A dear friend emailed me here in Ubud to tell me she loves reading this blog, but that she wanted to make sure I was really A-OK and enjoying myself. At first I wondered what part of the delicate sub-text I’M HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE was failing to convey my heart-bursting joy. But she had good reasons for wondering, and I think they’re worth addressing. My friend is one of these clever selfless creatures who works with peoples’ minds when they become concerned about them. Or someone else does and you find yourself in flexi-cuffs. She sees a lot of pain and confusion (coming from younger people in particular) as the post-modern human juggles various online identities and personas, always scanning for likes and reassurance and struggling with their ‘status’ in more ways than the obvious. My friend knows that reality checks are important.
I’m going to leap now from all things social-networky and online and much written about, to the sticker families on the backs of cars. Where I live in inner city Melbourne these don’t exist because we are all way too not-Bogan-unless-it’s-ironic-or-actually-comfortable-like-Ugg-boots to do this (yes, I do understand the contradiction in all being cool in exactly the same way which renders it uncool, la la la, it’s a joke, but having said that – we’re wicked cool). I’m confident of this assertion because a quick trip to Sydney’s Northern Beaches revealed the opposite problem. I thought I enjoyed it when people expressed themselves. Turns out I want their cars to explode taking Perky Athletic Mum and BBQ Beer Dad with them.
What further depressed me when witnessing this suburban tidal wave of assery was the lack of joke stickers – no one had thought to put up even the basic stuff like six Fat Dads or some pets in compromising positions. I came home enraged by these homogenous white hetero stickers and once I finished my tirade the Boy only asked thoughtfully, ‘What happens if one of them dies?’ Mm. How long do you drive around with Mr Snuffles on the back window before you have to scrape him off? Do you start with ears or tail? And what if it’s not your labradoodle? What if it’s Mum? What if Dad just leaves? When do you admit it publically? And do you start with a limb? What do you put in the hole left behind? Or do you just cross him off? Quite apart from these conundrums is the alarming disconnect you get when driving past Happy Skinny Yoga Mum and Smiley Pretty Girl to find two dumpy females of very different ages but unfortunately similar expressions, both hot and harried and yelling at each other in the car. If I’m uncomfortable with that distance from the truth, how do they feel?
Meanwhile it feels very natural to me to express; to overexpress, to hyperexpress, to throw sixty words in the air like clay pigeons and blast them with an AK47 of an idea. I can’t help it. I like doing it. I like reading it when other people do it. And as much as I understand there is no such thing as truth – and that everything I leave out by accident or design is another version of my life – what I’m looking for when I write in this way is an essential truthiness. The closer I get to it, to the essence of what I’m actually experiencing or wanting to share, the better I feel. I’m soothed by communication. And I feel a rising pressure inside when I don’t or can’t. Maybe that’s all the sticker family people are doing too but they’re thwarted by their materials. Maybe if there was a Chubby Gamer Girl Who Likes Gay Jap-Anime Porn and is Worried About Being Accepted and her Balding Overweight Dad Who Loves Classical Guitar and Longs To Kill His Floor Supervisor I’d feel better about it all. Truthiness*.
*Note: sarahjanedoe is as much a real live sarahjane as a janedoe. The level of anonymity is quite low. The pictures are all mine and taken by me or my family unless specifically credited. Ditto the thoughts, feelings and ideas.