Monday, November 2, 2009

Vanilla

Narcissist. How dare you think of yourself so much. Stop reflecting. These thoughts, they are cumbersome.

I've always thought of myself as vanilla bean (all natural, of course) with caramel swirl and chunks of oddly shaped fudge. Some days I would even top myself with tiny pastel colored marshmallows. I didn't think I was just vanilla. But, just vanilla I may very well be.

Cruising the Internets, I try on posts for size. I shake them out and dig between their lines. Wondering. Do I fit? Does it fit? I read posts on disorders, loss, heartache, revelation, anger, and how to get the poo in the potty. I read about days too long and lives too short. I read about blossoming affairs, too much booze, sexless marriages, and hurdling victimization. I read abstract poetry that bleeds and pleads on the page. I read words that creep up the bony edges of your spine and whisper tauntingly in your ear, "You are not enough."

I cringe at the thought. I bend under the weight of my insecurities.

I remember my first year teaching high school. Roomless, I pushed around a cart, peering over the tower of files while navigating the perilous halls of the ancient school where dirt covered windows cast long shadows and perilous doubts. I even had a horn on my cart. The students ate me alive; they greedily gnawed on my fear and devoured my pride. Knowing there was very little to eat, I let them.

"Fake it until you make it," I told myself. You are only at year one. What shit-laced advice to give oneself. I didn't want to fake it, but I desperately needed to make it, bills to pay and all. I smiled with full teeth. I laughed with my whole aching body. I showed not one ounce of weakness and sucked back frustrated tears. They only saw what I showed them--my flesh stayed hidden, my bones buried. The smile was a simple yet perfect act of defiance.

I push through this blog, these posts. Am I writing down the bones of my history? Am I reflecting on my fragile present and the lives I have birthed ? Am I picking at half-healed scabs, hoping the salve of written words will heal? If so, like the clinician evaluating his patient, you should all be taking notes. Copious notes. On imaginary paper.

The truth. I can't fake it. I can't exist in spaces that aren't mine, even while I long for comfort in the soft folds of experience. My own story only occupies the periphery of where I am. I peck at it with my words, I pull at it with phrases drenched in longing. Longing to be more than the sum of another's history. My history was never about me. I was merely the observer in waiting.

But the words, won't they shape the stories, the fictions and truths you ache to tell? Will they? Or, will they fall flat and tumble across the page, exposed and empty? Gentle words, how can I place such a burden on you to provide shape to my existence?

I tell my stories against the grain of other people's histories. I tremble with the realization that maybe I have not lived. Maybe I have buried my truths for fear that they will break, will bleed, or even worse, fade against the backdrop of stories too vanilla to tell.

You cannot be what you are not. You cannot write what you do not know.

Yet this is it, this is what I have. I cling to it, the writing. It is my oxygen and I have been breathless far too long.

I don't know yet what I am. I don't know yet what I know. But, I know those words, no matter how clumsy and forced they may be at times. I know they are me. Vanilla? Maybe.

For now.

12 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

To me you are about making beauty from pain. Both with your writing and your children.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Babe, don't you realize that we all come to YOUR blog and feel that our own words aren't enough?

See your writing for the beauty that is within it. You ARE Talented. And you may be vanilla (in your mind) but what the hell is wrong with vanilla?!? Vanilla is the most popular flavor for a REASON. AND! It goes well with every single topping imaginable. Can you honestly think of a topping that isn't fabulous alongside vanilla? Exactly.

You work well with others. And we love you.

April said...

I don't think what you're being is narcissistic. I think you're trying too hard to find yourself a label. Labeling is disabling - bad cliche, but true.
But there is one label you should wear proudly - glorious writer!

Meg said...

Oh your words, they reach deep and are so painful and beautiful! It seems that I like vanilla, because you are inspiring to me.

Pregnantly Plump said...

What's wrong with vanilla? You can dress it up any way you want, and it goes so well with so many pies! I digress. Your writing is certainly not vanilla. Your posts always make me think, and many times they leave me speechless (hence my sometimes lack of comments.)

Huckdoll said...

"Fake it until you make it"

That saying sends chills up my spine like nails on a chalkboard or the thought of being forced to eat cotton balls.

However, after reading the following post I felt like yes, we can write about what we don't know. It kind of made sense and put what we don't know in different perspective ...

http://teamsuperforest.org/superforest/?p=10647

I've missed your writing ... I'd forgotten how beautiful it is :)

Kori said...

I come here because you are part of my whole; some of your words are mine, just formed in a different pattern. That's all.

Karen said...

The irony. You are one of those people who exude confidence. Whom others look up to for guidance and strength. Who seem to have the world right in their palms. Even in real life. You're my hero, at least.

Lori said...

I ditto the comment about us coming to your blog and feeling our words aren't enough...you have an amazing way to express your thoughts. I only wish I were half as classy in posts! ha!

flutter said...

you are more than enough.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Ditto what Tracy said. . . that's how I often feel when I leave your blog. You're an inspiration and don't even realize it!

painted maypole said...

Vanilla? not at all.

i've been busy, and not wanting to come by here until I had the time to really read your words. because they are not words to be skimmed.

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