If someone were to come up to me and say, you have to do this year again, I’d side-eye them, back away as slowly and carefully as possible, and then take off running in the opposite direction.
I wouldn’t do it. No way.
And this is of note because there are like three whole years of my life that I can’t even remember–that’s how bad they were.
It’s also of note because there are, in fact, specific moments from this last year, that given the opportunity, I’d absolutely do differently–and like to, at that. I’d give a yes instead of a no. More easily extend invitations. Stay a month longer. Refuse to be seduced by the low rent. Use those damn vacation days.
But I think, that as awful as this year has been (because I do in fact feel like a lightning rod of unfortunate events), it had to happen just as it did.
I had to leave Brooklyn. Had to land in the apartment from hell. Had to leave one job I really loved to begin another–had to take that risk. Had to have that knock-down-drag-out-fight. Had to stand there with a glass of water in my hand and very rationally talk myself out of throwing it. Had to say the terrible words and feel what it was to say them–to be the person who says them, and who is okay with saying them. Had to witness as a very many people sidestepped the truth because it was both inconvenient and uncomfortable. Had to see cruelty up close.
This year has been steep learning curve after steep learning curve.
But it had to happen just as it did.
So I could learn to trust myself more, protect myself more, defend myself more.
So I could speak what was true with a bit less fear and bit more volume.
I may not understand the logic of the universe, but I’m starting to give over to it. Or in to it.
Because in the face of a very many bad things, there are good things too. And the good things are sweeter. And clearer.
And small kindesses do make a difference.
I’ve been emailing back and forth with Laura these last few months. Revealing secrets and hopes–a sort of pillow-talk between friends who’ve never actually met, but hold true the same values. Namely, honesty and the pursuit of pleasure.
And in our last exchange, in explaining a particular sort of heartache–and the particular moment of breaking–she described how immediately after, her very dearest friend leant down to her and said, the pretending is over, now.
Such brutal words, said with so much love, which makes them–I think–breathtaking.
The pretending is over now. The pretending is over now.
This year has been brutal. Miserable. Awful. But the pretending is over, now. And that has been the point.
Because the thing about breaking, being broken, breaking open–well, it’s not such a bad thing. It feels like hell (God, does it feel like hell), but it reveals us. Distills us. Makes us more ourselves. But in order for that to happen, we have to turn and face ourselves, experience the full weight of who we are, and that–well that, is not an easy thing to do.
But that’s our job. Because empathy is our human charge. But empathy without understanding of one’s self is like a tree without roots–in the face of strong winds, incredibly dangerous.
And so, the pretending is over, now.
It has to be.
And let us give thanks for that. If nothing else, let us give thanks for that.