When I get really deep inside my head, a light turns off. Or pounds rapidly. I couldn't tell you which is which. But this absence of light- or frequent pounding- is filled with angry yesterday-words. And if you have no idea what 'yesterday-words' are, then you aren't living in my head.
But let me inform you. 'Yesterday-words' can be anything you didn't do, but mostly say, the day before. When I get really deep inside my head, I pull from every yesterday. From every last time I didn't say something, or said the wrong thing. I pull from my moments of weakness and from the moments I came on too strong. And, on those nights when the lights are definitely pounding and the only thing that knows how to go as quickly is a stronger heart than mine, I let my mind play tricks on me. I am at the mercy of my imagination.
Today, a storyteller in Central Park, by the Hans Christian Anderson statue, signed "imagination" in ASL. I forgot how much the sign for "imagination" looks like "crazy." Or the way "crazy" looks to girls in Elementary school who "brush their teeth and curl their hair." And my imagination is driving me crazy.
Let me tell you something about being alone: As a person who loves solitude, being alone is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Time with your thoughts, your fingers, your sense of humor. It's when being alone becomes ugly, when you fear the other side of loneliness, that you go crazy. I spend my days with people. I teach, I explore, I'm spending the rest of six weeks taking new eyes through my favorite city and yet, in the moments surrounding that bustle, my fingers aren't sure if what they're wrapping themselves around.
I would like it to be you.
I would like it to be Ireland.
Partaking in a similar program two years in a row magnifies the differences between those years.
I think that's what I'm grappling with here (aren't you glad you've been reading this long- confused-only to realize I'm equally so?): I'm not the same person I was last year. I think I can say this relieved, a little. This year has been filled with learning curves and chances. This year has been filled with a new kind of love- with more definitions and less answers (or is it more answers and less definitions? Perhaps nothing is definitive. Is that the answer?).
I'm a doer. I do, sometimes without thinking. Scratch that. I'm always thinking. But I'm rarely thinking about the big picture. I do things in the moment: Certain my actions will lead to something good. Confused when they do not. Cyclically. Cynically.
But I'm trying to get better.
Very few things are more difficult than trying to improve. Accepting that there's a problem may take the cake, though.
I like cake. But I don't like problems. Or thinking that I have one.
In fact, my favorite thing is perfect-cake.
If people could be perfect-cake, they would have that perfect frosting to sponge-ratio. They would be just sweet enough. They would cut into six identical pieces and cost $5 at Billy's Bakery.
People, however, tend to run too spongey or salty.
The other thing about people is that you can't put a price on them. Even when we look back on friendships that went sour or moments we let slip away, in a world of materialism, we haven't managed to put monetary value on memories.
Instead, we envelop them in yesterday-words.
If yesterdays serve as our building blocks, they never escape, merely shape us into far more seductive forms than the day before. We're a little wiser, a little more worried. And we have a little more to associate with yesterday.
Ramona Quimby had a cat named Picky-Picky.
I always thought that was an exceptionally odd name for cat. But I love Ramona Quimby. And I don't really like cats- so I never particularly cared that Picky-Picky was an odd name. In fact, it grew on me.
In that same way, Ramona Quimby became a staple in my world: People who haven't read the series by Beverly Cleary often assume Ramona Quimby is a friend of mine, by the animated nature of my descriptions. Almost as if I was there- from Ramona's obsession with boing-boing curls to the way her sister Beezus is in love with Henry.
Maybe she is a friend of mine: I've found my fondest friends in fiction.
Somewhere between counting calluses on the playground and longing to be flower girl at Aunt Bea's wedding, I think I became Picky-Picky.
A friend of mine recently described me as such (no, not as a cat). In that honest-way of friendships, he told me that I was a picker. That I "pick things apart if (I) think they're not good." He went on to say that thereby I destroy them: "A small conflict is a huge calamity and giant disasters are little obstacles."
Does not everyone do that?
I don't think I expect too much of people- but I expect them to think like me (and no one thinks quite like me). Over the last few months, I've been reevaluating the way I approach conflict: I'm trying to become the sort of person who doesn't take things too personally. The person who refuses to over-obsess and let's things be 'So Yesterday."
Basically, I want to be a mix between Ramona Quimby and Hilary Duff.
I always thought things would make more sense from adult eyes. Turns out I'm desperate to return to the simplicity of youth: Good Disney Channel and characters who flew off the page. As an adult friendships become invaluable and people seem more important. People fill the holes in our histories, they tell the stories we don't know how to.
Yet we (or me. And people like me) pick the people we love most furthest apart. We hold our love to unfair standards and paint worlds in black and white. Age has made us colorblind- or stolen all crayons from childhood. We're pen people, now.
But, even in pen, I'm recalling all the flowery ways I can paint love. I'm re-imagining yesterday's doodles and ripping up the pro/con sheet.
I won't be the one to pick things apart. I'd much rather create- and put things together.
On Saturday, I ran in the #Happiest5k with the only other person I know who would call the dry paint "pixie dust." After the last two weeks in Florida, it was certainly something to spend two hours commuting between boroughs. I'd forgotten that trains didn't travel at twice the speed of light. I also realized that maybe it's true: I do over-romanticize this concrete jungle home of mine. At the end of the day, a stick is just a stick, a grass hut is just a grass hut, and skyscrapers don't really scrape the sky at all.
But they make a dent.
And sometimes they block the view of our dreams.
The Color Run filled CitiField with a startling number of bodies and tutus (I was ill-prepared for all the fluorescent tulle). The theme of these runs is happiness- so, naturally, the race had two rules: Never stop dancing and never stop smiling. Those are my rules for everyday life (which usually get me into trouble) and, putting bliss into every moment created a eutopian society, covered in rainbows.
Even though the Boy called me "filthy" later in the day, when the colors settled into a dreary grey, I felt radiant! I didn't realize I'd missed running so much. Granted, the labyrinthian miles constructed from safety cones and blue footprints wasn't quite the wide open spaces I long for, in this claustrophobic city, but it gave off the illusion of space. You could raise your arms like wings and soar a'la airplane across the rainbow sky (and, of course, I did). It brought to light a question or two about happiness.
Days later, I'm still on a high-and I don't think it's because of the paint fumes. But my cup runneth over with the things that go unanswered. I've been sitting here for days, pondering the proper way to verbalize my questions about happiness. On how to be happy. On why, at the Color Run, it's okay to dance ridiculously and lay on the floor, uninhibited, extending and retracting like children making snow angles, on the hard, paint covered road. On why we shower off the paint and fastened our inhibitions back to our clean chests and return to business as usual.
At the Color Run, they give you a swag bag replete with exercise band and temporary tattoos. Naturally, I covered the top of my arm with a giant purple HAPPY. What I didn't expect was the reaction my temporary tattoo elicited.
THE THREE STEP REACTION:
Granted, I would never actually get HAPPY tattooed onto my arm. But why does "happy" bother people so much more than the other words I've seen tattooed? Why are we so afraid to be happy? So many of us keep up walls and push away the things that bring them joy. Because they don't feel like they deserve it- because they fear happiness will be short-lived. I don't want to live that way.
Live every day like the #Happiest5k
I'm determined to make #HappinessOk
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.