April 21st, 2009

[rs] sofa

fade to black, pt. 1

we see ourselves how we want to see ourselves or we refuse to see ourselves as anything like that. we become and we become, we see ourselves as "better than" or "not as good as" or, worse still, "exactly like." in some cases, we cling so violently to the romance of who we were some years ago that it crumbles in our hands; in others, we go into such denial about it, make such titanic efforts to push it away that it takes us over, calcifies us. our preoccupation with avoiding that specific label leaves us married to it. to become, or not to become? to forget or remember?

you want to claim and remember all the good things; you want to release and forget all the bad. it doesn't that doom us to the same mistakes we're susceptible to make over and over and over again, filling our lives with experiences and people who will only make us hurt? then, does retelling every cautionary tale, does avoiding every personality demonstrating those tendencies that tend to draw you in and screw you over, fuck you up, does hashing over the mistakes you've made every time you approach a certain activity really leave a great deal of space for happiness?

a man once told me he never regretted his mistakes. he told me this more than once, in fact, he told me it again and again: every time we had a heartfelt conversation, every time some he experienced some misfortune wrought of poor timing, inappropriate expectations, distraction, or human error, he told me "i don't understand the point of regretting my mistakes, so i never do."

he was, in truth, the most regretful person i've ever met. apparently, because he did not quantify his narrow interpretation of "regret," he felt himself free of the title. in truth, he described his regrets externally, as random bad luck, as though he had no role in his own suffering: if he'd never met this person, if his girlfriend hadn't turned out to have so many problems, so many of the same problems his last girlfriend did, if he hadn't been born in this city, if he'd never been offered this job. i suspect he felt not learning from his mistakes meant he didn't regret them, but i can't be sure.


some morning one morning not so long ago, i had a dream that a man and and woman were floating, reclined and facing each other in an opulent bedroom of dark wood and jewel tones. the man was gazing up at the woman as though she were his reflection. the woman was gazing down at the man as though seeing him might explain something about herself.

a voice in my ear said something so profound and beautiful i forced myself awake to get it on paper, but when i awoke there was no paper to be found. i knocked my good pen from my cluttered night table to that neverland somewhere under the bed. after too long rooting around for implements on my bare knees on the hard floor, i scratched my thought into a scrap sticking out of the recycling bin with a dry ballpoint pen in the trash and immediately fell back asleep. the result is not legible. i'm guessing it reads "it all comes back like you're looking at it the other way through because you're looking at it from the other side."

it's not at all the words from my dream but i pasted it in my journal because it's as close as i'll ever get.


my first months on the internet, twelve years ago, i told my first internet friend that i'd noticed people writing over the process of getting to know me as an individual with stories they told themselves about my mannerisms or appearance. at the time, i might have been bragging. at the very least, i found it amusing, and so exaggerated those aspects of this situation that i felt might make me seem more intriguing to this kind near-stranger i only knew through the kind of long and confessional emails you receive from kind near-strangers on the internet, at least in 1996.

there are attractive qualities to this situation, aren't there? otherwise i wouldn't have so many friends, even into our 30s, who catalog favored entertainment media on social networking sites to such an extravagant excess it transcends the notion of finding common ground with new people and becomes more about defining oneself, trying to create a positive image by pleasant association. or are we using bands and books a kind of protective shorthand, keeping us from finding a way to honestly convey ourselves, convey ourselves in a way that might leave us vulnerable to scrutiny more disturbing than "aerosmith SUXX?"

and so a distracted slouch and long loose hair means i am prone to fits of infinite resignation. so my left handedness reveals eccentricity. factor in basketball shoes the color of fresh blood, a tendency to be forever bent over books of some variety: notebooks, sketchbooks, contemporary literary fiction--and i am assumed any variety of unusual or exotic: an artist, a poet, a lesbian, a liberal, a scholar, a loner, a vegan, a cannibal, a philosopher, an atheist, a witch, a vampire, a satanist, an assassin, a new age bookstore employee.

and that's not to say i've been none of these things, nor is it to say i've been any of them.

the deal is: these labels have less to do with me than they do the people who are offering them. what do you call something you don't understand? do you call it beautiful? that says one thing about you. do you call it godless? that could well say another. maybe you haven't thought it through that deeply, perhaps it's just the assumptions you offer a certain set of visual stimuli. factor in astrology? personality profiles? i'm as guilty of quizzing myself into algebra equations as anyone else; it's easier to say "it's hard to understand me on some things, i know, because of my natal moon in pisces" because perhaps i can route people toward those things they love about people with their moon in pisces, or, better yet, get them talking about their natal moon instead of whatever problem we are having.

no wonder we are left feeling so empty and disconnected. it seems the more we know about each other, the less we can be bothered to learn.