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On Why I Breast My Cards

Screen shot 2014-11-07 at 5.26.22 PMI’m actually pretty terrible at breasting my cards, or hiding my Scrabble letters, or not smirking at my own made up definitions during Balderdash. Hiding what I have rarely comes naturally to me, whether we’re talking games or personal opinions. And dear lord, if you’ve ever seen my face in motion, it’s an expressive piece of work. Want to know what I’m thinking? Just look at me.

There are of course times when I excel at keeping something under wraps: it usually has to do with when I am either very pissed off but don’t know what to do about it, or when I am insanely emotionally happy. Which is why I don’t blog about what – and who – is near and dear to me.

An ex of mine was frustrated – or curious, maybe both – about this behavior while we were dating. “You write about everything else. You write about other dates. Why don’t I ever show up?” I didn’t have a good answer for him then. If I’m completely honest with myself and my memories, I think my response was mumbled about being intrinsically linked to the 50/50 project and not feeling sure about not being the single girl. I’m guessing he didn’t like this answer – I sure shit wouldn’t have. But I also probably sure shit didn’t talk about it.

For a long time, I’d made my personal life all about dating – to switch to relationship talk felt weird. And frankly, I wasn’t and am not terribly interested in relationship culture. I’m interested in dating culture – I was then, and I am now – and by extension sort of interesting in the longer term output of dating. Blogging about a boyfriend didn’t seem like it was going to produce my best writing, my best thoughts. And knowing me, I’d all too quickly air dirty laundry if we’d had any and both our moms would read it and he’d turn red and I’d feel bad and and and…

It’s a long time later, and I have to admit, it wasn’t really about any of that.

Two things come to mind. First was the brave, honest piece by Jen Friel on what it meant to write candidly about her life, and why she stopped doing it. The second was a quote I love from The OC: 

Anna: Now she’s got you… There’s nothing scarier than that.

Seth: Nothing’s scarier than being with me, or do you mean like, anyone?

Anna: Look, once you get what you want, that’s when you’ve got something to lose. She’s afraid of losing you, Cohen

Seth: Why? I’m not going anywhere.

The last thing I wanted, and the last thing I still want, is to sing bliss from the rooftops, and then lose that bliss. Putting letter to screen sort of immortalizes people and relationships, and I didn’t want to admit I was petrified he might one day be gone. Sure, part of it was about saving face should that happen – but more of it was about me. I reread what I write more often than I care to admit. I dig up my past and look at it. To have to examine our relationship in that way, when it ended, would have dragged the recover process on far too long. All that sounds like I was prepared for a breakup – I wasn’t.

Because the act of self preservation was more than about endings. It was about beginnings. I wanted a piece of of myself that was mine. All mine. Not for potential employers, not for curious passerby’s, not for my mom. I wanted one thing to be sacred in my life – one person, one relationship, one space.

I wrote about that ex. I did it in a journal. In margins. In places I don’t go anymore, and places I could hide.

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