Over the last few years, I have developed somewhat of a verbal tick. It began to emerge in the following scenario: I would confide one (or five) of my worries to my fiancé, Paul. We would discuss it (or them) and when, at the end of our talk, Paul assured me that everything would be ok, I would ask, somewhat jokingly, but more in earnest than I ever wanted to admit, “Positive and promise?” Now this phrase is uttered in our little apartment many times over the course of the week – sometimes as a question from me, sometimes as a means of reassurance from Paul. Coupled, it seems as if the words “positive” and “promise” have attained a certain significance in my relationship. Their meanings, associations–even the verbal and auditory pleasures of the phrase’s alliteration–ground and soothe me.
When it occurred to me what power this phrase wielded, I did what I tend to do in such situations: over-think, fret, and indulge in some class-A hyperbole. Had I convinced myself, through the sheer repetition of one teeny, little phrase, that my partner could shoo the chaos from my life? Or, worse, had I actually begun to believe that everything was only ok if Paul assured me that it was? It might seem silly, but as a 28 year old graduate student who has long dedicated herself to living a feminist lifestyle, I have for some time considered myself engaged in Operation: Independent. I was–and continue to be–determined to live as a woman powered primarily by my inner strength and confidence rather than by the strength and confidence of others. Maybe, I worried, this verbal tick had actually become toxic. Maybe, with each utterance, I was condemning myself–and Paul–to a life of emotional, un-feminist dependency!
For any concerned parties out there, please know that I have emerged from this unproductive thought-spiral. I am not, as it turns out, positiving-and-promising my way into arrested development. I am, however, laying bare a profound desire for certainty, for a crystallized narrative that I can fully know and upon which I can rely. Plots that won’t deviate. It seems that twenty-some years of dedicated novel-reading has engendered a desperation to know how my own “stories” will end even as I am always painfully aware of that impossibility. I think the call-and-response ritual that Paul and I eventually established still soothes and strengthens me because I recognize, on some emotional register, that while he cannot help me to foresee the future or to promise a particular outcome, that he can remind me of his own emotional constancy – and of the solidity of our partnership. These are not things that I ever doubt, but, when I get lost in the mire of my various worries and anxieties, they are reminders that center me so that I can think more clearly and proceed with greater strength and confidence.
Thus, the title of this blog: I have decided to entitle it “Positive and Promise” because what will follow–or at least what I envision will follow–are stories and memories that will all, in some way or another, depict the ways I have and continue to negotiate these concepts – as well as how I am always combatting my tendency to fetishize them. If all of that sounds tremendously vague and capacious, it is supposed to. Ultimately, I want to tell some stories about growing up female, confused, passionate and neurotic, and I hope to offer a few perspectives–maybe helpful, I hope so–as I do. But even as the title of this blog invokes the unattainable and the impossible, it reminds me of the family I have begun with Paul (and our ironically-named diva cat, Hobo) and the love, support, and myriad of possibilities we generate together.
Side note: It is pretty much a certainty that Hobo will make appearances in this blog from time to time, so you may as well meet her now. Here she is with her prized possessions, Mr. Raccoon, Miss Mousie, and Scratching Post.
With that, I will sign off for now and hopefully return before too long. Beginning a blog is after all in itself a promise. And while this first post might not inspire too much confidence in this regard, my goal is to NOT take myself too seriously. (Really. Positive and promise.) So, let’s see how this goes, shall we?