Today is Friday, June 21st, 2013. I thought today would be the last day my stepdaughter was living with us before she goes to her dad’s for the rest of the summer. I thought today would consist of my stepdaughter, my girlfriend and I enjoying the beach, then going miniature golfing, then eating out for dinner, then getting Carvel, then enjoying our last hours together for the next two months, then reading to her before she goes to sleep. The last 3 books I read to her were the graphic novel “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” a book where X leads an alphabet revolution (he’s tired of being in so few words, and persuades the other letters to overthrow the alphabet; he tells I and E they must be tired of all the rules, and taps into Q’s unspoken weariness at always ending up stuck with U), and one of my old Choose Your Own Adventure books, “The Fairy Kidnap.”
Today, instead, my ex-family is leaving town. By the time my ex-girlfriend returns to our ex-home, I will likely have moved out. I will never again read to my ex-stepdaughter. There will be no Carvel. No dining out together. No more days at the beach (really glad I bought an all-summer beach permit a couple weeks before I move away).
What has my day been?
I’ve been up since 5:30. Not “up” as in “I got up and did things;” “up” as in “My mind was wide awake, with so many thoughts racing at once that closing my eyes only lent clarity to the cacophony, so I laid there with my eyes open, because at least with my eyes open I could momentarily focus on something visual, something external.”
Taking a friend’s advice, I borrowed a digital copy of “WordPress For Dummies” from the library. At first when I saw they had an actual physical copy of the book, I thought, “Ahh. Perfect. Give me three dimensions anytime.” But then I remembered: I don’t live here anymore. I’m moving. I can’t take out a hard copy. I won’t be around to return it.
I was relieved to find the book available as a download.
Upon experiencing that relief, the next sensation I was aware of was how tiny the scale of that relief felt after the long program free-falling ups and downs of the past 48 hours.
The rhythm with which one fluctuates from an observer of one’s life to a participant and back again is, for me, also always in flux. Sometimes one downshifts; sometimes one upshifts.
I often have to remind myself that, at least most of the time, my life is not, objectively, something I can judge. If I choose to see it as a pattern of failures, stemming from a series of young Matt mistakes, then that image seems incontrovertible. If I choose to see it as proceeding along the path I laid out for myself at various stages in my youth, and that everything so far is exactly as I’d hoped it would be, then that image appears equally accurate.
But Borges, or perhaps Bossart writing about Borges, writes there is no context-neutral vantage from which we can view anything. If that is true, then my own private rhythms and fluctuations are inevitable. If that is true, and there is no solid land of objective vantage to dock at, then the up-and-down ballast of the sea is, however context-biased, the closest thing to a reliable vantage there is.
Things that suck today:
–Reading a book about WordPress online instead of putting together a picnic basket and trying to sneak the dog onto the beach.
–Hoping my afternoon involves landing a storage unit and finding a friend with a truck who can help me move a couch, my bike, and possibly a dresser I’d dismissed as purely temporal, but which now has been promoted to “essential furniture in my new, unfurnished apartment,” instead of watching my ex-stepdaughter discover for the first time the joy of a pink golf ball.
–Instead of the highlight of today being everything I’ve already mentioned, the highlight will be finding a liquor or grocery store who can give me enough boxes to pack my stuff up. I. Really. Don’t. Miss. Packing. My. Life. Up. In. Boxes.
–Being in this self-created Catch-22 where I simultaneously refuse to go out and do anything socially while at the same time cooping myself up in a house where every single thing in it is a graphic reminder of a life that no longer is mine.
People ask me if I want to talk, and I say “No,” because my instinct whenever I’m hurt is to close everyone off and deal with the fallout myself. Many of you are lovely, lovely people, and you’ll have some clever well-meaning advice that will come out of your mouth as glib and ignorant. I didn’t pick my instincts out of a hat. We all have defense mechanisms, we develop them for different reasons–usually because we couldn’t find the help we needed in others–and then we convert these tourniquets to machines of masochism; hopefully, when we’re older and wiser and loved, the lovely lovely people in our lives haven’t given up on us, despite our telling them their good intentions seemed glib, and they help us break binds we’re so accustomed to we’re blind to them.
People ask me if I want to talk, and I say “No,” because I don’t like being emotionally inarticulate, and right now everything is so new I don’t have the fluency to express myself. And–spoiler alert–Matthew really, really, really hates looking confused.
People ask me if I want to talk, and I say “No,” because I’m afraid they’ll talk to me about anything but the breakup, and I’ll wonder, “Why are they avoiding the obvious?” Or they will bring up the breakup, and say something thoughtful, and I’ll think “You’re just going to tell her the same things you’re saying to me, thus rendering them meaningless” (meaningless to someone who is slowly re-learning not to think or worry about his ex-). Or they’ll find that balance where they talk about it briefly, then move on to casual conversation, and the moment that conversation starts to lull, I’ll think, “You know who was never a dull conversationalist? My ex-.”
And then I’ll be right where I am. I don’t want to be home. I don’t want to go out. There is no context-neutral vantage.
Things I’m sick of today: today.
I hear there’s always tomorrow…