Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Morning Coffee–The Good Life

June 16, 2011

I can never know what anyone else's life feels like, just this one. My own.

I know, I'm thinking thoughts that can be passed off as deep, but in fact are not. DeVante and crew can speak into one another's heads, but I have long been aware that we human beings are not so lucky. We are, ultimately, alone inside our own heads.

Well, some of us are alone. I happen to have a cacophony of characters leaping around in there creating all kinds of ruckus, and they don't settle down until I let them out to play. That's writing. At least that's writing for me.

I am a day-dreamer, a silly-pants, and I am oh, so frequently lost inside my own head. It is a beautiful, wondrous place, and I like it there.


Real life so often intrudes. Like when school is out and there's a child mooning about, glaring at her toys and video games, and moaning, "Mo-om, I'm bored. Play with me," and I have to go to work at three o'clock, and the muse is pounding my patience into dust.

And then it's Monday night and I've had to work the day job all weekend, but our shows are on tonight, and my husband deserves a snuggle. Or at least some time together in the same room.

It's Tuesday and I haven't hung out with my mother in weeks, and the house out of toilet paper and food again, damn it, and I have no choice about going to the store.

It's Wednesday, and all I want to do is write a blog, but the dishes need to be washed and the child stays up until midnight because she has a sore throat.

All I want to do is write.

I count the lost hours. No, more than that. I mourn them.

There's a pressure to be productive every moment. There's pressure to create free moments in which to be productive. It makes me think that it must be lovely to not be a writer, and I wonder if other artists feel this way.

I could say, "Yes, I'm free that day, and it would be lovely to get together for coffee." Maybe I'd see my in-laws more than twice a year. Maybe I'd pop over to my brother's house in the morning just to shoot the shit. Maybe I'd have more friends. Maybe I'd figure out what's the big deal with American Idol, or America's Top Model, or have a clue about who the hell the Kardashians are.

And yet… I'd lose the words.

Words that Emily might say about her daughter:

  I wondered how many hours she'd spent crying since I called her from the hospital. I often referred to her as my girl. But she had always been her daddy's girl more than she was ever mine.

The words rattle and roam in my brain and repeat themselves endlessly until I finally write them down. And the muse will be content to rest for a moment. But it's never long before she gets restless and stirs up my brain again. I think I've said somewhere before that the muse is like a great white-winged seagull that drops ideas onto my head, then flies off laughing, leaving me behind to do all the work. Sometimes the idea is nothing more than a sentence, and it's my job to make sense of the thing, build the whole story out of practically nothing.

Who is Emily, anyway? A name, a vision… a cardboard cut-out on a flat piece of paper. Well, that's who she is without DeVante, right? But add DeVante, give them history, give them separation, and suddenly you get something like this:

  I lifted out the cotton-wrapped bundle and hugged it to my chest, letting the strange beauty of old sadness seep into my heart. These things cannot hurt me the way they did when the pain was fresh and new. Time works its quiet magic, mending and molding us so carefully that we rarely notice the stitches, and only see the scars when we take the time to look for them.

There are the heavy, soul-revealing moments, but then there are the light-hearted ones, the ones where Emily drives DeVante beyond all patience, until he finally has to talk back:

"You asked for a mortal lifetime – nay, you demanded it, and I allowed you to go. Do you think my options were limited? Do you think you had some power over me that I had no choice but to let you leave? No. The only power you had was that which I gave you. Your mortal husband is dead. Your mortal child is grown. You have had your lifetime. Now it is my time. I have waited quite long enough."

"So I am out of choices?"

"There are always choices. You can choose me or you can choose nothing. But I am done playing games."

"Nice, DeVante. Way to win a lady's heart."

He started rocking me from side to side. "You knew I would come, and you were ready. I should like to think you have already made the hard decisions."

"But is it so wrong to want to move slowly out of my life and into yours?"

"Not at all." But there was something strange in his voice, and it seemed like he went quiet before he finished the thought. Like there was something hanging in the air between us that he was leaving unsaid.

"What?" I asked. "Tell me."

"I take what I want, when I want it. I am not human, and I have no qualms about using the human world to serve me to my greatest purpose." His caramel voice wrapped around me like his arms, heavy and warm, sliding over my skin and sending shivers down my spine. "But you. Well. I have loved you from the first, allowed you to be my conscience, and have stayed well away for many years at your request. Forgive me for being impatient."

Yes, forgive me for being impatient. Forgive me, family. Forgive me, friends. Forgive me, partner. Forgive me, child.

Writing is my drug.

I could stop doing it. For the summer, maybe forever. Prozac would allow me to live quite happily without words. To bed at ten at night then up and running off to work in the morning. The muse would drop her ideas on me, and I would be like Teflon, content to let them slide away. I could make more friends and we could commiserate about anti-depressants. I'd accept more invitations, play more board games, and watch more television. And I could function without the muse, relax without the work. At least for a while.

But then the words would be lost, the hours mourned, and I'd just be a person with a job and a family. It paints a pretty picture, doesn't it? A life in which one has no need to eek out quiet writing hours in the night, the morning, or the middle of the day. Fuck the muse. Let her go shit on someone else's head.

It's a thought, but a poor one, because then we'd never have this:

The last page slipped from the printer and I felt utterly alone as I held it in my hands. "Ah Daniel, Roderick, DeVante... how I shall miss you, my very good friends." I could cry for finishing the story – because it had crawled into my head and stayed there for so many years. "Yes, I shall miss you now that your story is finished."

"Ah, dear writer, it is not an ending, it is the beginning. Of your story."

The voice was in my room, not my imagination, and the rich tone fell over me like a warm blanket.

I froze in place and the page slipped from my hands. I was afraid to turn around.

"Do you not want to look upon my face?"

I turned slowly, and then I stared. There he was, the vampire, as utterly beautiful as I had created him to be. He stood not three feet away… as if he had just stepped from the page.

And I can’t live happily without this. I’d be lost. 

Therefore today's key to happiness is… Living the good life is chasing your dreams and living with a passion for something.

Peace out darlings, enjoy your coffee!

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