Thursday, July 16, 2009

Guilty by thought

I write when it is night and everyone in the house has gone to sleep. When here it is night and there it is day. Day so bright it hurts, a place where rain properly pours and not just sprinkle like a sad shower on frozen earth. I hear darkness around me. And the peacefulness that sleep sometimes with mercy descends on us. My babies are sleeping, their faces angelic and peaceful, innocence. My husband stirs , softly muttering to himself, guttural sounds too insignificant to decipher. We have had no wedding, no reception, no announcements of any sort. And no church. We need no church to give us permission. The Church does not get to tell us when and how our family can start. We have already started. Joseph and I have been through much together. I love him, but there is something in me that he cannot touch, I recognize this. There is a part of me that cannot give itself to him. Perhaps not so much a matter of him not being able to get to it so much as it being, by nature, something that must always be kept in secret, unutterable. It must always be beyond the recognition of anyone except myself, the entity that is both itself and one in which it is a part. I received an email from Khuyen awhile back. She said she had the feeling that I was lonely. If I had replied, I would have told her that I am not lonely, just sad. Sad that for some reason, I cannot give myself wholly to this man, that a part of me is still in flight, wandering like a vagabond, searching for what or who I don't know.

Why did I try tell the story of how we met? The story is boring, and the way I tell it is too. But I did it anyway. I think because I felt guilty, for finding in another place, another face slightly angular, a flood of happiness like monsoon rain. Maybe I wanted to recount (and reconstruct) the story to remind myself that novelty is temporary, that genuine novelty lies in the self, not in the other. But who am I kidding? I am not so enlightened as that. With regards to this matter, there are two principles that I have so far successfully lived by: no two men at any one time, too complicated, and no man that has been taken by another woman, too cruel. And now, now I find myself on the verge of breaking both.

But what have I done? What can I possibly do in order to commit myself to such a crime? I have done nothing. I can do nothing. And yet I still feel guilty, and am pleasantly happy with this guilt. Why guilt? An example of the internalization of social norms? A masochistic mental flagellation? A struggle with a social-turned-private conscience? A by-proxy acceptance of my charges against myself, that is, a pre-confession of a crime that I am only beginning to think about, and therefore, at the same time, ensuring that I will carry out this act, ensuring that I will commit myself to it? Am I my own thought police? Am I my own rebellion?

Whatever the case, I cannot deny the effects: this one makes me feel silly happy like a teenager, with just a word, a wicked turn of phrase, a glimpse into a world vast and so much more exciting. He pushes me, without knowing. He challenges me. He inspires me. He makes me want to put on lipstick and go on a diet. He also makes me weary because for all my imaginings, I have never dared to act. But oh God, I so look forward to the day I would.

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