Wednesday, October 09, 2002

For Aral

Important Enough, Aral

I usually don't use my blog to express a lot of personal feelings. In this journal, and in the one I kept for two years in Boston, I mainly recount events that happen in my life, and how I felt about those events. On rare occasions I would just let loose and bitch when things got tough, but I always tried to contain those rants within a story. I didn't start out my blogging activities in the traditional blog sense. I started out using this format to catalog the letters I was sending home to people I loved far away. I wanted to let my friends know I hadn't forgotten them, and that they could check up on me whenever I wanted too.

But of course, the internet has this effect on people of drawing them into a larger community. And so my blog changed slowly over time from an account of someone in grad school in Boston to the account of my personal self. While I still tried to document my adventures and everyday life in the city of my dreams, I soon ended up posting haiku, the details of my never-ending quest for stability, and more and more personal facts.

It happens.

But that's not my point today. My point is that this entry is for Aral.

See, I started out blogging about events rather than about myself because Aral and I are a lot alike. We're totally bent on this idea of self-sufficiency, because that's what we think it takes to be a kick-ass person. We're total type-A personalities who've accomplished a lot in our lives. And when we were room mates, we'd totally spot each other on it. Like when we made a 'zine and I thought it wasn't good enough (because nothing I do is ever good enough in my eyes), Aral would be there to say "just calm the fuck down, Elizabeth, it's beautiful". And when she'd be going way, waaay overboard to help somebody who didn't deserve that kind of attention, I'd look right at her and say "You don't have to do that. You're not obligated to help this person."

But of course, I'd still think that my work wasn't good enough, and Aral would lend another helping hand to someone who'd step on her feelings again. Because that's who we are. Over achievers. Type A's. Kick-Ass womyn who think we can always do better than we did. We're driven to an excess of success - actually, an excess of everything. We not only pride ourselves on being more accomplished, but in cooking better, reading more, and when we have our vices we enjoy them in a big way. We are glittering, shooting stars that hope our shining brightness keeps everyone from looking at us too hard - because if you do look too hard, well, we're afraid you'll see the flaws we know are there.

We are the type of people who walk a tightrope of our own expectations. When we don't meet our own high standards, we fall - but usually we can catch ourselves - by the skin of our fingertips -

We both attacked grad school with a blinding intensity that made our classmates scratch their heads. I completed a two year program in 18 months, and Aral's thesis was original, insightful, and above and beyond anything anyone else in her program was onto at that time.

I'm running about 5 months ahead of Aral on the post-grad school curve because I finished sooner, have been looking for a job longer. We completed our education in the second worst economy in American history, and so grad school hasn't been the magic ticket to self-suffiecncy that we thought it would be. We've both flipped out. And we both have a tough time asking for help. But she knows help is out there - it's just probably not in Boston. That's the thing about the city of my dreams that I had to come to terms with. No matter how much I loved the place, I'm not a New Englander. My friends and family don't live there. So when I fell, there weren't always enough people to pick me back up.

But of course, my friends and family were with me the whole time, online, on the phone, in letters and sometimes even in person. I was welcomed back in a big circle of support and love that had at times been so intense I'd hide from it. I don't like being taken care of. I want to take care of other people, because that's the personality Aral and I both have - we're caretakers.

But it's OK to be taken care of sometimes. Hell, it's nice, even when it's frustrating. I love you, Aral. I know you know that. I just wish I could help - because like you, I want to take care of things. But I can't take care of anybody right now. I'm learning how to let other people take care of me. Of course, I'm going to learn how to do that better than anybody else. I will overachieve at this as well, I will become a bright and glittering star at learning how to be loved in this way, in letting people help me.

It's probably one of the hardest lessons I've ever had to learn. But the truth is, I'm still a Kick-Ass womyn. I'm still someone everyone should watch out for, I'm still myself. I still want to be that shining star high above everyone's heads on the tightrope. But you know, the whole time I was up there, doing acrobatics no one else would dare? My own brightness blinded me to the net that was ready and waiting, and caught me when I finally fell.

Oh, god, I'm turning into a Hallmark card. Screw what I just said Aral, and go by yourself a big bottle of cheap red wine. Then call, if you can afford it. And if nothing works out by December, maybe we can get an apartment together here in Atlanta. It'll have kick ass air-conditioning, half the rent you're paying now, and Mr. Puck can hunt your water glasses again.

And just in case some of my other friends are reading this, look in here for the Thank-You. Because if I haven't said it before, I meant too. I'm not good at being taken care of, and I know it - gaah, I'm bad at this...

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