Blogs, as anyone who’s ever kept one knows, are a pretty easy thing to give up on. The minutiae of life go by, people get busy, the initial excitement fades. For me, however, this blog wasn’t preempted by other stuff I had to do; if anything, I’ve had a surfeit of time, waterfalls of the stuff, in the three months since I lost my job.
And while I thought about writing almost every day, I didn’t want to burden anyone with what I really wanted to write about: the endless pain, loneliness, depression, and isolation I was feeling. I had just started my life in San Francisco, and so many tiny tendrils of that adult emergence died along with my job: the nascent friendships with co-workers that were quickly dashed, the financial freedom that flip-flopped into terror of losing my house and terror of leaving it for the spendy outside world, the confidence that the American dream was buoyant and that my place in the meritocracy was buoyant.
I’ve decided to write a little bit about these things because I feel like I can’t go forward trying to plumb for honest opinions on entertainments without first honestly expressing what I’ve felt for the past few months. And I know that it’s a buzzkill for a lot of people. This passage from Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York sums up a lot of my feelings on the subject of sharing, oversharing, and the deaf ears that receive them both:
Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years. And you’ll never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it’s what you create. Even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to but doesn’t really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope for something good to come along. Something to make you feel connected, to make you feel whole, to make you feel loved. And the truth is I’m so angry and the truth is I’m so fucking sad, and the truth is I’ve been so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long have been pretending I’m OK, just to get along, just for, I don’t know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own, and their own is too overwhelming to allow them to listen to or care about mine. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.
I won’t go so far as to say “fuck everybody,” because people, a few people, have reached out from the world of their equally potent misery to try to sop up a bit of mine. Whenever I’ve been able to reciprocate, I have, but the truth is that most of my social world has stopped calling. They’re biding their time, waiting for the day when I emerge with my shiny new career (as, God willing, I someday will), waiting for the reassurance of discussions that don’t center around pain they can’t understand and problems they can’t solve.
And I really do want to give them that conversation, without grudges. But what I can’t help but feel as I probe the ruins of my adulthood-so-far is that there isn’t going to be any end to that grief, even in a best-case-scenario world where everything is done to a turn and I show up on the cover of Oprah’s magazine shouting with joy about how I’ve turned my life around. The paths we don’t take (or, in my case, the path that was closed off to me) still have their own strange lives, half-children of experience floating sadly in the imagination. New paths emerge, time moves forward, but these wraiths still swim and whisper about what could have been.
In the empty days of November, I could have had the courage to keep typing away about movies while everything fell out underneath me. I could have the courage now to just say enough, and go back to writing about my cultural theories under the guise of the cheerful person who penned them six months ago. I could suck up my pain.
But I’m not courageous. I’m just scared. What is unique about this fear is that it finds a rare release in the joys of taking in and taking apart art, and I’m no longer going to be afraid of admitting that it will have an enormous influence on what I see. This doesn’t mean I’m going to go ultra-morose, or turn every analysis into self-analysis, just that it feels better to have a contract (with you, the invisible reader), knowing that from here on in, you know the score.
In my time away, I’ve read a million books, watched a slew of films, drunk 50,000 beers, and soon, I’ll try to lens in on all of them. But what I see when I look in the mirror isn’t the same, and the things that are a mirror of me have to change with that.