Surveying my fanatically-clean house on Saturday I realized I haven’t written one recreational word in months. (I avoid saying “years” because if it’s only been one or two years, you can still measure in months. Why not — mothers do it with babies all the time: “He’s 22 months.”)
A long time ago I wrote a blog entry to the affect of “I may have a sinkful of dirty dishes but this weekend I read a novel.” It was around the same time I wrote that going to a flourescent-lit office in sensible shoes to do someone else’s important work would never be enough for me. And that if I’d ironed my skirt this morning, I wouldn’t have had time to write. (Hence the wrinkles.)
I revisit these posts often in my mind. They came from the magic summer of 2002. A time so alive I can still feel the weight of it in my palms. On my wrist.
This morning, spring air flitting through my open window, I felt nostalgic for that time. Must have been a song on KEXP — though that crazy John Richards started his morning show with Boyz II Men, raising a different kind of nostalgic burn — the summer before freshman year of high school, in my flourescent orange OP windbreaker, 100% ache — Chuck Caggiula, who was in love with Amy. Of course. My best friend. Everyone in love with Amy. Me at age 14, nearly six feet tall, already feeling the sting of the black sheep. Awkward everywhere but on the page. Pages upon pages — thousands. I wrote two novels before I graduated middle school. And the journals, half a dozen filled by that summer, one bursting with rabid teenlove for Chuck Caggiuala.
See? It all comes back to writing.
So it was not Boyz II Men that ignited my fingertips with want for a certain June. In fact, now that I think of it, it wasn’t a specific song, it was the feeling evoked by that song. That exquisite pain of a few notes magically struck, when your heart and the musicians are thrumming at the same vibration, and the world gets silent except for this song before you, and you feel ready to burst! You must share it with someone! How can you walk around in your day now that this song is out in the world, waiting to be heard?
I do love spring in its giddy flourish, how it pouts like an overflowing cup, so full of everything — promise — the earth buzzing with anticipation. May is the twittering audience a moment before the curtain parts on opening night. The tension in your bones as you await the starting bell, legs drawn taut, a full roll of kinetic energy bound like a coiled spring.
I feel myself thawing from a long winter. A winter of gray skies, gray water, gray asphalt. Only the pines here hold their color, a resolute and musty green, branches draped on trunks like a worn military garment. The winters here dreary and damp and too long, droning on like a broken record.
So then May waltzes in and shakes her colors, rolls out the technicolor blanket over this grayboned city, tosses a bright sun in the sky, and suddenly I can feel my feet again. I begin to hear again, to taste — driving my car along the water with the sunroof open and golden rays burning my irish skin I feel giddy — drunk on the newness. Wearing short sleeves I’m aware of my long bare arms, I feel naked, flushing with modesty I try to cover them, like they’re exposed nipples — it’s all new. Fresh. And I feel the hope well up inside me — I am lovesick, wandering the lush lawn barefoot in headphones, pining over the songs that have shattered my heart. A Song for Zula. Needing to share it with someone.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say the nostalgia, the pining, was for youth. For times now gone, the frivolity of the young. But the truth is that I haven’t aged in the past 10 years. Nothing is different. I make more money now, which is handy when you’ve got a predilection for vintage Vespas and vintage vinyl. I can blow a whole paycheck on a stack of records. I’ve got nobody telling me what to do. No kids, no mortgage. So it’s been easy, this past decade, to stay frozen in time.
So I don’t pine for youth; I’ve still got it. Maybe this age is the perfect one so far — still got the entrapment of the young, my looks, my energy — but I’ve developed enough wisdom to know it’s all temporary.
It’s the intensity I pine for. These past few years have been lukewarm at best, tepid, tentative. I used to run around like a maniac and grab life by the throat. I painted that destiny on my wall: “I want a big loud raucous lovely life to swallow by the handful.” And I did.
But I forgot how.
I got very skilled at polishing the black walnut plank floors and I forgot to carve out time to committ words to paper. Excel spreadsheets? I’m your girl. But the insatiable fury that used to burn my fingertips, command me to write — it’s turned to more of a suggestion. On par with “maybe I’d like some iced tea.”
I’m so ashamed.
The thing is — it’s hard to hold on to the fury, that intensity — that joy — when it’s being beaten out of you on a daily basis. The world does not want you to be happy. The world does not want you to be enraptured and bursting. The world does not want to hear you come into work on Monday morning and say, nearly jumping out of your seat, that your weekend was “AWESOME!”
The world wants you sedated, in debt, slave to the idiot box on the wall. It makes the other denizens of the world feel more comfortable if you don’t remind them they could’ve done things differently.
You learn to pour a little more white into your purple, to fade out a little. To be more socially acceptable. More “grown up.” (I always get pissed reading clothing catalogs because when I finally see something I would actually wear, I realize I’m in the kids’ section. Clearly someone put forth the decree that adults are only allowed earth tones.)
There’s this paint — it reminds me of all that’s wrong with my world — (I say “my world” because I live in the white middle-class world where such things can be wrong — luxury problems, I know) the paint is called “Accessible Beige.”
Before I started actively and intensely hating Facebook, I used to post random stuff. I fell in love with a chartreuse green mid-century sofa I was bent on buying and I posted a pic of it to the tawny-minded masses. I said, “Life’s too short for beige furniture.” I got a lot of “DIS-likes” on that one. Beige is too fucking safe. If you’re going to buy a sofa, committ. Don’t buy khaki because you’re afraid and you lack fire. Or committment. Or confidence. Sack up and buy a chartreuse fucking couch.
I don’t want to live an Accessible Beige life. I want all my days to be Blurple.
Time to start painting.