In general, writers have to know and understand the human psyche on such an intimate level in order to properly construct a plot, introduce characters, and even dream of decent dialogue.
Writers know that some people feel like rays of summer sunshine, taste like cherry Popsicles, smell like vanilla candles, and flirt like a dusk-kissed sky. Writers know that other people feel like white marble floors, taste like black ink, smell like Wright’s All-Natural Liquid Hickory Smoke, and tease like Orion’s Belt shining through the broken ceiling of a Roman temple. Writers know that still other people feel like silk trickling across your skin, taste like mountain spring water in March, smell like green tea leaves floating on surface tension, and skim through like the moon on a puddle.
That’s why Christmas is so emotionally draining for me.
I can sit in a room surrounded by my family and know exactly what they are feeling – because at some point, I felt it too.
Sister, I know that you spent over $200 on your boyfriend’s entire family only to spend a total of $47.59 on all 6 of us. I know you did it because you think that your boyfriend’s family gets you and that they treat you better than we ever did and you want us to feel bad – as worthless as you felt. I also know that every time one of us tries to explain that you don’t make us a priority, that you hurt us when you sleep through breakfast (and lunch and sometimes until we call you for dinner), that you make us feel friendless when you ignore our calls and our texts, that you pretend to be asleep when we go into your room and try to invite you for coffee – but when we try to explain all of that, you shut us down. Somehow we can’t tell you how we feel, but you can instruct us in the correct way to communicate emotion. I know that act, Sister. I write it myself.
Brother, I know that you are 13 and selfish – not because you mean to be, but just because you simply forget to think about other people. You don’t have mean intentions, but you don’t have any intentions at all. You want distraction, entertainment, noise gobbling silence at every point in your life because you’re terrified of being bored and alone. It’s hard to feel alone with light and voices from every virtual game you play. I know that feeling, Brother. I’ve written it before.
Sister, I recognize the pain in your words when you lash out and make fun of other people’s accomplishments; as soon as you make someone feel ashamed by what they’ve achieved, no one can hold it against you for not reaching that goal yourself. Your mocking jokes reveal exactly how jealous you are of everyone else’s dreams – you’re terrified of being left behind in the rat race that our parents encourage us to run. I know how you feel, Sister. I’ve lived that before.
And yet, it’s funny. If I were to tell them all of this, they’d laugh and say I was making it up – because writers don’t understand.
And I’d smile back at them and shrug my shoulders.
Because I knew that’s exactly what they would say.