Monday, February 20, 2006

grasshopper singing

My boyfriend came home from work to have lunch with me but we has sex instead. After he left I got stoned and cleaned the house and then practiced bellydancing isolations in front of the hall mirror, with the bathroom door open to let the heat from the gas-burning unit seep out into the hall while the predicted freezing rain hissed lightly against the windows with a sound like drops of water hitting a flame.

I wonder what I would have thought about myself if I'd known back in engineering school, that at 25 I'd spend a Monday afternoon looking for cheap stripper clothes on Ebay, not busting my ass downloading the Peterson files for the Big Presentation with the Guys From Out of Town. Do I feel guilty? Sort of. Sometimes. Maybe on warmer days. Not right this second, thank you.

You remember that grasshopper/ant spin they make such a big deal about when you're small and impressionable? It's supposed to teach you the virtues of foresight and delayed gratification and other middle class virtues. I remember one particular book illustration of the grasshopper, shivering outside the ant-hill in a cold November wind. I don't remember feeling a lot of empathy. As a kid, I identified strongly with the ants. Hey. Winter's coming. Stupid grasshopper could have known that. The ants didn't have to be such smug little pricks about it, and, you know, they probably could have spared some of that grain, but what the fuck.

I did not expect to grow up to be grasshopper. I did not expect to be outside the hill when all the grass died and it was cold. And of course, I'm not outside tonight. Not literally, and maybe not metaphorically either. I just ate. Later, if I'm hungry, I'll eat again. I make the money to pay the gas company to keep the gasburner burning and so it'll be warm all night. I have what I need. Still, I wonder if I'm doing it right, whatever it is. Those ants had focus. They had drive. Those ants would never have let important e-mail from assistant editors languish all day in their inboxes. Damnit, those aunts were so on-task.

As for me, I can't relax, nor can I fully buckle down to anything that might matter. Even now, when I am fucking off in life about as much as I possibly could somehow I still manage to be weirdly uptight. I can't stop making plans for things I know will never happen. The plans are supposed to make me feel better, but instead they make me feel worse. I look at the plans and I look at my life and I am somebody standing on a street corner looking at a map of a city they are not even in.

Last month, my therapist asked me to think about how I wanted to be remembered when I die. I haven't got a clue. When I was a kid, I was so sure I'd do something important. Now, I don't know. The thought of big projects, like, say, overthrowing the government or saving a rainforest, seem out of reach and scary. The odds of failure are so huge. I do so hate to fail. So maybe I'd be content to better the world around me in more humble and local ways. Or maybe I'd rather throw my energy into something that's of no significance, even to me. Something where my most urgent concern is the size of my ass and the biggest risk to my pride is falling off my platform shoes and landing on a fat guy with a comb-over.

But it isn't about nothing, the dancing. I tell myself that. There are things I want to learn. There are very important questions I have to answer. There are hidden sides of myself that ought to be explored. There are issues I've got to settle. Not just for myself, but for the world that's right THE WORLD!

Meanwhile, little beads of ice are rattling gently at the window. I am sitting on the floor with my laptop in my lap, inching closer to the bathroom door, leaning into the little space that is warm.


Sarah Jane said...

I completely identify with you on this post, sometimes I think I'm having a twenties mid-life crisis!
I think the best thing to aim for is to do whatever it is you feel passionate about, no matter how hard it seems.

Grace said...

According to my therapist, we all have multiple life crises, one every five years or so. Mid-to late twenties is when we realize we're two old to be child prodigies anymore and panic. (It looked like she had her tongue in her cheek when she said this, but maybe she was chewing something.)