4.02.2007

For My Blogoversary: What I Learned From Television

Yes, I know. I'm over a month past my actual blogoversary, but it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say this year.

Two years ago, we started out with the idea of Television and Drugs and Sex...and Love. What Love is. What it means.

Now? Well right now I just finished listening to TAL's What I Learned From Television featuring David Rakoff, Sarah Vowell, and none other than the illustrious Dan Savage.

I came out when I was fourteen to my then best friend Laura. It was late at night on a Sunday, and she had spent the night at my house as we had then recently started doing every Sunday. "Didn't you have school in the morning?" you're now most probably asking, and yes. Yes we always did. Both of us had fairly strict mothers, and how we swung this weekly ritual is now beyond me--I have no idea how we ever got the permission to have not just one, but weekly school night sleepovers. Why Sunday's? Ahh...well, because back in those days, Savage Love Live was in it's premier days, and aired on the radio every Sunday night at 10. Laura and I were devout listeners, and were known to call in bi-weekly or so. Back then, you could always get on the air, because this is before Savage Love, both the column and the show, were in syndication, back when Dan Savage was something merely Seattleites could covet, and most oddly, we knew it. It felt like, well, you know: Grundge was over, and here was this shining beacon of wisdom that made my undying want to make out with my best friend okay. He made everything okay. And he was on the Radio--let me repeat that: he was on the radio--and then, in Seattle, when I was fourteen and my mother couldn't stand me and my one male relative would as soon punch me or throw a chair at me as he would wish me a happy birthday, Dan Savage seemed like mine. Like ours. Like we could have him. Learn from him.

Know that I am absolutely serious when I say this next part:

For lack of any other, Dan Savage, and his column, and his radio show, and all of the Queer Youth events that I attended that he too attended; this man that I have only ever briefly met in actual real life, was the closest thing I ever had to a Dad.

That being said, I took his word as the gospel.

What did you think I'd turn out to be if my main male role model in my adolecence was a gay sex columnist?

A fucking saint?

Do you know who else is fourteen right now?

Oh, yes. My only relative who I truly consider part of my family, and who, in fact, was at the time I was 14, my actual best friend. She was captivating and playful, and I wanted to be with her every possible moment I had. She was only two.

And now? Fuck, now I'm supposed to be a role model. When the fuck did that happen? I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

Tomorrow she will be 15, and the following day I will have lived in San Francisco for two years, and what have I learned from all of it? What have I really gained from my family and all of this Love that is real and feigned and pretend and true and a trial?

I have no idea. None.

But I know that two years ago I mused on the idea that Television and Love and Sex could all be vices should you let them be--that even in thier absence a vice it remaines through the want that you have for it. I know that I have, in the last two years, wallowed in and grown too comfortable with my inability to deem lovers viable for actual Love. I know that I am serious when I say that she has grown from a toddler into someone who is so like me it's scary; and I know that when, on the radio, I hear Dan Savage speak of his young son and thier dog and his lovely life on Capitol Hill that all I can think is I miss you. You don't even know me, but I miss you.

I miss lots of things. I miss thunderstorms in Miami. I miss taking the steps two at a time in the town house I grew up in in Wallingford. I miss driving. I missed watching my niece grow up, and looking into her eyes and apologizing for that was the first real adult moment I feel I've ever had. Ever. I guess I finally realized that I somehow seemed to miss my childhood and growing up all at the same time, and now...

I guess I just keep missing.

Keep hopping into the same beds, same flights, same rental cars that never feel quite like a car that is your own--and for what? So that I keep missing things that are right fucking here. Right here in San Francisco.

I had dinner with Shaun tonight, and I was telling some story about highschool, trying to explain what it felt like, and I made some crack about private school.

"You went to private school?" he asks, completely nonchalantly.
I haven't been spending enough time with my friends here, but rather have returned home this weird and fearful contemplative loner, and here, right here is the proof, and all I can think is Shaun, I miss you. You don't even know me but I miss you, and I'm dying to tell him everything so that he finally knows everything that all of the people so aptly far away from me know, so that he and here can finally be static and real. I mean, everyone knows I went to private school.
Well, I 'spose not everyone, as tonight proved.

