There’s something going on and I don’t exactly know what it is or how I would describe it, but if whatever has been wrecking constant havoc with my emotions and with my mind was made up of a heavily-pigmnanted color, I think that color would probably be a dark maroon, almost blood-red at its core.
Part of it all is that I’m not doing the normal things like sleeping or eating like I usually do. I take this herbal stuff to make me fall and hopefully stay asleep, but it hasn’t worked the way it usually does in that it usually makes me slide into an uneasy slumber and wake up a few hours later and roll to the side and check out the time and feel grateful that I still have several more hours of maybe-sleep to go. But, though I’m still taking those pills, I haven’t been falling asleep. I’m trying to blame it on anything I can besides what I fear it really is. I tell myself that the weather is changing and I like to sleep in a room that feels cool and that I have a lot on my mind when it comes to all that must get done between now and late June at work. I admit to myself that I feel the need to continually come up with ideas for my writing and that I’m terrified that Bravo will unleash a new set of Housewives in some random rural city and then I’ll feel the unwelcome desire to follow those lunatics too but on the upside, maybe I’ll finally get to see what a real life Dairy Queen actually looks like because a Dairy Queen is where a part of me believes all rural people spend all of their time.
I’m also not eating much. This self-imposed hunger strike happens every now and again, but it rarely lasts as long as it’s been going on these days. Again, there’s all kinds of reasons for why it could be happening like I’m trying to get ready for bikini season and that time I baked, decorated, and then ate the entire cake put me over the edge, but even during those times I feel the pull towards eating the bad shit. I might not allow myself to do it, but I will sit on my couch late at night and imagine eating fistfuls of salty pretzels or maybe those coconut and caramel Girl Scout cookies and I’ll go to sleep and actually dream about an everything bagel. But that kind of thing isn’t happening these days. I’m not craving carbs. I’m not craving anything. I all but force myself to eat Greek yogurt and sometimes I’ll toss in granola and sometimes it’s quinoa and sometimes it’s a handful of chocolate chips and then I’m kind of done for the day and it will be late and I will think about all I did that day and that I might have maybe forgotten to eat and then I wonder if maybe there’s something else I might have forgotten, something that’s even more important.
I told this guy about my blog the other day and he asked me if it was hard to share my thoughts with anyone who chooses to stumble upon the site.
“Don’t you feel exposed?” he asked. I could hear in his question something real about his character seep out of his words: he is the kind of guy who sees himself as someone who could maybe protect me. I wanted to tell him right then not to bother. Nobody can really protect me because the biggest threat against me is myself.
“You’re very little,” he also said to me. I didn’t tell him that soon I would be smaller, that the time frame had already passed by during which – were things typical – I would have committed murder for a large cookie.
I tried on some dresses last night. One is the color my Psychology textbook turned the year I first learned how to highlight notes. It was snug when I first got it. It’s perfect now. I wear so much black that sticking such a vivid color against my skin makes it look markedly different, like I might actually be lit from within.
I should wear more color. It’s one of the things I say to myself while I’m not eating or sleeping.
“I think your life is on the cusp of really changing,” a good friend said to me very recently. “Would you move? Would you really want that kind of life?”
“I’d do anything I have to do,” I answered – and I knew when I said it that it was something true.
Sometimes when I do fall asleep, I find myself dreaming of things I have never done, of people who shouldn’t matter. In one of those dreams, I walked barefoot through sand that was covered in the sharpest and most beautiful shells I have ever seen. The soles of my feet were not harmed in the least but my toes felt like they were burning and the next thing I remember, I was having sex on a porch swing that was somehow hanging on the beach. The swing was made of rope but it wasn’t a hammock and I remember how my leg – the entire thing – went straight through one of the loops of rope and how later on, my face was pressed so hard against it that I felt some abrasion against my cheek. I woke up touching my face.
And still the days go by.
I took my dog out yesterday and, literally overnight, the cherry blossom trees have bloomed. I live behind an arch of carnation pink, and it’s all so beautiful, like there is cotton candy spread across the air. I can’t help but remember that slab of pure ice that covered the lawns for so long, the one that made me forget I even had trees, let alone trees that bloomed.
