Tuesday, June 21, 2011

re:stacks and longing fatigue

this song is one of the most beautiful and haunting songs ever recorded. it's the kind of song that makes you ache with longing from the first pure, spare chords all the way thru to the last, almost purely silent, 7 seconds. every time i hear it, the music flows in my ears and hollows out the cavity inside my chest, making its echoing notes rebound on my ribs, pushing all the air out of my lungs, causing my throat to feel the keening chorus, as if i had breath to voice it along with his. embedded deep in its music and lyrics is the sound of a man who has been crying and/or drinking so long he has no tears and almost no voice left to express his sorrow. it reproduces with razor-sharp accuracy, the sound of your heart ripping open and dripping your life-blood onto your already tear-soaked shoes. or mine. let's stick with mine, cuz i dunno what your heart sounds like.
needless to say, it's a killer, and for at least a month one winter, i listened to it nonstop. that winter was hard. it was dark and wet and cold in seattle, i was ignoring my need to write (which is usually a huge solace in winter), i was drinking too much and neglecting my housemates and cat, and i was desperately in love with someone who didn't care very much for me, wasn't particularly good to me, but was too nice to break up with me. therefore, a surfeit of longing as my musical diet made perfect sense. but after about a month, it became unbearable. not my way of life (tho it should have), but the music tapping into the emotions my life was causing in me. this song was creating 'longing fatigue' in me. it was exhausting my capacity to feel a yearning for anything anymore. it made me drink more, continue to ignore the good things in my life, and seek solace with a person who could not give me any. and this 'longing fatigue' made me burn out on the song. i stopped listening to it. i forgot it existed. i then packed up or threw/gave away everything i owned, fostered out my kitty and left town to travel.
which was great for a long time. at the beginning i was learning to not want anything. then, when i finally stopped wanting someone i couldn't have, i found i needed connection with everyone else. so i set out to spend all of my time with all of the people i missed all around the country. which was amazing, cuz connection is the opposite of longing. at least for me. and that worked for quite a while. i could create community wherever i was with whoever i was visiting, i could play house in so many different places, trying to make each one feel a little more like home (hopefully for my hosts as well as myself), i could even foster connections between friends that spanned across the country. i had amazing conversations the stretched around the nation with different folks contributing to each stage of my understanding. there were times i was able to write, and many many things to write about.
but there were times i couldn't write. times i riffed on the same subject over and over, even with the same friends. times when there was nothing i wouldn't give to not be a guest somewhere (it's a difficult job, and i wasn't always good at it). i'd drunk my fill of community. i didn't think it could happen to me. the extroverted middle child who was socialized by two (three, including my grandma) of the most hospitable, sociable, community fostering and other-person-oriented people i've known.
so then, at some point, i finally realized that for some time i had been longing for stillness, solitude, and space of my own to sit and listen to what i had to say to myself. cuz tho it's true that identity is partially based on other people, i have a tendency to spend to little time and energy on checking in with myself. i spend it all on talking to other people about themselves and every once in a while about myself. it's like when you and your partner have something you need to talk about in private, but you never make the time to do it, and then one of you brings it up as a joke in front of other people and soon you are in the middle of something that has no business happening in someone else's living room. i do that to myself. and i do it to my writing, almost nonstop. and talking about writing is the death of getting anything actually down on paper, at least for me.
but so now it's been 6+ months of feeling like i want a place of my own to spend some time with my self and my art and i still don't see it happening till august. i keep thinking i need to re-read 'a room of one's own' and then realizing that i don't. i know the feeling all to well and would prolly throw the book across the room were i to try to let ms. woolf tell it to me.
but i can't quite get myself to care right now. i wanna buy a house but am frustrated with credit issues and timing and the market, i need to find an apartment but can't imagine dealing with even one more new person to live with, i contemplate moving to a shack in montana and then a house in iowa and then a farm in east tennessee, feeling like they are all the same, i plan extended visits to friends and then wonder if i can stand being in someone else's house for even another couple weeks.
i started a short story on my new typewriter yesterday, and on the first page i realized it was hearkening back to a roald dahl short story i love. so i got up from the table and went to search for it in my boxes of books in the basement. i went thru all 4 of them without finding it, and in the process realized my 'golden compass' is missing as well. i almost threw a tantrum right there. i admit it. i'm lost. and i can't live this way. i've been stuffing my writer into boxes and bags and free moments on the train and coffee shop afternoons and nights on someone else's couch and it's becoming a problem. i've been longing for, and keeping from myself, the possibility of ever actually giving myself the time and space to write the stories swirling around in me. and i'm at the place where i'm tempted to just assume i never will and go ahead burn all my books and papers, stuff some clothes in my pack, hop a freight train and sleep rough in a field somewhere west of here, hoping to find work on a farm to keep my body busy and my mind empty.
but it wouldn't work. and i have to learn from the last time i was a victim of 'longing fatigue'. either coincidentally or because he is the most wonderful sweetheart in the world, my friend jack posted 're: stacks' on my facebook page yesterday. and today it hit me what i have to do. i have to listen to this song only once a day, but every day, to keep it's edge sharp on my throat, and i need to sink my teeth into the vision of a room with bookshelves and a desk by a window where my typewriter and netbook can sit--clench my jaw and hold on tight--and put this one need in front of anyone else's, so i can finally stop pretending that i'm wanting something i can't have. i've been running away from being a writer for years. i'm so good at making up excuses, the list and the reasons behind each could fill my first book. that black crow dangling my keys needs to fly away leave me alone to get shit done.
i'm done with this wanting. it's time to start making it happen.

"this is not the sound of a new man, or a crispy realization, it's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away, your love will be safe with me."