Saturday, June 19, 2021

NOB HILL

I think I'd just said yesterday that I hadn't had any time to do anything for myself this week. Today, one of my babies from work, Megan, recommended that I read Normal People by Sally Rooney, before watching the TV series adaptation of it. I think Adam has once also asked me to read it, if I recall correctly. I may ask him one day, but today is not that day. Anyway, Megan sent me the e-book so I began reading it on my Kindle. Megan told me she'd thought I would like it because it is a twisted, sad book and she thinks I would appreciate the sad twistedness. I haven't finished it, but I already feel many things about it. My Kindle says I'm 59% through it, meaning it is a fairly short book, because I've only spent maybe four hours reading it, after I ended work.

Normal People is about two hurt people who grow through stages of their lives in their relationship to and with each other. I haven't gotten to the big reveal(s), but I'm guessing there must have been some tragic, traumatic event in each of their lives, there are allusions to such experiences. They keep misunderstanding each other, and making excuses for not having long, honest conversations. In one of them, Marianne thinks Connell is suggesting that they each see other people, which Marianne takes as him asking for a breakup (because, obviously, right?), but in Connell's head, he needed to move back to their hometown as he's from a poorer background and he thinks Marianne would want a richer, more stable partner, someone from "her station in life." 

I had to take a break from reading the book because Connell has found someone else and told Marianne that he loves the woman, and he had not mentioned the courtship to Marianne at all, even though they are supposed best friends. This leads to Marianne breaking down in front of him, before asking him to leave. I don't think I'm doing the book any justice, but I'm very overwhelmed by the feelings I'm getting from it. The way the book is written reminds me of my relationship (what a weird term to call it, a relationship, but I use it to mean our relations with each other, whenever it exists) with Joey. The story is written whenever the two protagonists have major interactions, so it could be days or weeks or months until the next time they are friends, or are lovers, or bump into each other again. 

The last time I spoke to him, he also told me out of nowhere, that it was "self-destructive" (I don't know which of us he even meant??) and that he was getting together with a woman he loved. This made me furious and embarrassed and furiously embarrassed. How was I to know?? I don't see him in real life and have no clue what goes on. It reminds me of the many times we've managed to embarrass and infuriate each other, even though I think, deep underneath it all, neither of us intends to and all we want is to see each other happy. 

It makes me think of when I was with him, and it was two weeks into us knowing each other, and I knew I was already having strong feelings for him. Then he ghosted me, and I realised he was overwhelmed by how quickly I was catching feelings. This upset me and made me cry, but then eventually, we talked again and he taught me to drive his car in a parking lot, and another one of my hosts said Joey must like me, men only teach things to women they like, and to this day, his car is the only car I've driven in my life. He spends a lot of time with me, watching people get tattooed and working on cars and watching movies till we fell asleep. In fact I lived in his room so it would have been impossible not to spend time with me, until he brings up the fact that he's been in a long-distance relationship before. I'd already known from experience that he didn't like to rush things, so I ignored the comment, even though I had to leave very soon, back to Singapore.

When I am back in Singapore, I find out I am pregnant, and I feel about thirty actual separate emotions, all at 84% intensity. He talks me through it and obviously leaves the decision to me, although both of us are shit-fucking-scared. I eventually have a miscarriage, and I am so traumatised I tell him to leave me alone, and I block him everywhere (I also send him how the miscarriage looks, just so he knows, and I'm sure he remembers). After I have blocked him, I go through my depressive episodes and battles with my mother, who for some misplaced "religious" reasons, thinks it's a blessing I'd miscarried. I intermittently feel angry at Joey, that I have to go through all hell and high water by myself, when it was as much his mistake as mine. Newsflash: it takes one person to produce the egg and the other to provide sperm. I write emotionally-charged words and direct it all at him, feeling very mistreated. This happened even though I'd explicitly told him to leave me alone. Every time I think of how much I paid for therapy, I get sucker-punched and think Joey should have had to foot half the bills, and the worst part is, he can fucking well afford it, rocket scientist that he is, while I struggled and continue to struggle on less-than-minimum wage.

In the next three to four years, one of us reaches out to the other. I do not know why. I remember writing something very close to this, once: “I’m sorry for what you had to go through because of me. I promise to do better. I love you.” I never sent it. I think it's what I want to hear, as much as what I want to say. I never understood sometimes, when he approaches or reaches out to me, when it's a bank holiday weekend, he seems to want to be affectionate, and he insinuates that there is nothing going on in his life, and then, out of nowhere, he'd push me away, again. It made no sense, and still makes no fucking sense to me. 

Normal People feels like a story written about two damaged people in an unhealthy relationship, trying so hard to be good and fix things, but have never known how to do so. It reminds me of myself and Joey, and it also makes me wonder, how many people are out there, living such unhealthy dynamics, trying so hard to be normal people? The fact that it's a popular, well-read book makes me think, hmmmm, this doesn't feel like it is that uncommon. What a sad notion! I don't know why I wrote all that, it's just, the book feels like I could've written it, and I have many feelings, and I hope I don't get let down by it. I don't even know what I expect from it, but I want their backstories to be enough, to explain why they don't do better, for themselves and each other. Okbye.

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