven at this point, and he’s not reading this blog yet so I can still say what I want without the concern setting in that I’m violating something sacred. Of course, he might be reading this blog – who knows what people really do unless they tell you – and in that case, I’ll just say that you’re really good-looking and I like your adventurous spirit and, when you go there, I want pictures from the X-games and maybe a souvenir cup that I can stick some pens in because I can never fucking find a pen when I need one. What I won’t tell him is that there’s a chance that he’ll become just a memory and then maybe a dream. That seems too cynical to say at this point and besides, he probably already knows.
As my thoughts keep winding this way and that, I’m combatting it all slightly by organizing the tangible things in my life. I’m hanging up my skirts by length and holy shit, do I have a ton of short skirts. And I’m reminded that I own a lot of clothing and each time I put a shirt into its correct spot, I think of the last time I wore it and what my hopes were when I put it on and the look on someone’s face when I took it off. Clothing can be chock full of memory too and if the shirt still smells like my perfume, I can see the night that I wore it like I’m watching a short film. What’s strange is that I love movies that have ambiguous endings but not when the movie is a sequence from my life.
As I’m riding these choppy mental waves, I’m not even cognizant that I need to remember to tread water. That survival thing is ingrained in me now; it’s as natural as wanting to breathe or needing to eat chocolate or choosing outfits in my head for the events that are coming up that bring me that feeling of being excited. To feel anticipation means to choose a good thong. This is something I know, even when there’s so much out there I will never know.
I’ve been writing my own version of a gratitude journal, jotting things down every day into the Notes app on my phone. I go back and I read it sometimes and it makes me laugh that I’m so thankful for sleep and for black coffee and for having such a strong memory now when for years I remembered nothing. Sometimes I also like to go through my search history on Google and I see that where my thoughts can go in just a day is on an odd journey. I spent one day recently searching things like “Tonya Harding assault” and “Can memory be erased” and “Robert McNamara” and “poster bed,” which, incidentally, is going to be my next big purchase.
I have done no work for work because I am on vacation, but that is a mindset that will have to change soon because I have a lot to do before I go back. I’ll have to swan dive into that huge pile of essays I have to grade, but I’m not ready for that right now. I have to be in the right headspace to grade things that kids worked hard on – or, at the very least, worked on – and when the sleeping pill is still wearing off, it strikes me that it’s maybe not the right headspace.
I had dreams last night that involved Lance Armstrong and searching for a book I desperately wanted to find that didn’t have a title and having to pee and running into my best friend from high school, a girl I haven’t seen since I was in my twenties, a girl who is probably a woman now but will always remain a girl in my mind.
I’m in the middle of three books, something that tends to happen a lot with me, but I am getting just to the middle of each of them and then I pick up a different book. So I know half of the information about why Truman Capote’s friends and enemies began to wish him impotence and I know that Andy Cohen spends a lot of time with Sarah Jessica Parker and that he loves his dog and I’m aware that Robert Kennedy did some hiding and destroying of some important papers after his brother’s assassination, but that’s all I know because the three books and the three histories have now combined in my head so completely that it’s as though I’m reading a book called The Turbulent Oral History of the Dark Side of Camelot As Told By a Cable Talk Show Host Who Might Now Be Just As Celebrated As Capote Or a Kennedy. And you know what? I’d buy that book too, and maybe it’s one I’d actually finish.
I head back into my closet where things make sense and I see that in the last few years I’ve gotten into sequins and lace, but I pair them with hard things like denim in a dark wash or leggings that look like they’re leather. That eternal battle I have between the light and the shadows, the good and the evil, is being played out in my closet and sometimes I just sit back on my bed and I look at my clothing and I think about which skirt would be triumphant in a brawl. The pencil skirts are out – they’re too binding – but the ones that barely graze the tops of my thighs would kick ass.
A certain realization – that I’m rather combative these days – is making its way towards the forefront of my mind. I just got off the phone with my mother, who is still in a rehab clinic from her hip surgery. She feels ready to come home but the place seems to want her to stay. She’s pleasant and pretty, so her presence is for sure a nice one, but she feels they want her there because she has good insurance and the place is empty right about now so keeping her is good for their business.
Okay, I said to her calmly over the phone, here’s what you’re going to tell them. Ready? You are going to say that you are more than physically ready to leave, that you are in excellent shape, that you have a housekeeper and a physical therapist waiting for you at home, and if these people do not willingly sign you out, you know that it’s due to some nefarious business decision that has nothing to do with your physical well-being, and you will call everybody you know, including the Congressmen whose names you have on speed dial, to make the bullshit bureaucracy of this dinky rehab place change its mind. Or they can simply let you leave. Which would they prefer?
I can’t say that, she says back to me.
She is always so nice.
I think I used to be like her.
You can absolutely say that, and you should. Don’t walk into the meeting screaming – see how it goes first – but at the first sign that you are being taken advantage of, threaten with all that you have – and frankly, you’ve got some powerful people in your corner should you ask them to stand there. Use what you’ve got.
We hang up the phone then so she can gear up for her battle and so I can go take some Vitamin C because the germs of late December, I think, have finally gotten to me. And I think about how there was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have pulled those power cards when maybe I could have, and I can see it: I am different now – I am stronger now – and just maybe that’s why my nightly dreams are too.