(February 2005) The only intimate relationships I have ever been able to sustain for very long are ones with brilliant, headstrong women who are comfortable enough with who they are to not be threatened by my independence. I seek these women out, am drawn to them across rooms and crowds, am entranced by them.
I love brilliant minds, but know myself well enough to know that I am headstrong and incapable of remaining in a relationship if it compromises my ability to be my whole self.
I need space—lots and lots of space. I need hours of sitting alone—sometimes while the grass I know that I should mow grows taller—and a partner who understands that, while I may appear to be doing nothing, I am actually pondering the mysteries of my peculiar universe.
I need to do this in order to write, to thrive.
My big questions. The ones I ask repeatedly when I write or read or stare at the ceiling or consider pedestrians at the stoplight never vary much. They are
What does it mean to be human, to exist in a world where so many people brush up against you and color your life, then vanish?
What does it take to sustain some kind of faith in a world where mind-numbing atrocities are commonplace and the quest for the newest consumer product is offered as the stuff that will sustain people?
What does it mean to live in a world where God isn’t a profound concept, a verb, but is instead an angry weapon of social control hurled at nonconformists?
What makes some people cling to such narrow worldviews, swallow themselves and their longings?
How can one love authentically and on a long-term basis in such a world and sustain that love without losing herself?
How can one live as authentically as she can, taking in as much as she can and giving out as much as she can, and still manage to go to work every day and be productive?
What does compartmentalizing oneself for a job do to one’s soul?
What would it take for me to let go of my worries about financial stability and trust that following my path as honestly as I know how will provide enough sustenance for my existence? (I have mostly taken this route and am not debt-free, but am at least doing what I want to be doing—most of the time.)
And those other hard questions:
What do I do with my treasure chest of violent memories?
Is it possible to do something useful with them, to sift through them until they cease to control me?
How do I transform the terror that my body remembers as vividly as my brain into useful words, insight?
How do I let go of the anger that helped me to survive when I needed it and move beyond it to a place where I control it instead of it controlling me?
How do I learn how to take care of me?
How do I manage to trust people? And
How do I extrapolate a sustainable world from this jumbled mix of images, insight, scents, and random couplings—find the poetry?
Ferron already asked my constant questions: “Where can the quiet be? Where do I live in me?”
I have been fortunate enough to be loved by independent women who are not threatened when I go off wandering in my head. We are tethered at a common center but move away as individuals staked together by the magic of love. And we return to that center to ask deep questions and cook noodles and fuck and gasp and love each other. And, even after all this time, I remain amazed that two bodies can live in that sacred space that surrounds you when you love someone and lean into her precious body while doing anything together—washing the dishes or taking a walk or reading the newspaper in bed, or, and especially, making love—and there you are in that sacred center where you know each other at so many different levels, yet are still discovering new ways to love each other there.
That, to me, is what Heaven must be— that sacred place where the insights you gain from the world are balanced by that hard-to-find, loving space you share with someone else.