So, I wrote a little short story! It is called the Book Of Life, and it’s meant to be a reflection on the things I’ve learned (so far) about love, and loving someone else.
Book Of Life
A wave of the hand is all it has ever taken to stop the world in its tracks.
Flickering specks of dust spin frantically towards the ground in spirals so fragile
that the tiniest breath can send them caterwauling in wholly unexpected paths.
My job is simple. I am here to read his book of life, that blue suited man on the floor, paused in calm motion. His brows pull his face towards its epicenter, creating ripples outward across his forehead and near his mouth. Strain and stress fight against forced placidity.
Movement without motion shuttles me ahead, past frozen figures in the middle of a stock
exchange, their chins taut and hands outstretched, voices silenced by the stillness I have enacted upon this moment in time.
I pause in front of the man with the thin blue tie, the wrinked white shirt, the mild brownness of his hair and skin behind the horn rimmed glasses. I take a deep breath and touch his temple, barely brush the tips of my fingers to his head, and begin to feel the flood of knowledge overtake my every sense.
I am this man, in the most basic of ways, while still maintaining a higher sense, an awareness that I am observing even as every part of my mind and body feel what he has felt. I am him, and I am aware that I exist apart from him, above this moment.
I must always be aware, even as I am overcome by the awareness of another, because it is my job to construct a thread, a reason for his existence. I am judge and jury, because someday soon, it will be incumbent upon me to give him a sentence. It is vital that in this moment, I judge him, and that I judge him correctly.
I cringe a bit as I enter into his most formative memories, those parts which created his innate sense of self. The lashings of my stepfather’s belt and the jeers from teammates, the sound of the train at night and the sense of loneliness that clings about my head and shoulders as I do my schoolwork in a dark dormitory.
The pride in my work, the joy I wring from books and theory, the love I cherished for 4 years for a woman with adventure in her toes and an upturned nose. The hollowness in my gut when I vomit every morning for a week after surgery, the pain in my knees every winter.
The deep fear I hold in my heart that my mother will die.
The pain of the loss of my biological father.
I am he, the blue-suited man, and I am she who will judge him.
Only I can judge fairly, for now I have read the book of his life.
My eyelids flutter and I pull my hand back. I nod slightly to this man, and
I turn and flee the building. It is time to get to work.
It occurs to me that he must never know who I am. I choose a form that is both inviting and casual, easy to ignore and hard to resist. I am unobtrusive and slightly aloof. I am myself, that which is quiet and noble and easy to overlook, hard to remember and hard to forget.
That first meeting occurs in a windy park, on a trail nearing three trees with branches that interlock to form an arch over the leaf-strewn walkway.
He wears a gray coat, which I imagine must merely be covering his blue suit up, and brown gloves. I wear no coat, only a long flowery red dress that whips in the wind around my frame, grabbing long loose strands of my hair as well.
He nods to me and I raise the edges of my lips in acknowledgement.
I do the same the next and next and next and next days.
Finally he stops me on the sixth day, bundles my hand in his, and asks for my name.
I give it in a low voice, and he smiles and whispers out his own, and we walk together for a bit, giving utterance to our opinions on the weather and bits of news and he tells me where he works. I walk him to the edge of the park and we go our separate ways.
The next day I meet him outside of a coffee shop and he hands me the rest of a pumpkin flavored muffin and I walk with him to doors of the black and marble industrial palace. We are fast friends (because I know everything about him.) He touches my hair on the seventeenth day, brushes it away from my face, and I realize that I must slow down.
The nineteenth day passes in the park, and I sit down on the bench and wait for him to arrive. I wave at him and he approaches this bench where I hold two hot cups and hand him one.
He thanks me and holds it with two hands, never looking anywhere but at me. And then he gets me talking. And I talk and talk and talk and talk, always watching his face, his two green eyes and his one dark mouth. Because I am judge and jury, and a vice squeezes my stomach and I begin to wonder if I can do this one, if I have
lost my nerve with him. I close my mouth and ask him questions instead, and he talks and now it is my turn to listen while he spills his guts, moves his hands and gesticulates wildly, as wildly as the feelings ever move inside of me when I listen.
I realize when he brushes my knee with his hand (accidentally??) that I am out of my depth with this one.
And it never occurs to me that he knows me, really knows me.
Because, reader, he has read my book of life, too.
When William speaks, I listen, not because it is wise, but because I love to hear the words he forms, I love to know what that rich mind thinks and how he says it.
I love to see the movement of his soul in his eyes and hear the fluttery sensations of my heart echoed in his voice.I love to see myself reflected in the glossy depths of his eyes when I move too close to him.
I love how young and in love I feel around that chestnut colored boy with glossy green eyes and a dark mouth.
And my heart pumps nervously to think that thought.
Lyssa is wonder itself, and all I can dream is that I may be close to her, that soft long hair that plays with the wind and the round eyes that hook and sink me like a fish in a pond.
Her low voice and high laughter. I love her, I love her, that girl.
The beginning of the love was bright like a fire, but now that I know him, I realize that I knew him very little. Because William is more than the sum of his parts. He means more than his story and he exists apart from his narrative.
The soul of man cannot be summed up in his story. Rather, William is and will forever be, despite what has shaped him. The soul of William is in no way defined absolutely by the clay that created his form and body, and that fact stings me in a way that I cannot describe. Falling in love with William is so much more than I imagined, because
it is mostly learning to know William, his details as well as his essence. Things I could never have known merely by reading that emotional book, that book of his life.
