“When I was a kid, would you say I was anxious or happy or both?”
“I sense you will tweet this.”
“No, I’m writing about it.”
“Well then. I’d say you were ‘complex.’”
These were a few of the words she had heard during her 39 years: complex, different, intense, salty, difficult, amazing.
She used to think she hated difficult most of all, and so she tried to tuck in her untidy corners and even out her surfaces, stretch herself tight and smooth. But she was like skin, which can only take so much pinching and pulling and youthful plumping before it starts to look unnatural, alien. She could only fake it for so long before all the difficult spilled everywhere. Difficult made such a mess when it came out all at once.
“This is bullshit. You’re not really difficult,” K. would say. “You’re completely normal. All the people who have said this to you are either idiots or are extremely smart and know how to control you. Look, you’re pretty normal. There’s nothing particularly difficult about you. In fact, you’re significantly less difficult than plenty of people I know.” The two of them would launch directly into a long and detailed conversation about their exes, starting with a review of the times (countless) K.’s ex lay on the floor for seven or more hours, motionless and refusing to talk.
She decided K. was right. Whatever she tried to hide wasn’t difficult. Or maybe it was the hiding it that actually made it difficult, uncomfortable.
Anyway, by then she’d figured out it wasn’t difficult that got to her. It was amazing. “You’re so amazing” was the death knell for any burgeoning romance. “You’re so amazing” was shorthand for “I won’t be able handle this” or “I don’t think I’m good enough” or “Buried somewhere in here is a wild insecurity I’m going to manage to make you feel bad about – just give me a few days.”
She remembered once her brother saying to her, “I hope one day I marry a woman whose personality is as salty as yours.” He didn’t. Most of them wouldn’t.
Intense wasn’t bad but she always thought it was a euphemism for crazy.
Complex. That one felt different. Complex.
She thought about women who lived their lives wearing red lipstick every day, whether sitting at a bar alone or scaling the Alps. Who wrote books and wore evening gowns, who could charm anyone but didn’t need to, whose moods suited them just fine. She thought about the times she’d wished to be simpler, easier. She looked in the mirror and pulled complex around her shoulders. It fit. She fixed her lipstick and headed out for a drink.