My life seems to exist in lists and snapshots right now, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said, “I’m gonna get my shit together… Again… Soon.” I feel like through much of April, I was caught in one of my weird brain things that I don’t have a name for. I didn’t exactly feel depressed, but I did feel distinctly Not Sane. I felt like I couldn’t name any of my emotions, but all of them hurt, even the good ones. My heart beat too fast and too hard and I felt like I was on the brink of tears all the time. I felt lonely, but also felt like I couldn’t be near anyone. I avoided my friends because I felt unable to speak and because I had no answer to the question, “What have you been up to lately?” I felt incapable of so many things.
Then again, last week, I spent two and a half hours sitting under a blossoming crab-apple tree, drinking coffee and reading all about love: new visions by bell hooks, pink petals falling upon me in the breeze, and I texted my sister to say, “I feel really fucking happy and content today.” So, you know. The wariness, exhaustion, confusion, anxiety… It comes and goes.
The lists I’ve been writing lately have names like, Reasons I Might Be Losing My Mind Right Now, and Want, and some of them are unnamed lists of other lists I need to write. At the same time, I have been crossing things off my To-Do Before I Die List, and adding more. I began writing that list three years ago and I want to continue writing it forever and ever.
On April 20th, I reached one year sober. The days leading up to my sobrieversary felt like a crisis. I felt lost and confused and struggled with a strange and strong urge to celebrate by chugging all the whiskey in the world. This brings me to another list, or at least another idea for a list: Reasons I Want to Drink. I am a little embarrassed to admit that one reason I want(ed) to drink was because I still find it really difficult to communicate honestly without some sort of “excuse” to be saying what I’m saying. I’m still working on daring myself to be honest, without apology. One trick I stumbled into that helps me say what I want to say is to simply begin my sentence with, “I want to tell you…” This is similar to a writing exercise Natalie Goldberg writes about in pretty much all her books, which is to interrupt yourself and write, “What I really want to say is…” It forces me to quit dancing around the subject and just fucking say it.
Last week, feeling sad and missing my sister, I got myself a bus ticket to Montréal. She picked me up at the bus station and we checked out a few dumpsters on the way back to her place. Even with my sister, I feel like it is easier for me to write letters than it is to have conversations. I have been drinking mugfuls of earl grey tea, writing letters from diners, and reading down by the Lachine Canal. Thinking about What I Want to Do With My Life.
Reading down by the river.
Amber Dearest writing letters.
Have I ever told you about my love affair with buses? Although I get motion sickness too easily, I adore riding buses. I think of my seat as a little cozy corner that’s all mine for the next few hours. I lose myself in a book. Right now, I’m reading Just Kids by Patti Smith. I used to spend entire bus rides writing in my diary, my handwriting all shaky and black and sad, attempting to record every moment, every conversation, every thought, every little thing. I thought that if I didn’t write it down, it never happened. I was scared to death of forgetting (and later, I became scared to death of remembering).
I know my writing is disjointed right now.
WHAT I REALLY WANT TO SAY IS: I want to change my life! My habits! The way I communicate! I want to stop being so self-deprecating when I talk about my past, I want to wake up early in the morning and write and chug coffee as the sun rises, I want to say nice things to people without being scared, I want to not feel sick and tired all the time, I want to quit thinking buying stuff will make me happy (it never has), I want to work on collaborative projects even though I am a loner and a control freak, I want to feel satisfied with my days, I want to be the weirdo who actually gets their shit together and does wonderful things (I think I’m on the right path?!), I want to encourage friends and strangers to do cool stuff, I want to not feel hopeless, I want I want I want (and that is a sign that I am doing more than just surviving!)… My plan right now is to write a vision of my ideal life, and to read that vision daily and ask myself how I am making that life happen right now.
What do you want (to say)?
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