I survived another season, Wookie, I told her. We both did.
Only some seasons and years are hard to survive. This one was tough, but it didn’t come close to breaking me.
Do people mind that you write about them? That question came from a friend people sometimes suggest should become more.
Who cares? I answered – but I don’t fully mean it. It’s funny: I’m way tougher than I look but I’m also not nearly as tough as I sometimes pretend I can be. I guess it depends on the day. Maybe it depends on the season.
I showed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to one of my classes for the first time ever. It would work absolutely beautifully as part of my antihero unit or even as an example of a mythic hero’s journey, but I’m actually showing it to my International Baccalaureate seniors who have already completed all of the requirements for the course. As they prepare for their other IB or AP tests, I promised them that for late May and early June, I would only show them movies I believe they should see before they graduated – you know, the movies that matter.
On the best of days, the ending of that movie would make me feel emotional. McMurphy has been lobotomized. His essence is extracted so the world he is living in becomes easier for others to manage. And when The Chief sees that he is essentially already dead, he euthanizes him so that – at least in death – he can find freedom.
Watching the ending today crushed me. Am I living free? Could it be that’s what all those recent dreams are about where I’m walking in sand and my feet are not in shoes that are covered in straps? Could it be why I had the porch swing dream?
When I was a junior and a senior in college, I lived in a sorority house that had a great wraparound porch and maybe the most perfect swing in the alcove area. I spent a lot of time on that swing, and I made decisions on it both big and small as my feet dangled below me. The seat of the swing was large enough for two people – three if one of the people was emaciated, but we were college students and we ate a lot of ramen noodles and mac and cheese very late near the dawn and so we’d only sit two on that swing. I decided not to go to graduate school in Miami on that swing. I’d explained the pros and cons of breaking up with a boyfriend of four years on that swing. I sat with my legs underneath the bridge of a guy’s knees and received maybe the finest kiss of my entire life – still – while on that swing. I froze on that swing in the winters and I sweated my ass off on it during late May.
I grew up on that swing.
That it was a swing that appeared in my recent dream – that it was that man who turned me around until my face was pressed against it – surprises me, but it really shouldn’t. The actual moment never really happened, but I do think that some objects and some people (and some people who treated you like objects) have a real role in making you the person you have become. I think I’m one of those people who wants to understand and explore those people and those moments. A lot of them don’t matter to me in my day-to-day life, and a lot of them shouldn’t though they do. I’m just not sure anymore what it is that I seem to be trying to come to terms with.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about so often lately in the still of the night is how different friendship is now that we’re all older. You have to carve out time for friendship, and you have to bury or at least tolerate when someone takes a different path than one you would choose. It’s confusing sometimes, knowing what you can actually say to a friend. It’s more confusing for me to know that a friend who presents as a friend might not be someone you can rely upon and that the person went out of his or her way to make you believe and make you trust and then the day changes and so does how they feel and you are left lost, the same person you were a week ago and what in the hell happened and was that person ever really a friend?
I sometimes ask questions I already know the answer to. I wonder if I have ever been perceived as being that inconsistent kind of friend to somebody else? That is a question whose answer I do not know.
Could it be so easy as to say that I feel out of sorts because it’s simply a transitional time? April became May very quickly this year and it’s already getting really hot outside. Summer is so close that I just bought two self-tanners and they had both better glide on smoothly because there is almost no time to even out streaks.
I am teaching my face off and grading exams and papers and then writing until my eyes won’t stay open. I go nowhere without the power cord of my computer. I hear from people that I should be recapping a show called Southern Charm. It is a show I have never seen, and I hold myself back from watching it because I get addicted to things way too easily.
I think about how a guy laughed and told me that he could make me happy. I think about how my response to him was to also laugh and about how lucky I sometimes am that my dimples sort of camouflage everything else that flashes across my face because what is really there so quickly and so obviously is that I don’t think most people can make me happy. And I dance through a bunch, but there is only one I keep coming back to in my head and I don’t think he has any idea that I think of him as often as I do.
I’ve never met anyone like you, I tell the dreamy version of him that exists in my mind late at night.
And you never will again, his spirit breathes back and the truth within those words keeps me up for days.