Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mellon Collie

Once upon a time you were a girl of 24 on your first night in Hong Kong, a mythical country your mother always rhapsodized about, and though you were on a tiny per diem in an equally tiny business hotel you excitedly plopped down on the itchy covers and snapped a picture of yourself on your dinky Motorola. You checked it and thought, "Oh my. I look really vain and come-hither-y here. This picture shall never see the light of day."

Seven years later you find this picture in your files and it, inexplicably, breaks your heart.

You think about it and prod that heartbreak and wonder if you finally turned into that vain creature you always worried about, that when you see this picture what you are really mourning -- grasping greedy Real Housewife-style -- is all that lost youth and beauty.

You prod further and investigate the wound. Maybe, corollary to that, it's knowing that when you snapped this picture you faced the world knowing that it was an ocean of possibilities, of many paths to take and dreams to live, so that your biggest anxiety was the problem of choice. So you created rigid little hedges around your life, so that you wouldn't stray, wouldn't be broken, wouldn't fear, wouldn't dare. And now, when you look back, you wish you dared and feared and broke and strayed, because a life lived along those hedges took you to a spot that you had foreseen, exactly, and would it not have been a much grander adventure if you arrived somewhere that you had never expected?

Because now you are all wants and wants and wants, and the girl in the picture was all polite no-thank-yous and I-really-shouldn'ts and it's-not-for-mes.

But at least she hoped, and that is more than you can say.

(Don't be silly. You know you'll lick your wounds for a bit and formulate another plan, because isn't that your favorite? Making plans and ticking boxes and trying to control the details that fly up and plaster themselves around you, dead leaves in a downpour?)

There are words and there are notebooks and there is that streak of melancholy, unconquerable by practicality and the need to laugh, that surfaces every now and then and fuels the pen. I'll ride the wave and see where it takes me.

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