And then, somehow, we were several days into December, the month where I waffle between walking around zombie-like humming the ‘Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na’s of the Counting Crows and quote lines from Christmas Vacation and am okay with the perpetual darkness, because it’s usually broken up by fairy lights and made slightly warmer by Winter Pimms, Bailey’s and scotch. I can never decide if I actually like this time of year; I think I like the idea of it, but in practice, it always ends up being this chaos of let’s rush-rush-rush to close off an arbitrary year cycle, and let’s rush-rush-rush to be together on a specific date and buy things for anyone and everyone to give when we are together (or not) on this specific date… and it’s all kind of overwhelming. Expectations are crazy, and reality never really matches up.
We got married in December, what would’ve been four years ago this week, on a US-style palindromic Saturday, where the sun set at 3pm over the St Andrews pier while I froze in tartan shoes from the North Sea wind. Everything surrounding that day was fairly horrible, and most of what I remember involves scenes of me sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall on the phone (likely crying) or walking in circles around that Dundee flat reading my thesis aloud… but for all of that horribleness, that actual day – however totally unconventional it was – was not. I was listening to a random Spotify playlist a few days ago, and the song we walked down the aisle to came on, and my reaction was total deer-in-the-headlights frozen panic while frantically fumbling to skip it. I’m not quite sure why – it wasn’t out of disgust or anger or sadness or anything, but maybe more of an act of preservation, similar to how I felt the first time I walked into a bookstore to idly browse on a rainy day or baked a wheel of camembert or stood looking at Halloween costumes in Walmart a few weeks ago. There are some things I want to hold onto and not have tainted.
I really struggled to write that and just cut-pasted those paragraphs several times and was about to replace it with something slightly more peppy like ‘Oh hey, it’s December!’, and obviously settled on leaving them in and am now about to take what was going to be an ‘oh hey, check out some snow scenes and sleepy beagles!’ post and turn into something totally not that. (… but I’ll throw some pictures in, just because.).
I’ve been thinking a lot about writing this week and what I write and what I actually want to write, and I’m in a weird place with it right now. For years, I wrote for myself; I had notebooks filled with thoughts, that I’d go through phases of feeling free to write openly in that would end when I’d get the sudden panic of ‘oh god, if someone actually read this, they would get the totally wrong impression of my life’. I tend to write only when I have something to write about, which is usually spurred on by something that’s happened or some sort of feeling that’s outside of neutral. A lot of the time that something is not overly exciting or positive or happy, and so when those snippets get pasted together, it looks like my world is ending and I am sitting in a dark room, staring at a wall, unable to move… which (usually) isn’t accurate (at least right now).
I did start writing again this time last year, in a bright yellow, graph paper notebook I bought at an art store in Berkeley. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And none of it really made sense (because nothing made sense), but I had no outlet to explain that nothing made sense, and I needed to revert back to being 16 again and lay on my stomach and scribble in darkness everything that was in my brain (good or bad) into a jumbled heap of black ink. And then I carelessly left it at the back of a drawer and went to work one day, and every page with every inner thought (good or bad) got photocopied and waved in front of my face, as a fun form of blackmail that ended with me losing all control and conceding, out of protectiveness and punishment and (again!) preservation. Effie. A quarter to half of my salary for years, and then some. Any iota of trust I had left for anyone. The right to feeling anything. The freedom to express any feeling.
It was a whole new level of violation.
I’m not really sure why after that I started writing again, and I’m not sure why I chose to do it and put it out there publicly. I’m not anonymous. Real people I know in real life read this, which in some sense makes it easier to be vague when I want to be and have that be enough, but it’s also harder in this constant pressure that I maintain a certain level of guardedness while not compromising on authenticity. The stories I really want to tell, I can’t, even though they’re the ones that are actually worth telling, because they might help someone else going through their own version feel not so alone. And that’s frustrating right now, and I’m trying to figure out what I want that balance of honesty and vulnerability and openness to be.
I’ll close this off by lightening the mood slightly, because despite being a really busy this week, it was totally fine. I had ski training all weekend again and am getting more excited to actually teach (and less nervous about losing children on the mountain), Otis has a new puppy friend to hang with on the trails, I met up with some SFRRC favorites in Sac for dinner, tonight’s sunset was crazy pastel pretty and I froze my butt off (almost literally) running on Friday afternoon (but got some sweet lake views when I swung through Tahoe City). I am currently most excited about a short roadtrip to SF this week, one more week of ski training and starting my countdown to heading back to Charleston before Christmas.
Oh hey, December.