Let me begin by saying that I think my favorite way to get to know someone is by sitting in the passenger seat. I like not doing anything but getting to know him. I like the soft pauses in conversation, music we’ve agreed upon filling in the gaps with views of the southeastern countryside serving as a side dish. I like it when we have the windows down. I like it if it’s hot or warm or cool or cold — I like when the outside and the inside become one.
When I was little, I was obsessive at best. The first fixation was a blanket that I still keep nestled between my pillows today. My fear of abandonment seems to be a result of nature, and not nurture, because when the blanket would go in the washer, I would sit and wait for it to come out. We went everywhere together.
I guess I grew up, but never grew out of that part of myself. More and more so I start to believe that I am the same little girl I was born as, a baby with a head full of jet-black hair, screaming, crying, choking on my own blood. I grew up knowing how to care only when I cared deeply. I cared about school, I cared about things I don’t care about anymore– I cared about things that made me feel whole, and satisfied, and seen and complete.
The things change but the feeling they bring never does. My psychologist tells me it is a repeated dopamine response, and that life is not all about pleasure, but to me pleasure means feeling good, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t work to feel good, because my natural state seems to be feeling bad, and I feel like I have done my time feeling bad. I deserve to feel good now, I think, as if I have grown out of my sadness, like I would an itchy sweater. My therapist will tell me it is not so black-and-white, and that life requires pain, but I do not know how to live with pain without the promise of pleasure.
For a while after I grew up, it was cigarettes. And then it was weed. But before that, it was love, and then it was sex, and then love again, because sex, to me, is just a side effect of love that is easily misinterpreted.
I love love, I love being in love, I love the feeling of loving everything about something or someone, not because it is really that great, but because you think it is. I have this bad habit of convincing myself I am in love with someone or something because it feels better to be 100% in agreeance with something than 95%. I know it is because love was a transactional matter growing up, I know it is because love was something that was conditional on the terms of my good behavior, so I seek it out everywhere I can, because I didn’t get enough. I know it is because there are missing pieces in my life.
The things that keep coming back to me about where this all started are: Octobers in the townhouse on Park West Drive, my favorite address of them all because the numbers are like Halloween, walking our dog Winnie while barefoot, pine needles kissing the soles of my feet, I remember the first snow and the hill we sled down across from the church with the red door and the way we almost slid right into the street, I remember trips to the craft store to pick out things I didn’t need, and before that I remember Dad’s apartment right after he and Mom got divorced. I remember how there were bunk beds, and I got the top bunk, and my sister got the lower because she was older, I remember the times I misinterpreted as sweet, or gentle, when really they were displays of selfishness. I remember the Beastie Boys, Amy Winehouse, Gwen Stefani, The Black Eyed Peas, and I think I still know every word to that one Dixie Chicks album.
I remember being young but I don’t remember who I was then. The only thing I can track through my childhood is obsession, putting everything into the one thing I cared about, and half-assing everything else.
I think maybe I have been the same person my whole life. I tend to condemn my younger self for her naivete, or her innocence, or her faith in the world, a tireless effort to believe in something other than herself. I call myself names or adjectives that feel like a tiny fraction of a bigger picture, and I think really it has just been me this whole time.
The truth is that I would like to not understand all of this. I would like to be able to love without feeling the shame that comes with it, I would like to be able to pour my heart into something and not have to apologize for it. I think life without love is a stupid thing. Maybe the thing I love so much is not being in love, but being myself, and feeling like I exist in a world that, at best, understands me, and at worst, tries to.