like, a lot. it was quite unsettling that the calendar still says november, so I knew I had to give you guys a little something... so I'm writing. I'm also in the process of going though eighty five thousand photographs from my trip to seattle, I picked the book back up (the one I'm writing, not the one I'm reading) and christmas is looming. santa came last night and my little end table is a pile of gold and stars and shiny red ribbons.
I want to throw out all of my furniture, and cover the walls in the perfect fifties shade of robin's egg blue with brown bracketed shelves and baskets everywhere. I dyed my hair back. I had a seriously killer trip to seattle, which is what I'm in the middle of writing about so I can't even dip in here to mention hours of kristin and visiting the mother ship and two sick wrens shows from which many things have transpired. it's also worth noting briefly that I'm picking the book back up because the things in it are becoming true, even be it in these weird little abstract ways. if I tell you any more, I'll have to shoot you. you'll have to wait for the next update.
so I'll give you an unedited semi-autobiographical excerpt of sorts. in the book, I've left everything I know and I'm on the road as a concert photographer with tom brosseau. I'm talking about writing a book someday. we bumped into the long winters in northampton. at this particular scene, I'm frustrated and tom is reassuring me about all the big changes I've made - and we flash back to me leaving the things that were killing me behind.
I repeat, this is UNEDITED and I ask that you please take that into consideration - the theme of nanowrimo is quantity over quality, and later there's nanoedmo. but if I thought about content too much while my fingers were tapping away, I would have become a basket case. well, I already kind of am. but anyways, you know what I mean.
A year ago I was standing in the office of a two-and-a-half bedroom cape, telling my then-husband that I couldn't take it anymore. He didn't understand what I meant - he thought maybe I wanted to eat out on Sunday mornings instead, or that I didn't feel like gardening, both of which were true -
I had woken up that morning, painfully aware of the feeling of being in someone else's bed - and not like in the good old days. This feeling had been coming for a while, this... dreading. This "I know something is wrong but I can't / won't do anything about it, I'm too scared / comfortable, and besides what would people think (gasp!)" kind of feeling. There were long walks up and down the driveway on the cordless phone, tortured whispers to wise women, listening patiently on the other end. I knew I needed to leave, that I never should have married him in the first place... barefoot on that warm pavement, pavement that lead to the front door of a house I owned, with a shiny new car in the driveway. I had picture-perfect english gardens that I hated, and wished I could just mow down. I had gleaming hardwood floors, a bedroom set, a living room set, and the best surround sound. We had spent months agonizing over paint colors and furniture placement. I'd manage to procure diamonds and expensive shoes, a virtual army of handbags, a closet full of Banana Republic everything, and the perfect scented votives to light when I bathed in my spa tub surrounded by blue glass tiles.
In other words, I had managed to surround myself with the belongings of someone who is living the Perfect Life. Or, more accurately, what I thought someone who was living the Perfect Live should have and want. And I hated it. I think I took like, three baths the entire time I lived there. And those were out of guilt, like it was so nice that I was supposed to be using it or something.
I furtively dusted a piano that I never played, and agonized over the placement of Pottery Barn framed photographs on it's gleaming surface. I only picked up my guitar when I needed to sweep behind it. I only made the house into a lush warm place when visitors came - never just for me. I cleaned compulsively, I organized everything, down to putting the yogurt containers in line in the refridgerator in order of expiration date. And I hadn't written a thing in months, and I mean lots of months. I was good at buying perfectly posh notebooks covered in lush fabrics, sure to bring out the truth, but I'd get a few pages in, or even a little more than that, and stop. I'd been lying to myself all along, and I was starting to see it. There's not much left to write after that, unless you're willing to really feel it. And I wasn't.
Now, this would have been damaging enough on my own, but I'd managed to drag down a hostage with me. His name was George, I thought I loved him, and I had never forgiven him for sleeping with his ex about ten months into our relationship - four months after he had told me that he loved me. We eloped in a blissful state, and as we cut the cake a few weeks later at a surprise party with friends and family back home, I realized that I had gotten married. It was a heartbreaking scene: me with a mouthful of cake, trying to choke back the flood of emotions, with frosting on my nose and an anchor for a heart.
It was, to say the least, not fun.
So all of these things: me coming to terms with who I was and what I wanted, me being creatively dead, me hiding all of that behind posessions... desperately painting this picture on the outside so that I couldn't feel what was going on inside - all came to a head this one Sunday. And after another furtive pace of the driveway, this time with Donna on the other end, I broke. I shattered into a million pieces there in a patch of sunlight, the shell of a person that I had become, now discarded. I walked gently back towards the house, being careful not to cut my feet on the moments of who I used to be, and stood on the carpet in the study. The carpet we had picked out when we were obsessing about the perfect wine color for the paint to match, and I realized now that I couldn't stand it.
I had always been somewhat of a tomboy - I cleaned up great, and even like a porn star when I really wanted to, but - I had never thought twice about my form of speech, or what I chose to say in front of who, or anything like that. I just spoke my mind whenever I thought to, sometimes holding back in situations with parents, but mostly not. I swore, and drank, and smoked cigarettes, and did keg stands.
