Things That Were Once True


I never knew silence could echo like this, that something could feel equally possible and impossible. Like picking up a shell and listening for the ocean while you’re still on the beach. What would the point be? I can’t help but wonder if I’m always trying to say something, without saying something. I’ve never been so aware of having an audience. So many people in my hometown said they follow my work, asked me questions. I tend to forget I write really intimate things about myself and then give them freely to the world. Someone asked me how much of what I write here is true, and if I’m okay. I said don’t read into it too much.

Something I’ve learnt to be true: everything I write is a love letter.

I keep finding myself giving the same advice to people lately. In life we don’t get to choose everything, but we do get to choose what we’re willing to accept. I read into everything too much. I accept this.

It’s a question now, about how honest I’m willing to be. How much I will tell in every letter. How true are the truest things I can say?

I made friends with someone who just moved here. As she got out of the car today she said it’s easy to feel content with life here. Normally I would argue content, try to define it, oppose it. Content was always for other people. But I realized she’s right. I bought a car a couple of weeks ago, my friends teased me, said that’s a big commitment for me. I said despite how it appears, I’ve never been afraid of commitment. I’ve just never found anything I wanted to truly commit to. That may have been a lie. Maybe I got really hurt once, and I’ve been struggling ever since to find a way out of that hurt. I always think of a postcard I saw: a car with two surfboards on top, a quote: all roads lead to the beach. I do healthy things now that I never did before. I make my own granola. I don’t use an alarm clock because somehow I wake naturally when the light changes early in the mornings. I often go to work straight from the beach, with damp salty hair. If I nap in the afternoon, I don’t feel guilty about it – well, I do - but I always forgive myself for it. I’m nicer to myself. I think of the big cities I lived in, I wonder how I lived the way I did for as long as I did. One of my friends says she’s terrified of going back to Chicago after living this lifestyle. You’ll adjust, I said.

I know if (/when?) I move again, I’ll adjust too. But I try not to live in that story.

This story goes like this: We were driving on the highway and a dandelion flew into the car. I caught it and gave it to him. Make a wish but don’t tell me what it is. I already knew what he would wish for. It’s all over his face every time he smiles at me.

Yesterday I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store talking to a friend in New York. He said he was jealous. I said you can create the most perfect life for yourself but if you can’t be present in it, it doesn’t matter where you are. The sun was setting over the ocean behind the store. I couldn’t see it from where I was but I knew it was there. We talked about travelling to Indonesia and how to recognize old patterns and making lists of qualities to look for in a partner.

It’s important to believe something is there. It’s not important to know where there is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about psychic premonitions and how they used to scare me. I’ve been exploring what is on the other side of that fear.

They were all outside playing guitar and singing. The story continues. I was standing in the kitchen eating hummus. When I’m around people for long periods of time I usually need to find moments where I can get away and hide. It’s easy for me to fall into a blurry headspace. I find I need room to think my own thoughts. Alone, I started thinking of all the things that were once true but are no longer. There were words once and more than words once but none of that is here.

Every day more time has passed.

I watched her as if I wasn’t her. Bare feet, a wrist full of bracelets, messy hair over sunburnt shoulders. Her fingers were struggling to crack open her forth or fifth beer. When the thoughts arise now, I try not to give power to them. I give myself a choice. I ask myself, will I indulge in this narrative right now? Or will I be present in the life I have? I always try to choose my life.

I mean, how long can you live in a story that isn’t yours?

Wit and presence, someone always evolving, they’re top of my list, I told him. Even your list is complicated, he laughed. He said the number one thing he looks for in a partner is honesty. I said I always thought truth should be a given.

Define true, I asked someone once. He put his palm to his chest and closed his eyes. I’ve spent the last two years writing a book about that moment.

Jennifer ChardonComment