February 04, 2011
I wished, once, for a time machine. I was instead gifted with the present. . .and no return receipt.
Like a lot of writers – hell, like a lot of people – I spend a good amount of time in my head, wading through thoughts and worries and ideas and concerns. I imagine a smaller, miniature, version of me in fishing waders with a fly rod trying to catch hold of the things slipping by.
I would like to have a conversation with this miniature mental version of myself and explain to her that it’s best to just let things go by, that the basket she’s keeping her catches in is filling up and spilling over, that it’s time to step away.
I’ve just compared my brain to a basket full of fish.
I had a conversation the other evening with my writing group about the difference between how men and women process grief and, in more general terms, emotions. Speaking generally, men are quick to sift through the junk and figure it out because the faster they deal with it, the faster they can move past it.
Women, on the other hand, will hold onto their grief, their emotions, for fear of what letting go of them might mean. We’re emotional pack rats, hoarders of sadness and anger and happiness. And some of us are very very good at hiding all that.
Me? Not so much.
I used to be – for about a year I was excellent at shutting all that emotional crap up behind a titanium plated door in my psyche and forgetting about it. It was the first time in my life sad movies didn’t make me cry, the first time I was able to just brush past things. It was like being a man emotionally and I thought it was great.
Turns out, I was the only one.
In all fairness, I was the one who started the conversation on romance and relationships and had I been paying more attention to what we were saying instead of the food and beer in front of me, I might have been able to realize where we were heading.
But the crab pretzel was amazing and the beer was so cold there was a layer of ice on the top and I get easily distracted by such things and before I realize it I’ve said something that’s negative about myself and that glazed, angry look has come over Jilly’s face – as it does when I do such things – and I’ve poked the bear before I can stop myself.
(She gets defensive for me, fights on my side when I rally against myself. Everyone should be so lucky to have that kind of front line defense against their own reckless negativity. I should write the universe a thank you letter for putting the two of us [and Valarie] in the same place at the same time all those years ago, maybe even send it flowers.)
I’m teary in the bar and she’s getting teary and we chug the last of her beer – mine’s been long finished and I’ve been attempting to make a dent in the gallon of water the waiter brought me – and head for the car before we can sufficiently embarass ourselves in a crowd of people we’ve never met before.
But she isn’t finished and I know it – she warned me in the bar – and we’re barely to the stop sign when she lands the final thought-provoking knock to the head.
“You’ve convinced yourself you don’t deserve to be loved and you’re wrong and anyone who tells you that deserves to be put down like a dog.”
That last part is whispered with ominous intent and I think it’s the tone of her voice, not the fact that she’s completely hit the nail on the head, that breaks me…because she’s completely against the death penalty. Which, when I say it out loud, makes us both laugh a little hysterically (in the psychological sense of the word, because yeah, we’re there).
I won’t sit here and make promises I can’t keep. I can’t just shake it all off and wake up better in the morning. Things like this take time and effort and patience (I’m good with time, okay with effort, and not on speaking terms with patience).
I will someday realize that I’m not the broken pile of China teacups I proclaim to be and that there is a guy out there who finds my quirkiness and silliness and tendency to fall headfirst into my own brain endearing and wonderful and that I just have to wait to find him.
Remember what I said about me and patience?
The same goes for waiting.