I have had a hard time, lately, thinking of things to write. I have had a lot of people emailing and calling me, lately, and asking me what's going on in my life. I haven't been able to think of what to say. I did recently write a little story. I thought I would branch out a little (I don't usually mention personal-- non-school- stuff) and put my little story here. Welcome to my life.
“I know you.” She tells me over beer and conversation at the local lesbian haunt. “You and me, we’re the same.”
She tells me this sadly. It is no compliment, I know. She doesn’t like herself very much. What does that say about how she feels about me?
“No.” I shake my head. “We are totally different.”
I want to tell her how. I want to tell her that I would never ask my waitress for my check so brusquely. I would never worry so much about getting lost in my car. I don’t have the courage to go to bars alone. My own passion embarrasses me. But she is passionate about small things: sea turtles, bottle-caps, real or imagined slights against her.
I have been here before. It is familiar, though I haven’t visited in a while. This comes naturally to me—the confusion, the worry, the messy leaking out of my heart towards someone. I hate the messiness the most.
I keep my life tidy since J left years ago. She made such a mess of our home, our friends, me. So I tidied up. I swept our floors. I packed my boxes. I created a new home as far away as I could. I made a new house where everything has its place. My car is vacuumed and sweet smelling. My home is organized and well run. My glass has no streaks. I keep my life simple.
I don’t pretend to be original. This is an old story. Many women do this. Eventually they get cats. They smile at work. They are good friends. They are always available to go on weekend trips. Their coworkers say to them, “You are so lucky. You can do whatever you please! Imagine, nothing to hold you down!”
I, myself, have a difficult time imagining. I try to imagine having a pet. I think: tabby, toy terrier, bulldog, fish, Venus fly-trap. I imagine the messiness of it. They could pee on the rug, create muck in their tanks, die.
I tremble at the thought of the massive obligation.
And now, her. Why her? I try to remember what made me reach out. I seldom do. She was just sitting in the corner, alone, smoking cigarette after cigarette. She was not unlike Garbo-- I suppose that could be it. She seemed charmingly disengaged, in control, mysterious. The music was terrible. The people in the bar were strange. Her boots were similar to mine.
“Are you here by yourself?” I asked her. She smiled. That was it.
Now I am in a damage control situation. After two and a half years of polite dates, uninspired sexual experiences, and inability to connect, I have attached myself to her like a starfish. She would enjoy the sea-creature reference, I know.
“Tell me what is so great about this chick.” M demands, her frustration with me growing. She is far away. She can’t understand what is happening to me. She is used to the way I have become. She has, more than once, been comforted by my stability. I am scaring her with my recklessness.
“She collects things.” I want to say. “She stays up late with me trying to remember the Greek and Roman Goddesses. She scratches her cat’s belly when he hurls himself at her. She has this smell. She is nervous. She worries. She writes. She is so open with her fear. She shakes her head when I make her laugh, like she can’t believe it.”
“I don’t know.” Is what I tell M. I know what I like about her. But who says such things?