My mind is a bingo cage of mixed thoughts lately, turning in my head and reflected in my Spotify playlists. My mixes used to win acclaim from my bar customers, perfected with obsessive attention, an outlet for my ruminating tendencies. “May”, played over and over again while being authored, was never really complete until June, and then some “May” songs might carry over to “June”, only to be deleted by the time “June” was complete, in July. Everything from September on, including “Austin on a Rainy Day” and “Aquarius” are jumbled radio dial skipper collections of songs that don’t appear to mean anything together.
Before I moved in September, I told myself: “You’re going to get that alone time you’ve been needing, and you’re going to get a lot, all at once, in a place where you’re going to be… alone. Like, really alone.” It didn’t work out that way at first. Work and travel and nesting and exhaustion and dates that wanted to give me their intro to our city and friend after friend and family member passing through town meant I just never felt lonely. For months, I never felt lonely.
Recently,the reflective and lonely moments finally come. I think about things like my Dad doing his taxes at the dining room table for weeks at a time when I was a kid (computer free, with a pencil and calculator), my see through Conair phone I bought when I was finally allowed to have it in my room, my amazement at the years of my life that have passed and the phases and houses and people I’ve been through. My parents are preparing to eventually abandon their horse property in Colorado and people are getting older and I talk to my Mom on the phone and think, “this is so nice, just to hear her voice”. Even that part of the conversation when she slows down and gets choked up as she delivers some bad news I haven’t yet heard. There always is some. And my real Dad, he’s been dead for four years. Followed by a beloved nephew and my godfather and honestly, I just can’t believe how it all piles up. For years and years. I feel time rushing at me.
I feel creative lately and unblocked by fear. I look back on the eight years prior to this relocation and wonder where that energy was spent. Was I writing? Was I playing guitar or writing songs no one would hear? I remember fragments of working on scripts or the opportunity to write at work and, for too much time, my societally supported preoccupation with my romantic life. Then more satisfaction of my artist brain actually at my job and the peace of thinking maybe I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and that was just to be a nice person and produce web videos. Much closer than those memories is the fiery shit storm that ended in me leaving town and getting what I had wanted for a couple years: to move to Texas.
I’ve been incredulous at all of my life periods of intense growth and pain and 2016 fits. However, it was one of the best years of my life. I had more fun, felt more confident, was more me, born out of a pain I was so sick of feeling (again). You know, just another breakup. At thirty seven. And you’re like fuck this shit. I’ll do whatever I want, but like, even more so than before. I took advantage of everything in front of me in the full power of my peak womanhood. But then I got so tired.
This is the first time I haven’t repeated a pattern I did over and over again in my twenties. It was: 1) Move to a new city. 2) Get a new boyfriend. 3) End relationship. 4) Move to another city (um,state) to avoid ex boyfriend. 5) Repeat. In Denver, I lasted through over eight years and two (serious) relationships. Frankly, though it’s been a blessing to be far away from the many former sex partners I left in that town, Texas, who I first loved in 2014, asked me in. I wasn’t trying or looking to move, and was offered a job I did not apply for. Also a first. I got fucking recruited. Thanks Austin! (For real Austin, I tell you this every day. We’ll always have this, Austin.)
Fear of getting in a relationship and that person coloring my direction here as in the past has overridden every man (man?) I’ve been involved with in the past six months. I’ve been fighting it, because I truly understand how I’ve settled before. And why be safe now? One peripheral pattern did repeat, news about an oft maligned ex starting… ahem… a family. This is the second time I’ve gotten that news soon after I was safely out of ex-shot. And also the fastest one of my exes has managed to complete this move. Which is pretty damned fast. History, it repeats. Especially when you are thirty nine.
The very first time I came to Texas, a man I’d idolized as a teenager and flitted around but never met said to me on a patio long after midnight: “You know, you get older and things keep happening all the time but it’s like the same things over and over. Do you know what I mean?” I was thirty six, had fantasized about him through my early twenties, in my thirties heard all about him through a friend he dated, and now here we were. “Yeah. I do.”
