Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Year in Review: Sometimes I Disappeared, But I Want To Come Back

It's that made up time of year when I decide to look back at everything that has made me who I am up until this very point of writing. These times come for me usually in that gray area when one thing ends and another begins; right now it's school ending and summer beginning. In a week I'll be on a plane to China. I think that maybe this is important because it's the exact same thing I did last year.

I'm sitting in my parents' kitchen right now, drinking tea and eating stale raisins. The weather is cloudy and I think it rained this morning. I just got back from A-Camp on Sunday night and I don't really know what to do with myself. It's a lot quieter here.

The thing is, this year, I don't need to ask myself "how did you get here?" because I already know that inertia got me here. Does that make sense? What I mean is that I didn't do anything at all to get me anywhere. In September I thought to myself that I was a whole new person with realness, tangibility, and form and I stepped outside of my brain and decided I was going to crash into life.

But it turned out that life was just work. And I threw myself into that with all the force I could muster because it made me feel like a real person. It made me feel needed and important and like I was really doing something, even if it wasn't actually important at all. I could say to people "I'm working" and it could be a thing that people understood. You know? It felt normal. Like, God, I'm just so normal, going to normal work all the normal time. And I felt all the normal feelings, which is to say, I really didn't feel anything at all.

What really happened is that everything else in my life fell away. I wanted time to "focus on myself" but it turns out that that meant ensuring that I got the proper amount of sleep every night. Everything was just fine in that fine way, where I didn't cry I just sort of despaired when things were sad and then did whatever it was that I had to do. I believe they call this "going through the motions" and Buffy Summers sang about it on her hit TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

I feel proud of myself because I made + saved enough money to pay for my entire trip to China all by myself. All the money that I'm using is entirely mine that I worked for, and financial independence is something that I've always wanted so this feels like a big step for me. It's okay to feel good about that, right? Money makes me so uncomfortable and I wish that everybody had a lot of it or that nobody had any at all. But I guess this isn't really about money.

It's about how I closed up and disappeared and became a non-entity. I worked a lot but it was only about money in the sense that I needed just enough to pay rent and keep some in my bank account. I worked a lot so I could hold on to something that seemed to make sense to everyone else ("work") and I didn't let myself think about the other things that I wanted. It felt good to have a team at work, to be known and to feel solid. That was sufficient.

But before this year, my life wasn't about sufficiency. It was an overflow of feelings all the time and I cried a lot and that was a good thing. I wrote words and people read them and the words came from a real place in my heart. I stopped writing this year. My blog is almost empty and so is my journal because I just didn't have anything to say. There were no feelings that were pounding on my heart's door, demanding to be let out.

It's kind of the worst thing, to stop wanting. I don't believe for a second that I've ever stopped wanting, but I took desire and covered it up. Every time it knocked it was a faraway sound that I could shut out so easily, pretend it belonged somewhere else. I muted my desire to be anything, to be even a person. Was I a person who wrote? I had no beliefs, no identity, no passion. I didn't want to participate in anything, go anywhere, meet anyone. There was nothing for me to write.

I don't know if it was fear. I don't know what it was. I think it was just a mistake I made about myself, which I am okay with admitting. I think if I could go back I would love everyone a little harder, because I wasn't a very good friend, and I'm sorry about that.

Going to A-Camp reminded me of the person that I was when I first started working for Autostraddle. And everyone remembered me as that person, which made me want to be that person again. I miss her, that girl who was scared but brave, in love with everything and everyone. It reminded me of a time when I really lived, or something, whatever living is. I mean, it was living with other people, being comfortable in my own skin, and letting things hurt. Life doesn't have to hurt if you don't let it, but then I don't think you'll feel any feelings at all. I mean, you have to let them all in.

by Robin Roemer
this is a weird picture of me and I don't even mind

This is what A-Camp did, what Autostraddle does: it gives you confidence to be who you are. If there's anything I learned from Autostraddle for the past 3 years it's that you have to let yourself feel. Your feelings are beautiful and you're beautiful and god it sounds so corny, but that's what it is, you are beautiful and you need to let yourself feel things because I'm going to start feeling things again and it's all going to be okay if we have feelings together.

I think maybe the whole point of this blog was my weird way of trying to tell you who I am, even though I don't know who that is. I'm figuring it out piece by piece, and the Autostraddle team has been a big part of that. Sometimes I disappeared, but I want to come back. I don't really know what that means, sorry.

I don't know. I guess this is just my life and these are the things that have happened to me and the things that I have done. I'm not going to say that I'm not going to hide anymore because I will probably still hide sometimes. But I know a little better now what I want and who I want to be and I think I can be that person.

by Robin Roemer

I know you can't see these people's faces, but I want you to know they are among the most beautiful faces you will ever see.

I am humbled, once again, by the magic of Autostraddle. I want you to know that I knew these things about myself before, I knew that I had disappeared this year and become a blank slate of nothingness. But I guess A-Camp filled me up again, reminded me of there's a rosy complexion to my cheeks.


Anonymous said...

This was awesome. I feel the same about everything you said, and I love how you said it. I wish we had got to see more of each other this year. You're the best.


Molly said...

I read your blog ages ago and when i signed up for camp and realized you were my counselor i freaked the fuck out and now it's really surreal that i met you. crazy crazy crazy

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saint modesto said...

ali: next year i will leave my apartment, i swear, and you will be one of the first people i want to see. thanks for still being my friend.

molly: you're so cute. i really hope i see you and hilary whenever the next a-camp is. xoxoxo

riese said...

oh emily
this is so beautiful
i feel like i'm watching you grow
like a plant
a really nice plant though with cute glasses

i love you!