Weekend Reflections: What Are You Running From?
So, I’m back in Bali and intensely reevaluating my life. This is probably the very last of my Saturn Return, and the beginning of my mid-life crisis.
It’s okay. I’m okay with it.
The first time I came to Bali I was definitely running.
It was the middle of the night during Thanksgiving weekend 2016. I couldn’t sleep; blue light, etc. But more than that I was anxious. At the time I was working at a news website and had become something of a twitter junkie. It was a few weeks after the election, and I just couldn’t deal.
I’d been feeling it in my gut from when the election season began during summer of 2015: bad stuff was on the way.
It’s true: I am dramatic.
Everything I take seriously I take too seriously. Let’s blame it on my mother. She was dramatic. Also, I have a deep drive to speak out when I think something isn’t right. In my core I just knew I didn’t want to live out the rest of my life in America – bound to struggle, bound to the bullshit, bound to the illusion of upward mobility.
I remember texting with an ex-lover the day after the election. He said he had to stay and fight (surely he’s doing nothing but reading articles and watching YouTube docs) but his determination wasn’t mine.
He’s a white man. I’m not that. America is not my own and if we’re being both honest and logical it never was and probably wont ever be. I’m a brown skinned immigrant woman. My mother who brought me here is the same. She worked and hustled and lied and schemed her ass off to get her gains and even though we’re not friends IRL I’m not ungrateful for all she’s done.
But I saw that struggle. I don’t want that struggle.
I’m not lazy, or a coward.
Lol, kay maybe I am lazy, sometimes. And to be completely honest Nazis terrify me. And large pot-bellied drunk racists shouting nigger at me in bars in Forest Hills, Queens also terrify me. Because even if that’s a one off and Christian was just really drunk and he’s “harmless” it’s truly horrific to exist in that moment and to know that if anything were to happen to you there would be no justice and his life would carry on and he would still drink at his local haunts and be a disgusting, deplorable human being long after you heal or whatever.
But I’m not afraid of change or risk.
And maybe that’s just a side effect of being an immigrant/immigrant’s daughter. Maybe I handle change better because I’m used to moving around. Maybe I enjoy risk because I need constant stimulation. But spending my life busting my ass for wealthy white men (who may not overtly disrespect me personally, but who definitely and absolutely believe everything is their right and they are inherently superior to women and brown people) is not a risk I want to take in a country with a lunatic at the helm.
I’m still chasing my dreams. And I’m still a hustler for a dollar.
Capitalism is ingrained in me. I know it’s awful. Fundamentally I believe it’s shit and corrosive to the collective human soul and blatantly destructive to Mother Earth (on the low I’m a total wu-wu tree lover). But Capitalism is the order of the world we inhabit and it’s how my brain works. So yeah, I’m transitioning out of the Western world but I’m still about my business. I still want to build your artist friend’s website. I still want to write trashy, pseudo-intellectual/philosophical fiction full of sex and occasional violence. I still hope to shop a filthy soap opera to BBC, and maybe one day write a screenplay for a foreign-made inde film.
I just don’t want to do any of that inside America.
The thing about traveling alone is all that time – alone.
So I’m out there in the ocean right, teaching myself to swim, chest deep in the beautiful green-blue mass, loving the breadth of it, the feel of it, the communion with one of the most powerful forces on the planet which is being particularly gentle and welcoming to me on this particular day when suddenly I am sad.
I keep trying not to think of him (he, who shall no longer ever be named). My roommate mentioned I may be energetically tethered to him. I’ve read all the wu-wu blogs about twin flames and soul mates and this life and the after and all that Greek mythology about how we used to have four eyes and extra limbs but the gods cut us in two so we spend our whole lives seeking our other halves.
So I found him in this life and he’s shit. And maybe next life we’ll get it right but I don’t know what’s after this one so I wont hold any hope for, or attachment to, the next one.
Still, I am sad. I think back to the nights we spent together, up all night talking, laughing, connecting, holding hands, telling one another our dreams. I remember that intimacy that was so new to me. Sure, I’d loved Iain, and I’d fallen for Tom, and I really appreciated the temporary emotional and physical safety MJB had provided me at a very crucial time in my life, but I had never ever ever felt the connection, the ease of openness I felt in those moments alone in the loft on the mattress he’d brought for me.
And there I was in the ocean, remembering our fingers locked together and us joking about going to the beach and how I would have to take the kids without him because he would burn but they wouldn’t. But we’re not having children together. We’re not going to be together. The memories are fine, they’ll never go. But all I have now is logic to pull me back.
So I swim, alone, and I wonder why I love love so much and why I’m so full of it – literally – and why my love gets used up and spit back at me this way, and now I don’t ever want to open up that way again.
Possess My Heart
Later, I came back to my room and put on Spotify. I showered and set about loading my hair with product to condition and detangle (because I am all about that natural sun-streaked highlight, but I’ll be damned if I have to chop off 3 inches of ocean split ends. No ma’am!). DCFC “I Will Possess Your Heart” came on, and let me tell you that four-and-a-half minute intro is some solid hypnosis level shit.
I was admiring my tan, reflecting on how it made me resemble my mother more, and how I didn’t necessarily mind. I liked to look at my mother’s hands as a child. I enjoyed her skin. I always see bits and pieces of her in strong black women. I enjoyed that my new skin made she and I match. We match in lots of other ways: determination, temper.
I thought again about how I’m never having children and how it’s not fair, but it’s okay, and likely for the best. But you know there’s logic and there’s feeling. Because I think I would probably make an incredible mother, with the right partner. Because I couldn’t do it alone. Because if I had to do it alone I don’t think I could be strong enough not to permanently damage the progeny the way my mother has successfully done to all hers.
There are risks I’m willing to take – like hopping countries and banging Europeans off Tinder – but proving to myself that I can be a good mother is not one of those risks. I’m not having kids for other previously explained reasons, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to, or never wanted to, or wont probably want to for some more time.
It just feels terribly, uncontrollably unfair. I wanted to have kids with one person. And he tossed me away, repeatedly, toyed with my affections and my mind, and now he’s starting a family with someone else and it fucking tears at my guts.
And I thought about Josh.
Because what would an episode of melancholy and self-pity without remembering the dead guy? Death is every cliche of itself. It’s final, it’s cruel, it’s awakening in that it gives you perspective. I feel stupidly selfish for loving him so much more now, and only because I can not go back and love him more then. I can not go back and choose to leap into what would have surely been dramatic and tumultuous, which I’m sure we would have both truly enjoyed.
Feelings, retrospect, and again logic.
I idealize my loves. I have to, it’s my nature, it’s my need. But the truth is he had his own demons and I shied away from taking the leap toward him because I didn’t think I could stand to battle them with him. And I’ll always feel guilty for that because the love, and faith, and loyalty, and admiration that I always wanted was given to me freely and I denied it because I was cowardly.
That’s just a truth.
And these are the things you think about when you have lots of time to be alone with yourself and nature and your detangling mousse and Death Cab. The saying is true: You can run, but you can’t hide. And I am running, make no mistake.
I’m running from every disappointment I’ve ever had, every ruined expectation of myself and others. I’m running from the potential of future disappointments. I’m running from fear and loss and confusion and doubt even though I know they are all inevitable, and constant and they are waiting for me no matter how long or far I go.
I know this. But I’m still fucking running.