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On inside jokes
I watched half of Marriage Story last night. Then at 10 PM I got extremely high, so high that time started feeling stretchy in weird ways, gooey like nectar, and I kept tunneling into weird rabbit holes of thought, and S ordered pizza from Tony's and an entire pint of Talenti caramel ice cream and we ate that while he watched My Hero Academia and I read Griefbacon on Substack and kept mouthing “wow” because I can't believe that there are so many strangers still out there in the world who can thoroughly blow my mind with the things they do with words. Every letter drilled clean through my brain. She wrote about how “Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs—one of my favorite songs—is the best song of the last 20 years, and she wrote about how Phantom Thread—one of my favorite movies—reveals how relationships are all about power games, playing strong or weak so space can crack open for light, for love. If no one is weak there's no space for love. She wrote about how The National has major divorced dad energy, which... well, you know if you know, and if you don't don't bother. I kept thinking as I read her writing that life is a series of inside jokes.
The inside joke is that this year has been crammed with revelations I am learning how to write about. The inside joke is that an advice column taught me that quiet presence is the sexiest thing in the word. The inside joke is that Cats is based off of a book by T.S. Eliot, that Robert Lowell left Elizabeth Hardwick for Caroline Blackwood during a manic episode and stayed with her for the next 10 years, and now I get to read all their letters. The inside joke is that people have been leading wildly scandalous lives forever, that Anais Nin got more or less a happy ending, that the price of getting what you want is living with what you want. The inside joke is that the most magical things you can feel look relatively tame and pedestrian from the outside.
The inside joke is that the only prerequisite for falling in love with someone is being able to have a real conversation with them. Nick told me this morning that Qualia Research Institute did a research on people's most positive valence experiences and falling in love is the top one. Because falling in love means surrendering to a kind of doomed mania that imbues everything with an almost mystical sense of a purpose, an irresistible desire to draw closer to the beloved, and it feels like joining the tiniest cult, it feels like stepping into a warm house after a long trek through the snow, it feels like a bath that filled with honeysuckle and lilac, petals strewn through the water just for you. And it feels sad well before it's ended because there's always something nostalgic in quality about manic intensity.
The inside joke is that I’ve spent almost four years in this city. It's the end of 2019 and all I feel like doing is writing and listening to Bon Iver, which is so thoroughly winter music, snowy and haunted. Lately I've been feeling that life is almost unbearably tender moment by moment as it unfolds. I keep thinking about how when I'm x‘s age I’m going to look back and be so hopelessly nostalgic for my own stupidity. We write to taste life twice... There’s someone I need to email back and a therapy appointment to schedule and flights to look up and someone who hasn't texted me back and that's all there is to it, the slow and fast passage of our days, the useless little moments that comprise a life lived in the fullness of time. I like the part of myself that’s cynical and paranoid but I also love the part of me deep down that’s clean and open to pain and love. I think there’s room to honor both, which is why I want to write more of these letters to you. You can subscribe to them here but I won’t mind if you don’t.