?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
26 February 2012 @ 10:22 pm
The Real LJ Idol: "Another Ride On The Merry-Go-Round"  
Another Ride On The Merry-Go-Round
real lj idol | week 16 | 531 words
Reinventing the wheel

x-x-x-x-x

It goes like this:

You knew something once about empty holes inside your heart, about the searing ache of loss and exactly how you got there. But fear is not a way to live, so you buried the past and found a way to try again.

Mutual friends brought the two of you together. Some low-key pretense of a potluck dinner and a few glasses of unremarkable wine, and you remembered how to talk and to flirt toward the promise of a phone number and the chance to see if the chemistry between you was more than a one-time thing.

You had your coffee-date pas de deux, your Sunday morning brunch, your late-night Foucault/Hegel throwdown, and your elegant evening of veal scallopini followed by brandy in front of the fireplace at home.

You both thought you'd caught the brass ring. Six months later, you were living together and choosing china patterns, like children following a script for grownup living and trying not to fall off the paper-thin edges.

It took three years for you to see that volatility was not passion, that suffering was not depth. Mediations melted into the stiff, legal jargon of alienation of affection and dissolution of property.

You lived out of boxes and slept with the television on until Spring, wondering if you would ever make your way back out of the miasma again.


It goes like this:

You weren't looking for complicated, but somehow you found it. You just never saw it coming.

Lazy weekend laughter with Farmers' Market Saturday mornings and afternoons by the river slipped into evenings of Chinese food and DVDs on the living room floor. You woke up together on Sundays, and did the breakfast-newspaper slow-dance before going your separate ways and rushing through a week's worth of chores before the corporate treadmill started up again.

It was all so easy and simple until the diaphragm broke, and then everything was different, including you.

Companionable, good-time carousing wasn't a solid basis for raising a family. You looked for something deeper, hoped with everything that it was possible. But one of you thought kids wouldn't change anything, while the other thought they sure as hell should, and that turned out to be the most important distinction of all.

You split up, agreeing to disagree (whatever the hell that meant), and started counting down the remaining seven-months to an adventure from which there would be no turning back.


It goes like this:

There are times you feel as if you could sleep standing up, as if exhaustion parallels psychosis, as if your major appliances are all plotting to kill themselves one by one.

But then your baby sighs in her sleep, or leans her head against your neck. The sweet smell of her is like a reprieve, the sound of her laugh a reminder of all the world can be. She gazes at you with all the trust in the universe, lights up when you walk into the room, and kicks with happiness when she hears your voice.

You are someone better than you used to be, and you've barely gotten started.

That's when you know that this love is the one that will finally last.




If you enjoyed this entry, you can vote for it along with the other fine entries here

 
 
 
jacq22jacq22 on February 27th, 2012 11:45 am (UTC)
Just beautiful, from a fractured relationship comes this small treasure.
You describe so well the feelings, the scent, the total trust, Motherhood is a tough road, alone or with help. But worth the faltering steps. A bitter sweet entry.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 27th, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

This actually could be Fatherhood as well- by the time I got near the end, I realized that I could write this to go in either direction. Parenthood is such a new and completely different experience from anything most of us imagine it will be, and a completely different kind of love.

I like to think, too, that if you like where you've wound up (here, with a wonderful baby of your own), then you shouldn't regret the journey. A different journey would have taken you someplace else.
cindytsuki_no_bara on February 27th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
the end of this is really, really sweet. and i really like that in the first section and part of the second section, the gender of "you" is ambiguous.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 27th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

The gender is actually ambiguou all the way to the end, if you consider that a father might have part-time custody.

The strains and rewards of parenting are so universal, much as are the hopes and failures of each new love until we finally find the one that really lasts. We try, we learn, we try again-- the same as everyone before us has done-- and if we're lucky, we arrive at something we can keep. :)
devon99 on February 27th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
The last section of this piece is especially lovely. Genuine warmth and parental love shines through your structure and word choices. I feel like you let go a little here and relaxed into this section.

