Monday, October 17, 2011

where I've been

Musing on identity today.

There are so many things that I think myself to be, things that I established as my personality back in 10th grade or 6th grade or even 2nd, but I'm not sure if they're true anymore. Or if they are, they're not on the outside and none of the people in my life now know that they're there.

A good friend of mine here in Yakima asked me last week, "Do you like to read?" I looked at her almost stupefied - this is me we're talking about here - before realizing that she would have no idea from our day-to-day interactions. Of course I like to read! I love to read, I read all the time, I read before I go to bed every night ... but still, her question brings up one that I've asked myself a lot over the past 4 years or so. I read more when I was in middle school and high school than I have since college. In middle school I was pushing through meaty stuff like Fahrenheit 451 and Jane Eyre, books with good words and a message. in high school I was fortunate enough to take good English classes and read more classics. But since college, I haven't really pushed myself to read. I read things that are comfortable and easy to get into before going to bed; I bring Nancy Drews back from home for the nostalgia and read Peace Like a River and Water for Elephants over and over because I know I love them. But I'm not challenging myself or learning more. Can I still call myself a reader?

A bigger thing I feel people don't know about me - but need to - is that I'm mean. I really am, guys. I think back to all the horrible things I did to my brother and my parents growing up, and I feel like a fake when people tell me I'm nice. I'm still judgmental and hypocritical and vindictive and prideful and I love to get my little jabs in - even if it's just in my head. Mark and I don't have knock-down-drag-out fights anymore (I wisely ended that about the time he started training with the Marines in high school; these days I can run and jump on him and wind up flat on my back in about 2 seconds) but I still carry those with me. All the nasty childish things I did to people around me are still a part of me, and I can't tell if I think I'm still that person because it's true, or because it's historically true.

Is the proof of these things in your heart or in your actions? I watched the Batman movies this week; you know his cheesy line, when he gives his identity away to Rachel - "It's not who I am on the inside, but what I do that defines me." Actions speak louder than words, yada yada. So using this weekend as an example - do I get to call myself a climber when I haven't climbed for months? I mean, yes, there's no gym in Yakima, and I don't own the gear to go sport climbing nearby, and I hurt my foot - but wouldn't a real climber push through all that for love of the sport?

I dunno. There are parts of me I'd like to lose, other parts I'd like to hold onto. Not sure what's normal. Guess this is part of growing up?

In other news: Mark called my dad yesterday; he's doing fine. It's still surreal to me. There's a line in Peace Like a River that rings true -- "[I managed to stay anxious about this for 2 days] before worry died, as usual, at the hands of routine." Some days I'm so scared for him I have to get up from my desk and walk outside so I won't cry at work; some days, like this weekend, I'm so excited about what I'm doing that it's just a flicker in the back of my mind. He's still there, and I still want to talk about him to other people, talk about how brave he is and how proud I am, but it seems much less urgent.

Reading about the young guy who had shrapnel tear through his brain and leave him with a traumatic brain injury at 22 -- that's urgent, and it's sobering. I am so incapable of even picturing that -- Mark without his sense of humor, Mark without his quick responses to everything, Mark without his stories, Mark without the temper and sass, Mark without the ability to even speak -- that I convince myself it can't happen to him. I can't see it; it's not possible. But writing about that guy and what his family has been through ... it feels awful, but I'd almost rather lose Mark entirely than have him come back and not be Mark at all. That would feel like a loss that never goes away, a wound that never gets to heal. He'd be gone and he'd be there to remind me of it. How selfish of me is that? jeez.

Anyway. Just the thoughts kickin' around in this jumbled old brain.

Love always,