Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I'm Looking Up

I should look up.
I should put you away.


looking down
I should have done these things long ago.  Years ago.
I should have put you away as my friend ruminated about her dad’s cancer last month: it had spread.  The cancer had spread.
I knew you were there. You were face down, but goddammit I knew you were there.
You vibrated several times as she spoke to me - cried to me.  I looked down at you and I wondered what messages you were transmitting.  Was it my mom?  A Facebook message?  My boss emailing me to tell me I did something wrong? 
My focus darted from consoling my friend WHOSE FATHER HAS CANCER THAT HAS SPREAD to looking down and wondering who it was that could have possibly been causing you to vibrate so incessantly.

Jesus, I should have continued looking up at her, I should've never looked down at you.
I should have put you away.

I should have looked up at the sunset beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, illuminated by hues of gold, amber and flamingo pink. 
Instead, I picked you up and used you to capture this otherworldly sight.
I looked down at you as the sun continued to set, applying a cocktail of various filters to my image – straining my eyes as I imagined which ones would garner results that would appeal to my followers: to the people I rarely communicate with outside of this app called Instagram
It was important: I needed to show people that I was there in the presence of that sunset. 
I needed to allude to the fact that I’m a content human being, gaping at this view and basking in the glow of this spectacular sky.  
By the time I posted my exaggeratedly filtered photo, the sun had gone down.  
It had become dark.  
I had missed the moment, all because I was fixated on you and the fleeting satisfaction you'd bring.
I was fixated on you: a fucking cracked device.

I should have looked up.
I should have put you away.

I should have put you away that morning I woke up after having been out until 5am.
Feeling tired, despondent, empty and alone, I struggled to find you. 
You’d alleviate some of my pain; I knew you would.
Visions of the night before marred my consciousness, and I wondered to myself why I still have this insatiable desire to party like it’s 1999. 
Something needs to change, I think to myself as I look down and notice I’m still wearing my little black dress, infused with the pungent stench of stale cigarette smoke, booze and that perfume my mom got me for my 30th birthday.

I sifted through my disheveled sheets and found you. 
I heaved a sigh of relief, held you up and stared at you as I applied an absurd filter to my face that distorted my forehead and mouth.
I began spouting out a nonsensical soliloquy about my irresponsible night out and noticed my mascara stained eyes were still visible, even through the Snapchat filter. 
I hoped my followers would find my diatribe amusing and figure if I make hard life things funny then they'll subsequently feel less dangerous.  
After all, I've got a persona to uphold, to fulfill...this persona that I've assigned to myself: I'm the single 30-something girl who is behind in life and it's all one big fucking joke. 
I needed attention and I was using you to get it.

I opened my Instagram app and began scrolling; I see several memes featuring jokes about drinking too much and again, my debacle seems funny and normal. 
Everyone overindulges, everyone gets massive hangovers, everyone feels lonely sometimes, we’ve all felt behind in life; it’s all funny, it’s all okay: it's all one big fucking joke.  




I should have looked up and embraced the state I was in, I should've honored the fact that I am a human being, and life is hard - not funny all the time, but hard. 
It’s messy.  It can be sad, it can be ruthless, it can be unforgiving, it can chew you up like dipping tobacco and spit you out, leaving you to pick up the pieces; it can make you wonder what the point of it all is.

When I look down at you, I forget that.  
Maybe that's why you're an addiction of mine; an affliction.
When I look down at you and pull up Facebook or instagram I don't see any of “the hard” in life.  
I see champagne brunches on a sunny day, skiing trips in Aspen and loving couples basking in merriment.
Social media makes hardships seem like an anomaly.
"Is it okay that I don't have this markedly charmed life?" I start to wonder the more I'm exposed to these idyllic lives via filtered photos.  Then, I participate in this charade and so begins a vicious cycle.

Sometimes when I look down at you I think of how social media is nothing more than a mindfuck, a false representation of this intrinsically complicated thing called life; a life that, unlike our photos, cannot be filtered.  

I should have put you away when I stumbled upon those pictures of the person I was once in love with who is now in love with someone else.
What does she have that I don’t, I think as I continue to scroll through photos.
My heart sinks lower than I ever thought it could ever sink and my ability to swallow becomes obsolete.
My mind races as I think of how well my day started – I’d woken up to news that I’d finally placed my candidate in an awesome job!  But, because of you, because of social media – feelings of inadequacy, dread and heartbreak have flooded my system like really bad tsunami, you know – like that one they had in Japan not too long ago.

I should have looked up, accepted the fact that I'm not anyone's person yet, and that's okay - instead of gaping at you, and continuing to inflict pain on myself with every methodical swipe.

I should have looked up.
I should have put you away. 

Henceforward I’m going to try and look up.
I know it won’t be easy, but I give my word I will try.
I need to scale back. I'm going to try and scale back.

I’ll try and put you down and away as I talk to a friend, a coworker or even a stranger.
I’ll look into their eyes and try to listen, interact and be all there.  
I’ll be respectful, I’ll be gracious; the fact that you’re in my pocket, by my side – won’t even cross my mind.  I am going to try not to let it.

Here, now, in this moment - I am choosing to look up. 


8 comments:

  1. Well-put. Good read. Great work.

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  2. Thank you for writing this. I needed it.

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  3. Nice self reflection! It's not easy to reveal yourself and your process so honestly. Our chosen identities are as temporary as our attachments to them. Thank you for looking up and choosing to share so deeply.

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  4. Trying to find words to compliment you on this piece is difficult because you just nailed it so perfectly.

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  6. I have sadly not read your stuff in awhile but following you for years after Adam Duritz put you on radar. Your blog stays as an open tab on tablet now as I try to catch up. This blog was oh so very memorable. Forever. Truly feel your open and out there vibe. Courageous. Honest. Totally real. You are beautiful

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