Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reconciling in the snowdrift

I miss you. I do want to make up. I want to just walk into that wordless hug, or that childish awkward, "Wanna be friends again?" To drop the dispute. Knowing it will happen again, knowing nothing is solved. Realizing that the part of you that screams at me on the street is the same part of you that leaps onto the stage to belt out Modest Mouse songs, in a hat. Realizing that to love someone means loving them not in spite of their shortcomings, nor because of them, but that all these pieces are inseparable, the stained-glass artwork that is our beautiful beautiful loved ones. That if I didn't love you, I couldn't see this, that I wouldn't have this longing for you, that all I would remember is the shudder that once I knew a person who was insane and wild, that I didn't trust, that made me nervous. But when you love that person, you don't remember them with shudders, even the slamming doors and the fear and the scenes in public. You chuckle and you roll your eyes and tell the story with a lightness you didn't feel when it was happening, and you are glad that at this moment that story is in the past, and that in this moment you aren't wishing you could crawl under the table, or wondering at what point this situation becomes more than you can handle. You love them. It isn't scripted, it isn't something you'd recommend. It just is.

Your family. Your lovers. Your friends. If you don't love them, their nutty moments stack up on the list, chalk marks you weigh trying to decide when to cut them out, how intimate is safe. And sometimes even when you do love them. But when they are gone, it's easier to see. The ones you don't love, slip so easily away, a fish back to the sea, and you can barely recall their face or why you were holding them to begin with. The ones you love aren't fish, though. They are your friends, your relatives, your lovers. Primus, Secondus, Tertius. Pieces of you. Pieces you miss.

I want you in my life. Secundia. Not as a perfect story. As you. As this wild and unpredictable force with a laugh that, when you are really inside of it, can turn every head in the room. With all of your insecurities that make you avoid everything and suddenly, inexplicably, leap into a gigantic overwhelming project that you pour all of your talent and cursing and fervor into, creating something so beautiful that there is no possible gratitude that can make up for the outpouring of your soul, into this, this project unworthy of your art. I want you happy, content, but yourself - and I know you live a life that is so beautiful precisely because you spend so little of it truly happy and content. I know you miss me. I miss you, too. I don't know how to make up - to let you be yourself, when I know how unhappy you are, to remain true to myself, instead of giving in to what you want me to be. I don't know how to love you and also let us both be ourselves.

I want you, Tertius. I want you in my life everyday, to wake up next to you, and feel your energy as I drift in and out of consciousness, safe and familiar and yet not me, not blood and not predictable. Unknown and yet steady, deep and true like ocean currents, so soft under the surface of the water. I want you to be yourself, to stand apart from me. I want you to be here, though, to be a part of my life, too. To be in arm's reach. I want to know you are safe, even though you don't wish it. You struggle against me wrapping you in bubble wrap, and thrash out against me spinning webs of protection and worry and pulling all my charms and resources to make your life more predictable. I know you don't want it. I know it isn't you. But I know I will keep doing it. And resent you for not recognizing it as love.

Running away into the snowdrift like the characters from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Recognizing the dissonance between my need for perfect control, and my recognition of my heart as the one who will, when truly in love, toss it all aside, toss all wisdom and responsibility and rules, and run into the snowdrift. Recognizing that the snowdrift is always inexplicably safer, warmer, more ideal than this world I am so carefully building out of toothpicks. The toothpick world never comes close to the joy or happiness of the snowdrift, and yet I will build it, I will always build it. Refusing to make eye contact with you, Primus, insisting that this time will be different, this time you will not get to sweep it away that easily, this time you will acknowledge what you did. Feeling strong, in a female talk show way, but not good, not whole.

We are supposed to be able to build that toothpick world, with enough therapy, and good choices, and sobriety, and selflessness. We aren't supposed to need the snowdrift, just as I shouldn't want to walk back into his embrace after that horrible night where he made me cry, hyperventilating in front of the bartender, this man who isn't even my lover, or family, who has no right, no right to hold this territory in my heart after these scenes. The family members who make you feel, over and over and over for decades, that you are worthless, that you have no value. And the people who tell you family doesn't matter, that you should do this and do that and tougher boundaries and less contact and family isn't blood but the people you choose that build you up and YES. Yes to all of it. And no to all of it.

Because when you love someone it isn't the same. It isn't just about the mechanics of setting up a family-substitute. You aren't just being old fashioned. You know the costs. But one of the costs is that it isn't a fish swimming away, but a piece that is still connected to you. That the easiest thing to do is to distract and pretend and find excuses not to connect or think or remember, because the horrible awkwardness of standing in the room with this entity that both is and is not your loved one, because you are both so distant and uncomfortable and desperate to reconnect without having to build it back up, toothpick by toothpick, for the thousands and millions of toothpicks it takes to rebuild that world between you, where you trust each other and forgive each other and promise to do better next time, even though you know it probably will be just the same. Every month, a waning crescent.

The snowdrift says it doesn't matter. It doesn't fucking matter. Set it down, and let it go. And walk back into that embrace, and yes he will make you cry again. And yes your family will make you want to die again. And yes your lover will say the cruelest thing imaginable and will stare at you vacantly when your heart is bleeding in your hands and you will cling onto your pillow one week out of each month, reeling from hormones bleak and bitter that paint so sharp and hateful a picture of the life you watch snap back into 'reality' a few days later. The snowdrift laughs at all the seriousness, so absurd all this pain when all you need to do is put it down and play with your friends, kiss your lover, call your mother, call your crazy friend and beg for a ride in the sportscar. And apologize even if it isn't your turn and even if he doesn't respect you and even though his behavior was unforgivable and even though the things he said/she said will come back, echoes whispered by your monthly ghosts to stab you over and over when you don't expect it and think its over.

Because they aren't the only things that come back. Primus picking you up and feeding you lobster when you were sad, dropping it at the door and running his germophobic self away, listening to you freak out, and understanding what it meant to swing that pendulum of neurotransmitters. Secundia had your back, fierce and proud of you. Tertius rolling over and curling around you, seeking you out even in his sleep. And the knowledge that it isn't all up to you, in any case -- they aren't waiting in the wings, and apology or no, each break is there, and their choices matter as much as yours. Perhaps the moment will come to run together into that snowdrift, or to painstakingly rebuild those toothpicks, and perhaps they won't run, or won't build. In this moment, as "Float on" pipes through the women's washroom, as you watch the water spooling down the drain, and breathe gratitude for every intimate connection with every friend, every relationship of value and beauty in your life, each and every one with its own blend of joy and pain, moments on the stage and moments on the street, it is enough to admit that your love and your estrangement can exist in the same space. Because if you didn't love these people, you would let them slip back into the sea. The ones you keep are the ones who cause you pain. They're the only ones who can.

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