I'm flying to Houston in a few hours, then being driven to Austin by my friend and fellow panelist Twanna Hines. You may or may not know that cars scare me heavily, but flights to Austin were prohibitively expensive. As it is, unless I win the lottery or some other financial miracle happens, this will be my last SXSW so I intend to spend my 4 days visiting with old friends (like Rebecca Woolf of Girl's Gone Child who I met at SXSW 2007, at the party with the video game machines on the lawn, seeing lots of movies, eating barbecue and free chocolate (yay Ask.com Sugar Rush Lounge!) and hopefully relaxing a bit. For some great picks, see Violet Blue's SXSW 2012 guide, which includes our panel on Monday, 5-6, at the Omni, Sex, Dating and Privacy Online Post-Weinergate (me, Twanna, Violet and Samhita Mukhopadhyay).
I've been so far away from myself these days, it seems, floating along, filling my time somewhat aimlessly. I see how hard it is to be open to other people when you are closed off from yourself, when you're one moment away from feeling utterly out of control. I went to the Gabrielle (Gabby) Bernstein lecture tonight at Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenuein the East Village. It's a block I've walked down dozens, if not hundreds of times, and yet I can't honestly say I'd ever seen the building, noticed it, certainly never been inside. I listened and jotted notes and Tweeted and meditated and thought and, once, teared up a little. Gabby said, "What the world wants from you is your truth. The sexiest part of you is your truth." I loved that, and want to stay committed to that, even when it's hard or scary, even when I know people might not like my truth, especially when I don't like my truth. I can despise my truth, in fact, as long as I'm seeing it clearly, and can work to change my reality, rather than my default, which is plain old hating myself. I did that for so long, around this time last year especially, in subtle and grand ways. I kept thinking if I could be more perfect, I could be more worthy of attention, but I'll never be perfect. I'll never have the things I see the "perfect" people as possessing, whether it's bylines or baby names or boys (and even if I do, they will all fall short of my expectations), until I follow my truth wherever it leads me. I suspect that instead of insane lines at parties where people are pushing their way to the bar, it might lead me on long walks by myself. I keep dreaming of going back to Hawaii, maybe for good; it's the first place aside from New York in all my travels I could actually see myself living. Of course it's a fantastical fantasy, but it's mine, and I hold it there even in the worst of moments. Thankfully, those are more rare than they used to be. There are more moments of bliss that are often so simple, like drinking my Lemon Zinger tea while the sun shines on my face.
I saw Friends With Kids today, largely because I remember liking Kissing Jessica Stein though I was annoyed by Jessica Stein's neurotic personality, and because the novelty of seeing a movie in the middle of a weekday still feels like getting away with something and because, well, I want kids. It was all over the place, with random atheism and what was, for me, an unrealistic ending but it also was very much a romcom in its ardent belief in "the one" or, in their parlance, "our people." I don't really want that kind of smothering togetherness, which is what I took "our people" to mean. I like togetherness, but not the smothering part. I am pretty sure I'm happy in the relationship I'm in now only because I can and will again spend large amounts of time on my own, whether near or far. I am getting used to being content in my own skin, to forming rhythms to my days, to seeking out new contacts and being grateful for the ones that randomly appear, the opportunities that maybe, just maybe, show up because I show up. As for my "people," I hope to have some that I can claim as my own, starting in 2013, but who knows? Maybe motherhood isn't in the cards for me. Right now I'm focused on, well, the now, on the excitement of new books but, more importantly, the urgency of the last little bits of the old ones, the stories about the sex worker and the couples massages and the dominant woman at the dinner party. If 2012 has taught me anything, it's that I never know what will come my way, nor how I will handle it. Maybe it's even taught me to be okay with the sheer uncertainty of it all. For now, I hope to make it to Austin and back in one piece (cars, yes, they fucking frighten me). In a very abrupt, non sequitor, I must get ready for my flight conclusion, I will end with...I don't think this quote by Jennifer Westfeldt has much to do with the movie, but I like it, probably because I am very much of the same cloth: From The New York Times, "I always say I’d rather believe people and believe everything and get my heart broken a few times than be suspicious of everyone."
This is what I do when I am staying up to wait for a flight, fyi. It's 3:53 am. Time to finish packing and wait for the alarm. See you in Austin! Or Chicago. Or NYC. Or the internets.