Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pro Vita Sua

I have not been writing because I had begun to associate it too closely with academic grunt work. After years of leisure writing in Armenia, the last semester of numerous writing projects and papers was something of a shock. Of course, it’s what I had expected, but I found, about a month into classes, that I was devoting most of my time to writing in my room on gray afternoons. As a result, I stopped writing down the idiosyncratic appurtenances that I had previously felt a need to share with anyone who might want to read them. Furthermore, there was the issue of audience. In Armenia, it was easy to feel as if I was writing letters home through every entry. On nights when the stars would spin quietly beyond my window and the few lights of Yeghegnadzor would burn down, I began to think of the people and places that I found myself at such a far remove from. Invariably, some old article of nostalgia would make its way into my mind, and with no one to communicate it to, I would feel the need to dredge it up in the form of an article. If this was not the case, no doubt something I had done during the day would resonate with me in a diasporic way. I would feel, at once, like a citizen of a country my America knew nothing of, as well as an exile seeking a way to reconcile himself with his past.
When I came back to America, I felt a similar longing to express myself to the Armenia I had left behind. It took a while for the experiences of my readjustment period to coalesce. Initially, I was too taken up with the task of observing all the behaviors that I had missed and those I felt better prepared to abhor. I also traveled back across the country and felt the need to write a good many letters to those that I would be leaving behind, so soon after I had met them again in Michigan. So, it wasn’t until I reached California and moved into a boarding house in Eureka that I began to feel solitary enough to write at length. I enjoyed doing this for a while. I spent my days looking for work and trying to remember what I had once done in this place that I had never really known and never really missed after I left it. With no classes and few friends, it was easy to lose myself in memories of my travels. Being back in northern California provided me with a catalyst to truly review the experiences of my time abroad. As I looked back that them through the gauzy light of memory in a smoke-besodden room that I shared with an aging alcoholic who slept with cigarettes between his fingers and a 24-pack of Natural Ice at his side, I was able to see the differences between the cultures and places I had known in brighter, more joyous light. I tried to write for a while, but most of what I came up with seemed to lack the vital impetus of my writings in Armenia. I felt like I was writing for an audience that was no longer concerned with my stories, and that all I had to say was merely reiteration on topics I had previously considered.
When classes began I found myself overwhelmed with the task of writing a thesis and keeping up with my course work. A few times I tried to write some kind of marginalia to things I had already written, but I would always stop before I got too engrossed in the task. The ecstatic nature of personal writing eluded me, mostly because I was no longer sure who I was writing for. There didn’t seem to be any reason to talk into the void with a very real and beautiful person to return my conversation at my side.
After I met Gina I only wanted to write for her. This happens to everyone at some point, and I hope you’ll forgive me for leaning heavily on the cliché to say that it happened to me as well. I lost all desire to write publically. When she was gone I would write her letters and try to find some kind of artistic outlet that allowed me proper tribute of everything I appreciated about her. To some degree, I think I always wrote with some kind of ideal in mind. I would think about some composite person, some pastiche character of fiction and memories, a childhood friend I had lost contact with and the beautiful girl seen so fleetingly under the marque lights of a windy April cinema awning. When I was alone I would write with this ideal half in mind, writing all the things I wanted to say to her. When this person became real for me I realized that it would be better if we spoke solely to each other for a while. After all the years that had passed I felt I had a lot to tell her.
My friends, however, never left my thoughts. I frequently thought of all the people I have been privileged enough to meet all over the world. How could I forget these people who had gotten me to where I am today, and, indeed, helped to define my character with their opinions and thoughts and through the stories that we have shared? I wanted to write something to these people but everything came out too gaudy (it would seem I’m not very good at subduing the language that results from ardor). Of course I wrote some individual letters, but occasionally, I would still be reminded about this blog and its lack of new content.
So today, I’m finally adding something here. In part because I want to share something regardless of how mundane, it’s hard to communicate it properly as happiness is a heady thing, and the happiness I know is a spectral thing, haunting my bright afternoons and evening bike rides with the sad sound of rustling grass and clouds that scrape across the moon. I also want to make a note that I’m going to buy a ticket to Argentina soon. Once again throwing everything into the kind of turmoil that demands some kind of written response, regardless of the size or concern of the void it is addressed to. When I consider all that has changed since I last wrote anything here, I am comforted by the idea that writing will always be a familiar process for me, something that I can return to.

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