Saturday, 20 June 2009

The one I'm not

I live by the rules, she lives by her principles. Quite often they overlap, most of the time they don't.

I have gotten a grip of myself, I think.

And then something happens, something small, and I start dreaming of him again. Though the dreams have changed, too. Last night, we were sitting next to each other at a wooden table, his daughter playing on the floor in front of us, showing me things, looking up countries in a Times atlas. He is proud of her. He put two fingers over my hand, casually, and somehow I was contented, but there is still the longing.

Of course there is longing for pleasure, the kind of pleasure that fries your brain and makes you sit in the bushes outside someone's house for five days just to catch a glimpse of them. But that pleasure, I think I'm too old for it. I don't think my body could take it. Even these emaciated flashes of longing I get when I see him now, they stretch my comfort limits.

Longing for what? I know that the person I am longing for is not really him, it is the person he lets me feel that I am. She is beautiful, creative, she speaks in poetry and moves in mysterious ways, disappearing and reappearing like the hallucination of an oasis in the desert.

I am beautiful, and I write my poetry alone, though I sometimes hear his voice in my ear and turn around to see his shadow disappearing around the corner.

But also, when he speaks to me, of me, at me, I know I can do anything. When I'm on my own, I am not so sure. He makes suggestions I don't always follow, but they are suggested with such undying conviction. When he is there, I have to do that for myself, and it's hard.

My parents, of course, also think I could do anything I put my mind to. But they have no idea what I do all day. He does, and he still thinks I can do it. That really means something to me. Should I be able to do that for myself, is that an impossible demand to place on someone?

I long to be that girl again, because she is a girl, she is 19, and likes to spend her evenings curled up on a salvation army couch, reading long-lost old comics and drinking very milky tea with honey, and he whispers to her and looks up from his book and shares a quote, and he says how he loves it when she is enjoying something, because he thinks she has passion.

And that's it, too. I think I lack passion. My life is passionless. I know that I don't feel this intense desire and appreciation for many things in life, but I do feel them about words, words dancing with each other on the page, him the commentator relaying the highlights from the event.

J does not understand words. He counts their letters and remembers their meanings, but he has no appreciation of the way they move on the page, like loves, like the ocean, like fragments of a memory. And therefore, though he loves me more than he has ever loved another woman, he does not see that part of me, that longs to speak poetry and live an enchanted life.

No woman can go through her life being a princess, unless, of course, she is one. And when I look at her, the one I'm not, I know that the only way I can stay that way, kittenish, unflawed, sensual, is for someone who sees me once a month and doesn't see that I never tidy the living room, though I don't think he would much care.

And here's the rub. I want to be that girl, but I don't want the life I would have to lead being with him. I am not like the other woman. I have principles, yes, but intrinsically, I live by the rules and I like it that way. I want to have a nice house by the sea, where I can open the window and feel the sea air rush in, sit in a quiet place drinking iced tea with my top off, writing my poetry, putting toenail polish on my toes. I am not a rebel.

So I have to work even harder to find that 19-year old within myself, to nurse her, quell her insecurities on my own. Every morning, I must tell myself I am beautiful, and poetry will run from my fingertips.

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