I am not 18 or 30 or 50 or 65. I am not of an age when significant events are meant to happen and important feelings are meant to be felt. So I don’t have any excuse for this level of doubt, expectation, pressure, even panic.
However, my age is a prime number, 31. Which must be why I have run out of patience. I can’t keep doing things I know won’t work. I try and I fail either because there’s something wrong with me or there’s something wrong with how I do the things. I don’t know which.
I’m ready to give up. I’m ready to try something new, which might not work either, but at least I don’t know already that it won’t work.
Under the circumstances, you might think my resolution for this year — this year when I’m going to turn 32, which seems weird because I don’t feel that old yet — you might think I’d resolve to try this or try that, or try the other thing a whole different way.
Instead, I intend to start with a resolution I can’t possibly break.
It’s puzzling. At first, I thought I’d resolve to change the things I usually resolve to change: eat more vegetables; get more exercise; no pot in the mornings so I’m not lazy all day; force myself to socialize at least twice a month, no matter how much I hate it. The usual, only more resolute.
The thing is, I never keep those resolutions. I smoke pot in the morning, stuff myself with chips, take a nap that gets out of hand, decide I can’t go out because of the nap headache, and never escape the gravity of the couch and the intense bond between me and my fluffy blanket.
I could resolve to give up pot altogether. It’s obviously a slippery slope, a barrier to succeeding at any resolutions. This thought depresses me so much I have to light up immediately.
But when I wake up, I’m ready to go somewhere I’ve never been. Somewhere without the comforting frisson of impending failure.
What if I resolve to come out to one person every day? That I think I can accomplish. I’m undeniably what I am. All I have to do is pick one person, who won’t be surprised or care in any way, and voice what they already know.
But is it a resolution if it’s a completely meaningless action, fraught with no mystery or danger of failure? If it transforms nothing and nobody? No. It is not.
This unwelcome insight is a sign that yes, I am at least as old as my chronology. Fuck me.
OK, then how about this: I resolve to make more art.
My prime-number double-digit maturity pipes right up: Nope. Because I obsessively make art all the time anyway. Shitty art, but still. That’s no resolution because, you know, etc.
I am starting to get depressed again. I am gazing longingly at my couch. I can almost feel the sheltering warmth of the fuzzy blanket.
Not this time. This time I will sit right here, on this four-legged one-seater, until I have a plan. I’m damn smart and absolutely stubborn and if napping were going to help, it already would’ve.
But taking a shower will. I get all my best ideas in the shower. (And usually leave them there. I believe I mentioned I’m a bit of a stoner.)
So I’m under the shower, humming the syntax of a sentence I’m not singing. A phrase comes and comes again. A repeating phrase. What are the words that go with it?
Holy shit, here’s the answer to my dilemma. This is the resolution I cannot break. It’s the perfect resolution.
I dry off, rubbing the rough towel hard on my most sensitive spots. I want to hurt a little bit, be a little bit raw, to make sure I remember.
I get dressed in clothes I know are a little bit too tight. I want to be uncomfortable to make sure I remember.
I go out to a bar where I know some people, which I usually avoid, because it makes the place too peopley and not anonymous enough and I feel like I can’t leave when I want to because people will know I’m leaving (aka introvert hell).
I need to say this to another human, actually as many as possible other humans, to make it stick. To make sure it works.
When I am sitting twitchily at a table with four other people, all of whom know my name, all of whose names I know, who know each other as well as me, I firmly set down the drink I don’t want, which sloshes onto someone’s sandwich.
I have a resolution, I announce. Did I say that loudly enough? Nobody is looking at me; I must have whispered. I HAVE A RESOLUTION. That’s better. Now they’re all staring at me.
I have a resolution that is unbreakable, I say in what is probably, as far as I know, a normal voice. I HAVE AN UNBREAKABLE RESOLUTION. Good, they look annoyed.
I resolve, I say, to make no resolutions.
Why are they laughing? This is unbreakable. I’m still proud. Fuck them.
I put too much money down on the table and stalk out. I don’t smoke any pot. I stop at the gym where I’ve been paying dues for a year and a half without ever entering it, and I enter it, and I do a reasonable upper body workout. Then I go home. I don’t smoke any pot. I steam some vegetables and I eat them. I smoke no pot. I go to bed at a reasonable hour.
When I wake up in the morning, I feel good. It was the damn resolutions all along. I dig the stationary bike out from under a pile of summer outfits and do a half hour of cardio. Fuck me. I’m happy.
L Swartz is queer AF + hates pronouns. L likes to fuck up perfectly respectable forms, which I guess makes L a poet. L’s chapbook, Land of Lists, was published by Floating Bridge Press. L’s deck of Shufflepoems was published by Minor Arcana Press. See where L literally stands on each day of the Trump regime at Instagram ministry.of.tardigrades. Facebook zen.flaneur.