I just finished reading Emily Gould’s And the Heart Says Whatever- an autobiography about being “young and literary in New York City.” I’ve passed by it on the shelves at the bookstores probably a hundred times now, but the other day I finally bought it. I’m glad I didn’t buy it all of those other times I passed it, because now was the perfect time for me to read it. Reading about someone struggling through their twenties and dealing with things like shitty jobs and relationships and one night stands and wanting to write but also wanting to do absolutely nothing is… not where I’m currently at, but very near it. The book blurb notes that it is “at once a road map of what not to do and a document of whats possible,” which is a pretty apt description– at times I wanted to be just like Emily, while at others I was… almost disgusted, but in that kind of familiar way that comes from caring about someone and wanting to think well of them.
I wanted to share with you a blurb from the book, as well as something I read on Emily’s blog.
“It’s hard, sometimes, to love a person who you have to share with the world. They’re yours for a moment, in a cafe or at your kitchen table, and then they’re on a stage and you are the same to them as anyone else in the theater, even if you’ve made a point of coming early and sitting in the front row.” (195)
I found that to be a really poignant description of what it’s like to have a relationship with someone who is truly outstanding. It made me think of Belen, who is just… this amazing person who is so talented (sometimes frustratingly so), and genuinely nice, and smart and wacky in this way that no one else I know has ever been. You can’t pin her down to one thing, which is what I love about her, but also one of the things I hate about trying to maintain a relationship with her. It’s hard for me to have to share that greatness with everyone else because I want to be special somehow- for her to mean things more with me, or for me to mean more to her than the rest of the world. It’s selfish and silly, of course, but that’s the way it is. I’m not sure if anyone else will understand that, except maybe for people who have a Belen in their life (or in Emily’s case, a Claudine).
“If you’re standing outside yourself and observing your experience and mentally transcribing your noises and dialogue and remembering what parts touched what other parts in what order, you are by definition not having the kind of sex I mean when I say “good sex,” which submerges the judging, thinking, observing layer of the brain the way drugs, exercise, and (I hear) meditation do. Of course sometimes I am outside the experience and still noticing. But it’s harder to do the kind of noticing that leads to writing when you compassionately mutually love someone. It’s easy to do that kind of noticing when you’re having highly intellectualized sex with someone who exists for you much more as an idea than as a person. Noticing has to have an object, or at least the kind of noticing that leads to writing has to have an object. “
This one I’m not ready to make commentary on, except to say that I agree, and also to say that it’s hard to (mentally) be some place when your mind is always searching for how you’ll write about it, ways to immortalize it.
I’m at a point in my life where I want to do less noticing (the kind of noticing that Emily describes here, anyway), where I feel like I almost have to notice less, and yet I also feel like it’s very important that I notice because these are the times that matter. Matter how? I’ll get back to you after they happen.
You can check out Emily’s writing- including the latter excerpt – at emilymagazine.com