Tagged musing

All going but gone

Cheswick, PA (2018) - © Meghan Tutolo

There aren’t too many things in this world that last.

See: high school friendships, fashion trends (though they are bound to cycle back), ska music, your favorite cologne, all seasons of The Office available on Netflix. No matter how much you love something, no matter how tightly you squeeze to it… longevity is an illusion.

But we know this, don’t we?

In fact, transience is a truth that is smacked into us from the moment we can want, need, desire things. Days end. Snacks are eaten up. Markers run dry. Toys break. The sun sets and you must go inside. The End couldn’t be a surprise, shouldn’t be. Yet, the anticipation of an end never made it any less devastating. When we were small, we would cry and whine and stomp… and hell, those were socially acceptable things as a kid. Besides, if we were convincing enough in our pout, the tides could turn. Our parents—those minor gods—could grant us more time and more things to prolong these ends.

Still, we came back for more. It didn’t stop us from going back outside or hoping or wishing, getting excited about every last thing we could do. Hope. Possibility. I don’t know what changes, why we can’t live there forever. Was it just that we just needed to accumulate more losses? Or maybe we were more buoyant then.

I write a lot about loss. I can’t help it. It’s the truth that defines me most. The why is another post, really, but the short of it is that I can’t compute. My brain cycles over it… over and over. It’s like that mechanism in me is broken. Move on. Let go. What? And up until recently, I mostly scoffed at the tender fears of others, that empty ache to remain guarded. I couldn’t understand ones need to shut people out, to shut down the world, hide in stuffy apartments without the lights on. You could count on me for handing out the advice TicTacs:

“What are you afraid of, anyhow?”

“What’s the worst that can happen? You’re alone now.”

“Rejection? We’ve all been there.”

“You’re just jaded. I mean, how will you ever be happy if you can’t take the risk?”

It was less judge-y and more “I don’t understand.” Because I didn’t. (I don’t?) I’ve been wounded, waded in chaos, really, but I still willed myself into the day and into people the way a hungry cat might smash itself into your leg, purring: half-hungry, half-doting. It didn’t mean I wasn’t sad or self-loathing, but that I was unhappy with my situation (a.k.a. The Never Enoughs) and so I needed more. I needed (need) more to toss into my bottomless pit. Of course, now I realize that this isn’t how everyone processes unhappiness and grief. Likewise, this can’t go on forever, right?

Admittedly, I’ve been struggling with reconnecting. It feels almost beyond my control.

My question is, though, what if the only way to process loss effectively is to avoid it altogether? And what if this style of coping isn’t a choice, but a mechanism, physiologically speaking? What if, over the years, our body learns without us?

It makes sense that, at some point, the body would take over. It does that, the body—it acts and reacts to its own tune, at times, reminding us we are not in control. For instance, maybe you don’t think you’re nervous, but then your hands shake, your breath quickens, your heart knocks in your ears like a marching band drum line. Likewise, the body has been known to do things in its best interest, to protect itself from common stressors and provocateurs. Hello, survival. But who says it must inform its host—for lack of a better term—on a conscious level?

At some point our body is all: “F you, dude. If you can’t take care of me, I’ll take care of me.”

You know the body—that cocoon we abuse endlessly with chemicals and gluttony and sleeplessness and… need I go on?

No wonder we’re 30 with budding armor: afraid to take risks, afraid to connect, afraid to love. And maybe those protective brain juices have convinced us subconsciously that we don’t want these things, that we’re fine. Why try? You know the hurt that follows. The body doesn’t let us.

Raise your hand if you’ve been the hapless victim of some half-assed solace like this:

“The only constant in life is change itself.”

Ugh. Gross. (Besides, Heraclitus of Ephesus was kind of an asshole.)

But the point is… shit doesn’t work. We know this. We’ve known it. But it still cuts. And you can cry or stomp or sing or whiskey it away, but it’s there, loss—as big as an anvil swinging above from a clothesline.

This thought comes to me, because yesterday, as I sat in my car at a red light, my eyes tried to leak on me. Perfect. A cry triggered by some trite line in a song that I hear often—nonsense, really. But it reminded me of someone I lost, a pain I should be immune to by now. And so I realize again (and again and again) that grief might be the thing that goes on forever.

How cruel is the world when everything leaves, but the pain of what is gone.

Some serious flip-flop envy

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Ok, so I’m sitting here being a total creep.

A few weeks back, upon getting some worrisome news about a back x-ray, I decided to check in with Children’s Hospital to see if they had any of my old medical records. We’re talking about stuff from nearly 30 years ago. I wasn’t super hopeful, but my mom pushed me to try. At best, I’d get something out of it that would help me (and eventually my docs) to understand the current sitch.