The dichotomy of old life/new life, even compared to last year, when I bartended and lived “out”, even sleeping on top of my covers for weeks at a time to avoid washing sheets, makes me feel I’m barreling into my forties after two decades of my twenties. I skipped marriage, divorce, childbirth and rearing, and will enter my fifth decade in what is now, I believe, an envied position. Free of commitments, stretch marks, real estate, and tangible baggage.
Only very recently have my younger lovers just exhausted me with how… young they are. I used to relate more to them. I’m not quite up for dating men ten years my senior yet (with some exceptions), but less interested in the juniors all the time. Maybe they’ll finally stop pursuing me. I resonate most with the people, the women especially, who are like me. Still seeking, finding new things, doing so solo, breathing it in, happy in their powerful autonomy.
I watched the movie “Baby Boom” recently, having not seen it since it was released in 1987. It’s pretty tame, so I probably rented the VHS from Countryside Video, which was one mile from my childhood home on the edge of our mid century tree filled neighborhood. More reflections.
A couple scenes always stuck out in my head. One, I actually always thought was from a different movie, “When Harry Met Sally”. Diane Keaton (having not yet inherited the free baby she will soon get) is in bed with her live-in boyfriend. They are quintessential 80s Manhattan yuppies, so, of course they “make love”. The camera pans from the digital alarm clock to them. There’s a transition, and then the camera pans back to the clock display – four minutes later. “That was great,” they say to each other. Even as a pre-teen I knew this was bad. This meant the sex was routine and no one was excited about it. This was not who I wanted to be.
The other scene that stood out to me was Diane Keaton making a million jars of applesauce. I think this seemed pathetic to me, like she was now single and out of her mind making a bunch of applesauce by herself in the country. Adult me had forgotten that she then became uber successful again and is able to turn down her former employers (who demoted her when she became a single Mom) once they try to buy her applesauce company. By that time, she is dating a super hot veterinarian – ostensibly the only other single person in her small Vermont town. But, he teaches at Bennington too, so, jackpot! That’s some meant to be “if you build it they will come” type shit.
Few female fantasies could be more appealing to a woman like me. I’ve worked hard for my seventeen year career, and, while I’ve enjoyed it and gotten to a certain point, it didn’t make me “Baby Boom” rich or anything. I didn’t have a boring serious yuppie boyfriend but I did have some nice ones I rejected, and then a slew of more exciting better looking ones. I’ve never been focused enough on marriage or having children to make that happen, and the idea of not ruining my figure, not having to find a suitable partner, and then just being given an adorable well behaved baby that happens to be related to me is pretty ideal. I mean it’s really the complete have your cake and eat it too situation. I’m not sure I could ever make the choice to adopt but if someone offered me an orphan I’d take it. Just like if I ever end up pregnant I’ll take it. I have an IUD.
Further than the baby without vaginal birth or C-section scars scenario, “Baby Boom” pre-dates a million Generation X Etsy dreams! And not just Moms, because a lot of my friends (and like, we ALL single) made serious cash on Etsy (and I sold a few David Bowie felt Christmas ornaments back in 2006). Diane Keaton is all “fuck you very much” to her old corporate bosses and then makes a fortune upcycling the apples that happen to be growing all over her property. It’s the professional female urban dropout dream. Be you, get it all, without ever having to plan or choose it the way you did your career. Because, the Etsy money comes from the farm which came from the urban dropout which came from the demotion which came from the free baby.
So like, in my scenario, the urban dropout comes from career burnout or getting fired and I end up living in the desert and somehow I manage to make money freelancing or start painting and it turns out I’m a famous artist and then there’s that orphan around too. And I fall in love with a rancher. The only rancher in the area who voted for Hillary Clinton, actually.
How many other women like me internalized this message of having it all and an inability to choose anything other than your own success, or, your eventual fuck you to the patriarchy and/or unforgiving rat race? My latchkey kid generation, raised by Diane Keaton’s (roughly): isn’t that who we are? Kind of trying to have it all without settling for anything? And maybe giving up on part of it and reinventing our ideas of success when the other part becomes more important? Maybe that’s just what people do all the time. But we’re not that far away from not even having these choices (for example, from when birth control was illegal and women couldn’t have a credit card).
So, same things happening over and over again… I may, or I may not. As I mentioned, it has stopped making sense.