I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love right now for my next book club meeting next month, and I am envious of her.
She is a writer.
With a story to tell.
With MANY stories to tell.
Never mind that they’re not fiction; that’s actually even better because it makes my own dream of travel and adventure and love seem more attainable and not just a fantasy borne out of too much fiction. I would love to be able to stories — MY stories, and have people listen to me and not feel like they’re being forced to listen to me.
I remember one rare moment of opening up to my friend that I always feel like I have nothing to contribute to our conversations, that everything I actually share whenever I DO share is actually from someone else. I’ve never been confident in sharing my own stories because how can I compete with stories of friends going to New York or getting engaged or married or pregnant or losing their job or getting promoted or breaking up with their significant others? What have I done with my life? I’m the only one in my group of friends who has been at her job since graduating college. Everybody else has experienced a career change already. The biggest change in my life has been volunteering to take on a different kind of work which went with moving back in with my parents because I couldn’t afford to live on my own anymore. And when that story got old, I had nothing else to put on the table.
My personal stories these days consist of rants about doing accounting and paperwork, rants about not knowing what to do in my class, rants about transportation, my rolling and swivelling chair that I love, my crush on that barista whose confident smile painfully reminds me of that guy I once dated, what book I’m reading now, how excited I was when I found new paper clips in my drawer, how I saw fresh roadkill one time, how I almost got left behind by the shuttle to work, and other insanely boring things. New York vs. roadkill. Engagement vs. paper clips. Pregnancy vs. rolling chair.
My friends end up changing the topic whenever I’m telling a story. I don’t blame them. I never was a very good verbal storyteller. I never was able to say what I wanted to mean. I’d end up mentally kicking myself for saying something that never really hit the nail on the head of what I actually wanted to say. And whenever I pause–no matter how briefly–to look for the word to perfectly encapsulate my thought, somebody changes the subject and my moment to tell my story is gone.
When it comes to writing, though… Ah, here is my forte. The pen is my weapon, my paper my shield, writing my savior. Never mind that I was never published. Never mind that my written work consisted of diary entries. Never mind that I was not a GREAT writer. I was–I am–a good one, and there lay my saving grace.
Whenever I hang out with my friends, I am always the listener, the audience, the sounding board. I’ve given up trying to edge in a word or two about my life and instead pour my heart out in my journal or here where I hope that somewhere in this vast world somebody would listen.
And right now, world, I want you to know that I am sad.
I am sad because I realized that I have not had a friend to talk to since March. And I mean REALLY talk to without fear of being judged. Without fear of being boring because I am being a way too serious person (I have no other words). Without fear of suddenly bursting into tears and making others feel awkward about it.
Just hours ago I was the happiest person in the world, perfectly content in my book, cup of coffee, and sandwich. Now I am a blubbering mess typing this out on my bed. I’ve had time to absorb the last few stories I just read from Gilbert’s book and now the resonances are shaking the tears from my eyes, breaking open the cracks in my heart. Her stories are not mine, nor are they even similar in any way to mine, but her feelings and fears and love for the written word are mine mine and mine. I remain shaken.
And now I will do what I do best to keep sadness at bay: I will sleep.