So, i haven’t written to you in a while kiddos, and that’s because #art. Art is tricky. I didn’t learn, really, about being an artist, ironically, until I stopped trying to be one. Good art is intimate and personal, and because it is personal, it will personally offend the people who personally know you and don’t like what you make (art, also, is not, in fact, life, or it would be called life, which people get confused about sometimes even though the people who named everything (the Mayans or whatever?) specifically gave them different names so that people wouldn’t get confused… but that is perhaps for another blog post, and also why I failed the history portion of the CSET. <— I haven’t actually, that’s just artistic liberty. <— but maybe I will now, because that’s karma?) Following? Good.
It took me a while to wrap my head around this new thing of being an artist and people having an opinion about what you write who aren’t your mother, because maybe other people are reading what I write and, well, how strange is that even? But today I found something, a little remnant of a past I have endeavored to erase so hard I erased it and THEN white-outed it, and then ripped it off the rest of the paper and fed it to my dog. And there it was, like the fucking tell-tale heart, sitting in my makeup drawer (yes, I have a drawer of makeup WHATEVER) pointing and laughing, saying NEVERMORE! Or, Oh I know you gonna write me up bitch.
When my ex and I were moving in together, I stumbled across a box in his closet full of odd trinkets and photos, that turned out to be mementos of relationships past. It made me uneasy, perhaps because even then I knew we were destined to one day end up in a box like that, perhaps because it was difficult to think about how he had felt for these women how he currently felt for me, how transient love can actually turn out. It was for that reason that I carefully folded it back shut, tucking the top of the box into itself the way he did with all of his boxes, and set it aside, just as I carefully tucked away all of my fears and questions: did normal people do that? Why would he want those memories? Does he plan to someday share them with those girls, with his future children, with me? What does it mean? And I neither talked about it, nor thought about it again, truly, until today.
It’s a rubber bracelet, like the LIVESTRONG ones everyone was wearing at one point (until Lance won the Tour de France, left his wife and got with Sheryl Crow, and got busted for steroids) except it was for President Obama’s first presidential campaign. It was in every photo of me and him (my ex, not Lance Armstrong) from when we first got together. On one side it reads OBAMA ’08 and on the other, is emblazoned the single, ironic, word: HOPE. It’s a little painful to look at, kind of like it’s painful to remember that time in my life. I remember watching Obama give his acceptance speech with him, watching him thank Michelle and talk about how he never could have made it to where he was without her, and thinking that I had found a partner like that, wondering if he felt the same way.
So I am thinking of his box of lovetrinkets past, wondering if anything of mine ended up there, wondering if the box is part of the reason why I endeavored so hard to scrub every living memory of our relationship out of my life. I threw away every physical remnant of him, I deleted emails, I trashed pictures, I don’t visit the places we frequented. I did such a good job that, sometimes, that entire period of my life feels like a bad dream, a former life where I was someone else, vague and hazy and unreal. But you can’t erase a part of your life, as much as you may like to. It is embedded deep in the fabric of late night drives home, in the smell of fast food at 3am, in the sharp fluorescent glare of the yogurt shop, in a small, black rubber bracelet that says HOPE.
I sat down to write this with the intent of talking about how my relationship robbed me of hope, how ironic that rubber band is now (and how I can’t throw it away because maybe it will be worth something someday, like all the Beanie Babies I still have <— I don’t actually have any, that’s artistic liberty.) But the more I write, I realize that isn’t true. Hope is actually the only thing that survived that relationship. I still wake up every morning hoping I might find love again. Hoping next time I will be braver and wiser, able to face my partner with an open, brand new-again heart. I hope I someday have the opportunity to take everything I learned and give to to someone else, wholly and unreservedly. I hope I can someday let go of every mistake I made, and feel worthy of another chance. I hope for happiness.
You can’t scrub away everything. You can’t please everyone. Life is a big, messy canvas. All we can do is make it someplace livable. Some place with hope.