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.

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