There’s something sort of feline about the weird ways in which we humans balk at change.
I don’t know if it’s fear of death, lack of imagination, or straight-up laziness. Maybe it's habit. Whatever it is, it’s the force that compels people to buy houses and maintain the same haircuts for years after they are no longer flattering. At some point, change starts to feel more like a threat than an opportunity. It seems sinister and difficult instead of fun and exciting, and so you become this impotent docent in your own life, guarding something that never really existed.
If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a handful of people in life where your meeting is followed by this glorious time when you’re almost blinded by their brilliance. They’re faceted creatures that cast their light on the tired old world. Something opens up.
Then maybe as you get older, you learn more about the ways in which facets turn to fissures and you grow leery of that opening—its fragility, its implied threat.
I think one of the hardest things about being a writer is the tendency—the necessity—of working towards The End. The End is always the goal, and it weighs on you. You learn to think about stories in terms of teleology. Possibilities are uncomfortable problems to be worked out.
Let’s just get this out of the way: what I’m about to say might sound stupid.
Some years back, I had an out-of-town fling during the death throes of a toxic thing I had going on back home. It was the type of experience that was more symbolic than significant in itself, if that makes sense. It helped me see that my life was wide open in a way that I had forgotten about after years of what I now recognize was unhappiness.
I have this vivid memory of being very hungover in a taxi on the way to the airport, trying not to barf. It was an impossibly bright morning, and I had the kind of headache where it seemed like the whole world was throbbing in time with my pulse.
Half asleep, I leaned my head against the window. And I was thinking about this fling with some fondness, considering how the rest of the story might unfold. Maybe he’d call and we’d talk like old friends. Maybe I’d given him the wrong number. And so on. Who knew?
We’d have an adventure. We’d let it lie.
And there was this moment as I was drifting off when each of these possibilities—just because it existed—seemed as bright and open as the stretch of road that streaked past my window.
And through that bear of a hangover, I experienced what I can only describe as this Walt Whitman-style feeling of oneness with the universe—like everything within and without was lit with these possibilities. They buzzed through my chest like fireflies. They were the sun that warmed my cheeks. Then they were the bright spots morning burned behind my closing lids.
And then I spent an hour or so throwing up at the airport.
My point is, I’m a writer. I overanalyze my own narrative. Sometimes I worry about The End before I’ve worked through the beginning. Sometimes possibilities feel like uncomfortable problems that need solving.
I’m trying to find the fucking fortitude to hold them in my hand before I bury them in my heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day, you guys.