I am working on a new metaphor for life right now, one that, true to character, has to do with my mouth.
I eat a hell of a lot for a woman in her 20s. I enjoy eating like other people enjoy going to the movies. I savour food and I consider it a vital undertaking to savour life in the same way — to make use of all my senses, go slowly, maximize pleasure both in time and intensity, save money elsewhere.
I love kissing and singing, spoken word and smiling. My mouth is a source of great happiness for me and so this new metaphor considers the eating of life — biting into experiences, really tasting them, sorting out different textures on my tongue and making sure most of what I swallow is meaningful, healthy and of some value to the bigger picture of existence.
Well, in order to savour life, I need a good set of teeth. Unfortunately I have these cavities — shadowy places where grudges lean crookedly against walls and resentments shuffle along in heavy-soled slippers. I have these cavities where things are not clear, spaces that I have neglected to clean, corners into which I have swept things without returning to pick them up. I have these incorrigible pains that won’t go away on their own, not without work and patience and, naturally, cost.
I can identify some of the cavities in my life — situations that hurt when I think about them or when I bite down on related things. Exhibit A: my cousin saying she couldn’t accept my getting married to a woman and then showing up on the day anyway, late and smiling like a good supportive member of the family. Exhibit B: this ass of an English teacher in high school who told me I couldn’t use “my feminine wiles” to get out of paying for Julius Caesar (like I had any “feminine wiles” to use in the first place). Exhibit C and D: two of Andrea’s exes, one who pledged eternal love and the other who has decided to blame me, solely and eternally, for her breakup with my partner.
People always say, “I’m not a jealous person.” I actually am a jealous person and I feel like I am becoming more of one as time goes by. Maybe the more you have, the more you have to lose. The more I value where my life is headed the less able I am to see another way there and the less able I am to even see survival if my life were to drastically change, if my relationship were to end, if I were to have to start again in this process of sharing myself completely with someone else as I know I want to do.
So admittedly I am threatened by Andrea’s exes, as I am on occasion by people who hit on her or watch her walk through Ciao Edie’s as if they’re watching Fashion Television. I was, until recently, particularly threatened by one certain ex, a man with whom she had a long, convoluted history. It was unsettling to think that someone else has considered my partner his soul mate. My insecurity? Of course.
How many times have I wished for the science they were pursuing in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I would love to inject a handful of core truths into my brain — that I am worthy of love, for example, or that my body is acceptable. As it is my insecurities persist most obviously and at significant cost to my social well-being. I felt jealous of what he’d known of her. They met in grade school and, being a girl, I know there are irreplaceable long-term insights to be gathered in witnessing the onslaught of puberty in one.
As fate would have it I was recently given the chance to get to know Exhibit C outside of Andrea, outside of all my previous beliefs, impressions, suppositions. He is nicer than I imagined, less awkward than I was led to believe. He is, as I suspected or maybe as I feared, a little bit like me. I have always felt a confusing sense of kinship with him. We both, after all, fell in love with the same woman.
He and I had the talk and, despite some minor abstractions, some overuse of gesture from my Italian side and some stilted humour on both our parts, we managed to hammer out the basic fact that there was nothing more to fear for either of us in relation to the other.
I have lots of cavities I can’t even name yet. It feels so great to have gotten rid of one of them and to know that the getting rid of was hardly as painful as the years of enduring, distancing and fearing. This is chalking up to be the year of realizing that fear is the mountain and reality is the molehill you tripped over in your spiky-toed shoes on your way to the base.