Hannah is typing
The baby pig sculpture is back with it’s mother after mysteriously missing for a few days.
All is as it should be.
In my last email to you, dear newly-found Hannah, I mentioned that I am lousy at “friends” – that I often am too much of a loose-cannon to be considered appropriate. The thing is, I don’t understand. I don’t get the rules about how people communicate with one and other (one another?)(Makes no sense at all.)
It’s time for some backstory, which hopefully the person who wrote me that other, sort of sad, email will read. So, forgive me for using you as a medium. Read at your leisure, this’ll be a long one, I fear.
When I was a kid, I lived in the woods. Spoke mostly to my family and to stuffed animals. My brother, beloved Ben.
I read and read, but couldn’t pronounce the word “read” – from my mouth it sounded like “wed” – an uncorrected speech impediment that probably made me more quiet than I should’ve been.
I could always talk to you, dear Hannah. I’ve come across few others that I felt really saw me. Most people scare me, scare me, scare me. When I find people who seem kind and inclined toward beauty in a world that, let us be frank (which I now know is related to the Greek for the word “free”)(I always learned things from you.)
Leonard Cohen, Chelsea Hotel. “Your heart was a legend.”
So, I wonder why I fumble my burgeoning friendships with such frequency? I don’t really wonder. I know. I say too much. If something seems to ring true, if I feel the same comfort with another human being that I feel with myself, I believe some improbable bridge has been crossed. Really. I am awestruck when I find myself maintaining an unguarded eye-contact with someone. When I see them and they see me. And we don’t look away.
I don’t talk about this often. It’s sort of a no-brainer though. People have said my boy, who is a verbose, fact-driven, mathematical whirlwind who struggles to make sense of written words, is on the so-called autistic spectrum. We have papers from places, various diagnoses. We were scared because he didn’t talk to another kid until he was well into his third year, even though he talked to us all the time, mostly about Peter Pan, in great, repetitive detail. The story of how he went from being “mildly autistic” to a wonderful, somewhat well-adjusted boy of seven whose bad days we refer to as “neurologically atypical” and well, that’s another story entirely. One in which the miracle cure was simply a matter of finding the right perspective from which to view my child. A story for another day. (I have so many stories!)
My father is a brilliant man. He is also in the same neurological sub-set as my son and myself. Smart, rule-bound people, who see things in a fine-detailed way, who construct things instinctively. My father built my childhood home from salvage lumber, a house left forgotten by an old farm family whose last name was Arnow. Our living room was a plexiglass geodesic dome, on stilts, no less. We are a tired, visionary people. Always so much to quietly do.
So, I can’t remember where I left off. But, seriously, sometimes people just blow my minds. I am just flat-out amazed by the ways people spend their lives, both good and bad. How subjective our experiences are. What seems perfectly nice and reasonable to some can be considered quite odd by others.
Most of the time, I feel terribly disconnected. And that’s okay, I guess. It is what is. Increasingly, the larger realms just baffle me. So, I write about little things to try to make sense of my place in the big, big, big.
I’ve always used words well. Sometimes, they catch people off-guard. My words. I see them stop, their breaths catch. They hear me. I am good with words. I forget how powerful a well-crafted sentence can be.
show details 6:31 PM (7 hours ago)
This message is taking a long time to write. Send and Reply. Piecing together an explanation for you, me, and an other.
I really don’t have the slightest clue what people do and do not do with one and other. I just do what I do…in the ways that I do it, which I try to make interesting and yet true. Exploring subtexts that are sometimes too imaginative, sometimes read dead-on. I get myself all excited about possibility, almost everyday.
I am a person who some folks would choose to be stranded with, on a desert isle or some other impossible place. Really, a couple folks have told me this. I am handy and clever and strong (‘a beast’ of unlikely strength at times. I am never bored, sometimes restless – but, only if I feel like my time isn’t being spent well.
That’s why I always carry yarn and paper. So when it seems I am doing nothing, I can actually be doing something. Even if it’s just practicing working in rounds, crocheting one circle after another, then pulling out the chained stitches.
But, my big ideas wallop me at times and I, in turn, bestow them upon others, with all their weight and glory. A friendly smile lights my heart and I want to give that person a million little gifts, only so they’ll smile at me some more.