Lyssa was precious to me in the beginning, and she is now, but I have learned to find within her a mettle, a strength, an unbreakability that had no part in my understanding of her at first love. She is strength and feeling in one. Lyssa is gravity
when it pulls things irrevocably towards the Earth. Lyssa is tenderness if it wore heavy armor and had a love for chocolate. Lyssa is good humor and bad humors, she is everything at once and nothing at its stillest. She is someone that I know better than I know any other.
William and I are one now, as much as we are each other, we remain ourselves. Old and white, gray and wrinkled, brown and soft. Everything about us is well-worn and sweet, fragile, tender, and noble. We are elderly now, and we depend on each other less for what is physical and more for what is understood.
Lyssa and I are very near the end. My sweetheart and I fall closer daily to that grand ending, and in her hand, I find all that I hold dear and valuable on this earth.
It is good that we learned young that knowing somebody, knowing their story is not enough.
Love is not about judging someone, judging what they are and valuing them because of it. Love is knowing someone beyond what they are, but wherein they truly exist.
Love is believing in the insubstantial parts of another.
And we have found it.
Once upon a time, Taylor Swift released a song called, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
And a lot of my peers lost their shit.
Here’s the thing: this song is completely warranted. We deserve it, and so does Kim Kardashian, and so does Taylor. You see… Taylor Swift was once a very different songwriter. She wrote songs about Tim McGraw and truck rides and spunky country antics. And then she grew up a little and wrote dreamy songs, and then she grew up a lot more when she was introduced to a harsh life of business and popularity. And she wrote a very different album when she came out to us with 1989. It was… different. Edgier, with emotions previously unknown to Taylor’s brand; angst had transformed into full-blown anger, teasing had developed into sharp satire, and longing had morphed into lusty fierceness.
Taylor is a different artist now, and if you don’t like it, then you need to examine why it is that you are not accepting what she clearly already has: life is not soft on her anymore. No longer does it consist of dreamy taxi-rides and chance encounters with handsome strangers. She is permanently locked into a life of being watched, examined, and then criticized in an unrelenting, never-ending story.
This song isn’t an artistic masterpiece, and I’m not saying as much. What I am, however, stating very emphatically, is that she deserves to be able to write whatever song she likes because we have taken everything else from her. She is no longer who she once was; she cannot be. She can no longer live how she once did, date how she used to, or even befriend others in the same way. She feels maligned and mistrusted. And she wrote a song about her feelings on an unpleasant subject.
If you don’t like the song, fine. But if you don’t like it because you don’t like who Taylor has become, that she isn’t the same sweet songstress you used to like, because she is acting immaturely, I would like to remind you that you are part of the problem.
You are watching and criticizing, examining her and consequently contributing to the pressure she feels to be beyond reproach. Nobody is beyond reproach. Nobody is entirely aloof from the possibility of hurt feelings and stilted emotions. Leave Taylor be. She’s hurting, and when someone is hurting, it’s nice to let them cry (even if the song could TOTALLY be better, but I’m holding out for the rest of the album, sweetie.) Love you, Tay (insert heart emojis here)
I craved a definition. A cohesive, linear story that captured my internal life and displayed my essence on a large scale.
A connection outside of myself to that which has built my inside self. A train to carry my very beginning and this middle, one that would take me to the endpoints of life and thought.
A gift that would grant me extended capacity, enlarged presence of mind, a bigger awareness of self and of life as it really is.
An appreciation for all that matters on earth.
A path within and behind, ahead and below, above and beyond.
A goal, an explanation, and ultimately, my raison d’être.
One thing that blogging helps me with is seeing myself a little more objectively. It can be tricky to swim in the waters of my distorted cognition, so it’s nice to see my thoughts and feelings as merely what they are: subjective interpretations of a narrow, easily described life. Nothing too shocking or terrible. Shades of color that aren’t black or white, neither too bold nor too fine. Mine is the life of a conservative girl with a conservative central life conflict, from a modest white family in suburbia. No gang fights, gun violence, no war trauma or desert heat, no deep rooted violence or seedy abuse. The swirls of thought that easily swallow me up become exactly what they are when I put them to paper: just nuances of a mostly good life within the mind of a highly anxious young woman.
The coma will lapse
The dream could collapse
And maybe, perhaps-
There aren’t any maps to tell us precisely what could come next.
If I could choose to hold in my palm all of the Sundays from now until on,
I’d tell you to bet on me saying yes to that.
I like to know, and I like to not guess,
On who, and on what, and where we’ll be next.
But life isn’t like that, unfortunately for us,
But maybe, perhaps,
It’s all for the best.
Isn’t it weird that the same guy who snaps a picture of the girl in a tiny dress to look at with glee also whispered the word “slut” disdainfully when she left her table?
Isn’t it weird that the worst people are the least self aware of us all?
Isn’t it weird that the guy who succeeds is the one who cares so little about how he is perceived?
Isn’t it strange that the most wonderful girl I know fell in love with a boy her family barely stomachs?
Isn’t it weird that the woman who’s children must continually ward off her prying and criticism posts pictures about how great of a mother she was born to be?
Isn’t it weird that people read this blog and defend themselves against it when no names are mentioned?
Isn’t it weird that I myself cannot say any of this for fear of offending people by the mere acknowledgement of the actions, which are so inherently offensive that to be accused of them is painful?
Isn’t it weird that I hope it touches someone when I’m not going to publish it on Facebook?
Isn’t it weird that I get 7 hours of sleep regularly?
Isn’t it weird that I used to cry for anorexia and now I barely think of it at all?
Isn’t it weird that the boy I used to cry over feels less like a lost soul mate and more like a grateful near miss?
And isn’t the word weird a little… weird???