Hi kids. It has been a while. A long while, I know. I have been thinking about you. Often. Life moves at such a neck-breaking pace, and I can barely keep up. I have so much to tell you, and no words to communicate. But things need to get out of my head. So. Here goes:
Since we last spoke, I went to the Land of Happiness and returned. I got a t-shirt with Maleficent’s face on it because she is, by far, the greatest Disney villain. I usually don’t root for the villains, but she’s so elegant and her monotone voice is somewhat intoxicating. That, and she turns into a friggin dragon. Take that, Captain Hook.
I went to the beach. I hate the beach. Sand is like glitter, in that it never goes away and you find it in places you didn’t put it. The ocean is dirty, and smelly, and I arrived at the beach thinking about my genetic predisposition to melanoma. Pass the spf 4000, please. But then I laid my body and my brain down on a blanket. I closed my eyes and just listened to the waves. For a brief moment, I was peaceful. Not at peace–I don’t know that I am capable of “at peace.” But peaceful. Someday, I hope to live next to the ocean. Someplace with more cliffs and less sand than Newport Beach, but someplace where I can listen to God’s easy listening playlist…if God were a concept my mind could entertain, and easy listening were differentiated from musak. God wouldn’t condone using the ocean as a Kenny G metaphor.
Speaking of God, I’ve been feeling especially nostalgic for him. Him? I really don’t know. Deity is an abstract idea that does not fit in my brain, though I have spent a lifetime pushing and shoving and folding it, hoping it will fit in one of my boxes. Instead, I have music and language that bring me a sense of belonging and a glimpse of something divine. But then Easter comes, and General Conference weekend, and I remember the times when my appreciation for those moments were more than academic. But who I was and who I am are separate people, with others between us, and it would be silly to wish to be someone other than who I am.
But I do it anyway, somedays.
Today, I wish I were Beautiful.
I have been reading Joan Didion again, preparing for a presentation I am giving next week. I think, foolishly, some days that I could be a writer. And then I read Didion and I collapse at her feet. Please, Joan. Teach me to mold language the way you do. Teach me to speak, and not just talk, as I put words on paper.
And I read blog posts talking about conventional notions of beauty, and how campaigns designed to make women understand that they are more beautiful than they think they are still teach women that they are only important insofar as they are beautiful. And I say, “Yes. YES.” and Jennifer looks over to see what I’ve become so emphatic about. I tell him, and we agree that the point is spot-on.
And then I lay there, staring at his ceiling while he naps and I fixate. What would I be willing to trade, to be beautiful? What would I give to have someone tell me that even when I show up on their doorstep at 2am, head bowed, eyes filled with tears, feeling so pitiful and vulnerable and heavy that my knees barely support my weight, that I am a beautiful person? Conventional definitions be damned; I just want someone to think, somehow, that I am beautiful.
I am certain that this desire stems from years of abuse. If I were uncertain, the many mental health professionals I’ve sat across from would certainly make it certain for me. I know. I’m broken, and I am trying to build a new self from the shards of old ones.
But people are like gardens, and they need to be nurtured. And while some may think that they are a secret garden, flourishing because of their attentiveness to themselves and their own needs, I prefer to think of people as public gardens. The words and actions of all who pass through contribute or detract from the well-being of the garden proper.
And discrediting the source of my desire does not make it any less real.
I am feeling self-conscious, as I am trying to figure out — for the first time in my life — what it means to be my own person. Freedom is a lot of work, and the work is terrifying. This is me, asking help of no one in particular. Writing crappy similes about gardens and people and being beautiful.
Maybe I should try sleeping.
I want to keep writing, because I am trying to convince myself that if I keep typing, something worthwhile will come out. That the Joan Didion in me will come out to play.
Speaking of coming out, I’m queer. Part of putting new me together is actually being me, and me happens to be “bisexual” but prefers, simply, queer. Don’t tell my mom, or my brothers, because I don’t think I’m ready for them to know and I don’t know how to tell them. If you are reading this and happen to be my mom or one of my brothers, I am perfectly happy if you go on pretending you don’t know, and would appreciate you not telling anyone else? Cool. Thanks.
And on that slightly awkward note, I think I will bid you adieu for the time-being. Did I tell you Jennifer is teaching me how to speak French? Well. Jennifer is teaching me how to speak French. I can conjugate ten-ish verbs, and ask, “Comment dit-on ____?” Or, how does one say <insert English word/phrase here, in the hopes that Jennifer will respond with the French equivalent.> I have to be somewhat fluent in French before I can go to grad school (and I have to publish, present at some conferences, write something that can be used as a writing sample, and finish a few more semesters in one piece).