Then we noticed each other.
It was our sophomore year in high school. I was barely sixteen, he was a year ahead of me. He was a jock, I was an indie rock goddess (or so I thought). He was captain of the football team, I was chronically misunderstood. I had twenty hole docs, he listened to hip hop. But I had always thought he was absolutely gorgeous - me, and about seventy percent of the female population in school.
Typically I dated the sensitive ponytail guy. Maybe with glasses, maybe without. Someone who wrote poetry, or read it, or at least knew who Kerouac was. Lead singers in bands, drummers, guitar players, the guy baring his soul at the open mic at the Daily downtown. Coffee drinkers, acid takers, these were my people. And strangely enough, none of them ever worked out.
One day I was sitting outside at lunch, buried in my headphones, soaking up the fall sun. It was barely fall, and still warm enough that you could trick yourself into thinking it was still warm enough to go to the beach if you closed your eyes. This was my typical spot, as it helped me avoid deciding who to sit with when Ali and Tai and Michelle didn't have the same lunch as me. I didn't have a lot of friends back then - like I said earlier, being chronically misunderstood and all. I pretended like I was fine with it, when in reality it tended to be a little lonely.
"Hey Angela." Raf's voice cut through between the tracks of Ritual De Lo Habitual blasting in my ears. I put my hand up to block out the sun and squinted.
"Mind if I sit down?" He was standing there with his hands in his back pockets, all cool and collected.
"Don't you like, have to crush cans on your forehead or something?" I said the most idiotic things at the most inopportune moments. It was a defense mechanism, a self-sabotage that I would eventually learn about and begin to detach from in therapy a few years later.
Raf grinned. "No, that's after practice."
I sat up, tossing the hair out of my eyes. "It's a free country."
"Any particular reason why you're talking to me like... like how you are?"
"How's that?" I leaned forward and crossed my ankles. I had on a red corduroy jumper, black and white striped tights, and big brown boots. My army bag sat under the bench. I can remember what the bricks looked like in the sun, while my eyes tried to adjust after being shut for so long.
"Mean. Like I did something to you."
"No, sorry. You didn't do anything to me, it's just -" I looked around like the parking lot across the driveway would tell me what to say.
"All your friends break my balls, about my boots or my clothes or whatever. I just figured that you were like, I don't know. Coming over here because you lost a bet or because you - I don't know. Something." I had run out of things to say, because none of it was true. I wanted to say that I was secretly hoping forever that he'd come along and throw me over his shoulder and lay me down in a field to profess his undying love for me.
"How about I just came over to talk?"
"Well, that's like, never happened before."
"Well, there's a first time for everything, right?" He leaned forward the way I was so that he could catch my eye. I grabbed it for a second, and looked down.
"So, what are you listening to?"
"You probably never heard of them." Stupid defensive bullshit. It was so obvious to everyone but me back then.
"Which album, Ritual?"
I looked up and saw his smile, that seemed to come mostly from his gorgeous brown eyes.
"Yes. How did you -"
"I know, I know, I'm just a dumb jock that listens to hip hop, right?" He shifted. "Actually, my older sister likes some of the stuff you do. I think. Like Jane's Addiction, and The Smashing Pumpkins, and REM, and all that mess -"
"How about The Cranberries?" I was starting to ease up a little.
"I don't know, we'll have to ask her." We.
"So, I thought maybe we could like, hang out sometime." He had gone from smiley-eyed to serious.
"Like, right now?" I was ridiculously dense, and had another bad habit of stating the obvious.
"Well, now is fine, but I meant like on a Friday night or something." Friday. It was Monday.
"Um, it's Monday." This was the stuff you read about in the magazines. You know a boy likes you if... if you get him drunk and he tells you, because he'll always tell the truth drunk... if he asks you out days in advance... if he calls when he says he's going to call...
"I know. And I'm asking you about Friday." The grin crept back onto his face.
"I think I'm around, I mean, I might be going to a show or something, so - " In my head I was screaming at myself, stop it, be nice, say yes -
"Well, maybe you could give me your number, and I could call you tonight and we could figure it out." Raf was just looking at me, like I was the only girl on the planet. Like there was a thousand things he wanted to say, like he wanted to brush the hair out of my eyes - I felt it all in that moment. It was like when people say that they know something is going to happen when they meet someone - I think we both felt it then. We talked about it years later, about the spark.
"Really?" I forgot to be jaded and misunderstood, just for a moment.
He put his hand on my hand. "Yes, Angela. Really."
I dug around in my bag and found a pen. He handed me his history book. "Here. I've got to take this home tonight, so this way I won't forget or anything." I fumbled around and wrote my number on the back of it, and handed it to him.
"So..." I was squinting up into the sun again.
"So I'll call you later." I glanced around. A few of the kids like me, drawing on their jeans with markers, were quietly observing. So were a couple of the cheerleaders over by the doorway back inside.
I finally smiled. "Alright."
He smiled back. "Alright." And he ambled back inside.
remember, I was going for quanitity.