Let me tell you my favorite joke.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To see you.
And now, some housekeeping.
First and foremost there is an impeccable unbelievable and hugely hummable song called "Keep House" that these fellows I know, alias Ball of Flame Shoot Fire, released on their second LP, Pots and Knives, which you can actually download fo' free! JUST GO HERE RIGHT NOW ALL CAPS YOU WON'T REGRET IT.
Did this blog go AWOL? Yes. Is there a reason for that? Not really. I think I tried to sit down and be cavalier and witty and charming and vivacious but it just wasn't happening. Though, of course, now that I think about what's happened since last we spoke, ye readers, there's been plenty of wonderful, but it's documented in truer forms like photographs. But, since you asked, here are highlights:
The epic vacation to the western shores was both miraculous and disastrous and everything in between. My mother and I nearly died in Tennessee courtesy of some very icy roads, my mother's hell-bent determination paired with my epic fatigue, a cousin's house in a very beautiful but utterly remote part of the state, and more ice. Lord but I loathe ice. After much skidding and sliding and being all of twelve inches from a fifty foot drop into a river, we gave up and spent one sad and frigid evening in my cousin's car. The upside of all of this was Pinto, of course, who dealt with the whole debacle like the true and utter champion he is, and also kindly slept on my lap all night and kept me toasty.
As for Seattle itself, it was scenic and relaxing and delicious. I think everything I ate had some variety of crab within it, most notably crab mac n cheese and crab eggs benedict. We stayed in some swanky digs on a quiet little island full of dogs and alpacas, and though Matthew and I both got hideously ill (me from eating decadent foods after a semester of the grad-school diet), we had a wondrous time.
Rang in New Year's with the Riggs and my pajamas and a sparkly dress and Toy Story 3 and a gay bar. Fair enough.
I had a birthday. I wore a nice dress and rapped karaoke and ate Jimmy John's alone. Fair enough.
And now it's Spring Break. And while others are in Acapulco or just Atlanta, reveling in their days of freedom, I am, well, not. Call it a pity party, as they're my favorite things to attend.
To be blunt: It's not so easy being this alone.
And I don't mean alone as in single, and I don't mean alone as in 20 hours east of Tulsa and 10 hours south of New York City, aka where everyone I've ever known in the past 24 years happens to be. It's a little of both, yes, but it's just as much a matter of my mind as it is a matter of maps.
You know when you make a bad decision--and I don't mean life-altering bad, I just mean not too smart, like, say, having that fourth drink or watching Hoarders instead of doing your homework--and you don't reap any rewards from it? Or if you'd made the right choice, and there's still no rewards? You'll still have a hangover. You'll still be stuck doing homework. This kind of bind--how there is no good, right answer--I know it's not very articulate of me (blame the bourbon) but I feel like that often. Squeezed. Stuck.
As in, how do you go about making friends when you have very little that's interesting to say because you've spent most of the day wondering how to make friends? And how do you have a conversation when you can't think of anything to say? And when what you say will be interpreted in the same way it always is by the people you do know, and when you are certain that this will also not last, and is untrue, and there's some reason, secret and inaccessible as it is, that you are so often by yourself?
As in, the one constant factor in all your problems is you.
Reading that, I can see both how it's completely irrational and also how much ugly sense it makes.
There are only so many baths a person can take in one day. There's also only so many hours of reading, or sleeping, or walking, nice, solitary activities, before a person begins to get only slightly anxious and realize she is just one of so many billions, and then, if so, so what?
(And you have to know, darlings reading this, that godamighty I wish I did not think this way. That I'd be so glad to be able to simply be glad. It might make good blog fodder but I'd trade a lot to be able to write a blog that was less "I woke up and had an existential crisis" and more "I went shopping!!!! I made pierogies!!! I set my oven on fire OMG LOL!!!!" (I did set my oven on fire making pierogies, and it was actually pretty funny, but what kind of thesis is that?! I kid, I kid.). )
Hence the appeal of anonymity, of going to bars alone and assuming identities of omission. No, I haven't been putting on wigs and calling myself Natasha, but there is something so freakishly refreshing about pulling up a stool and knowing whoever this person is who's asking what's my poison has no idea I'm far too often romping around in my own head, or that I'd rather watch The Third Man than any rom-com ever, or that I see a therapist and will probably forever, or that I lost 50 pounds or that I am a published author or that or that or that. Anything.
I auditioned for Amadeus in, I'll admit, a desperate attempt to meet people. Okay, maybe I also want to wear period costumes and powdered wigs and I kind of love that movie, but I walked into the audition and the scrutiny was equal parts humiliating and enthralling. I'm standing there and they have no idea how late I slept or how badly my floor needs vacuuming; they see a short blond girl in a green dress with poor posture but a nice voice. Rehearsals start Monday. I'm going to make sure they're doing it 19th century Vienna style, elsewise I'm out of there.
I went to a bar alone and ended the night not alone, and it was remarkable. My therapist did not think so, and maybe you don't either, but to me, it was a kind of triumph. And pretty fun, considering.
I walked down the street today, having had just an ugly day, just a day when it's so hard to see the blue sky and feel the nice breeze, and where every little bit feels monumentally challenging--I sat and looked out the window at a man and his Rottweiler puppy in the parking lot and just cried--and some balding man on the corner says "Nice get-up you got on today. Lookin' good." Sure, it was weird and not exactly welcome, but still - does he know I've been crying all day? Does he see an ambling wreck, beelining towards the isolation of my own home where I can lock the doors and pour a drink and be in peace? No. He sees a young lady in a dress and boots who probably has a date tonight, who has lots of friends, who he wouldn't mind buying a drink for.
It's the photograph-mirror conundrum. I look at myself in the mirror and think "Jesus, Rachel, really?" Then I see a photograph of myself--it has to be a photo I didn't take--and think "Holy shit! Damn, girl! Them jeans look good!" It makes no sense. It's still me in both of them, but because it's me, my eyes, looking at me, it's hideous.
Maybe I will invent the equivalent of beer goggles for a mirror?
And now you are weary of reading of my madly narcissistic ramblings (I know, I know, I apologize), but I write these things as much for myself as anybody. And I think what I know now is this: that I am one of billions, yes, and maybe that makes me small and scared. And maybe to me I am also small and expendable. But there are billions out there, and hundreds in this town, who I could be somebody to--and I don't mean idolaters or boyfriends or hookups--but simply someone.
I will open more doors. I will stop and talk to more small children as I'm walking Pinto (and lord knows, if I'm somebody to anybody, I am the sun and moon and stars to that beloved beast, as is he to me). I was smoking on the plaza today and a guy across the way was doing his homework. Two policemen on horseback rode through, huge and loud and clopping and so very surreal. The guy and I looked at each other, looked at the horses, and had to laugh.
More of that, I think. Yes.