I think you knew this was coming. Even though it was great to see you again, today was just too hard, too painful.
I think you knew this was coming. Even though it was great to see you again, today was just too hard, too painful.
I hate it when this happens. When I talk to someone and it feels like they are painting some type of elaborate metaphor, but I’m not sure if they are or if I’m just reading in between lines. I had a conversation like that tonight and it’s semi-haunting me right now, not in a super obtrusive way, but just in a way that is making me question my sanity a little.
It started out pretty innocuously. I asked him if he knew what my favorite movie is. He thought it was Say Anything, but it’s not. It’s High Fidelity. Funny that someone I have known for about 11 years didn’t know that, but to be fair, both star that inexplicably handsome Chicago native John Cusack, my dream man.
Then the conversation moved onto music because I accused him of being a movie snob (after he said he had never seen Say Anything because he doesn’t like 80’s movies.) He turned around and accused me of being a music snob, saying I never listened to the same album more than a few times. This is not true. I have been known to be stuck on the same album for months, till I hit a wall and just can’t anymore. I explained that the reason why my taste in music seems to change so much is because it “evolves”. One song or band or album leads to another and then another, till you get to a place where you try and go back to a forgotten band/album/song and realize that you don’t quite like it as much anymore. I made the analogy of food, eating Spaghetti O’s but gradually working up to more sophisticated versions of spaghetti until before you know it, the 5 star restaurant’s version is all you want. The Spaghetti O’s start to taste like vomit. He was surprisingly contrarian to this notion, saying that perhaps one might still want to have the Spaghetti O’s, almost like for nostalgia’s sake. Only in hindsight am I reminded of a line from one of my favorite tv shows Mad Men. Don Draper, the main character says that in Greek, the word nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound”. He goes on to say, “It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” Why didn’t I think of this? Because it’s just too good and hindsight is even more than 20/20 in my opinion.
I have spent the past 7 months of my life trying to work on a more drastic evolution process, one that has more to do with rebuilding life versus rebuilding my record collection. Slowly but surely I press on. Metamorphosis is not easy. I still feel that ache of nostalgia when I think about the past, the time long before my relationship with him went pear shaped (about a year ago). For the purposes of anonymity, I will here-to-for be referring to said former partner as Jack.
Jack was who I was speaking with and who made the strong case for sticking with the Spaghetti O’s, even claiming to still enjoy a good Boyardee ravioli at times (blech!) This perturbed me because I didn’t initiate this conversation nor the ending of the relationship. He seemed to be making a stronger case than necessary in the metaphor so I eventually just declared, “I don’t know! Who really knows!?” Were we still talking about food? He likes to argue though. One thing we have always done is try to out-wit the other. It seems like a friendly competition most of the time. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was once again trying to pull one over on me, like he is wont to do at times. I can’t help it, I can be pretty naive sometimes. I’m one of those people who tends to ignore the obvious or dance around it. So when I feel like I’m keenly aware of something, it always seems like I am being hyper suspicious. I am just realizing that this might be the main thing that attracted us to each other in the beginning. It’s amazing what can be gleaned from one conversation.
I first saw the movie High Fidelity back in 11th grade. My best friend and I were protesting going to prom and so we decided to rent a hotel room in a casino way out of town. We binged watched DVDs and ate room service after playing penny slots and realizing how lame they are. How has this been my favorite movie for all these years? I’m 31 now so that’s like half my life already. God only knows. I do love revisiting it every few years, for lots of reasons. I think mainly, the thing that draws me to it is the redemption factor. In the end, Rob is actually not as self centered as he presents himself in the beginning and throughout, and he wins Laura’s heart back through self exploration and showing a more mature side of himself. It’s just a classic story. It also doesn’t hurt that there are some hilarious Jack Black scenes. “It’s a Cosby sweater!”
This antidote proves Jack’s point there is something to that nostalgia factor with movies and music, but we can’t be expected to watch the same movies and listen to the same songs over and over. When does variety trump nostalgia? At what point does your pallet so prefer a more elevated flavor that you find yourself totally ditching the canned food for good? Is it okay to occasionally revert back to your old ways, or is this a self-inflicted opening of an old nostalgic wound? Maybe we should be concerned about that twinge in the heart that’s far more powerful than memory alone. This twinge can distort our perceptions.
Last time I saw Jack, he told me that he was playing guitar more often. I had bought him a beautiful acoustic-electric a few years ago for Christmas. Even though we lived together, I did a good job of hiding it away for a few weeks, so it was really fun to surprise him. I really did love Jack very much, even up to the end. So Jack tells me that he’s almost nailed the Bush song Glycerin. Hearing this made me feel super sad, especially because I know the lyrics very well and they are, well super sad (go look them up sometime). So, in trying to keep things light, I laughed and told him that for a long time I thought that Glycerin was the substance that came out of your eyes when you cry (saline I think is the right word). The next day, I wrote this poem.
