by Lisa

I have a beautiful life.

I’m in bed with my little macbook on a Sunday morning, under the quilt the pretty professor gave me for our first Christmas together, next to the bear I bought in 1996 when I joyfully discovered FAO Schwarz while birthday shopping for my first, long-forgotten husband.  I have not lost that bear in all the moves since 1996, the quilt survived the Mess in the Bedroom of 2013, and the macbook still works, three years after I shelled out more money than I really had to spare for something I hoped would last me through the end of my degree because finding three hundred dollars for a laptop every thirteen months after losing a year’s worth of work was getting really old.  All of this is good and heart-sustaining, and also, the fridge mostly works and is full of food.  The rent is paid, the cars run, and we all have clothes that fit and are appropriate to our activities, our moods, and the weather.  We are healthy.  We love one another so damned much it’s silly, so we laugh a lot.

None of those facts are a big deal to someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a beloved bear in a little-heartbreaking way, to have another family quilt made unsalvageable, to sell everything unnecessary to acquire a very necessary means to an end.  I won’t get into the fridge-food-rent-cars-clothes-moods-health-love-laughter bits.  Another day, or not.

Sometimes, things are more meaningful to me for reasons that I used to hesitate to share.  Some of my interesting anecdotes attached to Life as I Know It and How We All Got to Happy make the listener a tad squirmy. I know what an ugly life feels like and how un-ugly I can make it look.  Social-conversation lies become habit with practice: comforting, really, to be sure of how to talk around the ugly, under the assumption that no one wants to hear about THAT.   I’m not so sure or comfortable any more that not giving a straight answer is the best path to beautiful, but is it fair to an unsuspecting human on the asking side of the question?

What parts matter, when a nice person asks about a pretty part so deeply informed and influenced by an ugly thing? The Emily Post version of conversation omits the ugly, which isn’t so bad, really, to me–not there any more, not living in that particular mess, not thinking of it often, and certainly not losing sleep most nights except when I am–but lately, I feel like a liar when I politely omit.  The conversation and my voice pause and stutter at the beginning of the not-saying and by the end of the not-saying, my face is red and shame comes on strong.  I am not ashamed of my Truths.

Some things are and may always be no one’s business, no one’s concern, or just completely inappropriate to discuss then and there with whomever’s doing the asking.  But some things, pretty or ugly or sometimes very boring to anyone but me, matter more than I know how to say, and those are the things that made me who I am.

I like me.  Almost always have, to greater and lesser degrees, even during eras of being liked by few and loved by fewer. And lately (six consecutive years and counting), I don’t care if you like me, so I say most of what I’m thinking when you ask me why or when or how.  Does this make me genuine, or selfish?  Am I being true to myself, or am I thoughtless?

Probably all of the above.