We just got a reading in Philosophy from an essayist who reminds me of me more than anybody I know. In a certain way. She reminds me of the me that I'm always afraid to express, because right now, so close to the time when I first discovered the border between the things in my head and the rest of reality, it's too tender. She writes, this Joan Didion, about why people keep journals. There's a wonderful quote I would put in here were I not too lazy to go dig it out of my bag, but it talks about why some people keep journals and others don't. An inborn sense or fear of loss. I've always had that. As long as I can remember I've had this terribly unsettling feeling that I'm going to lose everything. That I'll forget or it'll go away, that my perception of how things went will change, that the actual way that they went will change. I'm almost compelled to write, everything. To put it down, to get it out, to put it in some form that I can maybe, hopefully, remember it. To find a way to make sure that someday, when I need it, I can remember what it was I percieved, what I thought, that moment of that day when the woman with the hair that was spiked to one side and a blue eye and a brown eye walked onto the train and her earring fell off. Which never happened. But once I was sitting on a train and I thought it did. Maybe. Or maybe I was never sitting on a train at all and I'm just here, making it all up and letting it go, through my fingertips onto the blue screen of diaryland because I can. Because it doesn't matter. Because this way I'll remember that once upon a time I sat in a computer lab and I remembered a memory that never happened. This way I'll know that my imaginings take form but I'll be able to maintain the boundary, carefully patched in places, between reality and imagination. This Joan Didion, in the same article, says that she does that same thing. She keeps a journal not about what did happen but about what might happen in such and such a situation. I do that too, not here, usually I don't even write it down but I'm always thinking. What if. What if I said, what if she, what if he doesn't come to class today, what if this isn't real, what if this sandwich wasn't a sandwich at all. All the little tiny details that could be just, somehow, minutely different and maybe that would make all the difference. This Joan Didion seems to understand that and for a moment I'm relieved because honestly, sometimes I've thought I must be the only one so strange as to spend my time contemplating details. Thinking, am I the only one who watches her sitting in the sun and wonders what I would be thinking if I were her, who puts her into the ever-flowing story weaving itself together in my brain, who constructs out of filaments of thought her entire existence? I want so badly to write it down and then I blink and her hair isn't spiked and her eyes are the same color and she isn't even wearing earrings. She sits down and I stare out the window. This is life, I think, and then we come to my stop.
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