What can I say as I write this ridiculous letter to no one, really? I suppose it’s nice to have an imaginary friend. Who doesn’t like to use their imagination? I like to imagine people a lot. What they’re like, how they speak, what sort of hobbies they have…. And I wonder often what their deep, dark secrets are. The skeletons in my closet would make most people blush, if not cringe. So I suppose an imaginary friend with like-skeletons would be a good one to have. And I can write my mythos however I want it to be, and when I get lonely that’s precisely what I want to do.
And I feel lonely a lot. I have too many thoughts and ideas and fantasies that go beyond the boundaries of normal or acceptable or decent. My heart and my head are overflowing with wildness and tenderness and subversive social experiments that get me into trouble. I have a bad habit of doing awful, eccentric things out of curiosity of what will happen. And I wish I could know people, I wish I could know everyone and love them and hate them and judge them so I could forgive them. Everyone I meet is so intriguing and full of promise. Oh, if only it were possible to fuck the world. How can I contain the sheer wonder I feel at the very existence of everyone? (By the way, I imagine fucking the world would be a very strenuous and painful experience. So though I like it as an expression, I’d highly recommend against actually trying it.) But what can I say in a world that’s so apathetic and lonely and distracting? I look and look and look, but I find my noble intentions so often cock-blocked by reality. All the things I always dreamed of have turned out so differently than I imagined.
When I was a little girl, I adored women in sundresses. They left me breathless. There was something so magical and powerful and beautiful about the way the floor length cotton swung and swayed and betrayed the curves of hidden legs. These were women. These were mystical creatures. They were mothers and lovers and sisters and daughters and dear God, they could do anything. Cook dinner, carry babies, apply band-aids on a professional level, and work full time. And then they could dress up and go dancing and smile in secret ways that I never understood as a child. In the afternoons, they could hold me in rapture when they slipped into their sundresses and sat drinking iced tea on the patio. And it didn’t matter to me how old they were or what they did; young college students and middle-aged housewives, old women who needed cardigans over the beloved dresses- they were all wonderful. God, I looked forward to being a woman. And now that I am one, I find that so few others want to be. Little girls used to play dress-up in Mommy’s closet. Now half the women I know play it, only their version is backward. They want to be 16 again. They want to be noticed. They don’t want to fade and be ignored, but that’s what they find in this world. They don’t want the magic and wonder and power I always believed they wielded. As I rejoice in the plethora of shock-white hairs I’ve found on my head recently, they’re dyeing their grays away so they won’t have to admit that they have aged and changed and grown. And that devastates me. I never expected that when I grew up, everyone else would want to grow down.
And I never imagined that I’d go crazy, and cry for months on end, and have impulsive streaks that always culminate in some grand and stupid scheme that always seems wonderful at the time. I never imagined that there would be holes all over my memory. Sometimes, I’ve blacked out in a state of manic psychosis for a day or two. And then there were long, seemingly endless stretches of blackness; of despair so acute and violent that all I could do was stare at the ceiling and sob. Sob for myself, and for my children, and for my husband, and for the whole damn world that was going to hell. Those times were the worst, brimming with finely crafted mental masochism and physical destructiveness. And they went on and on and on for so long that the only thing I can truly remember about those periods is that I was sad for a very long time. And that sadness changed me, changed me in ways that few people who’ve never been mad can understand. And that sadness changed my love, and changed my reality, and caused the very worst thing that I never expected.
I never guessed that I could fall so wildly and deeply and purely in love as I did, and I never guessed that it would cause such deep and chaotic rifts in my existence. Those dark skeletons in my closet scarred me, and the madness that followed inflamed them. I haven’t had a broken heart in eight years, and yet I’ve had a cracking heart for the past two or three. And that’s why I’m writing to you. The hills and valleys of my emotional anatomy cause me to suffer from altitude sickness that most people don’t have to experience. Who can quell my neurotic fears? Who can soothe the terror of my racing mind? Maybe no one. But I wonder how you’ve done it. Love, I mean. I wonder if you still love Nina madly, and if you get along, and if life is pleasant. But it isn’t just you, it’s everyone. When I see old people, married and forgetful and hunched over, I want to ask them. When one shaking, wrinkled old hand closes around another, I scream inside with curiosity. Do they still love each other? Have they had a happy life? Is the sum of their memory weighted in joy or pain? I cry bitter, terrified tears at night because I’m afraid there are no happy endings. I see trash on the TV and trash on the campus. The magazines at check lanes scream of divorces and secret lovers and PR nightmares. I grow weary of being asked if all my children have the same father, and of the awkwardness I feel in conversations with other young women and their explications on the infidelities and betrayals of their exes. I don’t think there’s a right or straight path. I don’t think love has to be confined to a form of monogamy, or polyamory; I don’t believe it has to be blessed or legalized or approved of. I don’t think it has to be straight or gay or righteous or smutty. It just has to be. But I worry about whether it will last. I worry that it can conquer all. I worry that I’m losing love. And I worry that the path my intuition leads me on is impossible, that the spiritual and emotional achievements I was to claim for my lifetime are silly and naïve and too ideological. I’m terrified.
And I just wish things hadn’t ended up so perpendicular to my expectations. I know I’ll find the answers eventually, but even posing the questions is harder than I thought it would be.