I began 2019 on a plane to Paris. I was going to conduct some archival research, or at least this was my excuse. In hindsight, I didn’t really do much research, although I did spend most of my time in the belly of the BnF. I went for the purpose of pushing myself to do something I found kind of frightening. The prospect of traveling to another country unaccompanied made me a bit too aware of how free I truly am. I write this two days after leaving the infantile protection I still enjoy within my parent’s presence, having returned to New Haven where I’m entirely an adult, like it or not. A year ago, the notion of my independence, much coveted as a child, filled me with an unanticipated kind of dread. Even though I had technically been living on my own as an adult during my first two years of grad school, I hardly felt as if I really was independent. Yale had taken over my guardianship, was paying me an allowance, taking me to my doctor’s appointments while giving me enough space to think I was doing all of these things myself (all that’s changed is my awareness of this). Yet, I still found myself frightened by my own freedom. The existential cliff of being autonomous and ungoverned, finally cast off into dark and ominous waters. I could go to Paris and have experiences I think I need. I could stay and wonder what would have happened had I gone. In both scenarios, I would be forced to bear my own consequences.
I had to
acknowledge that it was me who controlled the tempo and key of my life.
this frightened me so much, as I was forcing myself to apply for the grants,
come up with the project description, get the letters of recommendation, buy my
tickets, and book my lodging, told me one important thing about myself: I did
not trust myself. I had my freedom finally, but I did not know what freedom meant
or that freedom could possibly feel so undesirable once it was attained. The burden
of choice, the threat of repercussions. Placed atop my feigned belief in being
able to handle anything the world or God threw my way, my mental composition seemed
unfit to handle the everyday crisis of being. At times I thought I wouldn’t be
able to do it, that things were too hard. Like most people my age, I leaned
into the web of lies that tells us that other people can steel our resolve,
that things like love and companionship can illuminate the sea’s darkness. I grew
lovesick for love I’ve never had. The notion of friends having social
connections to which I was not firmly attached bothered me, because I perceived
of their activities together, as friends among themselves, as based on my exclusion.
How absurd, but one cannot really be aware of oneself when they are so
preconditioned to silence reason when feeling takes the mic. I expected people
to just “get me” and for me to just “get people,” because it all seemed so easy
when I looked in on other people’s lives.
told me that I was insufficient in some way. I had convinced myself that something
out there could fix the aching lack, and I was disappointed when I could not
manage to find this something.
while, I had not been able to name what was ailing me.
I was too
naïve to realize that my pain wasn’t any different than anyone else’s, and that
for most it was a tolerable, perhaps even permissible, pain. A pain for which
the word pain may seem even too harsh, too acute. Not a pain, but an
ache. Not an ache, but discomfort. A bit of gas Indigestion. Nausea.
I started wondering at 14 if, when I was being assembled at the plant, someone had fastened something a bit too tight
Added a bit too much of a strong ingredient.
Continue reading good riddance
Overcooked, overstuffed, ruined it?
Had someone let the pot boil dry?
And if so, must the boy be thrown away?