Paid dues

I think I’ve made a decision.

It’s a decision I’ve made a bunch of times before, and then gone back on. But I think – finally – life has lovingly, firmly, backed me into a corner. There really is just no weaseling out of it now. If I don’t make this decision now, I’m categorically doing myself a disservice. Trapping myself in a life I don’t want. Denying myself a chance at what I do want.

And honestly, at this point, if I don’t make this decision, I don’t know what other decision I could possibly make in its place. So. Here we are.

The thing that has been holding me back most utterly is self-doubt. A lack of trust in my own ability to execute. A fear that all I’m good at these days is floating through the nebula. A fear that I’ve lost my agency. That my try is too atrophied to function. That, if someone won’t tell me what to do, I simply won’t do a thing.

Part of me is still succumbed to the track that broke me a few years ago, that I’ve been trying to undo the damage of ever since: That I’m doomed and defective. Doomed because of my defect. Undeserving of the life I desire but, what’s more, fundamentally incapable of it. It’s a track I had been playing in my head for all of my young life, until a personal cataclysm split the Universe in two and The Truth spilled out of the cavity. But before I could erase the last corrosive traces from my being, a man I loved and trusted whispered it back into me in my most vulnerable moments. My mistake to listen. My lesson to learn. I’ve been paying for it ever since.

How long will I keep paying for it?

When will I, instead, start paying myself?

Miracles

When I was eleven or twelve, someone from my old school got in touch with me out of the blue because they knew I liked horses and they were part-loaning a horse whose mother was also available for part-loan. It was an acquaintance rather than a friend, and not someone I would have chosen to hang out with necessarily. But the promise of a horse was all I needed to be sold on the idea.

After visiting and finding out more, I asked my mother if I could part-loan Mother Horse. She said she’d think about it. It was too much money, really. I was far from hopeful. Part-loaning a horse seemed impossible, primarily because I wanted it so much. At that time in my life, there was probably nothing I wanted more than a horse. If I want something that much, said my brain, logic dictates I mustn’t have it.

I stayed up all night praying at my window to whoever or whatever might hear me to please, please, somehow, someway, let me loan the horse. Sitting on the sill with my feet on the roof as I was wont to do, I bowed to the night and clenched my hands together in a sort of manic, energetic desperation. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please.

The next day, my mother said I could part-loan the horse. It was a miracle! My praying had worked!

Looking back objectively on the situation, it doesn’t look so much like a miracle as it looks like a woman with a tendency to overspend, who wanted to please her daughter and would soon go bankrupt. But at the time, it was a miracle.

And I think about that sometimes, when I’m wishing for miraculous things.

My whole life could change in an instant, and the change could be enacted through incredibly mundane, predictable to some, nigh-on inevitable avenues, and it would still be a miracle.

There are two things I want so much right now that my brain tells me they’re impossible. But if I consider them dispassionately, they’re entirely possible. They don’t even involve that many moving parts. There is not much that would need to align to have them manifest. They’re no big thing, despite how big they are to me. I could wake up tomorrow, and someone could have decided to grant me a miracle.

Hospitable to gastropods

I’m pretty sure there is a slug living in my bedroom.

Slugs used to visit my bedroom through a crack in the skirting board. For a long time I didn’t realise because my dresser was there and hid their shiny trails, keeping their secret. But one day I rearranged my furniture, and their slimy nights of debauchery were exposed.

I plugged up the hole.

That was about a year ago. But sometimes I still find a trail that cannot be explained. At first I thought maybe I’m just disgusting enough to have not noticed and therefore not cleaned up the trail prior to the point of discovery. But that explanation became less and less likely as time wore on. I was suspicious, but I checked all the hiding places I could think of that a slug may be hunkered down in, and nothing. I also double checked my plugging handiwork, and searched for any similar points of entry. Nought to report. So I went about my life as usual.