Your 2nd person perspective is an interesting choice. You don't see it that often in fic.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 27th, 2012 11:11 pm (UTC)
The earlier sections were more from the subconscious than the conscious, but they're also past-tense instead of present. And there is quite a light at the end of the tunnel, in the last part.

This is one of those rare stories that wanted to be told in second-person (which I hardly ever use). It actually makes this story equally applicable to men or women, which wasn't originally intentional, but I decided that i liked it.
A Sentient Being: Heartsalien_infinity on February 27th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
But one of you thought kids wouldn't change anything, while the other thought they sure as hell should, and that turned out to be the most important distinction of all.

Parenthood is certainly not something to take lightly, is it?

I thought your choice of second-person was interesting.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 27th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
Ideally, I think you shouldn't take it lightly, in that you should be willing to commit a lot of yourself and your future to it. Doesn't mean you have to stress about every detail, but it should change your life profoundly or you probably don't care enough. :0

I so rarely use second-person. Mainly, I reserve it for when a story wants to be written that way. It feels more imperative than third-person to me, and I like the way this story could have been about a man OR a woman. I was hoping that would make it feel equally real to readers of either gender.
(no subject) - pixiebelle on February 28th, 2012 03:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 28th, 2012 07:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Danmuchtooarrogant on February 27th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
I loved this.

"But one of you thought kids wouldn't change anything, while the other thought they sure as hell should, and that turned out to be the most important distinction of all."

I've actually heard more than one friend say this. Great line!

I also enjoyed your refrain, "It goes like this." It was a nice heads-up that a new section of the narrator's life was going to be described next.

Well done!

Dan
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 28th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
I've actually heard more than one friend say this. Great line!
I've seen people who lives this way, and typically... they don't make very good parents. I'm sure there are some ultra-easygoing people out there who don't perceive that they're really changing anything, and in fact are, but most of the time this means they're not taking their responsibilities seriously enough.

I also enjoyed your refrain, "It goes like this."
That was also an attempt to address the prompt, in a way, because with falling in love you are in a sense reinventing a wheel that many before you have already tried and refined. But you can't help it-- for you, it's new every single time, and you just have to make the most of what comes out of it.
(no subject) - muchtooarrogant on February 28th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
nodressrehersalnodressrehersal on February 28th, 2012 02:33 am (UTC)
I love the format. Content-wise, it's such a true-to-life painting - lovely entry.


As I re-read it to see if it could, indeed, be from the viewpoint of either sex, you're right, it could; but personally, I only heard it as a woman's point of view.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 28th, 2012 07:16 am (UTC)
I need to send it to my husband, to see what he thinks about who the narrator might be. He probably would assume it could be either male or female, since he very much adored both our babies.

All of these feelings seem universal to me, and the past relationships that didn't work out... sadly, also universal. But they got to a good place in the end, as is usually the case (one way or the other). :)
lawchickylawchicky on February 29th, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
Aww, so beautiful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 29th, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoyed writing this one, and working with a slightly different style. :)
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 29th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, there's definitely a pregnancy there. But once someone in a relationship becomes pregnant, it affects both people. If a diaphragm breaks, the male partner is likely to hear about it unless the female partner doesn't tell him. It's immediate, scary news simply because it clearly was unplanned.

That's one of the reasons I always stuck to the pill, myself. The low failure rate of diaphragms/condoms wasn't low enough for me.

But I can see why that moment in the story might steer female readers toward thinking the narrator is female (haven't had any male readers weigh in on it). Accidental pregnancy is much scarier for women, and I know that just reading about it creates a visceral reaction in me that I'll bet doesn't happen so strongly in men. It's as if time stops, right then, and you have to re-evaluate everything.

