Tuesday, November 16, 2004


I lay in bed, still unable to sleep and think that if it weren’t for phone calls and emails, I could easily believe that my life before moving out here never existed. I mean, was I really that girl with the long hair, pulled back on top with a barrette, wearing jumpers and colored socks with European shoes? Did that first year of my marriage, when everything was full of potential and we wrestled on the couch while he tried to pick my nose or touch my teeth and we had people over to play games in the basement, did I actually live that year? That girl and that life could so easily be stories told to me. But here I am, in a house alone, a woman with short hair, in an extra-large T-shirt and my underwear, trying to fall asleep with a profound sense of disconnection all around me. I have done this before. The walls here are blue. They have been white with orange curtains when the same sense of wrongness kept me from sleeping. For as much as I have sought to have a life without roommates, I am not really supposed to be by myself. There should be someone else in the other room, at least. Nothing was more natural than sharing a room – my life – with Susan, with Dennis, with my family. Madeline L’Engle writes in her published journal about continuing to be every age that one has ever been, all at the same time. Of course, Esperanza in her House on Mango Street says the same thing. But I can’t be. How could that innocence possibly be something that applied to me? I have short hair. I can barely even remember my fierce homesickness of two weeks ago, much less creating rules to games with Daniel, of winning a speech tournament or the thrill of captivating teenagers with, of all things, facts and ideas. Calling Daniel from my bedroom while Dennis waited downstairs to tell him that Dennis wasn’t sure he wanted to be married to me. Waiting on the front steps with a glass of orange juice for Jennifer to come over after Dennis didn’t stay - just one more night, because we’re friends - like I asked him to. Telling my parents when they came home from vacation. All of these things seem to have happened to someone else. That girl with the long hair and big beads. When did I have the courage to tell my coach that those 10-year-old girls were making fun of me and that he needed to stop them? It didn’t seem like courage then. It just needed to be done. When did I have to audacity to berate Malcolm for allowing a football game that was boys-only? It didn’t seem like audacity, either. All of those are just stories I tell: memories of emotions and situations captured in words. They are too removed from the actual experience to be real or true. I could go on like this, sleeping or not sleeping, here in this empty trailer, forever. Stasis. Fugue state. Whatever you want to call it. There is nothing I want. I am not afraid of the consequences of my actions nor do I look forward to them. There is immediacy to my identity? life? experience? consciousness? that is missing all awareness of the past and focuses simply on the moment. All sorts of philosophies and religions point to that as a good thing but I hate it. I speak in the past perfect tense. I have been a writer. I have been married. I have been a bead artist. I have been a singer. I have been a teacher. I want to be all of those girls that I have been. I don’t want to be this woman who doesn’t know what she wants, where she’s going, what she believes or even that belief makes a difference. I am a woman who doesn’t have any hobbies, for God’s sake, only skills. I have no passion – for anything. That is not the Rebecca that everyone knows. If I’m not Rebecca . . .

As I write that, I am sobbing. It is possible that I am being affected by the fact that the sunlight is completely gone by 5:00 here. Seasonal affectation disorder is a medical reality. I haven’t really slept in two days, going on a third. As I go back and edit all of that, I am sniffling. The written communication of emotional irrationality that I am refining bothers me somewhat because I know it is contradictory within itself and also contradicts what I actually know is true. The reality is that this is a necessary stage of transition. I will find a purpose and I have chosen a good course to do so. All of this identity-searching is just so much angst. I like my short hair. The excitement of engaging high school students is terribly vivid; I just haven’t thought about it much while being out here; it’s out of context. Emerson says that consistency is the “hobgoblin” of little minds. I always thought that was bunk and somewhat indicative of laziness, but it’s not. We wouldn’t be human without the conflicting duality of what one’s head knows compared to what one’s heart is certain of. Communicating all parts of that human condition and doing it accurately, using aesthetically pleasing technique is an art to work towards. Whitman existed for that purpose. But I am not entirely comfortable with it. I would prefer that no hypocrisy go out into the world from my confessions. However, it is honest. I feel that extreme sometimes. As much as I want to belittle my sense of lost identity once I’m done crying, I did actually feel that way for a moment. That side of this adventure story deserves to be told alongside the inspirational revelations that are brought about as obstacles are overcome and nature is engaged. Otherwise, the narrative lacks verisimilitude. It would be a story where everyone conveniently ends up with someone to love and no one had to stop to go to the bathroom inconveniently on the entire quest.

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