Friday, September 21, 2012

In Danger Of

"How can he remember well his ignorance - which his growth requires - who has so often to use his knowledge?"

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I am in danger of this, always, all the time, every day. I should fear more.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shadows and Dust

I'm different. Since elementary school, in the play yard. It was the other kids then. Later it was adults and family. But it's not just one thing that doesn't fit, it's the whole puzzle. I'm different.

I used to think it was something special. I used to wonder worriedly if everyone had worlds and visions of life that they needed to share desperately, like me. If they did I would no longer be special... I'd just be more needy than all the others who could keep their shit together. I still wonder that sometimes, in my arrogance, in my conceit. I look at other people and wonder, do you think like I do? Can you understand what I say? And if the answer is no, then still, like a fool, I stand straighter and feel prouder. I'm different, I can think, with a self-satisfied sigh. I'm special.

Today I had a conversation I've been needing for a long time and I had a sudden moment of clarity. I'm different but I don't want to be different. All my life being different has made me go looking, desperately, for people I'm not different from. Each step of it has been one more attempt at not feeling alone. In Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert Humbert says: "long after her death I felt her thoughts floating into mine". I've spent so many years looking for just that,looking for a way out of loneliness. When I was a kid I wrote about one of my oldest characters, "I don't mean anything to anybody". I've wanted to mean something, always.

Maybe I miss this supreme communication because I know what it is. I've had it, not always but at times in my life I've had a person who knew my thoughts even before I did, who understood exactly what I was telling her.

I've wanted to have that with a man. I wanted it so desperately. I dreamed of it so deeply, listening to love songs and all the lies they tell, making up love stories where the characters now exactly what the other is thinking and understand each and every one of their actions. How could you my love? I know exactly what this costs you. How could you?

But nothing really works that way, and the quest for such an illusion left me bitter and wretched for so long. Now I look back and I wonder and wonder and wrack my brains for the possible answer. I look back and I ask myself, have I left behind the supreme understanding I always longed for or only an illusion of it. Smoke and mirrors. So much in life lately has revealed itself to be shadows on the wall.

I don't know today, fearful as I am, if you will feel my thoughts floating into yours after I am gone. Does anybody ever have this certainty? I know she would and I know I would if she left. I think, I suspect, I guess with strange hope that you feel her thoughts floating into yours now that she is gone, because then you might, some day, do the same for me and then I might recover once more the illusion of meaning.

We are brief and senseless. None of what we do really matters and we can never reach out to others the way we wish we could. I don't think I'm different. I think we all are and I'm just not as good as others are at ignoring the huge chasm between us.

But I've learned so much from you in these last few days and I've forgotten so much of what I learned in the past, about my smallness and my cowardice and my impotence. Trying to be more, trying to reach for more, trying to grow tall if I can. I'm scared of solitude. I am weary of exile, of this wretched way, of months of peace and years of war. I'm afraid of my limitations and my weakness. But you just smile sadly at me and are as sure as you are afraid.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A couple of days ago I was a bit disturbed by the following dream. A lot of it is very simple and seems to be easily analyzed but somehow I keep thinking I'm missing something.

I remember something was chasing me. I was running. I remember being somewhat calm. I knew how to outrun this thing. So I went to where I knew I must and it looked very much like my grandparent's basement and backstairs. That old, huge house. Somehow I had never gotten over the childhood awe. Even after having explored its secrets and knowing that the reason why they were forbidden was as pedestrian as rats... Even then I continue to dream of it, adding rooms that never were and mysterious furniture that could do things.

I added stairs now. I ran into the basement, fleeing my pursuer and talked to people that weren't there. They told me I must find an orange door and I would be safe. I circled and circled down those stairs and on every floor there were doors everywhere, doors on all four walls and the rooms were getting smaller. It was getting darker. I kept running. Then I tried one door and it opened into the mind of an old love, one that wasn't real even, just a fictional portrait of what my ideal lover would have been. It was the wrong door, so I kept going.

I did not try anymore doors. I was afraid. But not of my pursuer, I felt confident, not yet safe but at least sure I was going in the right direction. The people who weren't there just said, keep going, keep going, it's the last floor. I jumped through the last couple of flights of stairs. I just trusted and let myself fall.

There was sunlight on that last floor and an orange door. The doors above I had opened with a coat hanger but this one was too small. It needed something thinner, something finer. At times it didn't seem too like a door but more like a screen, like a permeable thing I could go through in the right state of mind. I was safe all the way down here but not forever. The time would come. But I knew that once I was through that orange door everything would be alright. And I knew this because there were people waiting for me on the other side: my love and his love, the one that died. With them, I was sure, I could finally stop running.

I wonder sometimes if this is like a riddle. What are the doors? What am I missing?