I guess that's my point--that what I really miss is being seen as a personality rather than a character, miss not having to explain that everything I am comes from somewhere, that I was carefully and surreptitiously nurtured into the loudmouthed trainwreck tattooed slut we all know and love--meaning that this isn't made up, this isn't a front; you think I'm this way to try and build something? Have you any fucking idea what I've already built and kept and walked from? You think me at times unfeeling? Damn straight--most days I feel jaded past the point of reconciliation and am constantly wondering when exactly it is I'll be able to feel anything ever again. Normal challenges are no longer challenging and I miss when they were, when I could feel all sorts of long reaching consequences should I make another mistake. I guess now I'm just like FUCK IT.

So fuck it--let my histories fade into a dim non reality here, and let me just be me. Just me with anecdotes about all the places I've been and people I've known, and the spider webs of intertwining events that make me like this. And fuck it--fuck TV, I don't fucking need it, and no, just as it was two years ago, I don't not watch TV to please you, this is all for me.

I call you for me, and I fuck you for me, and I may or may not love you all for me--and you don't like it? Then make me feel it, 'cause you can't call me enough or fuck me hard enough to make me feel anymore.

What I failed to mention two years ago is that I once used Television to get away from all the overwhelming things I felt I couldn't fix and knew how desperatley I had to find a way to do so. I could watch an entire I-Love-the-Blank marathon on VH1 and be briefly entranced and distanced from all of the many ways the world I thought I had so carefully shaped around myself was crumbling under the reality that it wasn't intrinsically strong enough--but fear as it seems, is a feeling. and feelings are few and far between in my world as of late. There's no more need for TV, nor for all of those wildly emotive songs that filled my head and my five disc changer as they have both been replaced with driving guitar and lots and lots of walking and thinking and being. I no longer fear being.

I remember what it felt like to be so so young and scared to death of what it might mean that this girl was in my bed every Sunday, of how much I loved her; fearing both making the advance I so desperately wanted to make and also the consequences of me never doing so, and all of those little butterflies in my stomach surrounding just living in my own skin and hating so much all of the ways I couldn't help but feel. I remember how deperate I was to make a man I had never met so important to me to make everything allright. I remember fourteen.

What can I feel now?

I can still feel the weight of that one apology, can still feel her sigh that seems to say that she thinks I'm not sorry at all, that sorry means nothing if I'd do the same things again given the opportunity, that from about four to fourteen I was gone, and I can't expect to fly to town and pick her up in some fucking rental car and regain everything we once had when I was fourteen, and she was two, and we'd wrestle in the backyard in the warm grass with all of our curly hair tousled about our wide stretched giggling mouths. I can still feel the way she looked at me like all of that was gone, and that I am an idiot even in my seniority to think otherwise.
I can still feel the day I met my father at sixteen, and how after half and hour or so I blew him off for a coffee and a Stranger at Bauhaus, damning the day he chose to try and get me back after all these years of his absence.

And Goddamnit--it sucks. It sucks that I gave her up to build loves with people who were largely little more than Television--a distraction from everything going on that I can't fix. Well, fuck it.

Fuck it 'cause I'm still gonna try--I'm still going to find all of those things that tie together to define love, to look and hopefully find and even more hopefully make some more mistakes, and goddamnit I will learn something from them because even in her standoffishness and principle there is still one person who looks up to me.

And you?
I am tired of you being a distraction, and I hate that I don't even care that I've realized that above everything, past the ciggarettes and coffee, past sex and rock and roll and television and whiskey and domestic lagers that my one vice is Love. I've fought for it far too hard and never demnded anyone fight for me.
Until now.

Do you miss me want me wanna fuck me talk with me love me hurt me be me?

Then top that. Top the look in her eyes when I deperately try and explain why I left.

Make me feel.

--M

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