Monday, October 25, 2010

engendering anxiety

The only thing that would make me love this image by Laurence Winram more would be if some (or all) of the figures were women.

dream world by laurence winramWhat makes it so superb to me is how much I identify with the man in white. I think this image illustrates what it feels like for me to be (slowly) chasing a dream. It is also what it feels like to be falling in love which, for a lot of people, is part of the overall dream.

At the moment, I am feeling probably the most secure I have ever felt in my entire life. This isn't saying much since I have lived most of my life harboring a feeling of impermanence and/or imminent doom. But I am with a man I love and trust, and I spend my days sitting in his/our apartment, reading and writing and thinking. It is just like what I was doing in Buenos Aires, only I am not crushingly alone and isolated by my linguistic incompetence.

It is blissful and liberating, and my frontal lobe feels like this man in white, shining bright and smiling. If I keep my face forward, I stroll through this Irish valley of green grasses, lit by the soft light of the northern hemisphere in the early spring, and all I see are possibilities.

But optimism doesn't come naturally to me. Every third moment of the day, I cast a backward glance and see these tuxedoed specters of every imaginable kind of failure. They're dumb and cowardly and only rarely do they come close enough to me to scratch me, but they are always there, looking all haughty and menacing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

welcome home

When I first moved to San Francisco, I was 20 years old. This was almost ten years ago. I was, sadly, sad. I felt defeated and defective and I was realizing that a lot of things I thought I understood--like friendship, love, and personal ambition--were things that I couldn't even describe. I had barely any sense of well-being left in me, just a residual sense of self-preservation. For the first two years here, I pretty much just smoked pot and stared at the ocean and wondered if I would ever not be sad.

When I left San Francisco three years ago for New York, I kind of thought I would come back--but in this vague, hopeful way that existed mostly so I wouldn't feel so bad about leaving the place where I had learned to be happy. I knew that I would visit, but I didn't believe that I would ever live in San Francisco ever again.

Well, I'm back. I packed two bags full of clothes, got on an airplane, and now I am spending my hours writing in front of the same laptop with a different view. I have been back so many times that it will take some time before I feel like I am really back, and until then I am wandering about with the familiar sensation that I am neither here nor there.

I am working on my second book, which is a completely self-involved account of these last two years of my life. For the first time, I feel like I have something to share with people that would be best put in book form. It is a strange thought to feel like you have something deeply personal that is possibly entertaining enough to be worthy of sharing with the general public. But it is not pure entertainment. This book is really all about why it feels different to be in San Francisco this time around. It is about the things that have happened over the past few years, and how those things have changed me so much that I can come back to the same city with the same people and the same weather and feel as though I am in a completely different place altogether.

I wonder how long I will be here. The first time I came to San Francisco, I thought it would be for two or three years, and it ended up being seven.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

tunnel vision

Last weekend I told someone I was moving back to San Francisco. She said, "That's so cool!"

I said, "Yeah!"

And then she said, "Did you get a job there?"

And I said, "" in this dull, heavy voice that made it sound as though I had never thought about what it meant to move to one of the most expensive cities in America without a job. For a moment I felt like a jackalope, but it didn't last very long, because whoever heard of a lovesick jackalope?

I identify with the jackalope. It is mythical but it sort of exists just because we think of it. It seems fierce with those outrageous antlers and its serious look, but then you realize it is just a bunny. A bunny! His neck probably hurts from holding up those antlers. Picture it trying to gore something! Ridiculous. It would probably feel like a tickle-massage And then you think, "Why am I wondering about the goring capabilities of a creature that doesn't even exist?

Anyhow, I often feel like a creature that people find mythically interesting until they discover I am just a bunny with fake antlers. Sometimes people seem impressed with what they perceive as bravery in me, but then they realize that my bravery is actually composed of delusions (50%), ignorance (30%), and stubborn hope (5%) than actual courage (15%).

Depending on what the situation is, the delusions can turn out to be very true (e.g., moving to a Spanish-speaking country will be good for the linguistic center of my brain) or false (e.g., freelancing will force me to be more disciplined).

The ignorance part is actually very closely related to the delusions and stubborn hope, because I am usually ill-prepared for most things, which allows me to think that everything will be great (e.g., a Master's degree will save me from a future of mind-numbing office work!)

This life move feels different from all the other ones, which did require some courage. This move isn't an escape, or career-related, or because I was done with one place or wanted to see another. This move is because I am in love. And after the initial courage required to fall in love, moving to be with someone you love is like eating when you're hungry.

Yet, just because this is predicated on love doesn't mean it is still not based mostly on delusion (50%). I have complete Tunnel-o-Love-o-Vision at the moment, but what will materialize at the end of the tunnel? I'm moving in with this darling man I met four months ago today. How could that possibly be a bad idea?

I think the rest of the thrust here goes straight to stubborn hope (30%), life experience (15%) and instinct (5%). I strangely enough have almost no anxieties about this move; I am just excited to see Marido. Well, with modern technology I have been seeing him almost every day. So I must be excited about something else...