Day 31: Laundromat Philosophy

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.Anais Nin

I was rewarded today for posting day 30 late with this quote in my little sidebar tool thing that wordpress gives to remind you of how many posts you have done and how close you are to reaching the next milestone. Can you believe that I am close to 80 posts? I started this blog only a few short months ago and already I know that so much has changed.

I started writing this blog on a whim, sitting on my couch in my pjs because my bed was broken, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. Granted that question really hasn’t changed for me, but the purpose has. I cried that day. I cry a lot. I hurt a lot, a lump constantly in my chest and suddenly tears are rolling down my face and a sob escapes my throat. I’ve been sad for years, hurt and confused and unsure. I boast a proud facade to the world around me, and talk a game better than anyone else I know. But really I’m sad, and scared.

I think my coworker might have been a few months off the whole “when you turn 25 the world changes” theory. I say this knowing she reads my blog so I hope it earned a smile from you. Things changed for me on key moments. The day I learned that blood doesn’t mean family (I was 3). The day I learned violence and hatred were the same thing (also 3). I changed the first time I hurt myself (15). I changed when I realized that I truly did love my fiance (17). I changed the night my ex-girlfriend and I got into a fist fight after I got out of the hospital (20). I changed when I stepped off the plane in Ireland (21). I changed when I realized that I was loved (22). I changed the day I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore (24).

Small moments that dot my life thus far, and it seems like so much, but it isn’t. The last 22 years of my life have been such a whirlwind of change and emotion that I get a headache when I let the memories roam free. Simple memories that shouldn’t stand out but they do,

Laying on my friend Chi-Chi’s bed, listening to her talk about this boy she liked, and her dreams for her future. Sitting on the guard rail by my apartment building, asking myself for the first time if I even liked Tina, and being too afraid of the answer to do anything about it. Sitting in my first apartment in college, looking at my roommates like they were nuts, as they watched some horrible television show like it was telling them the meaning of life. The look of pain on my brother’s face when I gently cleaned the road rash that span from his hip to his shoulder.

Two loud girls have interrupted my flow for a second, slightly annoying but expected for getting the urge to write when I’m in a public setting. I’m doing laundry, and I was reading, and something clicked. It was strange, then came the quote.

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.ANAIS NIN

I’m afraid to stop writing. I’m afraid to move to a new venue and lose this moment. This moment when things become clear, because the world makes them muddy, and cluttered. Like the noise of two people having a loud conversation in a quiet moment. But amidst the noise, is music. It’s life. I’m surrounded by life today. I’m surrounded by the groan of my phone, alerting me to my day off being cut short and my utter inability to say no. To the sound of ringing that tells me my laundry is done drying, but my body unwilling to move from this seclusion I have found myself in sitting between two sets of people on a laundromat floor.

I’m just grateful for head phones.

And then the song pulls me back to what I was reading before the urge to write took over. A love story, an infuriating love story. One filled with hatred, and pain, and angst, and the absolute truth that we are too afraid to experience love in the end-all-be-all kind of way. I know I am. I’m terrified that I might miss something, if I let myself fall in love and settle down.

I hate that word…settle. I hate it more than I can begin to describe. It’s like sacrifice, except sacrifice doesn’t imply defeat…not the way settle does. But I don’t have what the story does, I never had. That fire…that fire for another person that drives me crazy to see someone else touch them. The shining love that would let me love them enough to walk away, and would drive me back to them when walking away forever was never an option to begin with.

The story gave me a quote that hit me harder than I cared for it to, I mean it is just a stupid fanfiction about characters that the world will forget about in a few years. But it is a quote from a book that I have to read, that I own, but I haven’t read because the love of reading was driven out of me without my being aware of it.

Kiss me again, but don’t let me see your eyes. I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer- but yours. How can I?

I remember shaking, the first time I felt the pain that loving something incurs. But this quote….what does it mean? To you, to me, to this world. What does it mean?

What does it mean when you spend so much time murdering yourself, that you fell in love with the broken while searching for something that was gleaming and new?

