I am messy. My home is neat and tidy, clean and well ordered. My bookshelves are carefully sorted. My little garden is semi-tamed into a civilized approximation of green and wild and growing. My surroundings are one thing, my mind and body is another. All the chaos in my mind, all the disorder of my life, all the up-in-the-airness of it all refuses to be tempered by my dedication to an orderly environment. This cannot possibly last, all this settled quietude. It cannot possibly last, all this happiness. Life has settled to the bottom of a cup half full. It is a constant parade of good days and nice times. It has the quality of a best year, that fuzzy warm glow of mundanity and peace that I know cannot possibly be stretched out into a forever-like-this.
Things are messy. My status is messy. My husband took a heavy thumb to the oil painting of my freshly painted life way back when things were still wet on the canvas, and carved a smear and scratch right across the center of my possibilities, right across the most beautiful piece of my future view. It dried that way, with a crack running through it, an ugly vein of destruction, smearing what should have been, and what was meant to be, and instead turning it into an impressionist blur that appears to be a crack from heaven peering right into the bowels of hell. It is pure chaos and disorder. It is suffering, loss and violence. It is set that way, running right through the center of my life, like words through the center of a stick of seasick rock candy: MESSY. MESSY. MESSY. FOREVER.
It is unfuckable. It is tangled. A gorgon’s knot of immense proportions that can only be untied with great destructive force. My husband would tell me the only way out of this mess was death, but I refuse to die. I won’t die. I am going to live on this page taunting him forever alive and messy. Living is messy. Love is messy. For all the extreme order and cleanliness I impress on everything and everyone else, for all my demands for sparking and regimented, there is only so much brown paper and packing tape that can hold together a life that has a crack running through the middle of it. There is only so much papering over the cracks, and sweeping the mess inside under the carpet that can be done.
It comes pouring out in the end, all the chaos and the fear, the anger and the unadulterated pure fury. I thought I could handle losing and losing again. I thought I was dead inside enough to cope with the fact I am going to have to wave goodbye to my son, my tidy life, my illusion of safety, my Ruthie, my impossible dreams of making it as a writer, of re-entering society and being someone who has done something. I am going to have to wave goodbye to the final shreds of that painting with his thumb mark dragged across the center of it. I am going to have to wave goodbye to what is left of me.
When that happens, and it will happen in the end, when I lose everything and everyone, and every hope and every enjoyment in life, and all these reckless useless dreams of literary success, when I end up in a jail cell, or a shooting gallery, or a sidewalk with a bottle, and I look back on this last golden year, then what will be left for me?
When people lash out at the ‘undocumented’, the addicted, when people don’t believe I am a good enough victim, or a good enough woman, or a good enough mother. When people fail to put themselves in my very unique highway boots, and fail to see the absolutely vast task of merely staying alive over these last 20 or so years has meant to have had to do some alarming things because I was left with no other choice that looked better or even possible to me both physically and emotionally, they cause me such immense pain that I struggle to surface from it and keep on swimming. When I am hit with extreme misogyny time and time again. Every time I am misgendered or dismissed by men in an artistic or intellectual capacity – and make no mistake, I have no desire to attract men – it takes a little bit of self esteem and hope away. Every time read that my ‘genital preferences’, as both someone who has been both the victim of repeated violent rapes, and also someone who has always had sexual relationships with other women, are ‘phobic’ and unacceptable, I am retraumatized once again, and there are not many people that give a damn, not at all.
Make no mistake, I am a mess. I am chaotic. I am wild and a little bit crazy. I live like I write – by the seat of my pants, not knowing quite where I am going next, a lot of the time. I always feel like I have to say I have no intention of drinking, of getting high, of taking the edge off of things. I always feel as if I have to make it clear that I take breaks from my weed use and am not addicted to it. I always feel like I can’t say I think I need ADHD treatment, even though I am like the proverbial hamster on the eternal wheel, spinning round and round until, like the little girl in the red shoes that cannot stop dancing, I exhaust myself and send myself to the ER in total physical exhaustion. My old body cannot keep up with a mind that never rests. Aging is messy. What else can I do except straighten the books on the shelf and prune my dracaena. I can’t prune my life, I can’t paint over the mess that was made. A painted picture cannot heal. This is it. This is everything, and everything is one heck of a mess.