The Locked Diary #10: When Things Don't Go According To Plan
Ride the waves of change or get swallowed whole. (FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME).
I could get into all the reasons as to *why* I decided to leave my beloved New York City, approximately one month after my dinner with my darling friend, Dakota.
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In fact, that was precisely my plan! Because you see—this column was never "supposed" to read like a column. My intention was for it to read like a serialized book, in which each chapter picked up exactly where the previous chapter left off. My goal was—and still is—to compile the chapters together when the timing is right—andvoilà. We have the makings of a pretty little manuscript for a pretty little memoir. Not a haphazard book of essays, like my debut book GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP.
A sophisticated, cohesive memoir that reads more like a novel, than a series of articles.
Because of my lofty memoir goals, I vowed to my higher power (Lana Del Rey) to not get all internet-y when writing this project, even though it's being published on said platform. What do I mean by internet-y? Good question. There are stylistic writing choices that are celebrated on the internet but frowned upon in the traditional publishing world. Like what I'm doing right now, "breaking the fourth wall." Rarely in a book will you witness an author addressing her audience directly. Especially as intimately as I—and many of my fellow internet writers—do. Let's just say publishers don't take kindly to authors referring to their readers as "babe" or "little sister." It's also not often you'll find an esteemed book writer who, when writing in the first-person, will take herself out of the scene and debrief with her readers. You're supposed to get your message across through action and dialogue and plot. I love action and I love dialogue and I love plot. But I also love talking to you all, candidly. After all, that's how I built my following, back in the salad days of my tenure at good ole' Elite Daily.com
But this time around, I wasn't going to fuck around. I covet book deals. Lucrative ones. And if I want lucrative book deals, I felt I needed to stick to the firmly cemented literary rules. And bless the bitch that dares to break the literary rules. Even the stiffest writers I know complain about how unfairly rigid the rules of traditional publishing are. It's as the kids say—"a thing."
But this week, when I sat down to write the play-by-play of what happened at dinner with Dakota and the subsequent events that followed suit—it felt all...wrong. The work felt contrived. Because it was. And more than I want a book deal, I want my writing to feel alive. I know that sounds idealistic and pretentious and probably makes you hate me a tiny bit, but I can't help it. I'm being nauseatingly earnest here. Trust me, I'd be a helluva lot richer if I wasn't wired this way. But that aliveness that I crave more than I crave fame and fortune (which is a stealth craving, trust me), can only be achieved when I write from an organic, authentic place. Forcing art into a box is like trying to wrangle a wild animal into a cage! It's fucking cruel. You're essentially caging something that is meant to run free. Who cares how pretty something looks, if its spirit has been deadened by the steel bars of captivity?
So screw it. If it doesn't feel right, it's not right.
So I decided to go ahead and do what I do best: Be real. Tell the truth. And the truth is sometimes shit doesn't go according to plan. And when that happens we're faced with one of two choices: we can either fight the tide with all our might—cling to our beautifully crafted plan until our palms bleed—or we can ride the waves of change. Gracefully, like a lean, nimble surfer. (I learned this from the esteemed Martha Beck, who I'm studying under now. More on that, later).
I mean if I've unearthed one truly precious gem in the rock-bottom I've lived in for the past year—it's been this: surfing the waves of change is so much more pleasurable than resisting the waves of change. Because that tsunami is coming, whether we want her to or not. And a tsunami doesn't care how hard you worked to build the structure that is your life. The strongest building in the entire world is not a fraction as strong as the wrath of Mother Nature. She'll take a city down in one swoop!
What I mean is the shit you never ever thought could happen can and will happen. The marriage that was meant to last forever could crumble into nothing. The person you thought would never hurt you could betray you in the deepest way. The career you thought you'd be in for the rest of your life might become redundant in the rapidly changing digital landscape. You can let the sea of change swallow you whole, or you can buy yourself a shiny new surfboard, and ride, ride, ride.
Yes, you will likely make a complete asshat out of yourself, if you've never taken a stab at surfing before. But let's normalize making asshats out of ourselves. It's inevitable. We're all going to be scared, vulnerable, and look stupid as fuck when trying something new. But the only way to get better at anything is to keep working at it. As the great Macklemore says: The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint/the greats were great because they paint a lot. Letting go of old ideas, people, places, plans, and structures, is a skill like anything else. We are good at shit not because of some elusive super-power we innately possess—but because we do it repeatedly.