Guess what? After signing off on some paperwork and paying exactly 49¢, the mail came today with my records. I got a CD-ROM with a locked PDF containing scanned in doctors’ notes and pre-op notes and WOW. It’s a little creepy, actually. Some of it is like doctors talking to each other and eeeeee… Why is it so unnerving?

Out of pure Meghan-like impulse, I started writing an understandably skeeved out status message on Facebook. But soon I realized, as the note rounded off its third paragraph, that shit was a little heavier than I first thought, a little too much for a status message maybe. I seem to be operating under this odd cocktail of nostalgia, pride and grief. In fact, I might have just cried as I was typing it, which is both embarrassing to admit and kind of sad to think about—you know, thinking those mean kids from grade school apparently still have that much power over me. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just them. I was pretty mean to myself in those years. So I’ll lump myself into the mean kids category here.)

Originally, the Facebook message was explaining how I was born with a funky foot/leg. A deformity, to be a little more scientific and unsettling. Soon after I popped out, the docs told my mom I would be in a wheelchair my whole life. Can you imagine? But so they ended up doing all these wild surgeries and procedures—ones that were setting a sort of precedence for infants at the time. I had to wear a big honkin’ cast up to my hip (until I was two-ish), but that didn’t stop me. I learned to walk in that thing. I was pretty much a monkey as a child, funky foot or not. No wheelchair, though—not even once.

As an adult it’s so much easier to look at that and feel grateful. I could’ve been in a wheelchair, but now I walk, run, jog… who am I shitting? It’s still hard. It’s still hard not to get frustrated with my foot, even for silly superficial reasons like not being able to wear flip-flops. And I guess that’s the place we live in, you know? I never ever felt “normal.” Now I know that it’s ok, that I’m so “abnormal” in so many other ways that my foot is the least of my worries. Ha.

But when I was a kid, I had no solace for myself. No one did. I used to imagine all the things I wanted, namely being a star on Broadway, were now out of the question. Once I figured it out, of course, and asked the right questions. How could I perform on stage in cool costumes with high-heeled and elaborate shoes if I couldn’t wear 70% of the shoes at the store for “normal” kids? To top it off, I had myself convinced that no one would ever want to date me. Would I be able to date someone and get away with never exposing my foot? Impossible!

I wish that was it, that my self-critique was all I had to put up with. But it wasn’t. Kids caught wind of my foot issues, maybe a pool party or something (those which made me the saddest of all), and they did what kids do—they ran with it. I mean, they really created some cleverly cruel nicknames, though. Some even rhymed! And if that wasn’t enough mean-kid fodder, I was fat. Hah! I absolutely had no chance. All of these things made me the most sensitive, poke-able pint out there… so you better believe the kids ate that shit up.

But hey, this is a big step right now. I’m telling the world the very thing I’ve spent my life trying to hide under socks and Chucks and Doc Martens and water shoes at the beach—I’M NOT QUITE RIGHT AND THAT’S OK. I can’t wear high heels. I can’t wear most shoes, actually. I’ll probably never be on Broadway. And if they make a Barbie of me (like I so thought they might as a child), it would have to have a screwy foot too. And I’m ok with it.

And you know, I’m always pointing a finger indignantly into the air (ask A), saying things like “…and that’s why I don’t want to have kids,” as if I have to defend my decision to be childless constantly. But this is something that stays so real with me. Thinking about how those kids made me feel every day… ugh. And I know how dramatic this all sounds, but it was sort of dramatic. And looking at these scanned-in documents, it still seems kind of dramatic. I just hope these days, we can show kids how to be more tolerant and loving, that we can find a way to make their hearts big and their hurt small. Because it’s one thing if I were to have a kid who is teased or picked on—something that would probably hurt too much to bear—but it’s another thing entirely to have a kid who does the teasing and the picking on. So let’s be the example for them, you know?

 

Oh, and thanks for reading this slop. <3
mt

 

EDIT FOR AFTERTHOUGHT: The point of this blog post wasn’t so I could garner pity or be commended. First, it was an emotional response to so many feelings. I felt empowered, like I had overcome some shit and can now speak about it and not be afraid.

Too, I think I’m feeling a little sad about how mean kids could be and how much it has affected my being. So permanent, really. It’s hard for me to even believe kids could be that cruel… and I hadn’t thought about it for a while, so it sort of hit me like a punch in the mouth. I’m glad that I still believe in people and didn’t turn out all bitter and spiteful. And that’s just luck, in my opinion.

Lastly, I think the bigger message is to teach kids to be kind. Not just teach, but SHOW THEM. I don’t mean you have to shelter them and allow them to be ignorant, but what about empathy? I didn’t mention it above (because I didn’t want to get even more cliche and melodramatic), but I’m glad for all that garbage. It helped me to becoming understanding, considerate and sensitive to people and how I make them feel. I have a lot of very real flaws, but I know for a fact that my heart is full. I’m glad of it. Despite. (:

Moleskine musing

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I’ve slept on floors, on pull-out sofa beds, on ash-sprinkled backseats, my body tucked in on itself, conserving space and dreaming. I grew up and into shapes, edging  corners and rounding curves—an eye on my imposition: how much of me could fill the room, how much of me could remain invisible.

