Like analogies, tides come in waves. I’ve been writing a lot of them lately and trying them in conversations. If there’s no one around, I try them in made-up conversations. This is the charitable way to say that I’ve been talking to myself more and more.
This is an outlet problem. I’m nervous for something. It’s either too big, too important, or too scary to handle myself. But coming anyway. It was college, when I wrote a journal every day for two years without fail. Then I stopped. It was medical school, when I started RWT. I stopped two years ago. Now, it’s the next biggest thing that happens in your life. Before the next thing.
And I’m talking to myself.
I went to tell you, someone, anyone about it. In a few days, I will be engaged.
But right now, I’m wearing an ugly sweater. She wore it a few nights ago. Tonight, I want to write two of the most outrageous stories form my trip through Asia. I want to write about my time in South Africa and the month I spent in Ecuador. But what I’m really thinking about is these backward buttons.
I hope every guy learns it eventually*, but the buttons on female clothing are opposite to ours. In the past, men were dressed by maids. Male clothing has buttons were women are used to them – on the left. Thinking back on times where I’ve needed her to fix a cuff for me, I think about how this intimate and nice thing is because of her practiced fingers.
She’s left for the coast two days ahead and we’ll see each other tomorrow. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to think that the holiday cookies I’m eating or the champagne I’m drinking is anything but a way to blunt something else. Looking for a way to focus on what I have to write tonight, it’s becoming easier to understand that this too-tight and oh-so-perfectly ugly christmas sweater is more than a writing tool. It is what I need to understand about myself at this moment.
Erik Erikson is about the only thing I liked about Pediatrics. He had this theory about the stages of development through which everyone must pass. If I’m figuring out something tonight, I hope it’s everything. I’ve been looking for the first two teeth to click correctly, finally, so that this whole thing zips together and closed. I’m looking back at my life and seeing how it falls into what he described.
Looking back at the stages, I remember them. I wrote through them. And it’s finally making sense to me why my writing has come and gone so many times even when I wished it stayed. It makes sense to me why I thought I was going to be a psychiatrist. It makes sense to me why I’m writing now.
I need to work through this. When I came to the Caribbean I had my last and perfect opportunity to define myself. And now that I have, I’m ready for the next thing. But I have to work through it still.
Thank you for being patient, for thinking I’d write again, for caring that I disappeared, and for reading at all.
*I first discovered this at a Goodwill. I was looking for cheap pants for the new school year. I found this pair of beige corduroy pants that fit perfectly. I didn’t recognize the manufacturer nor did I know what “size 8” meant, but I wore the hell out of them just the same.
“It is human to have a long childhood; it is civilized to have an even longer childhood. Long childhood makes a technical and mental virtuoso out of man, but it also leaves a life-long residue of emotional immaturity in him.”
— Erik Homburger Erikson (1902-1994)