It was 75 degrees the other day. I realized it was December and I was still just wearing a hoodie only occasionally, and I thought Jesus I Live in the South. Are the Northern climes just full of people exactly like me except they grew up in the South, do we all move places for contrast? I watched Flashdance for the first time, which takes place in Pittsburgh, and all I could think about was how cold the rain looked, and how gray everything was. I guess part of me believed all parts of the world were more similar than different. Wrong. Plants are different everywhere, and so the air smells different, and the colors are different and the water is a stranger.
The other day a co-worker asked me if I believed in astrology, and I launched into a long explanation of how I didn't really believe in it all, but I did love all the story and detail and potential conflict of it. The trivia. Liked it all so much, like played along with it all the time and asked people what their signs were and laughingly "interpreted" their personalities, that I wondered if in fact this was the same as believing in it? I think pretty much it is. We all believe Monopoly's real, don't pretend.
I told her the story of Huntington, WV, that I talked about in the last post. Huntington is maybe where I left my heart, that weekend when it wasn't wanted anymore, and I came back to Cleveland without it. Then, heartless, I was able to leave, and even though I'm building a new heart now, all the native sons and daughters of Huntington can sense that my old life got discarded there. That's the sort of narrative I'm talking about, the thing that happens that tricks me into feeling that there's connection and meaning, even though really there isn't one, but I've trained my brain by repetition, by TV and books and religion and being social, to always look for the overarching structure. So it's natural that it looks for it in the rest of my life too, and it's a constant struggle to keep yourself sober and remember it's not a destiny or a fate or a secret. The Narrative is both a Faith and a drug.
This older customer and I had an interaction a few weeks ago where I was wearing a gold glittery sweater and she told me she had this other gold sweater she never wore anymore and would I like it? So I said sure, and then yesterday she came in and said "Oh I have it in the car for you!" She brought it in a white paper bag after we checked her out. There was a rush going on, so she dropped it behind my register, and said "here you go sweetie" and totally touched my cheek with her hand, which was simultaneously unsettling and sweet as all get out. There was this overwhelming sense of age versus youth in that physical gesture.
This place is messing with my sense of age. Nobody thinks I'm as old as I am, which is complimentary and nice, but also puzzling, because I don't look young, and it makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable. But this woman must have thought I was so young, to touch my cheek like that, and maybe she thought of me like a daughter or a granddaughter. One of the other girls at work, we figured out I was born in the exact year and month as her older sister. She didn't believe me. I'm starting to think it's just because I didn't grow up at the beach and my skin doesn't have any obvious sun damage, 'cept for the freckles everywhere. I wish everyone would go around with their ages pinned to their shirts, so I could begin to learn some proper context for all this.
Things are so much older now than I think they are, and so much younger. In fact, it's just sorta becoming, do I like this thing (person, place, activity) or do I not like this, and the more I like it, the closer to my own age I think it is. Like, The Bravery is exactly 33 years old, and so is Watership Down, and so is that super cute ECU student who was hitting on me. He wasn't under 24 at all. No way.
I've been missing The Ex a lot recently. I think it's because I wrote the book, and I had to spend so much time sitting around thinking about my years with him and everything we did, but you know, only the good things. Now the book's done, but my brain is still all like Him Him Him. Ooops. Also I've reached that point in a Move to a New City where the excitement plateaus and regular living begins again, which is hard. That's when you miss your old life the most, just far enough away from it to see only the niceties. I texted The Prince yesterday, at the edge of a long wet rope, about to write a letter and fucking mail it to The Ex, desperate for contact or news of him. The Prince talked me down in twenty minutes. That doesn't mean anything to you maybe, but I think of all the times I've gone back to The Ex, or he comes back to me, and being able to talk me out of it is not something anyone, my family or friends, has been able to do before. He's pretty perceptive, The Prince, he's sharp. It's like talking to myself, only the non-desperate, non-lonely, more pragmatic version of myself, which is to say the version of myself that's giving advice to someone else.
And then I think to myself "Man, the Universe has provided for me at every turn of this, but mostly by giving me him just when I needed him and didn't know it" and then I get really fucking mad at myself for giving in to that easy thought, that somehow there's a Narrative, when I know perfectly well there isn't yet till I fucking put it there, Geez.
Anyway, this is how people get religion, by life being hard and lonely sometimes, and being so relieved when someone loves them.
This wasn't very funny, but I guess you could go read my Ways to Pretend You're from Cleveland if that's what you came here for. You can read guys insulting me for no reason, cause Good Men Project is great at collecting meaningless insults.