Thursday, December 28

You love until you don't

Monday marked a quarter-century I've been using up this Earth's precious resources and processed cheeses. I'm finding (among other clichés) that life doesn't ever get any easier. Ever. That things you think you'll figure out by the time you're X years old, you gradually understand less and less, to the point where every momentary distraction can become an existential crisis. Your relationships and cars sputter and stall and break down. You look for new ones and decide that maybe you ought to hoof it on your own. And then you admit (quietly, into your wine glass while the TV flickers mere feet from your face) that loneliness ain't really your bag, but it's worth getting used to if it cuts down on the amount of times you feel completely humiliated by people you thought cared about you. You begrudgingly accept that, despite your little-girl fantasies of a future brimming with cosmopolitan people milling about your comfortable-yet-fashionably furnished home (with real wood accents!), sipping martinis and listening to dusty blues records and making each other laugh, you're going to have less and less people in your life the older you get. And probably more cats. No one tells you that when you're lining up your Barbies and giving them exotic names and ratty hairdos, do they? We all just assume that, as we stroll through life, lovely people will stick to us like cockleburrs clinging to socks. And that by the end of the journey, we'll be able to pick them off, one by one, and keep them in a little jar, each one reminiscent of a particular path or clump of flowers or mound of roadkill along the way. Each one worth keeping. But that's not how it happens at all. We walk uncovered, wincing at every prick and bramble. We keep nothing and no one.

And we learn to cope.

This year I discovered my first age spot. It's under my left eye. It's fairly faint, almost like my eye makeup smudged and went unwashed for long enough to stain my skin. My face has absorbed a lot of bullshit these past couple of years (as well as a lot of extraneous calories). The crescents under my eyes have swelled to the point where I am leery of stark overhead lighting, and I sometimes wonder if you could just stick a needle in there and suck out the badness.

On the whole, 2006 has been a pile-on of sucky life lessons and close shaves with insanity, interspersed with moments of quiet beauty and solemn satisfaction. And laughter. Always with the laughter.

I've tried to redefine a romantic relationship, extract myself from a couple of toxic "friend"ships, I've gotten my ego punched by people I, for some reason, didn't think would do that to me, and I lost a great little furry friend. It's not been pretty. But, hey, these things happen, don't they? I'll shed more skin than this before it's over.

The year brought me opportunities to meet amazing people I never would have met otherwise. People who just know me from this blog actually came to Memphis and called me up to meet me and have lunch with me. Inconceivable! And they are truly amazing people I am lucky to have met. These internets, they do marvelous things.

The year also gave my family time to pause and reflect on the kindness of people who want to help make things right after a disaster. The number of people who showed concern about my sister's family after their house fire has been amazing. (They are doing well, incidentally, and are closing on a house as we speak.) The same people in this world who can be so bad to one another are often so, so good. (The soul is a fucking mystery.)

2006 was the year I finally accepted Memphis as my home. January will mark two years here. You might recall that I absolutely hated it during the first year. I blame the location of my apartment: Way out east in a busted-ass townhouse with no friends and a shaky relationship. Since moving I've taken to Midtown like you might expect; it's more my style and I've got a great deal of freedom living alone. Ashley started working at the paper and her similar hours and off days actually meant I had someone to hang out with when the occasion arose.

Now Memphis is, to me, quirkily beautiful. The beauty is in the randomness of the peeling paint pattern on the side of an old corner grocery. In the eccentric lawn art dotting Midtown's yardscapes. In the decay — the reclaiming of the industrial by the organic. (Sharon's got a post up about what's to love about Memphis, and it's outstanding.) It is a very human city, teeming with the pain and pride of the past and the mistakes and struggles and small triumphs of the present. There is no perfection here, or the illusion of perfection. It is what it is.

I can say something like "Memphis is a shithole" and mean it with affection. I think people who live here and have come to love it understand that sentiment. It doesn't mean Memphis sucks, necessarily; it just means that Memphis has nasty nicks and bruises that are part of its ethos that can't and won't be cosmetically covered to make everyone else feel more comfortable and bourgeois. There is work to be done here, sure, but it is the work of real people in real communities with real struggles who have to do it. No one else wants to come in and help this community. Everyone would rather write Memphis off as trash and feel smug and superior.

