Saturday, February 19, 2011
11607 Every Street
In a moment, I was overwhelmed with this heady stuff, little of which I named as above, and all of which confounded my brain. This is an utterly ordinary epiphany that feels (and is) remarkable at the moment but is soon slotted alongside other discoveries originating in the subjective. What I remember feeling explicitly, though, is something that I still think about, and that still feels profound: I remember thinking, This is literally impossible. No one's home can be like mine, let alone hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions. Words I didn't use at age 12 but concepts I fully intuited: it was inconceivable that my home—which was overwhelming in the subject and content it presented to me on a minute-by-minute basis—could possibly be replicated, even in a faint way, by another home. This was beyond simple solipsism and the painful limitations of an adolescent perspective. This discovery felt so true and urgent as to be quantifiable, an absolute, like 1+1=2 and the sun will rise tomorrow. My small brain could not possibly accept as irrefutable fact that another home like mine could exist.
The energy in that contradictory moment—my home cannot possibly be replicated, and yet is replicated everywhere, all of the time—is the conundrum that moves and haunts every autobiographical writer. The challenge, and where something of interest and value can be shaped out of cliche, is to make sense of that conundrum other than to simply acknowledge, "It exists." If it exists, and it does, then what are the implications? My navigation between the hopelessly subjective and the more interesting objective, between the "I" and the "You," might've begun during those dusk moments in the car when I was jolted awake, recognizing, without naming it, that the importance of my own life is simply a house of cards on a block with other houses of cards, in a town full of boys and girls who can't possibly believe that I exist. It's too threatening to them, too impossible to ever believe.
Detail of "Grass in foreground, blurred house in distance" via Stockphoto; house via Angela Wyant Photography