Black or white, right or wrong, I’ve always worked in absolutes. Gray is a muddled blend of the extremes where I more comfortably reside. The color of the sky when storm clouds roll into town. Or the feeling that blankets me when I’m sadder than blue. Blue is bad but gray is worse. Even still, I sometimes wade in gray. Maybe I’m uncertain. Maybe I’m undecided. Maybe I’ve sat back and let someone else take the reins. If I’m lingering in gray, it’s mostly because I’ve lost my way. I’ve let myself settle into an existence of 10% - just enough to participate but not enough to reap any reward.
As December tumbled forward, a clumsy collection of muddled gray hanging over my head, I set out to return my life to an organized existence shaded in black and white. I tugged at my brain, I yanked at my hair and I finally decided to apply to grad school. The thing is, I had to because blogging was starting to feel like 10% of a pen. Then I curled my heart and unraveled my head, diving more openly into the great wide abyss of single men and those who are foolishly dazzled by me. The thing is, I had to because my continued dabbling with Alaska felt like 10% of a love affair. That’s like being 10% pregnant. Or ordering 10% of a hamburger at the McDonald’s drive-thru. And for a girl who lives in absolutes, 10% is mere tinkering. 10% is like treading water or running in place- a whole lot of energy that gets you absolutely nowhere.
When it comes to love, if you have me, you have all of me. 100% of me. Maybe even more. And without question or hesitation. I might have an important presentation slated for eight but I’ll still reach for the ringing receiver in the wee hours of the morning and smile as I groan a hello. I might want to lean or I might want to need but if you’re under piles at work or burdened by timely commitments, I patiently linger on the periphery until you indicate otherwise. I’m still there. I’m always still there. And while I may be on the outskirts, I’m there 100%. Maybe even more. Because when I’m in, I’m in.
All in is white. Or perhaps it’s black. But it sure as shit ain’t gray. I’m either in or I’m out but this middle space, regardless of it involving my head or heart or both, I can’t do it for very long. Eventually I break. Because gray feels itchy like a Shetland wool sweater bristling against bare flesh. It’s slippery and unsteady like the damp teak slats of the deck on a sailboat rolling between the white capped waves. So to settle the ground and soothe the skin, I set out to un-gray my life. First I made a graph of academic programs, listing deadlines and requirements and ranking the MFA offerings according to best fit. I jumped in with both feet, knowing I need to commit at least 100% of my attention to eke out an acceptance. Next I got back into the dating thing, connecting with a few boys from here and there, smart and funny and cute boys who all have something to offer. Because while I know I do alone fine, I know I enjoy together better. And to create a together, I need to give 100% of my heart. And to give 100% of my heart, I have to take back that 10% dangling out there for Alaska. So I went through and deleted my past. I removed contact information and erased saved emails and sent a request to set me free. To let me be me, the real me instead of the 10% version of me. Because black or white, right or wrong, I work in absolutes. I’m in or I’m out but I can’t comfortably wade in 10%. It’s a mere fraction of the whole pie. A single piece in a very large puzzle. And no matter how I run the numbers, 10% always works out to be nothing more than fuzzy math.