Thursday, November 6, 2014
Shrapnel into the Ether
I've been writing a lot, albeit (obviously) not here. For the most part, nothing I've secreted away in a notebook - or, in paperless desperation, clumsily typed into a blank note on my phone - has wanted or needed an audience, even one as small as this. Nonetheless, I may as well shake off the dust here with a handful of bursts of thought and send a little unnecessary shrapnel into the ether:
The older I get, the dumber I feel. It seems contradictory to be hypersensitive of such a dulling, but there you have it.
Ginkgo trees are another contradition I'm struggling to reconcile. They are at once beautiful in their golden feathering and nauseating in their miasma. Every fall, they scatter their leaves in their ancient shape, tiny fans scalloping the pavement. They also drop their hell-fruit to be crushed underfoot, reeking of baked dog shit, or vomit rotting in the musty stacks of an old library. Sidewalks and shoe soles will only be safe come winter.
Adam took me to feed some spotted deer in a park. Their muzzles were soft and muddy and I felt the kind of joy I imagine must be typically reserved for Disney princesses when squirrels braid their hair and songbirds hang their laundry. Also, translated from Korean, their name is "flower deer" because Korean can't leave cute things well enough alone.
My anxiety is changing, and I've begun to recognize its old weight in the new guise. For years, it's felt like a bird sewn where my heart should be, with useless, beating wings and a burning for air. Lately, the bird has quieted; rather, it's been favoring the form of a wet stone, rolling just under the split of the ribs, scraping the sternum without the calm of a current. It's the slow turn of a river rock, worn smooth and cold by worry and want for sleep.
I feel myself quieting, too. I've never been one to command a room, but I'd always been able to hold my own in conversation. More and more often, my legitimate comment will go unnoticed to be posited verbatim by another for discussion minutes later, a joke slipped in only to be retold by another and laughed at the second time around. When I assert myself, I sound abrasive to my own ears; if I withdraw, I appear aloof. As a mumbler, I try to speak up, but I always doubt others' will to listen.
I fear being forgotten, and I have picked up the unfortunate habit of ostracizing myself even further when it happens.
I ran 100 miles in about 40 days. Now I don't want to stop.
If you want to pick a fight with me, try pigeonholing me as anything. If you want to make me happy, walk with me where there are trees. Or tell me I remind you of Amy Poehler.
Experience and age are not the bedfellows I believed as a child. Some people will have something to prove at any age, at any cost. I have met people who have covered enough empirical ground to understand that being a fully-realized person isn't a zero-sum competition those around them. Others navigate conversations like their own personal Hunger Games arenas, clutching their insecurities in one hand and wielding half-formed opinions like weapons with the other.
Months from now, I will be surrounded by elephants and I don't yet have a plan for what to do when my mind and body shut down from sheer excitement.
I would trade many things for some good bourbon, some good wine, real cheese, and my cat, but I wouldn't trade my years as an expat for anything.