Something occurred to me today. This site, this blog, this – whatever the fuck it is… It's all about a project/undertaking/quixotic mission centering around Ali, and yet I've done so little to actually talk about her, or even myself. Sure, I post excerpts of the book, and I talk to you about the writing process, but I don't really tell you anything about me. I should probably give myself a little bit of slack since I'm new to the whole "broadcast the process to the entire Internet" concept, but still. Whether you asked for it or not (and I'm sure you didn't), here's a little snapshot of me. Without.
I woke up crying last night. Six years later, and that shit still happens. It doesn't go away. Just because I can smile and make sophomoric jokes about badly delivered videogame lines during the day doesn't mean that I don't have something forever etched into my soul – the record of loss. Scarification of the mind. Anyway, I woke up crying, and due to the fact that I can't do anything for myself, I need to have a baby monitor set up. So here I am, stifling sobs so that I don't wake up my PCA. I can't remember the specifics of the dream that triggered this emotional outpouring. I remember the deathbed. I remember the countdown. I remember a goodbye that never happened. In that moment confused wakefulness, only two things mattered: Ali was not there to soothe me, and I felt the need to be polite and suffer silently. I'm not sure what that says about me.
The mission statement when creating this blog was that it would center entirely around writing, and the process of trying to get published. Which means that right now I'm doing mental gymnastics to try and figure out how to bend it back around and make it about the writing. How to make it something different from an angst filled, self-pitying cry for attention. A "Look at me, I hurt!" post of little substance. I guess my ace in the hole is that all of my writing is somehow based around what was and what is. What is no longer, and the miracle that it occurred in the first place.
When I was eighteen years old, I was the world's most miserable son of a bitch. Possibly even more so than now. I could give Robert Smith a run for his moist, teary money. It was a phase that started when I was sixteen and lasted until I was twenty-two. I had no taste in music (nu metal), fashion (silk button up shirts), and I knew I was going to die alone. I made everyone around me absolutely miserable, forcing all my loved ones to stare into the abyss with me on a daily basis. My poor younger brother, Trevor took care of me for much of the day, and I treated that kid like shit. I loved him fiercely – still do – but I couldn't see the damage that I was probably doing to him.
Yeah, yeah… Life is rough… What does this have to do with writing? Hang on, Spanky. I'm getting there.
In my mind, the only thing that could've saved at that time was a girl. There was this girl I dreamt about regularly: dyed hair, attitude, and piercings. I must have dreamt of that girl thirty times over the course of five years. And yet, somehow I didn't recognize her as we fired instant messages back and forth across thousands of miles at breakneck speed despite the fact that she ticked off all the boxes. As I've said before, and will say again: she saved me. I know now that not any girl could have saved me – most wouldn't have had the patience, the empathy, or the open-mindedness to accept me for exactly who I was and yet shape me into a better person.
Which brings us back to last night, with me biting my lip as tears streamed around my BiPAP mask. There was no real conscious thought of what would make it better, only the searing ember of pain and the need to make it go away. Eventually I passed back out, and woke up with a single thought in my head: there is only one thing that will save me… A book. I'm old enough now to know that that's not really true, but if it were, life experience would tell me that it cannot just be any book. It needs to be Ali's book.
I don't need to be a New York Times bestseller. I don't need to be in Oprah's book club. I don't need a movie deal. I need to write the book that Ali wanted to read. I need to write a book that will sit on the bookshelf or in the digital device of a troubled teen girl long after I'm dead. Or an angst filled young man who may, or may not have a physical disability.
See? We're getting to the writing stuff. Kind of.
Even just so far, writing this book has been a somewhat transformative experience. It's shown me that I can complete something so much bigger than I ever thought I was capable of(quality still up for debate). But while it's been able to help me learn so much about myself, it's also been chaining me to an almost unattainable ideal of perfection. I only get ONE shot at this. You can only write your memoir, or the biography of the single human being you felt more for than any other… Once. Everything that comes after that doesn't matter. It may be a hobby, or even a profession, but the journey will be over; the quest complete.
Although I said in last post that this entry would be about deleting (editing) pieces of your life, I guess it's more about perfecting the image of your life. Painting the images as realistically and paradoxically – stylistically as possible while staying true to the soul of the reason for the goddamned book in the first place.
It's not the writing or deleting of memories before they reach the public that I'm finding terrifying now, but the crystallization and refinement of this one single idea. I feel like I've run an entire marathon, but have just discovered I need to get an engineering degree. After running another marathon.
I feel like I need to learn a completely different skill set to get an agent or publisher to even look at what I've written. To get them to even consider if my/Ali's life is worth the bother. So why am I not editing my book right now? Why am I writing an emotional post on a blog that no more than fifty people read? I don't know. Because it's easier, I suppose. Because sometimes I just need to get some things out… To unpack everything I stuff down within myself just to fucking function between the hours of 2 PM and 4 AM.
And thus, gentle reader… If you managed to read this far, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart. I swear the next time I will write something more constructive, less rambling, less indulgent, and more to the point.
Now where is that guy who hands out the little Dixie cups full of Gatorade?