How you use things vs. how things "should" be

linen dresses Time. Living rooms. Wardrobes. Relationships.

Somehow, over the years, you start building notions about the way things are supposed to be. It stands to reason, I guess: we learn to talk by mimicking; ditto writing, cooking, sex and a host of other things I'm probably not thinking of.

A lot of this is fantastic, as it saves crazy amounts of time. If we each learned our own language and then had to teach other people how to use the subjunctive, it would be really hard to get the lawn mowed and dinner on the table. Even in artistic endeavors like writing and acting and, well, art, there's a steep learning curve that's eased somewhat by treading the path that's already there for a bit, until you can find your own way.

That's the thing, though: in artistic endeavors, it's assumed that you will mimic the greats, your idols, and then, through trial and error, practice and more practice, your own "voice" will emerge, a fusing together of all you have learned and all that you are, magical alchemy of sorts.

What's more, unless you are a hack, it's assumed that your work will change and grow as you do, not stay as it is in perpetuity.

So why, I wonder, does it not work this way with other stuff? Why do we suppose (with few exceptions) that the way we have learned relationships or vacations or work habits or what-have-you is the way? Why, even when we bust out loose from our past, do we find the words of our parents coming out of our own mouths; why do we find ourselves in the same relationships over and over, with people who seem so different on the outside and yet who are so much like the previous beloved, we call them by the wrong name?

Why, even in a life examined and shrunk and mulled over and shrunk again, do we end up doing the same dumbass thing over and over again?

The answer, of course, is obvious: change is hard; imprinting is strong. So I insist on keeping a couch in my apartment for years, even though I'm not really a couch person. Even though I have always felt safer and happier reading in my bed. Even though I really wanted a big table where I could spread stuff out and gather people 'round.

I insist on staying married, even though the arrangement feels stifling and wrong. Even though I cannot recall one good model of marriage from my childhood, nor one ringing endorsement of it from any of the people who'd signed on to one.

I insist on wearing my hair a certain way or my pants a certain cut because...because that's how I learned to do it. What a revelation low-rise jeans were for a short-legged, waistless wonder like myself.

I insist on taking weekends off, or taking my vacation in two week chunks, because that's how it's done; I stop doing it because that's how it's done when you're working for yourself.

I'm calling bullshit.

Because my apartment really is better without the couch...for now. My relationships, for now, are better without the hammerlock of marriage. My hair feels better up, off my neck, my pants fit better without fabric around the waist and my leisure time feels better scheduled in where I need it. For now.

I'm (slowly) learning to let go of what doesn't suit and look into what does. It's an interesting journey, full of more delightful surprises than I'd have guessed going into it. I don't like TV; I do like watching movies on the computer (for now.) I don't like board games or sports or brunch; I love talking and talking and talking. (Followed by long stretches of not-talking.)

I like work when the scope is clear and the parameters locked down but there's tons of room for exploration inside. I like working weekends and taking days off during the week (for now), probably because of the delicious feeling of getting away with something.

I like treats, and I'm starting to treat myself to more of them. Slowly. Within a carefully arranged structure. (I like surprises within a carefully arranged structure, too, but that's a little harder to arrange!)

Mostly, I like the idea that what I like can change, that someday, I may have no table and two couches, or a closet full of party dresses, because for whatever reason unfathomable from today, it makes perfect sense.

For now, it's a Tuesday off.

Or as I like to call it, Me. Getting Away with Something...

xxx c

Image by -syko- via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Also, the woman who made the dresses makes cute scarves & stuff, too. Love that robot jersey scarf! From Finland.