Now, the world makes me, turns me over in its sweaty palm like an imperfect marble, weak planet, dwarf star. I’m dense, punctured, changed without my permission. Alien. It’s true: what we endure creates who we are. Even then, experience has only made me feel lonelier. Is that the emo kid speaking? On a Weebl toon the other day called “Late Night Shopping 2,” I caught a tiny detail in the cartoon, a box with some scribble on it. I had to rewind to see:

“Emo Cakes: The cakes that eat themselves.”

That sounds about right. Hah. Is that what I’m doing?

Anyhow, where once was the vastness of blue-blanket sky, the hope of impossible highway miles, the canvas of unpaved lots, the wings of folded and refolded maps in my car’s door pocket… I have come to this, book-ended.

Everything keeps getting smaller but what’s in me.

What’s with that?

 

mt

 

3:30 A.M. happens

I feel like musing. Humor me?

In one vein, I feel like everything has changed—from where I live to how I live. While it may sound dramatic, a part of my world has shifted, and in turn, shifted everything that rested on top. Hilariously enough, “Little Earthquakes” (Tori Amos) popped up on “shuffle” the other day and it made me smile. Since when did anything every stand still for me? It’s my life.
The ladies at work deserve a trophy or something. It seems nearly every week is another experience—for all of us! Picture it: me coming in each day wearing one of my many emotions like a glossy-eyed, ever-changing mood ring. A Horse of A Different Color! Ha! And the ladies… well, they know me: predictable in my spontaneity. Typical conundrum. Still, I hope in some way, I bring, at the very least, some excitement, something different.
C’mon! I’m trying to be positive here. [:
I’ve been telling my friend Ernie that there are 10,000 me’s. Real talk. But for as long as my brain can go backwards, I’ve wished to be… other. I’ve woken up on some tragically grey Sundays with iron-clad epiphanies, determined to be more: positive, thin, patient, untouchable, quiet, girly (god help me), realistic, talented—simply, more.
And once, in the wake of some dreamy self-disillusionment, I decided I would sew all of my own clothing. (Hey! I accomplished some pretty fierce handiwork in Dream Land, if I dare boast.) To extend the ridiculousness of this dream and my humorous blog-confession, I actually spent $300 to buy some dope-ass sewing machine that could stitch circles (or squares?) around the cheaper, less luxurious models. Listen: I never claimed to be anything but a stubborn, and sometimes impulsive, fool.
I guess what I’m getting at is this… (and I know you’re all waiting for the point, if you’ve even read this far):
For so much of my life and from nearly everyone, I’ve been dubbed lots of things—mostly labels that imply I’m too hard on myself or all over the place or that I expect too much from others… extreme, dramatic, obsessive, self-loathing, overly worried, silly, sensitive, sad, immature… la deeeee da. You get it.
My personal favorite—”Meghan, you’re too much”—I hear once a week but for forever. I remember being little and wondering what that even meant. I turned the words over so many times in my head (and yes, I did loads of over-analyzing even as a kid) but it felt… unfinished. More what? I never got an answer. My mom would just shake her head, smile or grimace, depending on what I had done to provoke it. Maybe that was why I was so confused! It could be both good and bad.
So okay, in summation, I think it’s odd. I long to be more and more and more, and people say I’m too much already. What is this? Some cruel joke? Nothing is ever enough. I had my cards read last night, and if nothing else, it made me realize that I need to be happier with myself. And maybe this simple concept is something I should’ve ingested years ago, but I’ve said it before—I’m in some ironic and eternal coming-of-age tale that never resolves. But that’s ok, right? That is me. Finally. Can I deal?
And for you all… and this is probably the most important part: love yourself. So easy. I can say it. You can read the words, think: “Yeah! I’ll do that then.” But I know it’s not realistic to think anyone is going to listen to me and change his or her reflection or something, but just try? Think about it? Just plant the seed, at least. I know someone of you are happy, maybe now and always. Kudos, yo.
For me, I know that my voids push me. It’s like food, man. But it isn’t healthy. Balance. We need balance. We need to love ourselves enough to be happy, but be a little restless, wonder about possibilities, scare ourself into new situations (and HAUNTED HOUSES… soon!), look at ourselves with both admiration and disgust. There can still be room for humble and kind and loving.
Make room for all of you: all 10,000 of you. But allow for no mutinies. Can you just try it?
Ah, Tori Amos. Thanks for inciting even more eruptions. (:
G’nite/morn,
mt