Step in time down Via Etnea, mimicking the dancers I’m watching through the window, in the shadow of that mercurial mountain who will burn us all alive. The sky combusts, the dust chokes, and our skin boils and pops in the lava’s gushes, as if you were a pork belly, redolent of soy and five spice, that I’d pierced and seared crisp to crackling perfection. In Taormina I’d declined golden, snow-capped men’s drinks; in Catania, the Chinese immigrants stared, en garde against this sunglassed Sicilian who had no honest business in their neighborhood. The spray paint bellowed “Vive La Tunisie” after me; I refused to be chased // shuffled between nodding to and darting from the prostitutes, sentries of corners; my heart cantered along before me; I tripped after it.
I don’t travel to find myself. Indeed, Eat Pray Love is horseshit. Knowing yourself is a phenomenon independent of all but your self. Whether you’re clad in couture or naked and lashed, your self is your self, and if you can’t understand you in your everyday life, why could you atop K2? Perhaps on the summit you shape a story that suits your desired self: you, adventurer, conqueror, stronger than all, the epitome of life-affirming individuality. But while such a feat would be an athletic and logistical triumph, it does not create a known self – it’s no more or less than mere evidence of what lies beneath. When knowing yourself is dependent upon extrinsic diversions, you aren’t known, at all; you’re just distracted.
Everybody buries their dead but I. We throw the dead parties to make ourselves feel better. We need it; they deserve it; we need it – we fête now in hopes that we’ll have earned the same. We honor them, we love, because we need to love. To the dead, our love is irrelevant. To us, it is everything.
Nobody buried Dad. He was dead long before I was notified. He was taken away, his possessions dispersed, his voice memorialized as ghastly shrieks of terror. He lived with his sins and had mellowed with age and miraculous fatherhood. But even a teenage daughter wasn’t enough to redeem him in his own eyes. So while he was wonderful wonderful wonderful with me – I have no daddy issues, I walk in that clichéd confidence of a girl so so so loved by her absolutely fucking delighted, over-the-moon father – in his shame, in his repentance, he didn’t always call me out when I was wrong. And I have been the worse for it.
DGAF – is that really a good thing? Shouldn’t we all give constant, infinite fucks? What good are we if we don’t? Little more than apathetic wastes of oxygen, chasing our bedazzled tails on our 5s hamster wheels.
This navel-gazing blogging manifests my desperate drive for self-reflection. So when I say fuck the haters, it’s not as if their opinions are worthless, per se. But if I’m constantly reflecting on strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and failures and omissions, and I’m actively trying to be better with every breath, then DGAF makes a bit more sense. Because if you know yourself and you know your code, and you live your life accordingly, while seeking out anything that could give you a bit more truth, I, at least, can be happy with myself, where I’m going, where I’m calling from. Part of that is seeking out loved ones who call bullshit. He did the best his damaged, discarded self could do, and I know what he lacked in disciplined fathering, he made up for a billion times over with treasure after treasure. But with seven billion people in this world, anyone who doesn’t constantly try to do better just isn’t worth my time.
Expectation heightens the senses. I slid in beside the symmetrical stranger and gave myself over to listening. His pencil against paper pulled me out of my seat, his scruff scratched against his sweater and I clutched my cunt to myself, he waxed hyperbolic on the welfare state and I fingered his belt loop and he was within me, not just a passenger in an elevator, a guest in a foyer, but a partner with whom I’d been thrust together. And each of us luxuriated in our competence, languid fly traps in his sun-drenched studio, lounging until a target appeared for acquisition ! annihilated. We kept winning.