I wrote a lot of drafts for this blog last year that I didn’t publish at the time because I was still getting the hang of what I felt like sharing on the internet and what I wanted to keep for myself. Then a few months ago I read through those drafts and decided I did indeed want to share most of them, so I thought I’d start publishing them weekly or something, but then Donald J. Trump won the election and I got surgery and multiple colds and everything felt really horrible and hopeless and also it felt absurd to publish blog posts about my feelings in this time of panic and horror. But while I have yet to really figure out what the fuck to do, in a concrete way, to resist the realities of the world we are barreling steadily toward, I do know that not telling our stories in the Age of Donald J. Trump is not the answer. So here is a story I wrote in a bar almost a year ago, that I chose not to share until tonight. For what it’s worth, the night I wrote this essay in 2016 is no longer part of this universe either, ’cause that’s just the way things go.
January 31, 2016
I’m currently sitting in a bar on the corner of Williams and Skidmore, drinking an amber ale and trying to drown out the horrible foursome sitting behind me bragging about fucking over their renters and buying up more properties and blah blah blah I don’t know. Historically, I hate writing in bars, and this is why. My brain is too curious, too interested in gossip, and I have a hard time blocking out the noise. I want to know what this annoying group is chattering about, even though I don’t, not really.
Really I would like to write this post, tell you what’s going on in my brain, spill my guts. Tell you about the conversation I had with Alley and Taylor and Evie at brunch this morning about the performative nature of the self, or my self, about the private versus the public and the spilling open versus the preserving shut. This beer is making me drunk-ish, because I don’t drink very much anymore so half a beer is the exact amount of alcohol that makes me drunk-ish. My stomach sort of hurts because my stomach always sort of hurts, and the neon lights are casting a red glow on the plant near the window, and god why is this man’s voice so loud, does he think anyone cares what he has to say, I wish he would stop talking. But I guess it’s my fault for coming to a bar. I should know better. I should know I like to write at home.
What I’m doing now, painting the scene, setting the mood, essentially just reporting on what is happening around me, is a trick Cara taught me. She liked to do it, did it once when we were still dating and surprised me by publishing the scene in a tiny online indie mag she was writing for at the time, so that when I checked for her latest article the next day I found a sweet sketch of our evening the night before. Her housemates playing a video game, me sitting across the room from her on the sofa, writing my own article. That was when I still wrote regularly for Autostraddle. That was when I lived in Boston and so did she, before I’d gone to farm in Israel or driven across Indiana in a rainstorm or broken up with one of my best friends or or or.
I used to do something similar when I was small, when I had a sparkly silver notebook from Claire’s that I treated like Harriet the Spy’s notebook. I’d sit very quietly in a room full of other humans and just write down what was happening around me. I think I was better at being quiet then.
Sometimes it startles me to observe how concretely the world shifts. The scene Cara wrote, back in 2013, could never happen ever again. Not just because she has a different girlfriend now and so do I, not just because I live in Portland now and she lives in a different apartment in Boston, not because Justine is with a different partner too and some of her other housemates have moved, to Wisconsin and to New York, to different places. It’s not any one of those singular facts that makes that world impossible to inhabit now but all of them working together at once, the convergence of all the ways in which life just naturally sways and shifts in the wind, makes it so that scene literally could never happen again. That night in 2013 is no longer part of this universe.
Maybe I am drunker than I think I am but truly, this is something I think about often. Not that scene, specifically, but just the ways things change. In second grade Victoria was my best friend and we went to ballet lessons every week and her mom Liz made me dinner at least one night a week. In fifth grade I moved to Newton and wore overalls often, to hide my stomach, because I was worried I was fat and also anxious about making new friends. Two years ago I texted with G and C all the time and I haven’t spoken to either of them in so long and it’s unclear if that’s because I got mad or they got mad or we just drifted.
Everything is always drifting, shifting, changing, evolving. The world is never the same, which, duh, but it’s really jarring to think about so concretely. The dudes beside me, separate from the obnoxious group of four behind me, have just started going over why they are probably going to vote for Bernie and I might die before I leave this bar, like I might just melt into the floor and become a puddle of despair.
But no, I am dramatic. I am being hyperbolic. Surprise! I haven’t even said any of the things I meant to tell you. Maybe I will another day.