I love the Word on the Street section of Time Out Magazine. On weeks where I've had few conversations with anyone over eighteen, this little tidbit next to the STICKY NOTE CONFESSIONS (another favorite), fills my head with ridiculous thoughts that don't belong to me. It's amazing how other people's words can normalize situations that are anything but. Most weeks, I giggle on the train ride home and file them away in that part of my brain saved for funny character development. This week I chortled through the first few overheard moments, in the usual way; thankful I didn't know these people, or wishing I did--until I ran across this: "He'd be a really bad boyfriend--and not just because he's married."
I wonder how many times words like that have been uttered on street corners. How, in one sentence, everything could be so miserable but normalized. Like, "The line at Trader Joe's was exceptionally long yesterday" or "He likes to hum Wannabe in the shower."
I know too much about miserable thoughts like that and how, once you're somehow connected to them, even the most outlandish thoughts have to be normal. So that when they slip off your tongue, you don't feel your personhood slipping away with them. I wonder if, this anonymous voice--too--walked into something unexpected and unconventional. Something not at all how it sounds but a million times worse; I hope this person, better than me, learned to walk away before she had lost the part of her who would have laughed through that overheard remark, too.
In my high school creative writing class, I was chastised for skimming past the important exposition. I would write stories about my parents, about my relationship with my father...stories that were inherently shameful for me. Because I knew they were important (like the words I try to write here) but I couldn't quite verbalize the shame. I had so much that I wanted to say about it but it all came out in code. If you were me, if you were there, maybe you would know it. My words veiled their own meaning by dancing around shame.
I can't dance but I do an amazing shame-wiggle. And, through my wiggling, I maneuver my way through shame and into a bit of normalcy.
Lately, everything I've been writing hardly scratches the surface. There is the shame you live in; calling it by a pet name and cleaning a space for it on the bookshelf, and then there is that overarching shame. The shame that makes you crawl into yourself, willing your organs to churn out cement fast enough to help you rebuild a wall. After you've seen your body heal from bruises and burns, it seems that sort of healing should be second nature. But it isn't always.
There are a myriad of things to be married to. I think I've always imagined marriage to be more fun than paperwork and grading and sleeplessness and crying. But maybe that's my fault to. Or maybe it is the kind of person I am; to devote myself to a task only to be devastated when it misses the mark. I live in two worlds: this globalsphere (home to the world wide web and black and white cookies) and the place inside my head, where I can't let go.
Me, I'm married to my work. At least that's what people have been telling me (too often). But I think that's the way it should be, right now, as I begin this new adventure. Work, like the safer things, cannot let you down. Or, well, maybe it can--but if you're me, that is blame easily placed upon yourself when it goes wrong. You got your wires crossed, you didn't understand, you forgot to scan that document in, by the end of the business day. Shame on you. People are different. People are good at letting you down. People--I often think--bring the shame.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.