Writer’s block, but life things keep happening.
I’ve been trying to write this particular entry for the past four days. On Thursday I had a solid train of thought on my way home from class. Fueled by coffee and rendered poetic by the light rain falling, I was pretty sure I had some okay material. Then as the sun came up and the streets dried off, both my pretty thoughts and the morning’s rain evaporated. Two more attempts yesterday. Both had more to do with coffee and less to do with writing.
And it came to me, as it always does, as the thing that I didn’t want to acknowledge. The bruise underneath the scab that’s about to heal. The blemish under a layer of makeup. The bullshit under a shakily crafted argument. The argument I make to myself: life’s good so I can write about the bad stuff and still be safe. I can write about my bright pink rain jacket and my flip flops in the mud and still be an arm’s distance away from the wet dog smell it leaves in my apartment and the fact that my real dog died yesterday and my apartment doesn’t feel like home. I can write about how much I like quotes and how they sum up life without me having to lift a finger, while stiff-arming the swarms of novella-sized paragraphs that fill my brain with things I don’t know how to sum up.
So I’m calling bullshit on myself. I really want to talk about the bruise. I want to talk about how I’m scared. I want to talk about the scariest thing I’ve ever realized: life goes on.
“Goes.” There’s something eerily passive about this verb. It’s as if life never really cared in the first place. Something tragic can happen. Or something good. But neither one is significant enough for life to stop and say “hey, let’s linger on this for a little longer.” Let’s keep having this day. Let’s sit in this moment–not metaphorically…let’s literally hold the hands on the clock until they’re pressing against our fingers and it hurts, but the seconds are still and we’ve finally got something that stays.
I fear the speed with which people move through life. When my friends talk about future internships and studies abroad I can barely sit through the conversation. Sure, a lot of this jumpiness has to do with jealousy. I can’t go to Europe and eat gelato and bread and then post pictures with captions in another language? Life isn’t fair…but also, life isn’t slow. If I were simply jealous in these moments then perhaps I’m just someone who wants to move quickly but cannot. But there’s something under that envy. A blemish (and yes now I’m being metaphorical). I fear for the present moment. If we’re talking about the future then what happened to right now? What’s wrong with here and why do we have to think about there?
I’m in a netherworld. I have a job and a boyfriend and two more years of college but I have no place. Sometimes I want to be where my mother is. She loves every day because she has no desire to go anywhere else. Maybe another Caribbean island or two, but as for life accomplishments, she seems okay. Today she gave me some advice that went something like this: “I want for you, one day, to have a job you love and to have time to spend with everyone you love.” Now I don’t want a job and I want to work on loving everyone. The netherworld is a complicated place to be.
Right now I’m in Gloucester. I’m in the room I lived in for 18 years. It’s gone through a lot of changes from wood floor to carpet back to wood floor. From pink walls with unicorn wallpaper to purple to peach to “sea green.” This last wall color choice was my mother’s a few months ago. Some people would lament: “it’s not my room anymore.” But it is. How many changes could this place withstand until I no longer recognized it? I’m not sure, but probably a lot. The thing is, the recognizing has nothing to do with sight. Closing my eyes and walking in, I can feel this room. And what I feel is the basis of my fear. The place I love most in the world is also the one that scares me more than a crowded dorm or an empty apartment.
For years I hid in my house; as kids my sister and I weren’t socialized much. For years I hid in my yard. I’d “play pretend” for hours without my sister, without anyone, just my brain and my imaginary cohorts. For years I liked my house and I liked school and other things that weren’t sitting at the end of Holiday Marina Rd. For years I wanted to escape my house, to be someone, something more than what I was. I left for college still loving home, but liking the prospect of being somewhere else so much more.
So how do I return to a place that I wanted to leave? How can I “go on” in life when there’s a part of my life that seems so unresolved? I left when I wanted to leave but now I must go back again and again, for it’s my home and that’s where you return. I want you to feel it so we can be stuck in this netherworld together…I’m two hours away and the fear of the future grips me for I’m surrounded by people who seem to care about anything but right now. I go to the one place I should feel safe and past feelings of flight overcome me and I’m floating in limbo. I’m scared because I’m scared and I’m scared that I have no place to go when I want life to stop going.
a day later…I stopped writing because I saw no room for resolution. I usually can tie up a column, a blog with “and now that problem’s over because I wrote about it, what’s next?” I sat next to my mother in the car earlier today and told her that I think I have loose ends that don’t want to be tied. She said that was okay. “You can’t tie them up in a day anyway.” So here I am, fingers sore from holding back so many clock hands. Hands dying to pull the numbers off a watch face so I can hold time if only for a little while.
“Connelly–life goes on.” Oh but I wish it wouldn’t.