Letter from My 48th Year* (Day 1)
I’ve been toggling through two books as we’ve all been toggling from one year into another: Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (lent by Hannah because of the parallels to the excavation I’m doing on my relationship with my Dad) and Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name (ordered from the evil empire immediately upon reaching home after seeing the movie adaptation). I’m recognizing familiar things in Alexie’s memoir, particularly how the mother people talk about at her funeral is so different from the mother he knew, but I’m feeling stirred up and seen and felt at a more emotional level by the Aciman novel. (Editors Note: I’m reading Alexie very slowly a few chapters at a time whilst doing other things, while I read through the Aciman over two and a half days, also whilst doing other things, but doing them begrudgingly so I could get back to the novel.)
Call Me By Your Name is a novel about hunger, and I’m always interrogating my own emotional hunger. And it’s also a forbidden hunger as the romance is between two men (neither of whom necessarily identifies as gay).
My hunger feels forbidden because I feel I have no right to feel such hunger toward another person. Who am I to think I can hunger someone like that? To think someone could accept or even want that hunger from me? Why do I think anyone should be expected to tease out the nuance of my hunger, that it means this, but not that?
I am a complete woman and I also am hunger. Or is a ridiculous word. Or keeps us trapped, encouraging us to flatten ourselves into neat, non-threatening boxes. What—I am wondering—is wrong with being threatening? Yes, I may devour you. But, please understand, I can only devour you if I give myself to be devoured. And yes, I also resist that devouring but my desire to devour and be devoured is true all the same.
It is terrifying to be seen at my worst and loved yet I want to be seen at my worst and loved. I want to be vain and petty and mean and selfish and condescending and a know-it-all and beloved.
That’s a hell of a new year’s resolution, isn’t it? To not only let yourself be loved, but to let all of yourself be loved? To live in the and and not the or?
*There’s a week to go till I’m 48 but it seemed to me that if I was going to begin this thing, I should begin when the year did. True. Story.