I posted a picture of myself on Twitter yesterday and not thirty seconds later I received a text from a friend asking me if doing so had been intentional. His inquiry struck me as fair. The picture was of me in a bikini and that’s not the kind of image I usually toss up on social media so it can be consumed and then potentially criticized by the masses. Still, I found myself yesterday in a rather what-the-fuck kind of mood, one caused by what I’d guess was a fizzy concoction of the glorious dry heat, the festiveness of a holiday that’s all about freedom, and just how much I like my yellow bikini, all of which were mathematically even in an invisible equation that apparently yielded both joy and the briefest ability to feel brazen.
What I didn’t know was that my picture did not appear on his feed like it had on mine, where my smile was in the center of the frame and you could see just a hint of skin that eventually revealed itself to be cleavage. No, he sent me a picture of how I looked on his screen and the picture was a clear shot of my tits, barely covered by some thin yellow fabric that no longer struck me as so pretty. When I looked at his text, even my focus didn’t go to trying to decipher what exact shade of yellow it was that I was wearing. And when you find yourself staring stunned at a close-up image of your own tits – the ones you see each and every day at least three times and thereby become rather immune to the sight of them – you begin to wonder at just how bold you’re willing to be. Or at least I did. Sure, I knew full well when I posted it that my chest was on display in the picture, but all of a sudden – seeing it through somebody else’s line of vision – I got freaked out for real.
“Should I take it down?” I asked him after sending him a shot showing him how the picture had appeared on my phone, how it seemed just a cute selfie and not like an advertisement for my own anonymous online escort service.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but the other night my allergies went into some hideous form of overdrive. I started sniffling around six. I began to cough as the clock moved to seven. And I was certain a litter of freshly hatched kittens had taken shelter underneath my dining room table at approximately eight. I did what any wheezing person might do in such a situation: I quickly swallowed three Benadryl and it was probably only 8:45 when I felt the floor underneath me slide to an angle I would have probably been able to compute had I ever gone to Math class and I carefully walked up the stairs to bed. Just as my eyes closed in a medicated haze, the thought came to me – and it was fully formed and just interesting enough that I grabbed my phone and typed it into the Notes app that I use constantly to record writing ideas or words I really like or to remind myself to pick up green apples next time I’m near a supermarket. Then I promptly fell into a bumpy and hazy sleep filled with the kind of ravenous dreams a psychiatrist should earn a fortune for analyzing.
When I woke up, my allergies were gone. I almost couldn’t remember getting into bed the night before in the first place. I have a pretty specific morning routine and I followed it to the letter that day. I carried my dog downstairs (she’s still not so adept at steps) and I set up her breakfast and made myself a cup of coffee and then took my mug to my couch to sit and relax for ten minutes before I headed into the shower and the day was officially on for good. During those ten minutes, I usually check my email and the weather for the day and I review my calendar. But when I turned on my phone that morning, I saw that I hadn’t closed out the Notes app and there it was, all in lowercase: the yere of living slefishly. I started at it for a few seconds, genuinely not remembering having typed it, having zero idea what it meant. And then it came to me like a dream I could recall in Technicolor: The Year of Living Selfishly. It had seemed a very good idea the night before while my head swirled with over-the-counter medication and I couldn’t help but realize that I liked it also in the light of the drug-fee early morning as well.
If evolution is all about altering the facets of what you once were so that you can become who you need to be, I think I might be evolving. And I can only hope that one day there’s a life-size model of me standing beside the skeleton of the T-Rex in the Museum of Natural History and that the model is wearing a cute and flowy summer dress and strappy sandals with a five-inch heel and that there’s a Tab clutched in one hand and a Diet Coke gripped tightly in another because everythingevolves, even diet soda, and that pink can of Tab will hopefully match my outfit though, growth aside, I still mostly wear black. But how perfectly will that pink soda can work as a pop of color?
It’s sometimes hard to track changes. Life moves in speeds that can feel both plodding and then wildly frantic and everything is more or less cyclical and I have spent a lot of time cautioning myself that yes, I will definitely continue to make some mistakes, but they’d better be different mistakes than the ones I’ve already made twice. I guess there’s just something about fucking up in a novel way that makes me feel okay about things in the way that repeating patterns and trying to fling my arms around opportunities that have already drifted away connotes failure. And I think realizing that I don’t need to live my days without missteps has started to make me feel more free.
I’ve always been the type to ask a lot of questions. I can’t remember that time period or anything, but I’d bet that I was the kind of toddler I really hate, the one who always followed an answer with yet another, “Why?” In fact, I can only assume that one of the reasons I became such a fan of Sesame Street is because – to save the last fraying shred of their collective sanities – my parents shoved me in front of the TV to try to carve out just a moment of peace until my next question popped into my head and then immediately out of my mouth.
You know how every teacher you ever had growing up told the class, “There are no stupid questions”? Well, as a teacher, I can tell you that all of those teachers were lying. There are, of course, questions that are totally moronic and they are often asked by morons and, just as the question sails through the air and hits my ears, I can feel a surge of patience kick in like adrenaline usually does.
Loss is a nasty motherfucker that tastes bitter when you lick it with your tongue. But you know what’s not a nasty motherfucker that tastes bitter when you lick it with your tongue?
If I knew more about biblical stories, I’d maybe be able to make some shrewd comparison between what I have gone through recently and what somebody like Jonah or John – or Satan – once went through, but though I read the Bible for a Biblical and Classical Literature class in college (This is a great book, I thought back then), I guess a lot of it didn’t sink in the way the lines of Reservoir Dogs have.