Stranger Things (why writing isn’t always an intimate portrait)

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I have always loved reading. It’s strange how delving deeply into another person’s thoughts and a world she has created helps me find myself. It’s almost an act of the soul. And I don’t have many of those.

You’d think for somebody who has studied words as much as I have that I would like to talk–and if you catch me on the right day and the right topic, I do (it just needs to be the third Monday of an odd month and between 9 and 10 pm). My boyfriend–can you still have a boyfriend at 30? partner? whoever he is–likes to ask questions. A lot of questions. About things I wouldn’t even think to think about. And I think a lot. I just don’t think about things I could articulate. I don’t ever arrive at anything definitive. I think of questions and play devil’s advocate with myself until I have turned a thought over so many times in my head that I know every side of it.

I think that’s why the meaning I get from reading is not reflected in my writing the majority of the time. It’s easy when you’re reading to lose yourself in it because it’s just you. You aren’t sharing that space with anybody. Writing is different. Although I don’t expect anybody will read my words, even when posted online, the very act of writing down a thought is to communicate it to an audience–whether that audience is yourself, somebody you know, somebody you’ve created in your mind, or somebody you’ll never meet. I can’t write with the same abandon I have when reading because as soon as I think of saying something, I construct this invisible wall through which I have to type. It rests in front of my chest and my hands run underneath it, typing but, because of the wall, I cannot see everything I am typing and get so distracted by the wall that everything I mean to say is incomplete. It would be like sending somebody a letter sentence by sentence but a quarter of the messages get lost in the mail.

It takes a brave person to be who she is, right there, all of her, in front of an audience without holding onto pieces in case she needs to pull them back. I don’t think I am that way in writing. I don’t think I am that way in relationships. Hell, I don’t think I could be that way in therapy. And that’s why everything I write is manufactured. If I’m writing just for myself, I’m not sure why it matters but there is something sad about the fact that I can’t even be entirely vulnerable and authentic when I’m the only audience.

And that’s why I’m going to go read Nine Perfect Strangers and not think about how much I am a stranger to the people who should actually know me.


Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

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