I love the games we play
And when you looked at me that way
Like I’m the lock, and you’re the key
So how can what’s to come
Ever truly be?
Won’t take advantage of you
So don’t make a regret outta me
All the tears and half truths
Won’t make me fall in love with you
I’m still there and you don’t care
So what’s the use?
I can’t help but put this idea of freedom into perspective in my own life. So often in the past I have felt as though I was trapped by circumstances. Like if one thing could change then I’d actually have the freedom I longed for to reorder the entire trajectory of my life. In the past 6 and half months, I have gone through a huge personal transformation and self-discovery process. In the throes of a terrible breakup and subsequent yo-yo of ups and downs, heart breaks and triumphs, I’ve learned a lot about who I am and what really matters in life. I have been forced to come to understand and appreciate the aspects of slowing down, breathing deeply, and taking in the few beautiful and precious moments of life. So often it’s tempting to speed through your day, hit the pillow at night and fall asleep as fast as you can, just to rush into the next day with exuberance. I have found that although life can be exciting when it’s filled to the brim with an endless stream of activity, or when there’s a major project or goal to work toward, sometimes slowing down, just to take in the majestic little nuances can be just as thrilling and more fulfilling than we give credence to.
There’s something so amazing about standing on the edge of the ocean, watching wave after wave crash onto the shore. When I was in southern California a few months back, I remember standing on the beach, sunlight tingling on my face and shoulders, staring out into the vast beauty of the Pacific glittering with the brilliance of a precious stone. I thought to myself, “This right here, this is paradise. I never want to leave.” In hind-sight, this wasn’t just about the beautiful scenery. This wasn’t about the warm air and the cadence of water rolling up onto the shore. This was about something so much more: a sense of peace, a sense of calm that I hadn’t felt in ages. I was finally in place that I alone was responsible for being in. I finally felt like I had control of a moment. That sensation contrasted so sharply with my daily routine, and so there was a tangibility to all the heart issues I had been aching to cast aside just melting way effortlessly into the beauty of the moment. Nothing else mattered while standing on that shore. No one could take that away from me, no matter how hard they tried, it was mine alone. I took time to share this with the people I care about via a text message. This is what it said,
There is nothing quite like looking out upon the ocean, water as far as the eye can see, the ever beckoning of waves ushering you over to partake in the majestic nature of creation. The view is constant, yet changing constantly, breathtakingly wonderful, yet serene in its rhythm. I wonder sometimes how anyone could take this for granted; how a universe devoid of a loving Creator could produce a beauty this profound or this awe-inspiring. How could this be anything but love?!
I have traditionally been the type to second-guess myself, wondering if I’m doing the right thing, expressing myself in a way that doesn’t hurt or offend. Most would label this as insecurity or low self-esteem. I don’t know for sure if that’s accurate but over the years, it had gotten worse and worse. I was hiding myself away from almost everyone. I didn’t ever want anyone to know how I really felt or what I really thought, unless I felt safe. I’d stay quite and observe. Often times, within the confines of safety, that expression came out stronger because of the hiding. That text message is an example of something I would have never sent a year ago. I would have written that stuff down maybe but it would be tucked it away in a notebook, for no one’s eyes but mine. I think it really caught people off-guard in a way. I wasn’t doing it for shock value. I sent it as a way of saying, “Hey everyone! I know you have been really worried about me and my emotional state these past few months, but guess what, my heart is bursting with joy right now!” But see, you can’t just say things like that. People will think you’re straight up crazy. So, what do I do? Well, I find a more creative way of expressing these thoughts. People generally have a harder time with criticizing or questioning someone’s creative expression –directly /to their face at least. So not many responses were received but it didn’t really matter. I wanted to let people know that I was changing. I was healing and I would be better every day. I am still in that process and I am still riding the wave of emotions, but it won’t be taking me under. Never. Never.
So this whole thought process has brought me to a place in my understanding that I have never been before. I am at the precipice of realization that in the end, there exists in each of us a longing to be okay. To stand on the shoreline of a vast ocean of self, and appreciate the beauty within. There is, without exception, something exceptional about each and every person. That’s huge. That’s amazing. Freedom is not just about doing what you want, when you want to. It’s more about being. When you’re free to just be and not always do, you are propelled into life in a such a way that you may surprise yourself. Then, the doing part comes naturally – you might even say, freely.