Friday, October 19, 2012

The Romantic


According to Enneagrams, I am a "Type 4, The Romantic." I long for what I feel is missing. I have severe emotional intensity. I crave to be unique, but have an ever present fear that I am deficient and lacking in everything I do. I am, to a wretched fault, persistently envious. If only I were thinner, prettier or married to some successful businessman. In addition to all this seeming baggage, I am a Scorpio. I am passionate, devoted, motivated, sympathetic and stubborn. I am so interested in others that it causes me to stare at strangers in restaurants and swerve as I drive past pedestrians on slanted cement sidewalks. I crave to know what everyone around me is talking about, struggling with, wearing, feeling, like an untreated OCD addict might kiss every door handle fifty-seven times before turning it. If I had shown any promise in science, I may have become a nurse or psychologist, but I didn't. Still I like helping people. Perhaps that is why I am so desperate to start a family. Mothering, I know, will be something I succeed at. Or at the very least, something I won't be rejected from. In college, my intuitive traits drew me to expression and led me to art's open ending. My emotional instincts were what attracted me to acting and experiencing theater and film. My husband says I am the perfect audience member. I weep when they want me to, cringe when they show something gruesome, and laugh when they surprise me. When acting work proved sporadic, I learned to write my emotions (of which I have more than I care to keep) away into safely kept sentences.  

When we are labeled into types, signs, stereotypes and palm lines it would seem that destiny is predetermined by some godly chemist in the clouds, but what about when we add in every factor? Can one truly sum herself up into a single list of ingredients? I wouldn't know the first thing about the mathematics, in calculating life long calorie percentages, but we can forget about all that for the time being. I am the third child of four. One of three daughters. My mother used to call me her peacemaker. I am twenty-eight years old, nearly twenty-nine. I am caucasian. My husband says we're middle class though we're broke as tramps. I am 5'8 and 147 pounds on a good day. I have an extremely delicate soul and seriously sensitive skin. I am Irish, Italian, English, and French Canadian. I am an American. I have dark brown hair and when I'm worried, strands of it stick between my wet fingertips as I rinse it of shampoo in the shower. I have bluish brown eyes. I have a freckle on the center of my throat and visible veins beneath my brows. I was raised a Catholic and I married a Jew. I want to find a church or a temple to attend, but fear I'll be too embarrassed because God doesn't seem to be very popular anymore. I miss the days when "God bless you" was nice and not offensive. I sweat and blush whenever I'm embarrassed. I wake up early every morning to walk to the beach where my dog herds birds who sit on the water like buoys of beaks, wet feathers and wide wing spans. It injects joy into every pore of my body and pumps bliss in and out of my lungs like menthol. I want to pay a psychic to read my ora and predict my future because I am gullible, hopeful and supremely interested in what's to come. I am an actor. I am a writer. I am a product of my mother, my father, my ancestors, and my generation of so many others equally lost in this current American era here upon this benevolent Earth. We are all scrambling for guidance and acceptance, no matter our birthday or birth order. But labels, it seems, can help our minds name complex matters by aligning our differences into categories and explanations. I separate myself into pieces, roots and stems because I hope in better understanding myself, I will understand how to better myself. 



Sunday, October 7, 2012

words

(This piece is now also available to listen to, 
please scroll down to the bottom of the right column) 

We live in an apartment building with a courtyard, mailbox key and a maintenance man named Tom. Sometimes the beagle across the yard howls an horrendously shrill cry. One time, I stuck my head out the window and said, "it's OK pup!" in my gentlest way, but it only made him bellow longer. We live in Chicago now. I play my guitar and sing covers of songs with simple chord progressions. We ride busses to live shows. We walk the dog to a fenced-in beach with fresh water waves and damp sand marked by overlapping paw prints. I live in Chicago now. I miss my mother and my sisters, my brother and my father. I miss my state. My friends in Massachusetts. My life in Massachusetts. I miss knowing where everything is though I like discovering this new pace, tree leaf lace and storefront face. I ache for my mother's arms and my father's coarse kisses, but I love how scary this all is. There's a time difference between my home state and here. One hour. That means I have more time every day, or rather that's how it seems when I call and it's a just little too late to chat. But there aren't any mountains here. Just a hill at the park where I like to take pictures of people standing beside their bicycles, perspiring running partners or holding spools of strings that connect to kites on windy days. I don't know that I can be home for Christmas and I'm afraid my father will be melancholy to not have his mother or daughter there beside the tree, at the dinner table or in the church at midnight. I want there to be a better word for love. A stronger, sturdier word for miss. Because I love and miss more than these small familiar lines of letters can express. Sorry is so pathetic when I want it to be valiant and bleeding. I don't regret moving here, paying for a truck to lug our life nine hundred miles to the left, for quitting our jobs, or for straining relationships with the complexity of physical withdrawal, but I am still sad for it, which is another word lacking in true depth. 

The film, Away we Go, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida and directed by Sam Mendes comes to mind a lot lately. It is one of my favorite films. Verona, played by Maya Rudolph and her husband, Burt, played by John Krasinski have this conversation, while they huddle by candles for warmth. 


VERONA
Burt, are we fuckups?

BURT 
No!...what d'you mean?

VERONA
I mean, we're thirty-four-

BURT
-thirty-three 

VERONA
and we don't even have this basic stuff figured out.

BURT
Basic like how?

VERONA
Basic like how to live.

BURT
We're not fuckups.

VERONA
We have a cardboard window.

BURT (whispering)
We're not fuckups.

VERONA (whispering) 
I think we might be fuckups. 

BURT (whispering)
We're not fuckups.

On our wedding anniversary, we sit in a restaurant where we both feel a little under dressed and we talk about three years of marriage and nine years since our first kiss. Numbers. Astounding numbers followed by the self-calculating word, years

"What do we want to happen before our four-year-anniversary?" Scott asks. 

"We could prepare ourselves to have a baby." I say. "Figure out what we need to do to be ready."

"That would be awesome." 

"I think we're emotionally ready. We just need to be financially."

After dinner, we sit on the train as it rattles on its elevated tracks toward the North Side and I tell him, "My mom used to say we should run our own bed and breakfast." After three weeks of employment searching stress pressing on my shoulders, I suddenly need something real to be striving for. If it's a bed and breakfast then it's a bed and breakfast and I can start taking classes and buying used books on hospitality. 

"We should try and win the lottery. Then we could buy a big house and not have to pay a mortgage and we could open a bed and breakfast." He says.

A few days later I bring it up again and he asks, "How would this be easier than working for a company?" 

"Because we can be our own bosses." I say with multiplying impatience. Then I realize my bed and breakfast dream is just like when I thought we should buy a house because we couldn't afford rent any more. It isn't logical. Only money can truly beget money and we have no money. My hopes pull like the kites I've seen on windy days. Pretty in their diamond silhouettes, but far away. Maybe when the weather calms... I could make warm breakfast every morning for our guests and wash the linens and sweep the uneven wooden floors. Scott could set up a projector and show films at night. Our kids could run around the back yard where a vegetable garden would grow, a rectangle swing would float from ropes and benches would stand waiting for the morning sun. We could have beer and wine and live music on the weekends. We'd meet so many new people and invite old friends and family to come and stay with us.... My plans always hide the practical, but never do my detailed daydreams fully suppress my fear that we'll never be grown ups, that we'll always be just a couple of fuckups.