I’ve been feeling the need to start writing again, but didn’t know how to start. I pondered and mulled and ruminated until I was sick of myself procrastinating, and admitted that the only way to start is to just start. And so, I came here, to my neglected blog, to see how I’d left it. I found that I had left some drafts, most of them containing barely a half-assed paragraph attempting to pull an idea out of the air. But one was different. I wrote it four years ago today. Sadly, it may have been the last time I had the feeling that I couldn’t possibly hold onto an idea or a feeling unless I wrote it down.
I had forgotten that I wrote it, though when I discovered it and started to read, the evening itself and all the emotions it contained came rushing back. It feels as true to me today as it did in the moments when I wrote it, and I feel fortunate to have this reminder of the experience and its lessons. They seem important lessons to relearn at this point in my life as I try to reconnect with the part of myself that needs to write again.
13 September, 2014
I’m not sure what confluence of events or energies or planetary alignments conspired for me tonight, but I certainly seem to have been rewarded for past trials and tribulations, or perhaps finally forgiven for past transgressions. I was treated – by myself or by the universe – to one of the most perfect evenings I can remember in a long time.
It’s been a long, exhausting week, though not comprised of days that could be managed by focusing on a singular endpoint or finale that I was working towards. I had to take my steps one at a time and focus on the ground before me so I could get my work accomplished without tripping. I did make plans to see a film on Thursday evening, but by necessity, I was immersed in the details of the fires immediately in front of me that needed to be put out, and I almost forgot about my date night with myself.
Thursday morning. I finally became aware that I would end the evening with a “treat”. It was still an abstract, however, until I was finished with all of my obligations to anyone but myself. In fact, even knowing that I would not have time to go home for dinner and would have to eat out on my own, I’d forgotten to bring a book with me to read while I ate.
The day went by busily but uneventfully, the kind of day that consumes you as it happens, but which becomes utterly forgettable in the passage of time.
Pulling up on the street in front of a pub near the theater, I realized that a book store had opened right next to it. I went in to find something to read and found, Hemingway’s Boat. New book in hand, I then continued to the restaurant. I had the bar to myself. I ordered a drink, some food, and started in on my new book.
Suddenly, my day had turned magical.
I had hot food, a peaceful place to read what I was realizing would be a fantastic book, and I had time. Time. Time for myself, for things that I loved, with nothing hanging over my head. It occurred to me that I felt like me again, and this surprised me because it was the first time I was aware of having felt not like me.
I was occasionally aware of the probability that I may have been an interesting sight: sitting alone at a bar, forkful of wasabi tuna halfway to my mouth, as I bent over my book in complete and utter fascination.
I didn’t care. I was transported, lost in the world of Hemingway’s Cuba.
And it was about to get better.
It was only a matter of crossing the street to get to the theater, so 10 minutes before show time, I walked across, got my ticket, found a seat, and continued to read while waiting for the movie to start. It wasn’t a full theater and I was thankful no one seemed like they would turn out to be problematic or annoyingly distracting.
The lights went down and the film started. “Sugar Man” by Rodriguez came on the speakers and we were watching cars drive down a windy, cliff-side road in Cape Town, South Africa.
Just as suddenly as I had found myself wrenched out of New York and thrust into Cuba, I was just as abruptly smelling the salt of the Indian Ocean. For the next 90 minutes, I was on a roller coaster and when the movie ended, I was as exhilarated as I could ever remember feeling.
I got into my car to drive home and had gone less than a mile before seeing a Starbucks, and I knew I couldn’t wait until I got home to try to capture the utter contentment and enchantment of the past few hours. I feel like my words are so overwrought and inadequate, and as I try to shape the emotions I’ve been feeling, it seems like I am perhaps imagining them, or elevating them beyond a point that is comfortable to admit.
But I have to try. If I don’t, I think I am losing something true that I’ve learned. Somehow, showing this truth to faceless strangers is less frightening than sharing it with people I know. I don’t have to see judgement or discomfort on your faces and if you don’t like what I say, you can simply close the window or surf to a new site. People I tell this to will have a harder time telling me to just stop talking if I get too over the top.
But try, I must, so here goes…
Things that I learned today:
♦ Happiness is fleeting but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come back at unexpected moments. And its ethereal nature doesn’t detract from the intensity.
♦ Joy should never be hidden.
♦ The harsh reality of a person’s surroundings does not determine what he or she sees of that world. There is still beauty and imagination in the meanest of circumstances. We can inhabit one world with our bodies and another with our minds, and the vehicle for this flight is art, poetry, music, books. That many people don’t understand this makes me sad.
♦ More people should spend time alone with themselves. We are social beings and need each other, but we need ourselves as well, and no one should ever take the meaning of their life from outside of themselves. Be comfortable with yourself. Take yourself on a date. Listen to yourself.
♦ The freedom to be able to spend these hours on myself is even more precious than it ever was before. Life changes in ways we can’t predict, and priorities change, but we still need to care for ourselves.
As I rushed to the café to sit down and get my thoughts in a concrete form, I remembered what I seemed to have forgotten: deep down, I’m just a shy, geeky, awkward girl who sometimes feels too much or fumbles words or arrives ten minutes late, and that it’s perfectly okay to be that. Don’t be afraid to be who you are deep down. Because really, it’s wrong to betray yourself in order to be someone that family, friends, or society wants or expects you to be. Be yourself. No one else. Keep your own voice.