I’m a sucker for the mysteries that a rogue heart can hold. All the stories that can be told. Hannah, I’ve offended someone. I broke doors down with pretty words and bent the lines of their life into the shapes of birds.
Oh, life and all its lines. I, too, have been with lines. Tanned into the skin of my left ring finger for nearly eight years. And I lived within the lines and I kept things to myself and I waited for the happiness to draw itself, for my story to unfold even though I was scared to tell it because, even then, I tried not to tell lies. So, I just tried to say as little as possible. Whenever I spoke, it seemed things were worse.
Me and my big mouth. The story of my life. Everything I’ve Said and Wanted To Say But Didn’t.
So, here it is. Love is a joke, fleeting and fickle and refusing to be bound by the lines we draw around our hearts. Fuck it. If you live life trying to love, you never get the real thing. Whatever that is. I know I’ve had the real thing, and I know that it is unlikely to last forever. But, I held hands with someone and felt the purest of light in the late afternoon, Columbia Gorge by a river. Wanting nothing, utter calm, fully joined though just our hands were clasped. Middle of the night, somewhere in the Dakota’s – for some reason standing under the stars with a boy I hardly knew, who I had driven here with me, trying to help him leave his demons in the dust. Some kind of tall lady savior. And the sky and all it’s stars somehow filled our lungs and we were there, on solid ground, but in the ethers. A screen-porch room, south Georgia spring. Everything smelling alive, an teenage orphan boy one year my senior. I fell asleep beside him and fell so slowly I could breathe his same breath and feel under my fingertips hundreds of tiny ridges of paper, each page of the book I had fallen asleep reading. He wanted nothing, and in that, gave me everything.
Little instances of big, whole love. I’ve had a few. But, that wholeness is not sustainable. It goes away.
Dang. Love, love, love. Such an axis in our lives, our hearts like old rudders.
Hannah, why do people see beauty in me and then turn so quickly away? They tell me I am amazing, but they are quick to cast me off.
I don’t know what is so dang threatening about a 33-year-old divorcee with an odd ex-husband living next door, two children with sometimes-charming-sometimes-
peculiar antisocial tendencies, a baffling array of furred and feathered creatures, too many ideas, and tendency to show off.
Hmmm…maybe it’s the ideas and the tendency to show off. I might just be extremely obnoxious. But, really – the world is chock-a-block full of obnoxious people, and they all seem to have friends. Besides, it’s not like…
what is up with me?
Anyway, I am just nervous. How am I going to learn to keep my mouth shut. My eyes placid, neutral. How can I mince my words so they are some appropriate approximation of what people say to one and other.
“How are you?”
“Fine, and you?”
I enjoy niceties like this. Somehow though, if carried beyond a few measures of conversation, I inevitably say something like, “Your second toes are really, really long.”
Or, “You have something that looks like food near your ear.”
Or, “You look sexy today. Are your clothes super tight?”
Really, these are all actual things I’ve said, in actual exchanges of small talk. I actually have said these things.
A co-worker, who is fastidious in his maturity though years younger than I am, has made the following observations, “You’re like a child.” (Said with exasperation and mild bemused disapproval) and “You’re a freak.” (Said in all sorts of tones, amusement, disbelief, and – at times – utter, heartwrenching solemnity.
True all true. Every word. Dang.
Current: I notice the physical world. But, if given the chance, I will also tell people:
“I love the way you say Chee-tos. It’s very well pronounced when you say it.”
“You face looks like a little kid asleep when you are concentrating. Seriously, your mouth sort of hangs open.”
“You’re moving your legs a lot. Why are your knees so angry?”
My gosh. Just thinking about some of the things I’ve said has made me realize that I really ought to just keep my mouth shut.
I don’t mean to screw things up with all my talk, all my pretty words. I really, really, really just don’t always get what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.
so, drawing…working on reluctant portraits. I really want to be able to draw myself. my scanner is being ticky – so, I’ll post the drawings of the past few days later. whoa, what a weird sentence.
this wasn’t so long after all. Do you have any etiquette tips for me? Don’t talk about people’s toes? How can a clever person be so, so, so dumb?