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Dance of scopes, figs

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JUNE 21, 2023

I watch my life in a myriad of scopes. In bright, trippy, repetitive kaleidoscopes, in largely impressive telescopes and in super-sized microscopes. Over and over again, I see 10 times the funny little morphed versions of myself. 

I see myself in a hazy out-of-body dream from far away. I examine my gaping pores on the bridge of my nose. I keep words from dripping off the tip of my tongue, instead of ever embodying them. I other myself, living as a guest in my own life story.

I often find myself continually drawn to Sylvia Plath’s fig metaphor. Although I acknowledge her deeply problematic past, I’d be lying if I didn’t say how much of an immense impact “The Bell Jar” had on my friends and I in our literary beginnings. 

In this metaphor, you watch your potential lives come to fruition in the form of figs on the branches above you, yet you don’t pick them. You watch their limbs continually stretch out in front of you, you watch their wrinkled flesh ripen and rot, and as they drop onto the ground below you, you starve. Because of your inability to speak, to take action, to be. 

I find myself enjoying the passing of time between ripening and rotting. However anxiety-inducing it may be, I admire the passing from fresh, bitter and green to the overripe and swollen flesh decomposing right in front of my toes, just out of reach. It is in these decisions, and in these juicy figs, that I peer through my scope of vision and watch the life I crave to live go right on by. 

As much as you crave the rich juice of the bountiful figs, as much as any of them could potentially quench your thirst and put you out of your indecisive misery, it is this sick self-sabotage that never lets you actually be. It is these visions that dance in front of you in temptation that perpetuate a limbo of delusion. 

In these telescopes, I can examine and admire those I love from afar. From a comfortable distance, I see my life in the simplistic terms of a film. An indie drama in which little people are just characters and none of any of it is actually real. I like to tie the little things together, to form any semblance of a plot in which I am its creative muse. I watch the events in my life pass through with the terrified ease of watching a movie, like the slow page-turning of a story. Over-steeped in regret, life becomes like stale tea. 

As a spectator, I watch kaleidoscopes and telescopes become microscopes. I study living as if I will be given a final examination. I study and reflect on others’ body language and motions subconsciously. 

Through this telescopic separation, and a voyeuristic existence, I express my love for life. This expression is my camera roll filled with no less than fifty thousand photos, as I experience this life from the outside looking in. Romanticizing my everyday lone coffee and my voluntary solitude. 

I truly feel like I can’t enjoy events without thinking through them. On a thrilling roller coaster, I’m thinking about how cool this moment is and yet I remain constantly unsatisfied. Thinking and especially overthinking ruins actual experiences and inevitably forces me to compare them to the simultaneous imaginary life I lead in my head. 

These kaleidoscopic visions pull in and out as everything gets farther out of reach. The telescopic vision that I so rarely see out of, that I’ve become so accustomed to, retracts and reveals that I am nowhere near where I thought I was. It reminds me that I am more of a spectator than an active participant. It disillusions my reality into that of solitude and secondhand joy. 

When I was a little girl who was so obsessed with the thought of anybody liking her, let alone loving her, I thought in terms of a microscope. I’d isolate and study, as if normalcy was foreign. I dreamed of being socially celebrated, and although I was no outsider then, I always thought of being an outsider as a fate worse than death. 

As I went through high school, I’d separate myself from the world and watch it from my tower with my telescope. I’d try to put up a front and be bold in the face of uncertainty. I was a character I’d play everyday. Loud and raunchy, “unapologetic” and yet constantly plagued with anxiety and fear. All I felt was the thirst, the fraudulence and the lies. 

Falling into the depths of depression, I camouflaged myself into the bathroom stalls and watched myself disappear into the background of my peers — in which I’d never been so hungry for the plump figs and I would continually crave the life I neglected for so long. 

Jordan Montero writes the Wednesday column on the connection between physical objects and emotional experiences. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.

JUNE 21, 2023