But then, the other day, I put my glasses on, and my vision got blurrier. Because a fucking slug had smeared its mite-infested foot all over the fuckers.

The thing I most dislike about the recurring mystery trails is that they are localised around my bed. I’ve never found any trails on my bed, but they’re always near. And I never find them leading anywhere. So I’m sort of worried there is a slug living under my bed that, for whatever reason, keeps eluding me.

The thing I second most dislike about the recurring mystery trails is that they suggest a slug has been surviving in my bedroom for an extended period of time. Now there is an abundant supply of paper, but the lack of munch marks on the pile of books by my bed suggest the offender has an alternative source of food it finds more…palatable.

...’hospitable to gastropods’ is not the tagline I aspire to for my sleeping area.

Picture postcard

As I had failed to capitalise on the actual opportunity, I decided to pull the thread of my art show attraction in the comfort of my own bed.

And, no, I don’t mean by masturbating, I mean by lying in the dark coming up with ideas.

I followed the pathways my brain wanted to pursue. Naturally, the primary problem it wanted to solve was how to find this person, so that it could have a second chance at probably not talking to them. It wanted to find out who they were, so that it could orchestrate the best chance at happening upon them. Very familiar territory. I’m an internet sleuth in recovery, so I nixed that line of inquiry pretty sharpish. But then I have nothing to go on, my petulant brain did wail. Well, if you’ve got patience, Brain, there’s a pretty obvious way you might see him again – by attending a similar such art show in the future.

And then I had what I needed. Because, actually, something that is apparently far more engaging to my brain than devising plans to meet this stranger it liked the look of, is planning a piece to submit to the next art auction. Especially when it’s a silly, tongue-in-cheek piece that I can whip up in half an hour.

Much like emotions, I have learned that whims and attractions are best submitted to, rather than repressed. So long as you can set your expectations and interpretations aside. Because, at least in my experience, they don’t usually take you where you think they will, but they definitely take you somewhere you want to go.

And those destinations may not turn out to be satisfying to anyone other than yourself. But I think we, as a collective, need to get a whole lot more comfortable with that outcome. And I, as an individual, most certainly do.

Pulling the thread

I went to a silent art auction last night at a local university, amidst a raging British storm. That is, a fairly-mild-by-all-accounts-but-exciting-to-us-folk-who-don’t-experience-real-storms storm. My friend had submitted a piece and so we turned up to represent. It was unexpectedly packed to the brim with art students. Not that we had any idea what to expect, but it was bustling. Decidedly COVID-unsafe. And we were most definitely outsiders, but I doubt anyone was paying attention.

We made a circuit of the corridor where the pieces were displayed. My friends made a few bids. I did not. And then, as we were nearing the end of our lap, a man walked in. Floppy hair, undercut, self-effacing demeanour – yeah I’m into it. Our lap took us past him and, after a couple of mutual glances, I suspected he was into it too. He changed his trajectory to hover near me. Fucking palpable. The thing is, I am alarmingly age-blind, and I thought it best to make the assumption that he was, in fact, undergraduate age. So, when somebody wanted to get past me, I took the oportunity to spook, and headed back to the safety of my group. We continued to orbit each other loosely. A few more demure glances. Indecision. And then my friend made the let’s leave gesture, and we were gone.

I now regret this. I feel I have unfinished business. The tension remains unresolved. My mind is looking for ways to resolve it. I want to find out what I was into. Because, the truth is, I’m not often into it these days. I wish I had pulled the thread with a spirit of curiosity. Who is he? What could I have learned? Where could it have taken me? How long is the thread?

I think part of the problem is that I am many-times-burned by this inexplicable pull towards people. I don’t trust myself to handle it with grace. I love it in theory, but in practice it feels dangerous. But that was a past self, who consistently misinterpreted and overblew the pull. I have a much healthier conception of attraction at this point. I need to figure out how to exercise it because, as it is, I’m cutting off a really delightful part of life. Pulling the thread would be so much more fun than ignoring it.