Thanks so much for reading, and I'm glad you liked the overall story.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 29th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Snarksnarkerdoodle on February 29th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
I might be the only one who, even though the 'you' was ambiguous throughout, I had a male pictured in my head through it all, even through the baby section. Don't know why -- I can't pick out a specific phrase or image on the re-read that make me think 'oh, that was it, right there' or anything. So, I find that interesting and cool, and therefore say "Well done!", lol. ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 29th, 2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
Well, yay! Nice to get this divergent feedback. :D

When I started it, I had a man pictured in my head, then realized that it really could be either one. So I worked to keep it ambiguous, especially since the story is really about the emotions and about trying to find love-- even if you've "failed" before.

Wanting to find love is one of the things that makes us human. We try to learn from other's mistakes, and from our own, but we're really only reinventing the wheel each time around.

Where the journey takes us, though... that's different. And when it works out, it's truly wonderful!
Kizzyxo_kizzy_xo on February 29th, 2012 10:22 pm (UTC)
I thought the narrator was ambiguous too -- at first it's easy to think female because, as a female reading this, it's automatically my default, but as I got into it, I found myself nodding, "Either or, doesn't matter because it's not the point of the piece."

I do love this -- there's something about using the second person that makes the immediacy more in-your-face (in a good way!) than first person. It's not an easy thing to do, but you've done it brilliantly :)

Edited at 2012-02-29 10:22 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 29th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
but as I got into it, I found myself nodding, "Either or, doesn't matter because it's not the point of the piece."
I could practically fall at your feet in relief, because that's exactly what I was going for, and I was starting to think people were getting hung up on gender-controversy rather than feeling the mood of the story.

there's something about using the second person that makes the immediacy more in-your-face (in a good way!) than first person.
That's how second-person strikes me, too. I almost never use it, but sometimes a story wants to be second person, and I tend to "listen" when that happens. Here, I want the reader to feel what the narrator feels, and the second-person (to me) creates the least distance, especially because the reader's gender should make the piece less "real" to him or her.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and offering kind reassurances!
(no subject) - xo_kizzy_xo on February 29th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
A Karmic Sandbox: Mona Lisa Impressionkarmasoup on February 29th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
Sweet, true, and touching. You've really captured the essence of the experience in highlights of thrills and sighs. Well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2012 05:49 am (UTC)
Thank you!

All of those early moments always seem so promising, in a relationship. Sometimes the promise holds, other times it doesn't. But you have to keep trying, keep hoping each time that it'll work out. When it does, that's everything. :)
basric: Basric Sparkly Rosebasric on March 1st, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
(=

Edited at 2012-03-01 02:36 am (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2012 05:50 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Nursing Fox Kitroina_arwen on March 1st, 2012 06:17 am (UTC)
Awwww! I like the way you laid this out, the different viewpoints on the situation, and the turning of the wheel of life.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2012 07:33 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I'm so glad people found the prompt in the style, because I usually stick to it more rigidly, and I was kind of fed up with that approach this week. Coupling the view of another spin around the game of love, with the more free-form style of the rest of the storytelling, was fun to write and also kind of a relief after the last few weeks.
whirlgig on March 1st, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Wow. I am speechless. This was incredibly lovely; short and sweet and sad and just when I thought I was goin to cry you pulled me back again with that ending. So very well written.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the ending resonated the way it was meant to!

We aren't always lucky in love, but when we finally get someplace we want to be, it's all worth it. The journey determines the destination, if only in some small way.

Thanks so much for reading and leaving such a lovely comment!
whipchickwhipchick on March 1st, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
I love the repetition, and how your structure is cyclical like the relationship itself - this is so well-crafted. The details are terrific, too, and they accumulate with such weight and emotion. Such a lovely piece.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad you recognized and liked those elements! I rarely have a fixed structure in mind when writing a story, but the prompt led me to it. You return to love again and again, and each time it's slightly different. With all the journeys that seem like failures, when you find one that isn't, it validates all of the attempts that came before.

The last journey shown here isn't easy, but it is such a beautiful place to be...

As always, thanks for your thoughtful comments!