I spent the day boxing up the Victorian attic apartment I’ve inhabited for over a year with my now ex-boyfriend in Catonsville, Maryland. The prospect of moving to the west coast in only a month, especially because I’m doing it alone, should probably fill me with more trepidation than it does at the moment. It hasn’t all set in yet to be fair. But, my mind is consumed by the lure of an unplanned, emancipated future in San Diego. It’s all very Kerouac. The dream is sugar sweet, the air is salty, and the palm trees will explode like Fourth of July fireworks when my plane strikes down in LAX. Random House will solicit me for a book deal as soon as I set foot in the airport. Obviously. Every rip of tape along the U-Haul box tops, and every discarded relic from my former life is one step closer to California. A mountain of garbage bags now swallow the time and the life I had here.
It’s hard to say good-bye.
It took twenty-five years for desire to burn to the surface of my life. I unknowingly bottled it up. I bartered my freedom by catering to the guilt-inducing expectations of my Mother. And, no, I don’t fancy her some malevolent Disney villain who kills Dalmatians. Like most people, she is the product of her own fucked-up childhood. And, like most people, she is not beyond redemption either. I was fortunate enough to finally see my own imprisonment with some lucidity (more on how this happened in upcoming blogs). It’s now my MO to:
1) live my life without feeling entrapped and 2) to resist a selfish, innate compulsion to marginalize the lives of loved ones by demanding they stay close. Love on the top shelf is unconditional and selfless.
As of today, my life is full of infinite possibility. The swirling entropy of freedom is mine, heavy with oceanic sighs and a harrowing leap into sprawling oblivion. I’m trying to maintain a steady, snare drum breath as I pack up the shambles of my life in Maryland. I’m trying to keep the universe from knocking me over and engulfing me all at once. It is pivotal to fight an inborn tendency to desperately grasp at stability for a cheaper life, as I free-fall. But, I’ve got this feeling that if I just let myself go, I may find something unfathomably superior to any convenient anchor.
I’ve severed ties with both my Mother and men in recent weeks, which is the last thing I ever wanted to do to pursue a meaningful life. A worthwhile quest is not without its sacrifices. However, knowing and doing exist on separate planes. It is one thing to enjoy Lord of the Rings, but it is another thing to be Frodo, and to wander away from the Shire into the great unknown, fraught with peril and intrigue. But, what kind of writer would I be if I stayed stuck and afraid?
One man I’ve split ways with in the last day is particularly troubling. We’ll call him “Jacob.” Jacob is the only man who has ever wielded any sexual sway over me, and no, he was not my boyfriend. Of course, he wasn’t my boyfriend (she says with a dismissive air of nonchalance). That would make sense, which my life seldom does! In my experience, most men my age are either emotionally, sexually or intellectually incompetent, which (sadly) makes them easy to control.
I’ve acknowledged by now that this insight into men my age prevents me from giving myself completely to them. I’ve never given myself completely in my life. I’ve always disavowed emotional vulnerability as a rule, probably because I’m my Mother’s daughter, and I learned to safeguard myself from being hurt at an early age… at the expense of truly living. A heavy price.
Being attuned to the primal (sadly anti-feminist) cries of my libido, Jacob doggedly buoyed along the tips of the tides of my life for years. Waiting, always, for the day I cave. Since he is the only man I’ve ever felt both sexually and intellectually susceptible to (they work in tandem in my life), I’ve long indulged the possibility that I could be his lover.
But, with his sexual dominance comes the most insufferable hubris. He would call it blunt candor, but this “candor” is ensconced in scathing condescension that bruises my late-blooming confidence. Confidence is already a delicate bud in my life that I’ve fiercely protected from drought and nourished independently. Even if our connection were to permit an existential liberation, I simply cannot allow his boots to trammel on my fucking, precious flowerbed. Too many artists’ voices were silenced this way, and so, he is one more sacrifice I made for myself, and for you, my reader. My art always come first.