Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Mind on Repeat.....Intimacy

I recently sent a friend, we'll call them Jazz, an email with almost this exact title. Things resonate with me for a long time. My friend Karen asked how I approach my blog and I told her that I often end up writing about something that has been circling my head for awhile. I walk around with it for a bit, both consciously and unconsciously, turning it over until it bears fruit.

Jazz and I have an email relationship. We write each other and share ideas and thoughts and musings on life along with music recommendations. Those emails are often the better part of my week. And that interaction allowed me to realize - or perhaps re-member something about myself: I express myself best from a distance.

This blog and those emails have given me an extraordinary opportunity. To really go inside and meet myself. I am not often able to have the witty comeback in person and often feel that my real time connections lack depth because they are either brief hellos while picking up children or passings in the aisles of Trader Joe's. And I long for the "C"onversation. Big C. The talks about life and love and loss and all the other things those of us with too much education and a bit of money in the bank are fortunate enough to be able to think about. And I have often felt at odds with this privilege in my life. I am from a culture typically more focused on survival than on reflecting on the quality of that survival. So, being able to think, at length, about my existence has created a kind of cognitive dissonance inside me. Does it make me a better, more evolved person? Or does it make me a self-involved, self-indulged person?

What I do know is that my upbringing, and its focus on survival, has made me the kind of person who has a difficult time telling another person in real time, with any realness, that I love them and need them and find them to be simply extraordinary. I have learned to tell other people about the strengths of my loves - not telling them or showing them how much they mean to me. And my writings have allowed me to write what pains and fears lurk inside me in a way I may not be able to say to another person without that distance. Anna Deavere Smith was asked what she gets from doing interviews with people and then re-telling their story. And she said this:
"My microphone and my ear create the necessary distance to get close to someone."
I get that. So much. While I want to be close to people my fears and expectations stop me from doing that. When I want to tell someone: "I love you and want to hold you and listen to your heartbeat, thank you for being alive," there is a barrier that stops me because they might think I am "in love" with them or that worse yet, that I want to have a "Relationship" with them, when really I just want to hear their heartbeat. Intimacy. Still working on having that in my life in a way that is satisfying and meaningful.

This is what Jazz wrote in an email to me recently that sparked this post:
....In the modern world we have a lot of time and energy to worry about who does and doesn't love us. In a traditional subsistence culture you're pretty busy trying to stay alive, and in the remaining time you're either fornicating or fighting, often for the same reason. I find it interesting that in a lot of African American musics (blues, soul) the response to failed love is more about taking action--getting revenge, movin' on--than moping. I'm sure there are exceptions.

So there is where I stand, straddling the line between my culture and education - working to bring them together and to create a tribe in real time that embraces me and my desires. More stones on my path.

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing

in peace tribe


Sherri Marina said...

Girl you are not alone! We need to start an "Educated Black Girl Club"

kare o' the mountains said...

my favorite line: "I just want to hear their heartbeat."

i love how much your writing helps you work through this kind of stuff. i don't have this intimacy issues with my lovers or my absolute bestest friends, but i do have a little shyness around telling these kinds of truths to my close friends in real time. so, i'll say it to you now and then again when we see each other in a few weeks. i love you and think you are extraordinary. you have modeled so much for me in terms of being true to yourself and either wrestling or making friends with your resistances. there are so many things you do that just give me pleasure. in a non romantic relationship way. i love just listening to your heartbeat.

Jessica Fenlon said...

'orbiting in distant intimacy / draw close ... to the yoga of language' ~ from a poem i wrote called yoga of language

Sometimes it feels like we are always travelling. Inwards and outwards, orbiting each other in very distant ways. 'draw close and know that IAM g-d' - there is some spiritual practice in learning how to become very close to the other.

There is also always some skein of self wrapped up in the other, a self that appears only when the other is present, even in our imagination.

Love this meditation of yours ...

Deborah said...

i am not kidding when i tell you that a friend of mine and i had this very conversation this week, but neither one of us could express ourselves with as much poetry as you.

sorry we are passing ships, but comforted by this blogging connection and discovery of beautiful reflection of thought.