If you have a bit of a rebellious or "fuck-you" streak to you, it's kind of amusing to live in a community that uppity midstate motherfuckers and racist assholes tend to agree is a shithole (not in the endearing sense, see).

So 2006 hasn't been all bad. Just ... weird.

This year I decided it's time I get a better camera and start working on my technique. Because I love, love, love taking photographs and I'd like to see how far I can take a hobby before it comes a preoccupation and then an occupation. This year I realized that I'm probably not ready to write anything substantial (aka non-blog) for a long time; it's not in me and I've not lived enough to speak with authority in my writing. There is time, though. So I won't be a young author. Who cares? I also won't be a doctor or a Proust scholar. It's time to accept that I won't be a lot of things, including things I want to be very badly.

Time ticks on. 2007 will be here in a couple of days. I've not really thought about what it's going to bring. I don't have control over it anyway. I'll just let its days wash over me and if something important jerks me up by the pigtails, chances are I'll write about it here. If only so I can remember it when I'm wrapping up 2007's nuggets in late December.

Happy New Year, everyone. And I sincerely mean that.

6 Comments:

Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Wow.

I can't tell you what reading this does to me; it's like opening a window to my soul as it existed 20 years ago.

Can I speak to you as a wise old sage? (if I remember right, 42 still seems pretty old when you're 25). You say, "I've not lived enough to speak with authority in my writing", yet you make several declarations early on as if you've got it all figured out. Especially this: "you're going to have less and less people in your life the older you get".

The ONLY way that can be true is if you make it so. Love is an active verb - it's something you DO. You choose to love, relate, befriend. Or not. It may not look the way you had envisioned it, with WHOM you envisioned it, but this is the magic of life.

It sneaks up on you, and gives you spontaneous joy from places you least expected it. So many years ago, I asked God for someone to love, and his answer came to me after a great heartbreak, from the other side of the world. How could I have known?

Life does NOT turn out as we have planned. And this is the Great Gift.

As for the Memphis/midstate thing, did you know that many years ago, things were reversed? Memphis was bigger; Nashville always had an inferiority complex. We Nashvillians always thought Memphians looked down on us. This "rivalry", if you want to call it that, has been going on for much longer than either of us have been alive. There are three stars on the TN state flag for a reason: the three regions are distinct, and at many times, competing.

This is nothing new.

Thu Dec 28, 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger John H said...

great post, Lindsey. The blog-a-teria has been quite a treat for me, as well.

I love this quote from Vonnegut:

"strange travel plans are dancing lessons from God."

meeting and continuing to be open to learning and to take chances are such great gifts.

Have a great 2007!

Thu Dec 28, 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Palm Tree said...

I wish I had something beautiful and inspirational to say, but I'm all out of that right now.

Have a happy new year! I hope it brings with it even more joyous surprises, growth-inspiring lessons, and sparkling new memories than you could hope to imagine.

Fri Dec 29, 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger TVonthefritz said...

This year, stay away from crazy bitches, please.

Fri Dec 29, 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

i love this post. you have a rare talent - you can write about your personal life in a way that does not seem narcissistic, like soooo many pointless internet blogs. instead, you write about your personal life in a way that raises perennial questions that i presume we can all identify with. i know i can.

happy 2007!

Fri Dec 29, 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Slartibartfast (what's a good abbreviation of your name — SBF? Slart?), thanks for the comments. You're right, I was all over the map with this post. That's what happens when you start writing something one day and finish it up several days later. Or when you're perpetually ambivalent about everything.

But I appreciate your thoughts.

Maybe some day I'll clear up my own. :)

John, that's a great quote!

PT, you've always got something beautiful to say, you know.

Fritz, I'll do my best.

Fearless, thank you and I'm so glad you can relate. Quarter-life crises and whatnot.

I hope all of you have an amazing 2007!

Sat Dec 30, 01:21:00 AM  

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