Three Days

August 31, 2007

He is at the centre of my being. It may be the fact that he was the first. It’s not that the next is any less precious to me. But the first has a place that can’t be denied.

I still remember the first time I looked into his startlingly blue eyes. How could anyone one person possess such a stunning combination of deep native street smarts, and naive innocence about the world? I smiled, melted, and fell in love. I had had no clue that love could be this selfless. Everything I did was intended to push him to meet his potential, even while I knew that each push was also a push out the door.

Since those first days, he has grown. Almost every day is a surprise for him, and for me. Others are drawn to him. I can only watch and be proud. He leads, he teaches, he inspires, and mentors. He is always loved, by me, by others, by himself. I knew I would never be able to keep him for myself, and finally, I had to let him go.

That’s what happened. He was ready, and he left. Not in rancour, but in a spirit of adventure. I have missed him, from the depths of me, even as I have supported his choices. He has proven himself since then, again and again.

In three days, he is coming back. Back to me. To his life. To his home. This boy, this man, the result of my love, my ministrations, my vigilance, comes home to me, his mother, in three days. He won’t stay, not for long. I can’t hold him. I can be his safe place, though, his home.

Three days. I can’t wait.

Author’s Note: Yes, I know it’s mushy and sentimental and over the top. But three days! Hurrah!

Shine my light

August 29, 2007

I want you to think I’m amazing. I want you to be astounded, gobsmacked and awed. I want the profundity of your amazement to move you, I want to render you speechless with astonishment. I want to dazzle you with my sparkle, I want your ears to ring with the beating of your heartfelt emotional response. I need you to be knocked off your feet with what I have wrought, dry mouthed at my creation. I want you stunned into sleeplessness, racing-pulsed and heart-stopped at the thought.

I want to know that you feel it, and to believe it beyond the layer that will accept such praise. I want to know it in my bones, and feel it under my fingertips.

But if I can’t, if it’s beyond us – you to feel it, and me to know it – I’ll content myself with less, and merely blind you temporarily with my flashes of ostentatious brilliance.

Personae

August 28, 2007

You’ve met me, or at least read me. You know that I am what I appear to be, right? I don’t think I’m fooling anyone. I’m not trying to. Not really. And yet, sometimes it seems like here I am this, and there I am that. Here I question, analyze, dive, risk. There I tell, demonstrate, entertain, amaze. Here I hide my face, my identity, but never my truth. There I show my body, my charm, but never my lack of confidence. And what of that other place? That place peopled with the creatures of my practicality seems less real than the others at times, but perhaps that is where I am most rounded, textured, immediate. There I can be touched, but can I be known?

Is there a purpose for the existence of these different “them” that are me? Is it all a desperate attempt to please you, the various “you” that see me here, and there, and in the other place? Would you know me if you saw me there instead of here? Would my brazen extroversion there make me unrecognizable? Or would my obsessive navel-gazing here surprise and repulse that other you?

This is what I tell myself: I need to be her, and her, and her, too, because they are all me. Oh, how facile. But all of those dubious qualities of mine, presented altogether, might be more than a little overwhelming, or frightening, or annoying, or something else that I don’t think you are prepared for. Or you either. Wherever you are. I need this, and this, and I need both to be fully separate from this. And then, if you don’t love this me, or that me… perhaps the other me will suit your fancy.

Don’t edit this

August 27, 2007

I got a comment the other day on something I’d written elsewhere that made me think: “Oh, thank God, someone got exactly what I meant to say”. A while before that comments and reactions to something else I’d written made me marvel how what one writes takes on a life of its own: it seemed to be open to interpretation in so many ways, and while I felt vaguely irritated by the fact that no one else seemed to be reading it from my (unspoken) perspective, after a bit I just sat back and enjoyed how other people could take what I had written and make it their own.

I started a blog in the hopes that it would sort out in my head some of what I felt about writing. I wanted to know if I would ever do anything except think vaguely that I’d “do something” about writing, I wanted to find out if what I wrote had any coherent form or direction, and to discover if there was some middle ground between what I wrote for myself and what I wrote to be read by other people.

