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Levitation September 1, 2003

Posted by LHK in Uncategorized.
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Sometime soon, I need to rediscover the art of being gracefully alone. Adam started his new work schedule tonight, meaning that his weekends have shifted from their traditional days to a decidedly unpalatable mid-week position, and his work nights begin at 8 PM. Meaning that I, having spent much of my life unhesitantly deeming myself an introvert of the highest caliber, need to remember what it is to face a night with no plans, to be still and incommunicative without the anticipation of anything more, to stretch my mind out in a near-empty apartment instead of hastily filling it with the sounds of VH1’s I Love the 70s and pretending that Michael Ian Black, Hal Sparks, Mo Rocca, Leif Garrett, and I are engaging in Very Witty Conversation.

Thinking about how well I once knew solitude gives me a little jolt to the head. That was me, that was me, that was me. And I see a girl from three years past with the same narrow-eyed, scrunched-face objectivity I use to look at my 6th grade yearbook picture (she with the uncombed hair, the pink lipstick and red t-shirt, the beginnings of unfortunate eyebrows). Sometimes I can almost fathom a reconciliation of then and now; I can engage my past and present in an elaborate reverse tug-of-war wherein the players give up before the two ends can meet. No one, it seems, wants to risk getting muddy.

When I imagine Japan, I see a slightly altered version of the bedroom I lived in for two years in my first apartment. The built-in desk and cubbyhole bookshelves, the molded plastic desk chair, the bed that held an ever-expanding menagerie of stuffed animals. That bedroom, of all my various bedrooms, represented what it was like to fall in and out of my necessary romance with my self. Also, what it was like to live in modular, pre-furnished housing. Perhaps there’s a connection to be made there. This apartment holds our stuff — my and Adam’s, and Talia’s to a lesser extent — and it hasn’t ever had to witness any of that old-fashioned “what, pray tell, is my MOOD today?” song and dance. So let me say this, without trying to put any trappings of Big Milestones on it: I am finally emotionally mature. As things usually happen with me, this has happened either too early or too late.

In some ways I can’t stand it. There was a certain comfort in being able to rely completely on myself for how each day would turn out. The emotions dictated everything. As I was transferring files to my laptop tonight (a horribly solitary activity. Talia walked through the living room as I was doing this and I hoped she’d say something more than “see ya.” I wanted to have a conversation with her about anything — computer files, why I’m addicted to the televised junk food that is VH1, why we get so many Chinese take-out menus stuffed in the crack of our front door), I listened to Tori Amos’s “Merman” and remembered how Laura and I used to lie on our beds in the dorm freshman year and listen to the song ten times in a row. We wouldn’t admit to each other that we could have heard it ten more times, nor did we try to explain why we liked the song so much, though I think it goes something like this: longing. We were lying on twin beds, and longing, and it was so sad and so safe. Reverse tug-of-war again: I’m taking Laura to her first Tori concert tomorrow night (well, tonight, seeing as the writing of this entry has now spanned two days as well as two months), and we’ll try to whoop it up for “Cornflake Girl” like it was 1998, but, really, we’ll both be thinking God, I hope I’m not too tired at work tomorrow. And HOW much did these seats cost?

(Answer: a lot. I bought both tickets and surprised Laura with hers as a graduation present.)

Maybe the trick, then, is not in relearning the old loneliness but in learning something completely new. There’s a strange out-of-bodyness I’ve been feeling lately. My mom once explained to me those eerie sensations I occasionally experience just before falling asleep, those half-dreams of floating just above the bed, and then the shudder of the body when I feel like I’m falling back into the mattress and its cloud-print sheets. You are, she said, outside your body. You’re just not brave enough to open your eyes and look down on it. And as long as you’re outside your body, you can will your soul to go anywhere. I haven’t had one of those dreams in a long time, but too often I can see myself from both positions. Inside and out. Brave little soul with too much wanderlust to keep her eyes shut.

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