Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sunday Scribblings--Mystery

I am living in a mystery here. I wish it were as exciting as it sounds.

Moving to Minneapolis has felt offkilter so far. When I moved to California, I was immediately surrounded by a kaleidoscope of icons and images I had been seeing all of my life—the palm trees, Hollywood sign, those famous hills. It’s like a blurry photocopy of Chicago for me…so I squint and I point to where I think something should be, but it’s not there. I am haunted by a sense that I should feel more comfortable, but I am not. I feel the urge to run back to something familiar, to escape this sense of dislocation. I long to go back to California, back to Chicago, back anywhere that can be referred to as “home.”

You see, I’ve never liked mysteries. There is something companionable about following a story to its end—we’re all in this together, none of us know for sure. But the very idea of a mystery implies a hierarchy—separates us into those that Know and those that Don’t Know. And the not-knowing feels intolerable, shifty, awkward. Is this right? Is this right? beats the steady refrain. So I grab at any certainty, the first fact that floats by. I’m the kind of reader that hangs on to any red herring, anything to maintain my footing.

As you can imagine, I am terrible at figuring out whodunit.

I’m trying to stay open this time, trying not to ride the first hint of familiarity with the area into a rut that I never escape. But mystery feels like a lack of fluency, like not having any words at all while others around me converse freely. Mystery feels like a whispering behind you—a ring of backs laughing around a fire, impenetrable.

It's all about wanting control, wanting to use knowledge as a way to blend into the crowd, to sit meek and unlined in front of the world. And yet I proclaim loudly and often that I want to be special, to be eccentric and left-of-normal.

Another mystery.

I want to change…want to be seduced by the low hiss of mystery—to follow the trail of clues, to welcome the discoveries that Not-Knowing will bring. To realize the potential for my growth when I grow in confusion.

"Live the questions"...too often I settle for the first answer, stretching that one fact ragged in an attempt to create a rope over the abyss of mystery. I write this way, too--holding into the edge of my meager understanding for dear life, frightened of letting go, being wrong, getting lost. What is so terrible about getting lost? I...am not sure, but I'm trying not to rush to a too-pat judgment.

So here I am. Faced again with the mystery of an unknown city, where the buildings gaze at me with blank faces, and all of the roads wind to nowhere. And faced with the mystery of a blank page, frustrated at inspiration that wafts away again, at uncertain skill and indeterminate talent.

Faced with the mystery that what I most want is what I most fear.

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For more mysterious writing, go here.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous introspectiveholdman said...

wow! best of luck in your new city. a brave move indeed.

3:28 AM, June 11, 2006  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

I love the way you write-

I lived in NYC for 2 years when I was a teenager, and I felt the same way you describe.

10:30 AM, June 11, 2006  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

Letting go of control is a deep struggle for me as well...the mystery of how to pull it off. I appreciated this post very much.

10:50 AM, June 11, 2006  
Anonymous beansprout said...

Can't tell you how much I've missed you. Glad you are back! I am with you on this post, fearing what I long for the most. Let's make a pact to come through our challenging times differently some how! Be well.

11:50 AM, June 11, 2006  
Blogger paris parfait said...

I think that's always the case when moving to a new city. I always told my daughter to "give it a month or two" and everything changes. You discover things and places that make you happy; you begin to carve out your own little niche in this new corner of the world. And it is hoped, you'll find that some mysteries can be quite delicious! :)

11:57 AM, June 11, 2006  
Blogger earnest and game said...

Did you get that Food and Wine story on MN? I hope that you are seeing beauty and planning for adventures. The alumnae club there is quite active I think. Choose an outing-the ballet, a museum, a bookstore, a restaurant, a walk in a certain park with Mlle Madame--see how this builds your knowledge and adds to your storehouse of experiences. Good luck! Hugs, HKJ

1:27 PM, June 12, 2006  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

Although I relish mystery, I agree, the mystery of a new home is a discomfort I don't enjoy. Maybe I am slow to conform, but I have found that it takes almost a full year for me to begin feeling like myself in my own skin in a new place. It helps if I can find one friend - a gift beyond measure - someone with whom I can laugh and cry and who is actually part of the landscape. That removes some of the foreboding. You've described your feelings - and many of mine - so well here.

2:39 PM, June 12, 2006  
Blogger deirdre said...

You've summed up so many of my feelings about mystery - the unknown. I always feel that "other people" know the answers and I can't figure out how to learn them myself. It's a horrible feeling of being left out. I'm glad you're back to writing, hoping it means the physical part of the move is done and you can find time to explore this new place.

5:10 PM, June 12, 2006  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

yes that is one of life's biggest mysteries--why do we fear the things we wan the most? why do we resist so avidly? thank you for putting it out there. i think it's a mystery we all face even if we don't ever talk about it.

10:52 PM, June 12, 2006  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

i have moved many times and have felt similar feelings.

it was then that i decided to make an adventure out of it. drive around, get lost, discover a cool pub. pubs are always a cool place to get to know locals.

wish we could meet for a drink to sooth the sadness.

xoxo,
boho

12:47 AM, June 13, 2006  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I haven't thought, in far too long, about the connection between relinquishing control and accepting or embracing mystery.

This was lovely, and thought-provoking. I hope that you can embrace your mystery, and find understanding there.

7:32 PM, June 14, 2006  
Blogger lisrobbe said...

What an inspiration this post is to other people who right. I've only worked with the Artist Way book, so I must see what her others are like. I have a two year old and am just getting back into the whole reading thing and going to the library on a regular basis. So you know about the Summer Reading challenge? Good wishes to you and all your writing endevors in the up coming year.

2:17 PM, June 15, 2006  
Anonymous Kerstin said...

I found you via a comment you left on Rebekah's site and I am glad I did!

Your 'mystery' post really speaks to me on so many levels as I am still trying to come to terms with a new city and country, even though this is not my first move by any means.

Your words echo my thoughts and feelings, that helps. And your question "Why do we fear the things we want the most?" is one of the biggest mysteries to me, too. Although there seem to be enough clues all around us, that we somehow chose to ignore ... or is that just me?

Take care, Kerstin

11:33 AM, June 19, 2006  

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