Blogging is the cheap and easy way to be a writer. Of course I’m a writer: people read what I write every day – what further proof do I need? But am I? Anyone can pick up a paintbrush and daub marks on a canvas, or pick out a couple of notes on an instrument. I’m a teacher – that’s what it says in my job description – but am I a teacher if no one learns what I teach them? (Thankfully they do, and I am). Can I say I’m a writer only when I have an agent, and a whole line of people have rejected and then ideally edited what I write, and I can hold it hard-backed in my hands?

There are writers whose books I read, and I wonder why I bother writing anything (but I can’t stop, that’s why): I so clearly lack their erudition and understanding, and ability to express it. And then again there are books I can’t bring myself to finish, far less believe that someone actually paid the authors money to write them, and other poor fools paid money to read them. So it is on the internet: pearls of shining beauty and steaming piles of crap nestle side by side in the ether. I read blogs that leave me awed, and others that make me cringe – and very often the reactions are the same. We’re all wonderful on the internet. But so are we in print – it’s not as though only the truly gifted writers are successful. Audiences are self-selecting and correspondingly uncritical in any medium. The difference, really, is whether anyone is willing to invest money in us.

I didn’t start the blog to be discovered as a writer. One day, I still try to convince myself, I’ll write something “other” – something that is more than bite-sized chunks of my brain (because any more than that is indigestible). But I suspect that I never will, and that this medium is the ideal one for what it seems I write when left to my own, anonymous and unrestricted devices, gloriously free of the editor’s critical eye.

I don’t know if what I write is what I expected I would. I don’t know, if I came across myself by chance, if I would read me. I have this horrible feeling that I would gaze uncomprehendingly at my own words and find myself wondering what the fuck I was going on about, half the time. Would I be impressed by my own pretty language, and think that if I couldn’t understand it then it must be deep ? (Well, no. I’m too much of a cynic for that). Would the red-penned editor who sits in my head when I read tear at her hair in despair, crying: “Are you trying to say something here? Why don’t you just say it, in that case? And get rid of all the fish references while you’re at it”. (Er, yes. She does it all the time. I ignore her). Would I think I was hopelessly self-indulgent, and dabbling dangerously in the waters of pretension? Would I think, that if I was me, I’d click on Edit This a little more frequently than I clearly do? (Yes, probably, and yes. But I am the Queen of Denial and rarely listen to myself).

I worry that I’m losing the ability to have any objectivity about anything I write, and then wonder what it matters. If I am self-indulgent enough to write what I want to, and then offer it up to others, is it more important to write something that may seem hopelessly vague and insubstantial to everyone but me, if it expresses exactly what was in my head? If I can read it back and know exactly what I meant, and feel relief that I have managed to regurgitate it in some form that makes it easier for me to live with, does it matter that I inflict it on other people? If I write something that may seem bland and dull, but which transports me instantly back to a moment of significance to myself, is it important that my words may be judged by criteria other than my own?

Does it signify that I often read what I’ve written and wonder what exactly is going on with the prose-poem format I seem to increasingly favour? A format, I should add, that I often don’t have a great deal of time for, when not wallowing in it myself. Am I unconsciously trying to make sense of my own somewhat conflicted approach to poetry (seriously, this is my secret dread: that I really want to write poetry, but don’t know how to, because I find it so difficult to judge from anything but an academic point of view), or is it just that what I write is becoming more similar to the way I used to paint?

I suspect it is. I have a feeling that my bottom line is this: you can have all the skill you like, you can bend words and phrases into any number of shapes you want, and you can dress it up as prettily as you please, but the only real value it has is the ability to hit someone, anyone, in the gut. Maybe that’s what I’m striving for – a body-blow in every post.

Connection

August 27, 2007

There is this line, this thread that stretches between you and me. I have drawn it tight and thin, on purpose. It is almost invisible. You can see it glittering barely, delicately, so fragile in the sunlight. Unless you move suddenly away from me, I don’t even feel its presence. It would be so easy for either of us to break it. That’s really the point. Neither of us seemingly wants it to be indestructible. Its implied temporary nature reassures us. This is no threatening steel cable binding us relentlessly together. We can tell ourselves and each other that our connection is voluntary, transient, in flux. We dance lightly around each other, at each end of our thread, attached but never confined.