I guess what I'm trying to say, is hi. This is me. Z. Your lesbian big sister who wanted to write a very cohesive memoir and here I am breaking all of my own rules.
Here I am trying to surf, looking like a dickhead. A loser. Here I am, awkwardly standing before you in my ugly, unflattering wetsuit, uncomfortably attempting to let go of the "idea" of what this column is "supposed" to be and in turn, just letting it be whatever the hell it wants to be. This is new for me, I'm not a cool, laid-back surfer chick. I'm an ambitious Manhattan woman, a former cigarette smoker, prone to panic attacks. I've spent so much of my life obsessing over the end result, the end result, THE END RESULT. Micromanaging my future like an insufferable boss does her employees. But we all know that no one likes to be micromanaged, your life included. And all this intense goal-setting and back-breaking work—what has it all been for? Book deals that didn't go through? A feeling of peacefulness that never came? A picture-perfect future that didn't happen—because here I am as we speak—in my mid-thirties living in my parent's house, child-less, and financially insecure?
I wonder what could happen if I stopped trying to manufacture a life, and instead, just lived one? I don't think I have a choice except to throw up my hands and ride the wave, like some bohemian blonde who lives in Venice Beach and has never been medicated for anxiety. Because listen, baby. I'm tired.
I'm exhausted. I don't have any fight left inside of me. But even though I can barely manage to open my eyes—I'm starting to believe that there's a rare kind of beauty that can only live in the folds of extreme fatigue. I think sometimes when we're really, really sleepy, so sleepy that we no longer have the energy to overthink every little detail of our lives—we create space for unexpected magic to creep in. There is no space for unexpected magic in these airtight structures we build for ourselves. Unexpected magic is too big to survive in such rigid, fixed spaces.
But when the structure of our life finally explodes, maybe there's room for all the unexpected magic?
I believe that.
I think I do.
I mean—I don't believe in God or the Universe, necessarily—but I do believe in miracles. I've seen amazing, unexplainable shit happen to people, haven't you? And it's usually right off the heels of their lives completely falling apart.
It makes sense, I suppose. In order for something to be reborn, something has to die, right? In order for a new, more vibrant version of ourselves to flourish, we need to shed ourselves of our old identities right? And shedding is a painful process. But like everything in life; the only way out is through.
I thought my old structure exploded but I was wrong, which is why I can't write the chapter I meant to write.
Which is why I'm going off-course. What happened, I've realized, is that my life didn't explode, it actually imploded.
Do you know the difference between an implosion and an explosion? An explosion is a violent destruction in which an object is broken apart by an outside source. A bomb is dropped onto a building, the building blows up, particles of what *was* fly through the air. An implosion is also a violent destruction. Except its demise comes from within. The object collapses into itself. Stars in the sky can implode by collapsing under their own gravitational pressure. When buildings are strategically demolished the powers at be often pointedly attack the materials within that building, so the building crumbles into itself, so it doesn't subject the other buildings and civilians in close proximity to the dangers of an explosion. An implosion doesn't hurt anyone, you see.
Except for the object itself.
From my veiled perspective, it appeared as if it was an explosion of my life that served as the catalyst that caused me to skip town so quickly after my dinner with Dakota. And I'm not talking about my marriage separation. That felt like neither an explosion or an implosion, to be frank. Our decision to walk away from each other was painful. Brutal. Excruciating. It was and still very much is, the most heartbreaking experience of my entire life.
But unlike an explosion or an implosion, our breakup wasn't done in destruction. It was done in full, blazingly *real* integrity. No one lied. No one cheated. No one was cruel. We loved each other fiercely—so much so, that we *knew* the only way for both of us to heal was to go our separate ways. Because the foundation of us as a partnership wasn't rooted in the shaky grounds of codependency or possessiveness or validation-seeking or any of those things that often get confused for love, but are actually about something else, entirely. Our love was strong because it was pure. It was real. All we've ever wanted for each other is for the other person to live up to their highest potential. And we got to a place where we weren't able to facilitate growth in one another. In fact, we were hindering each other's personal growth. We didn't mean to fuck it up. Holyshit, we didn't mean to. But we did.
Love is a fragile thing. It's like a delicate house plant you buy in one of those pretentious stores in Brooklyn Heights on a Sunday after you've got a nice raise.