I’ve spent the last few weeks wrestling with urges, and hopes and dreams. The dreams of a future that I can’t possibly begin to imagine because a part of my mind was already made to walk away from them. The constant back and forth, the voicing of options and possibilities sheltered me from the obvious reality, that my dreams aren’t mine.

I don’t know what is mine. I know what will make the world around me proud. I know what will make my friends and family brag, and roll their eyes at me, and tell me that I’m silly. I know what it will all mean to have the family, the career, the dog and white-picket fence. I know what it means to the world, to be that person who helps, who bounces around, trying to make a disaster more bearable in the recovery processes. I know what the world thinks of those people.

But I don’t know what I think of myself. I don’t know what is mine, or just a product of conditioning. Of the mantra “Aptitude plus Attitude equals Altitude.” Of growing up knowing that anything short of excellence was a slap in the face. Growing up curbing my own lines and desires, because someone else would be disappointed. Someone would be disappointed, and that wasn’t acceptable.

Why didn’t ever occur to me that I could be disappointed with myself? Why did it never occur to me that my own opinion of myself was the one that mattered the most? I made a fool of myself for so long…what does that mean?

I don’t get to blame the world…I don’t get to blame circumstances, or upbringing. I don’t get to blame the communities I’ve found myself in, the friends I’ve grown to hate, and the enemies I learned to love. I don’t get to blame myself.

I realized yesterday why I hated Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World. I tried reading it in high school and I couldn’t get through it. I told everyone it was because it was a boring, and confusingly written book. But I lied. I hated it because it was a reality that I couldn’t begin to accept, even though I was a part of it. I was already there, and I couldn’t handle it because I had been brought up being told I was something different, and special, and yet I knew. I knew I wasn’t a unique snowflake. I know I wasn’t different.

Yet I was.

I said I love you without know what it felt to mean it. I flittered from passion to passion, speaking rapidly about it, although the drive was already draining from me. I followed the leaders in the groups I was in, because being a leader wasn’t something I cared to do. Can’t lead a group of people when you really couldn’t care less if something happened to them.

Yet, here I sit, on the floor of a Laundromat in Waterloo, Iowa, and I felt my heart clench as I read about two unimportant characters and their infuriating fight for each other that drove them apart more than together. And yet, I knew. I knew what this meant, what it meant to love that deeply. It wasn’t fiction…it wasn’t a make-believe moment that all little girl’s dream about. It wasn’t a fairy tale.

This happened to someone…it sunk further in my stomach as I read the author’s story within the story. The realization of who I was sinking on top of that realization. This is who I am. I am the girl sitting on the floor, pissed off that two girls dared to be loud in public. I am the girl who reads fanfiction instead of the classics. But I’m that girl who left without explanation. I’m not whole, something is missing and I’m not quite sure what.

For these characters, what is missing is each other. But I’m not a character. I’m the author’s audience, the person they wrote for. It is a dynamic not many people can grasp. I know the author didn’t write this story for me, but they did. They wrote it for me, and the two loud girls, and for the little hispanic boy who smiles at me with wild-eye wonder when I wink at him. The author wrote it and I finally realized why I write the way I do.

Because living sometimes means cutting your heart open and letting it bleed. Because life isn’t about hand sanitizers, and rule books and purpose. Sometimes, life is making a fool of yourself. Life is about becoming a monster who knows how to love. It is about running away, and running towards something…anything.

The irony of it, is that I don’t know. Someone once told me that I should have asked for directions, but I stopped reading and asking. I ask the wrong questions at the right times, and taught myself to forget so I could re-learn to remember.

I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m lost. I ran only to find myself still standing in the same spot, and staring at the same things. Yet I’m okay, even though I’m not. I’ve never been.

My laundry has been done for an hour, and the sound of laughing children filter over my head phones, and the smiling face of a little boy as other children chase him around leaves me giggling. Another memory that should mean much, that I will forget, but I hope shows up every once in a while, along with the two loud girls and the burn of the laptop battery that seeps through the fabric of my jeans.

I should have asked for directions, but then again, what is the life in that?

Question of the day:

What do you want to ask me?

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