There are times, though, when I feel that my end of the thread has become somehow sewn into my skin, wound tightly around my waist, entangled in my hair. I am starting to feel it each time you move unexpectedly at your end, like a slight but increasing resistance that becomes more uncomfortable the more I fight it. I don’t think that it’s your action, so far away, at your end of the thread, which has caused my new sense of restraint. I think that when we created our connection, it was made light by the others between us. They held the line aloft, took the weight of what attaches us, allowed us to believe that it was almost, but not quite, non-existent.

Gradually, though, they’ve tired of that responsibility. Allowing us the luxury of ignoring reality is not reason enough for them to continue in that role. One by one, they’ve put down their burden, and with each abandonment, each minor treason, I feel the tug of you, a small twitch, an insignificant but cumulative pull. Ultimately, though, the more aware I become of what binds us, the more likely I am to lose my balance when you pull suddenly on the thread. I trip, I fall, I dangle over the edge of the precipice, suspended in mid-air, but secure and safe, held by the quixotic fragility of the connection we have forged. Don’t let go.

Compulsion

August 25, 2007

We walk on eggshells, here. We tiptoe over the fragile, crushable egos and self-esteem of all our fellow-travelers, and wonder what would happen if we walked with a heavier tread. Would there be a mess of half-formed flesh and guts, broken in the yoke of self, or are they the eggs of fiercer creatures, ready to snap at our ankles when we release them from their restraint?

I walk down acres of gleaming corridor every day: shiny white, wiped clean of the smeary handprints of the uncertain, as they grasp at the slippery clinical perfection to steady themselves. There are turnings I do not venture down, and shortcuts that my feet seem to take without needing conscious thought. I walk past rooms in serried rows, uniform in aspect, unique inside. I watch through half-cracked doors to what I am not sure I should see in the half-dark, and into others ablaze with light.

We toil at the therapeutic coal-face of self-imposed catharsis, our little lights shining as a sign of willingness to connect, our dullness a sign of solitude, or occupation; there may be some life beyond these walls.

In the shadows of my room I count my blessings, and take them one by one. In the familiar light I lie down with my demons, and angle the bulb to blind them, and draw their sting. The more I touch them, the less they poison me. They lose their power as I drag them out of their boxes over and over again, noticing how shabby they have become over time, how worn down their threat is, and the places I have poked holes in them. They can only move me to a slightly self-obsessive curiosity now, and eventually they will disintegrate in my hands, and leave only the faintest of scars, to be counted amongst so many others.

I write you out, I spew you up, I dance you down the page, and hear the hum from other rooms, of all of us engaged in our identical work, intent on recreation. And then we emerge, naked and exposed, as what we have wrought, and we choose the artful light we stand in. Love me, desire me, judge me, berate me – but don’t not see me, don’t turn your gaze away. Acknowledge, at least, the courage or need it took for me to do this.

The line I draw

August 23, 2007

This line in the sand isn’t where my limit is, it’s where your limit with me is. I don’t know where my limit is, because it’s somewhere behind me, and I’m facing you, making sure you see where my toe is tracing.

I don’t know where my limit is, because I’ve always been stopped before I got there: just at the point where fun edges into pain and pain can glimpse the possibility of discomfort, he’ll stop. I don’t have to test anything. I don’t have to admit to where I might be afraid to go, because I’m not lead there. And I won’t admit to being afraid of anything.

I think my limit stretches into the boundless distance, and I don’t want to think it might be closer than anywhere that is not out of eyeshot. My limits for everyone else are much closer, and I’ll decide if we can inch over them, or push them back, slightly, redrawing the line, or giving it a little outward curve now and then.

I might even accept a line drawn not by me, if my hand is held tightly enough by trust. I’ll close my eyes and allow myself to be shown where it is. I don’t like it when you dare me to close my eyes for you. I know you’ll estimate my line, and draw it farther back.

I’m facing you, and I see where your limits stretch to, and I’m afraid mine are closer than yours, and I’ll have to tell you. I think you’ll want to take me to your line, not mine, or that you think we should share the same one. But I think that when I reach it, I’ll know not to go over it, and you won’t.

I don’t want to be the one to stop. I don’t want to admit defeat. But I don’t want to end up broken on the other side, either, so I won’t turn round, and look at where I can’t go.