Lately – or let’s be honest, for quite a lot of latelies – I’ve been dividing my time bailing out a sinking boat with a teaspoon and taking breaks to row myself to shore. I can see that I am making some sort of progress, because the shore seems less unreachably far away, and I am, after all, still bothering to bail and row. Occasionally I smile and signal across the distance to other boaters, for whom the waters are less hostile and vessels more seaworthy. They mistake a desperate communication of helplessness and hopelessness for a jovial greeting and sail on. After all, I am still afloat, so I must be okay, and they can always keep me in mind and come back later if things get obviously worse. From a distance, I probably look like I’m enjoying the struggle, or at least totally up for it. If I were really in trouble, surely I’d have given up by now. But just like this artfully arranged crocheted chain heart I created and photographed on Day 8, I am just one tug from unraveling, and just because it all looks great in this captured moment, clever and composed, there are a million other moments behind, around and ahead of it that aren’t clever or composed at all.
This is my heart in storage. Literally, it’s a ridiculous pink pillow, old and useless, that has followed me around for at least a decade through various changes of relationships, apartments, cities, jobs and miscellaneous fortunes. I can’t bear to throw it out. Not because I think it will ever serve a purpose, but because the metaphoric ramifications of putting a big soft heart in the garbage are just too much to abide. For those of you who believe in the powers of manifesting, this would amount to seriously asking for trouble.
My cat has a heart shaped white marking on his chest, and an actual heart inside that chest bigger warmer and more generous than nearly any version, feline or not, I have encountered. As some people speak of their human life partners, as perhaps I too will one day be able to do, I declare Henry my rock, my compass, my comfort, my companion, my hope, my love. When I am tired of rowing and bailing, and just wish this godforsaken boat would sink already, I realize I am not alone, and if for no one else, nothing else, I owe it to him to keep going, because he is my one proof that I am doing something right, and worth continuing.
On Day 11 I had one of those good days that are as encouraging as they are dangerous. I briefly exited my lonely leaky boat and did more socializing in one breathless 15 hour whirlwind than I do most entire months. The problem with being social is that once it’s over, solitude feels that much lonelier, waking up back in the same old boat having briefly, exhaustingly, but not altogether unpleasantly experienced an alternative. Kind of like, well, a pair of gloves emptied of the hands that filled them. Have you ever noticed how sad discarded clothing looks without the human beings for which it was designed and destined?
This hanging heart was photographed at the Vermont Farmers Market on Day 11 but it was all I could manage to post on Day 12, which was spent in recovery mode from Day 11. It turned out to express much of how I felt, suspended, with everything else sort of blurry in the background.
The problem with being around people is that there are so many of them that are twos. I am a one, and not quite sure what I am doing or being wrong that keeps my status fixed thus. No matter how many strategies I use, or don’t use, how much attitude adjustment I undertake, and I have had years of experience, I come back around to the same unavoidable, undeniable, intolerable truth: I want to be part of a two, and I am not, and nothing will ever make that suck less than it does.
Because deep down, I know there is nothing wrong with what I am doing or being. I seem to get a lot of compliments and attention, particularly from men who are either not free or willing to act on it. Without sounding boasty, I can get a lot of action too, and have, times I have convinced myself that allowing myself to be borrowed and returned is better than gathering dust on a shelf. There seems to be no in between – I’m available, admirable, collectible, but at the same time, avoidable, forgettable, disposable. The curiosity seekers are always ready to browse and sample me, but not moved to acquire what I have to offer. Leaving me no other choice but hanging a CLOSED sign on the curiosity shop door. For this photo, I crumpled up a cutout paper heart and threw it away. Even discarded at the bottom of a black waste basket, it radiated an intense red reflection. The real one is just that hard to get rid of – and ignore.