@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Make Me A Real Girl
A good friend of mine’s ex-boyfriend used to say this to her: “You’re not a real person until you’re 30 years old.” Of course, in our 20’s, we were respectfully insulted by such a blanket statement. Hadn’t we been fully functioning, on our own, adults? Hadn’t we done more than scrape our knees at the attempts of trying and failing. Hadn’t we broke hearts, got our hearts broken. Hadn’t we more than just begun… hadn’t we already started the story?
This year I’ll be 30. Though I suspect a number won’t make me whole. Numbers rarely do. Age is just a number is just an age old adage with a more complicated truth, isn’t it? Growing older doesn’t necessarily make you wiser, and it certainly doesn’t make us better, otherwise we’d stop being so afraid of it. But with every year you live, or worse, with every year you merely survive, you add a layer to yourself. Sometimes that layer is acidic and it rots the former layers, whether or not you wanted them to burn up like film caught in a projector is another complication, is it not? So… at 30, will I have a enough layers to be categorized as someone who has done enough, seen enough, hurt enough, laughed enough, lost enough, gained enough, learned enough, been enough to have validity to who I am or was at previous layers in my life?
You don’t get to say.
(You don’t get to say.)
And there it is. That echo. Do your thoughts have echoes too? Do they echo, and do you wonder if the further they travel or more times you hear your own voice echoing back to you, does that make the thought more important or unresolved. What makes it echo? Does it mean anything at all or is it a trick to get you to climb into a well with no bottom?
Perhaps, the echo is meaningless. This echolocation you wish you had is just loops. Maybe the right question is how does the echo make you feel. At first, curious, usually. I want to learn this chases I want to understand this chases I want to own this or be this. But only if it’s a tangible thing can it be owned, and the shine wears off on tangible things pretty quickly, does it not? Anyone over 30 could tell you as much.
To chase something tangible at least has a destination. To chase an echo– well, it haunts you. It comes back, doesn’t it (doesn’t it)? It circles. Time and time again. I wonder why is it that when I can hear my own voice, there’s a split, like an argument. This does not necessarily mean fighting. Arguments don’t have to be violent, nor does it mean one side is right or one side is wrong or one side is better or worse, often it’s bargaining; choosing the next move in a chess game. There are many wrong answers which means there are also many right ones, the only question is what is your next move. And that’s where the echoes become so important, you see. Because the echoes have a say. The echoes don’t make the next play but they influence it (they influence it).
Do you like the echoes? Because we can make them go away. We can make the echoes go away, but once they’re gone you might find you miss those echoes. Perhaps because they’re attached to a feeling– a good feeling, a happy one. Or you might just miss them because the echoes make you feel less alone. Are the echoes evidence that what’s left is a hallowed core filled with nothing (nothing, dead), or are the echoes proof of something more. Proof of a layer. Doesn’t a laugh echo? Doesn’t a laugh echo longer and clearer than the whispers? Indeed, a laugh certainly echoes.
SFX: A LAUGH ECHOES
If I were to describe how my brain works it would go something like this: In popular culture, a moral compass has often been portrayed as a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder. The shoulder devils/angels. Neither of which are an angel or devil on my shoulders. Not at all. Sometimes they gang up on me and that feels devilish. But the shoulder voices have their own shoulder devils/angels. And so do they. And so do they. And so do they.
And they are always bickering and debating and echoing. They’re echoing. And you would think (you would think) that among this spider web of echoing thoughts there’d be something worth writing for. That among the chaos there must be light bulb ideas.
There are. But so rarely do they echo. For an idea to echo, it means it’s destined to follow me, while I follow it back. That’s what completes the echo, though it wouldn’t be an echo of it were completed.
And when I wake in the morning from the night I’ve written this, I’ll still be 29. Perhaps I’ll read this again when I’m 30, though very unlikely.
Maybe now I’ll realize or maybe then, that your true voice, whatever the fuck that means, is not blocking out the echo. It’s embracing that inner dialogue is maddening, but not necessarily mad. The echoes are ripples from the layers. And the layers are complicated if you break them down. But the echo… it’s not that complicated; the echo can tempt, drive, haunt, motivate or cripple— a whisper that wants you to feel something, to remind you of something…
Do you hear it?
When I wake up in the morning, before the echoes kick in, I don’t think about the layers. Usually I feel tired. Not wanting to leave the sheets. When the echoes kick in, it’s a mixed bag of deepening pain to a friendly reminder as to why it is worth it to go at it again.
You are a real person. Every morning. Every time. Every echo is telling you the same thing:
You have arrived.
Where do you go from here.