Me and My Two Hearts
Holding out a hand to my ideal self
I woke up on Wednesday feeling very strange. Though strange, it felt familiar. Sometimes I wake up and forget who I am. Not in the amnesia kind of way, but I just feel like a body in my bed. It’s as if all my interests and values lie in a pile on the opposite end in my room and I’m too lazy to pick them up and put them back where they belong. I spent most of that day in bed, scrolling through my own social media profiles and reading my own journal to try and remember who this body belonged to. I’ve had so much time alone these past 18 months, pushing the limits of my own vulnerability to mold a new self that I loved, and I wake up one morning and it all disappears for a bit. As if she went out for coffee without her own body, an orb floating in a Starbucks.
Later that day I got dressed and went out for dinner with my best friend. We talked about things we love and value and walked around the town center and ate gelato. I got home and I felt like myself again. Maybe the key to this re-discovery is to see yourself through the eyes of people who have seen you grow into this new self. But I worry — in one month I’ll be 3000 miles away from her in a city where nobody knows me enough to remind me of myself. How can I push through that on my own?
I wrote in a previous newsletter about my habit of writing down small moments of joy and belonging as they come. This is really grounding to me, but something I only recently realized is that each of those moments feels like it was also experienced by a higher self, my ideal self. She feels so far away, but she still shines through me every once in a while. Even in the smallest ways. So, in times of disconnect, I’ll do as Charles Bukowski once instructed: “Drink from the well of your self and begin again.”
Louise Glück wrote in the fourth section of her poem “October”:
This is the light of autumn, not the light that says I am reborn. Not the spring dawn: I strained, I suffered, I was delivered. This is the present, an allegory of waste. So much has changed. And still, you are fortunate: the ideal burns in you like a fever. Or not like a fever, like a second heart.
I reflect on this poem a lot as we inch towards fall. I am re-entering physical university with a regenerated self — changing my life, alongside the trees. The ideal burns in you like a fever, and it does feel like that, sometimes. There is so much pressure to live up to who you want to be, to get closer to them, or to be them completely, suddenly.
I have walked parallel to an ideal self for a long time. She’s changed a lot through the years. When I was in 6th grade, her name was Tiffany. I drew her out in my journal. I marked arrows pointing to her “small nose” and “hairless arms” and “flat stomach”. I doodled an iPhone 3G littered with text messages from classmates. But I think if I drew her now, her name would just be Tara. She would just look like me, but translucent and glowing from so many little flames, each one something that brings me divine joy. The flames drift over to me and burn, and sometimes they float away for a bit, or disappear completely. As Louise Glück said, it’s not a fever anymore, it just feels like a second heart. It’s a part of me now, and I accept it.
Mary Oliver wrote in Upstream:
In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.
I see the world, I hear the world, but I don’t let the world in. I don’t let it break through my shell and reach that burning second heart of mine. I think that’s why that heart occasionally stops beating, or walks away aflame in its own translucent body. I’m looking forward to entering life again, chest wide open.
My ideal and reality They are too far apart But I still want to cross the bridge and reach me the real me
What I Enjoyed This Week
I didn’t actually read any full books this week. My brain just wasn’t up for it. Which is fine! So here are some poems I enjoyed:
On Listening to Your Teacher Take Attendance by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. I wish I had this poem when I was in elementary school, or summer camp, nervously correcting my teachers on the pronunciation of my name. I was a socially anxious child. I didn’t often ground myself, as this poem reminds us to do in times of displacement. We need to keep things with us in our minds, beautiful things, that remind us of who we are, of who loves us.
The Morning Paper by Mary Oliver. I often look at the state of the world in parallel with the state of the art in it and feel frustrated. So much of “positive” art and media encourages ignorance of the pain of the present, and it makes me want to yell back: “Why aren’t you seeing this?”. So this poem was refreshing. It encourages grounding yourself in the present, as it exists, and reflecting.
Other Wonderful Things
Lorde’s Solar Power album. It’s not what I was expecting. But I do like it. She was 20 when she released Melodrama, a haunting and brilliant album about heartbreak and solitude. Now she’s 24, and Solar Power is about introspection, escapism, and choosing a quiet life. It feels unrelatable at times but I can appreciate and admire her evolution. I like this album (as I did with Clairo’s Sling) mainly for its auditory mundaneness — many of the songs sound similarly mellow — because art doesn’t have to be big and bold to be appreciated. Often it just exists to accompany your everyday life. My favorite track is “The Path”.
Emma Chamberlain’s podcast: “Anything Goes”. I really liked Emma’s YouTube videos when I was in high school, but I fell off of them for a while until recently. She has gracefully matured into someone who enjoys a quiet life. I binge-listened to her podcast for most of the week and was pleasantly surprised by how much I can relate to her. She has a lot of accessible wisdom. It’s refreshing.
Jeni’s Golden Nectar Ice Cream. Oh my god. The taste was described as “faded summer sunlight” and I cannot give a better description. My soul left my body.
Thank you for reading.
Sending love to all your hearts.