*Sniff*Sniff*Honk* I LOVE YOU GUYS, MAN!!!
Thanks for talking me off the ledge. The past couple of weeks have been so rollercoaster. And that’s not the rollercoaster of love, wah-hoo-hoo-hoo. I’ve had days where I sat for hours, burning valuable babysitter time, and ended up in the same place where I’d started. I just wanted to cry me a river. Then I’d have days where I’d get stuff done and feel righteous about it, only to realize the next day that maybe that wasn’t really going to fit into this book. By Friday night, I was despondent.
And then I managed to write a scene that gave me that good, lonely, sad feeling where afterwards I just didn’t want to talk to anyone. And that was great. 😉
That’s the thing about writing sometimes. As much as I’m trying to dig deeper and deeper, getting closer to some fundamental emotional truth, I’m trying to run away from it at the same time. I’m trying to hold the truth away from me. Because going there is just so damn painful. And it’s not something you can name in a clinical way: “Oh, X happened and it reminded me of Y and so naturally I feel sad.” No, it’s more like you’ve pulled some emotional hair clog from the old pipe of primal memory, and suddenly you are flooded with all these…feelings. And how do you explain to someone that the cheap sparkly stucco ceilings on certain houses takes you back to your father’s townhouse in Texas after the divorce. And yes, it’s that it makes you think of him, charming but secretive, loving but lost to you, living another life in the bars, a life that will kill him eventually. It’s that it makes you think of how you sometimes connected for a moment in that desperate way that people do–over a drink or a movie or an intellectual discussion that skates across the surface of the roiling unsaid. That standing in the kitchen or driving to the airport, you reminded each other of these fleeting moments, these private jokes, as a way of holding on to each other, as if to say, “See? We aren’t really being pulled down and away from each other by gravity.” It makes you think of his house: stale smoke smell of cost-cutter cigarettes lingering in the cheap, came-with-the-house curtains; bourbon and whiskey in the high cabinet over the electric stove; the brown, low-pile carpeting starting to fade in the front room where the sun is strongest; the blue-and-green floral sleeper sofa where you sleep tentatively on top of the rough cushions that scratch your cheeks, not bothering to pull it out because you won’t be there long and truthfully, you’re not sure who has slept on it before you. It is that, while there, you actually have a respite from the other life with your mother, from her overwhelming need, her constant bid for reassurance, her daily litany of angry outbursts and paranoid ramblings that obscure you, whoever you are and need to be, in the haze of her resentment and fear.
But it is more than this. It is that when you lie there at night, staring up at that ceiling, watching the car lights move over it in sweeping arcs like the tide, you are aware of what that ceiling means: perpetual transience. You are aware that you are rootless in this life, as fluid and searching as those car lights. You are connected to no one, because to be connected to this, this stifled life, these unhappy, smiling people circling the drain is to go down with them. It is to die with your eyes open. And like those cars, you have got to get out of here, away, even if it means going alone. That ceiling is what you see every time you start to write, the white of the screen blinking at you like a warning that this is the only way out. But it will not be an easy ride.