There are certain essences of human life that we all understand. Life cut down to the pit.
Fearing the kind of internet presence I will have FOREVER, there are certain words I keep under my breast bone. I can’t tell you the X-Rated things my roommate and I discussed giving up for Lent or all the thoughts I think on the way to the grocery store. I can’t tell you how many days I actually feel beautiful. But I wish I could because those are part of the human things. There’s a delicacy in our moments, and I think we oftentimes forget that.
It starts with a corner. Like a first kiss. A high moment, and I think we should always be looking for those. As a writer, I want to try and remind people of the marvelous. Not that I’ll be good at this at first, I’ll write terribly for a long time, but you know what they say about practice…
Stories tend to be like Life pointing back at itself. Case in point, David Sedaris when he talks about his former meth addiction, his lisp in elementary school, and coming out of the closet. Or if I plop down in front of a flawless Audrey Hepburn – her collar bones threatening to gouge my eyes out – her glamour gives me hope. In her peering into the window of Tiffany’s, I appreciate being a woman more and I see myself in her. No, I am not 95 pounds wet, but like a lot of women, I love shiny things and I can be beautiful. I feel that world opening inside of me, and it’s like a nudge. Like, “Hey, your blood will dry up one day. So you better get to those bars and order those pints. You better make new friends, paint your fingernails, and enjoy the moment. You better be brave.”
I write a lot now. I write about everything from Israel’s Consul General of New York’s opinion on nation branding, to the best beer bars in Encinitas, to the in’s and out’s of paragliding. So it’s been a little weird, truthfully, trying to figure out where my writing and professional writing meet. But when I’m tempted to beat myself up for not writing enough, or not posting enough, I remember that I am trying my best. I need to make myself proud, and to quote Jimmy Eat World, “It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.”
On Valentine’s Day, I ran to a lake by my parents’ house. I ran four miles, started walking, and saw an old woman sitting at a picnic table by herself. Something wasn’t right about her. She had set up two elegant place settings, but she was eating alone. I watched her awhile, and no one came back from the bathroom. She didn’t look like she expected anyone to come back, and eventually, she packed everything up and walked away. And then I remembered, “Oh my God, it’s Valentine’s Day.” As the sun set and I wondered about her life, I didn’t think it was sad what this old woman had done. I thought it was profoundly beautiful.
Or, yesterday. As I dipped sweet potatoes in mayonnaise and ate with the refrigerator door open, my Mom called me. She told me my grandpa is dying. Tonight, maybe tomorrow, she said, he’ll be dead. I was so wrapped up in my own problems, I was ready to vent about a writing job I have, and I felt so self-involved. I am a little self-involved. My sister was sobbing, and I realized I got a parking ticket. Soon, I thought, my family will gather together in black clothes, and those photos around our house, the one with my grandpa in his military uniform, will be different. The life will have left them.
I think these are the things we need to be reminded of. How rich and throbbing the world is. And when our days run away from us, we have to remember our lives are like movies. You have to watch the whole thing to know how it ends. We are not our failures, and without them, the whole wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful. I also know, that from gambling addiction to a weakness for chocolate cake, everyone falls down in different ways. It brings me back to one of the reasons I started this blog: to know that we’re all in this together. To remember what’s at the heart of all this.