Should I try to eat cicadas?
What happens next?
Will happiness find me?
Lots of goodbyes these days. All of the goodbyes, almost — friends, roommates, professors, clients. All of this because of moving on to the next stage… And then there are other goodbyes that are different and harder — some days devastating. A breakup. A death. Some of the goodbyes are anticipated. Others very much not. And they are happening all at once.
Of course there are beginnings, new people to meet in the next place, plenty to learn and experience. Loss leaves holes in our lives, though, and the holes are irregularly shaped, such that they are never quite refilled, even when new people arrive, new lovers are met, new mentors found. What can fill an irregular hole? Liquid. Concrete. Trying not to harden. Or drink too much.
one most of my early relationships, I was concerned that I was influenced too much by my partner — that my tastes were eroding (if I had any), that I had taken on too many of his interests in music, writing, activity. If the wall separating me from another was so permeable, who was I? What was I, other than a body, a container for whatever some Other Person deposited in me (woman as vessel, etc., etc.)? What did I want? What did I like? Was I defining myself by my relationship with someone else? And if I was, what would I be without him?
This is something that has become more comfortable for me over time, as I’ve shared parts of my life with more people. I’m increasingly grateful for this very permeability that I feared at one point. It deepens my relationships, personal and professional. This is how we learn, by letting others in, from taking on characteristics and tastes and making them our own. And we all become something greater than the sum of those parts. I think it’s more a strength than a weakness.
Some important things I credit others for introducing me to: Tori Amos, Philip Larkin, synchronicity, Greek mythology, Joseph Cornell, Frank O’Hara, contemporary art, the idea of negative capability, Gertrude Stein, Flann O’Brien, Robert Browning, Tennyson, Victorian art, Feminism, William Carlos Williams, Ben Folds Five, Counting Crows, the beauty of motherhood, peanut butter chocolate milkshakes, bodies, Conor Oberst, middle America, Runza, clove cigarettes, Americanos, Miroslaw Balka, Anne Carson, Bruce Nauman, Adrienne Rich, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joseph Beuys, felt, salt, New Yorkers (the people), the outdoors, Montana, Cowboy Junkies, Be Good Tanyas, vinyl, camping, thrift stores, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Jesse Sykes, Patty Griffin, Okkervil River, Bill Callahan, the best song of all time (“So What” by Little Wings), cumin, clean eating, Bibimbap, Kimchi, H-Mart, kitschy tourism techniques, abstract expressionism, the National, Martha Wainwright, Mary Gaitskill, railroad aesthetics, prairie landscapes, Maine, strong-enough coffee, cornbread, typography, spices, gentle challenging of defenses, embracing the capability of becoming tearful, Diana Fosha, Paul Wachtel, Nancy McWilliams.
Interesting how much easier it is to write about the influences of relationships that have long since past than it is to write about those I’m still in and those I recently lost.