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To be a writer is to have your heart beat itself purple and blue, and look like a double spaced page that is brimming with emotion.
Growing up, I had a tendency to spin my reality into something far more dramatic than what it was, in fact, made up of. I had my parents, friends, the love of my life, all tell me— why can’t you leave things be? Why can’t the rain be just the rain, and not the read receipt of the Power upstairs? Why can’t a blue sky be just a blue sky, and not the promise of a friendly day? “Alex, this” they’d say, shaking their heads and gesturing around, “is not a TV Show.” It would be all too dramatic to imagine voice-overs and show tunes in the background. It would be unrealistic to live in a world I intended on creating for myself. It would be unrealistic to live in the inside of my head.
The theatricality far from fled, and instead I was left with a coping mechanism that became a lot like a mirrorball: catching a moment, a memory, a miracle— and reliving it by words I found through songs, speeches, and often, writings. The more I collected quotes from anything that stuck, the more I began to realize that my narrative was hardly composed of my own words. The perspective and emotions were still mine, but on an average day, the words belonged to someone else. The moment I confessed my love wasn’t just mine — I shared it with the sentiments of a thousand singers who came before me, professing their emotions. The moments I felt lost, but optimistically so, I found no better way of feeling it than to the tune of Holly Golightly singing on her fire-escape. The ethos of being the rich man instead of marrying one may have been central to my life, but Cher gave me the words for it. Walking down old school or theatre foyers were naturally accompanied by Streisand humming, and it was, indeed, as if we never said goodbye. The days that felt like I could scarcely get my shadow to follow me were given strength not by my own advice or sensibilities, but by those of Hemingway, who told me I’d save myself if I sat at a typewriter and bled. Poetry became a refuge on days when I could scarcely understand my own emotions, because on those days, T. S. Eliot did it for me. Plath held my hand and gently plucked me from the fields of stomping men, and she left me gently with Greta Gerwig, to find comfort in the company of someone who I saw walking the same path as I. As I cried, my tears were hardly my own at all, but instead they belonged to Jo March, who could not, for the life of her, find a fibre of her being that would allow her dignity to yield before the dependency and helplessness of being a woman, but felt so awfully lonely because of it. My cynicism was hardly mine when I sighed alongside Lizzie as she gave up on matrimony, because only true love would get her there.
My fascinations with the world could begin and end with the tea and scones shared by Wilde’s characters, as they discussed insufferable frivolity one minute, and dispositional narcissism the next.
So when he tells me, “Sweetheart— this isn’t a book. There is no bad guy…”, or when my father shakes his head at the theatrics in my stride, or when my tears are mistaken for vulnerability and my anger for ruthlessness, I have a lot that I’d like to say. I bite my lip when I want to tell him that there is indeed a bad guy, he just looks a lot like my fears. I exit the room hurriedly, instead of telling my father that today’s confidence was brought to me by Fanny Brice, right before she called out to Mr. Keeney. I’d like to remind the onlookers of how my narrative isn’t decided by the men who came before me. Men who have, time and again, recounted all the times they refrained from tears. My narrative isn’t made up of the women left out of history. It is inspired by these women, who yelled, cried, and unabashedly felt whatever they pleased — despite being labeled hysterical.
You see, over the 21 or so years that I’ve been around, I haven’t figured much out, but I do know this: the only way to immortalize something is to create. And the reason your art, your writing, your song (or what have you) is considered to be immortal is because, like Wilde says time and again, it ceases to be aboutyou. The minute your creativity transfers from your mind and imagination onto your instrument or canvas— it becomes an entity that is a piece (of you) that lives outside of you, with everyone’s lives reflecting in it.
Thus is the writer’s peril. To live a life of a mirrorball, with a myriad little pieces of glass and mirrors, collected over time and fate. Mirrorballs that are made up of stories, narratives, and creations over multiple generations and lifetimes, each coming from a different, independent story that we call Life. And when we become a mirrorball, our own life becomes its function. We experience our memories, moments and lives through the creations and words of another. Slowly, their narratives become a part of ours. Everything can (and does), become poetic.
All you have to do is wait for the beam of light.
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