This week has been busy and full of overwhelming emotions. Grief, confusion, anxiety, despair, love, joy, peace, numbness, alienation, obsession, and peace have all overcome me in waves. This phase of life is not easy. You’ve lost some of that brand-new-penny shine, and you resent that pesky rust you feel is destined to overtake you. People who defined your childhood identity recede in so many different ways– distance, disease, disappointment, distraction– and you’re left wondering who you are and if you’re headed in the right direction. You’ve read enough Kundera, Butler, Walker, Silko, and Erdrich to know that there is no right direction, but you’re still plagued by the fairy tales subconsciously imprinted from college radical feminism, 90s TV teen romance, and Facebook. Erickson’s Ego Integrity is always just out of reach, threatening to ditch you with Despair at the last minute, leaving you clammy, flushed, and begging for another shot. How does anyone ever survive life? It’s fucking hard!
Perhaps the greatest lesson one can learn is that a life well lived leaves you with the silver medal, reading, “World’s Okayest [whateverthefuck].” When I was in my twenties, my goal was to have a small, quiet, peaceful, and happy life. What they don’t tell you is that it won’t look like “Antonia’s Line,” no matter how hard you try. There is no magical little community filled with delightfully quirky-in-all-the-right-and-not-fucked-up-ways people who are just odd enough without ever tipping the scales into full-blown asshole. This magical land where you can be as neurotic, navel-gazing, egocentric, and individualistic– and people love you for it– is just a fiction, the mutant offspring of the WB and third-wave queer feminism.
I am trying to remind myself on an hourly basis that, while 97% of what I do feels like a complete and utter hurricane of humiliation, the world sees only the blatantly average and obvious 3%, which is approximately as okay as any other person’s 3%. There is a comfort in entering the stage in which you realize you are just as unremarkable as every other person in line at Rite Aid, and that, while each person is a world unto themselves, it is a small and merciful miracle of the universe that we are only burdened with one personhood per lifetime. None of those other line-standers have had it any easier, harder, or mentally stable than any other, on average….