You spend a fortune on it and display it proudly on your coffee table. It brings you joy. In fact, you love it. But you can love that house plant all you want, but all the love in the world isn't what's going to keep that expensive little fucker alive. If you don't tend to the expensive little fucker, every single day, it will wither into nothing. The leaves might wilt so slowly you won't even notice the plant is dying—until one day—as you're slinging your bag over your shoulder ready to get out of the apartment and take on the day—you catch a glimpse of it—only to realize what was once a luscious plant proudly showing off its gorgeous green leaves, teeming with so much life it was practically bursting out of its little chic pot—is on the brink of death. It's a mere ghost of the thriving, healthy plant it once was. I'll get more into that in another chapter. All I'm going to say, is this: Kids, if you really love someone—don't fuck it up. Don't get too comfortable. Watch the love closely. Tend to it. Water it. Don't get so caught up in the minutia of everyday life, that you can't see that something beautiful is breaking down right before your eyes.
What I thought was an explosion was everything that happened in New York, after the separation. All the stuff I was supposed to tell you about today, in great prolific detail. Like the ticking time bomb I felt in my chest the moment I arrived on New York soil. Those subtle underlying pulses of feeling abandoned by the very people I thought would serve as my chosen family in this new season of life. The job that wound up not paying me. The network I'd worked so hard build that wound up not being strong enough to catch me when I fell from grace and faceplanted into the ground. I was supposed to write about the night the time bomb stopped ticking, and the explosion finally came to fruition. I was supposed to write about what it felt like to lay on the floor, my former life in ruins, feeling completely alone, for the first time in my life.
And maybe I will next week.
But this week I couldn't do it.
Because shit didn't go according to plan. I realized something big that changed the way in which I view everything—and I need to process it with you, dear reader. We've been through so much together at this point. And I can't be fake with you. So I'm going to tell you point blank that the explosion of my life wasn't why I left New York. But damn that would've been a fun, juicy story to write. I clung to that story for a while, you know. I held onto the idea that the betrayal, the death of a loved one, the shattering layers of trust—that's what took me down. I hyper-fixated on the outside sources that hurt me, like a tweaker fixates on when she can sneak away from the table and snort her next bump. And while yes, some outside forces hurt me, it's true—they're not what took me down. Maybe ten years ago that would've been the case. But not now. The only one who can take me down—at this stage of the game—is me. The friends, the jobs, the rejections, were simply a catalyst for me leaving New York. They gave me an excuse, a reason, something tangible to point to whenever anyone I loved questioned my decision to crawl back into the womb of my teenage bedroom in Florida. And I needed to hold on to that. Because when you collapse into yourself, when you implode so to speak, you lose your backbone for a while. And you need exterior things, like blame, to serve as the gas that gives you just enough fuel to peel your broken body off the floor, pick up the phone, call your mom and cry: "I can't do this anymore."
Why did I implode? I imploded because I abandoned myself. Do you know I let everyone, whenever they wanted, stay in the small space I shared with my partner, without ever considering the fact that we are both introverts who can not function without alone time? Do you know how many people I allowed to not just splay their limbs all over that sacred space of ours, but spill their baggage all over the floors? I didn't even ask them to pick up after themselves. They didn't have the chance to. For I was there on my hands and knees, taking care of the mess before they even had a chance to ask where I kept my cleaning supplies. Do you know that I ran the backend of websites, the equipment, the strategy—of most of the creative collaborations I attempted? It's not that my creative cohorts didn't want to help. I didn't give them the opportunity to help. It's on me. I took care of it all, late at night when everyone else was sleeping. I stayed up until 3 AM editing the work of others, my eyeballs bleeding, pouring every ounce of creativity I had into their work. I gave my everything to everyone and nothing to myself. And that's not because I'm a fucking martyr or a hero or anything lauded or admirable. Not even close. It's because I was a coward. I gave myself away because I was afraid to go inward. I was afraid to look at how badly I was hurting myself. I was afraid to look at my failures, my addictions, my health. I was afraid to confront how lonely and insecure I felt underneath it all. So I ignored the aches and kept my gaze forward.
But that's how implosions happen, you see. Something doesn't catapult out of nowhere and shatter you into a gazillion little pieces. You ignore the interior of your own body until one day, it can't function anymore and then crumble into yourself.
And that's why I really left New York.
Which, to be honest, also wasn't at all what
TO BE CONTINUED....
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