This Is Actually Just For Me

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Matthew Payne

I’m going to be very honest — and this truly is not groundbreaking information — but I always feel immensely guilty writing personal essays because I just think there are much better stories out there in the world/internet and I’m taking up space. However, I’ve decided that I will only be writing this for myself.

I am the only person I know who appreciates it when it gets dark out earlier in the day. I am much more relaxed and subdued when it’s dark outside or when it’s raining or when it’s overcast or when it’s cold and snowing. I feel less pressure to be on, I think.

Anyway, it was a Tuesday and it was pitch-black and you could smell that smokiness that always comes out when it dips below a certain temperature and my face was bright pink and we were in a very dimly lit bar for really no particular reason other than the fact that the two of us are the types who never want to go home. You know when your face gets all tingly after you’ve been walking outside and then you duck into a really warm building? And you can feel yourself melting?

I also couldn’t help but think about how much I love all of this and how all of these tiny elements coming together is really just so simple, but makes me feel so fulfilled in ways that most things I desperately want to make me feel fulfilled don’t.

Because I think I’m supposed to feel fulfilled by bright pink sunsets and monumental confessions of love and grandiose gestures and stories with happy endings and books where all the characters live and when the guy I like tells me I’m pretty. But instead I feel the most myself when nothing is really happening at all. I love a good movie where nothing happens. I feel the most myself on the subway and when I listen to a song I used to know all the words to and when my friends and I stumble upon an empty dim sum place with bright purple tablecloths and we can easily sit there for hours. I feel the most fulfilled on a Tuesday night like that one, when I am not thinking too far ahead and I’m not dwelling too much on the past and I am just really okay with insignificance for once.

It was a Tuesday and they asked me how I pick what things to write about and what things I just keep to myself. I think they only asked this to see if I would write about them, which is funny because I wasn’t planning on it, but here we are. They won’t read this, so I’m allowed to do it. I didn’t have a good answer for why I write what I write (what I write spans from monologues about succulents to researched breakdowns on what happens to your brain when you take certain drugs). I’m bad at answering Writer Questions because I don’t even consider myself to be a Real Writer.

But I thought about whether I’d write about that Tuesday and what I would write about it — some details I considered diving into: My bizarre history with this person, the bathrooms at this bar, the fact that I chew gum even when I’m drinking beer, my go-to embarrassing story to tell during lulls in conversations. (I will sacrifice humility for the sake of a funny story.) And it’s all like the Big Things I feel pressured to be inspired by — I sometimes also feel pressure to milk normal things into what I think will be a good read.

Instead, I’d rather just remember these little insignificant moments. These tiny, itty bitty elements that make me feel happy — rather than what I think will actually make up a good story. I was just happy that night. These are the types of things I don’t really care if other people feel anything about, I want to remember this as a time when I was genuinely happy with insignificance, because I forget that that’s possible sometimes. This is actually just for me. TC mark

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