Sometimes the changes one makes in oneself are not always for the better.
Recently, my 93-year-old grandmum (who I used to share a room with resulting in constant catfights) was telling V how I used to be such a neat girl until one day it all went down the drain. I do admit that as a child I was scrupulously neat, some may have said control freaky. I had inherited from said grandmom the tendency to amass things – old movie tickets, love letters, drawings I did as a child, keychains – and I had to be organised for it all not to descend into chaos. My sister on the other hand was a mess and we often had rows, one of which ended in me drawing a line down our desk and screeching if any of her stuff so much as touched the line. In the end, the desk was cut up and separated.
But one day, I decided “let’s see how the other half lives”. And I started letting myself go. I allowed piles of mess to creep up, chaos in drawers, the lists I organised my life with unattended and the creative side of me took over completely. I had always been a writer but now I slipped into the creative life. It was hardly difficult for an indulged younger child who wasn’t terribly good at taking care of the rudiments anyway.
Maybe part of that explains the endless procrastination that has now become my everyday routine. I can be prompt if something interests me but all the administrative details of life don’t and I put them off till I absolutely can.
Maybe it was having a job that gave me so much free time that I refused to do any mundane task at home if it could be handled from work. Except now it’s not so possible to run errands from work but I can’t bring myself to undertake my personal errands from home.
Maybe it is part of a larger problem.
Which is the refusal to live in the moment. To live in a state of constant state of postponement. To always seeing my life in the future tense, the near future but the future nevertheless. Leo Charney suggests that modernity means living in the moment but a moment which is ephemereal. So modern entertainment – film and photographery – attempted to freeze evanescent experiences. We revisit reproductions of the present because we are unable to actually live in it, a condition Charney calls “drift”.
So maybe mine is part of a modernist miasma but I wasn’t always like this. I think it started when V left for the first time. My life began to be lived in terms of when I would see him again. This went on for two years, the function of a long distance relationship where your life is never quite there because it’s temporally and spatially somewhere else. And then my job became about producing the next months edition which again involved thinking forward. And my current job involves living from week to week and never being completely comfortable in the present unless I know that my future is secured. And now V is leaving again and my life has again been reduced to waiting.
Maybe my existence, if not my life, should not be so tied up with V, you say. But it’s not just him. It’s my job too. And they are the two most important things in my life. And in fact, I think my job compounds the problem more than V does. His go-awayness is only a latent hum at the back of my consciousness made acute only every once in a while in poignant moments of missing-ness but the job is relentless. If I don’t have stories lined up for three weeks ahead I wake up at night in a panic.
Then again, it could be just me and not the job. But I guess it could also be both.
And the future tense that has come to pervade also manifests itself in the postponement of the mundane. Because everything important is in the future, why not make everything unimportant as well? That could be a stretch in analysis though.
Hmmm I just shrinked myself.