I’ve been thinking a lot about niches and labels and identity lately, as well as the fact that I have very rarely been able to stay in one place for very long. I got thinking of all the things I’ve been, all the things I’ve done, all the people I’ve been, as far as my role or my particular station. All the buttons that have been pinned on me as my identity, however brief. I could write forever about this, but instead, I’m going to try (as completely and chronologically as I can) to list all the labels ever given me; all the jobs I’ve held. It may be overwhelming, both for me and for you, but I think it’s an interesting experiment in personal deconstruction.
Child. Sibling. Student. Gifted. Reader. Writer. Delinquent. Angry Child. Plagiarist. Attention-Seeker. Scrapper. Class Clown. Baseball Pitcher. Paperboy. Farmhand. Carpenter’s Assistant. Door to Door Sales of Newspaper Subscriptions. Guitar Player. Loser. Pizza Maker. Little League Umpire. High School Outcast. Victim of Theft. Dickee Dee Driver (Ice cream bike). Poet. Songwriter. Actor. Migraine Sufferer. Christian. Boyfriend. Unfaithful. Depressed. Musician. Lead singer. Bad child. Runaway.Camp Counselor. Landscape worker. Missionary. Agnostic. Atheist. Skeptic. Hopeful Skeptic. Attempted Suicide. Baker. Delivery Driver. Vacuum Cleaner salesperson. Telemarketer. Welfare recipient. Greenhouse worker. Spouse. University Student. Dog owner. Drop out. Factory Worker. Customer Service Representative. Daycare Worker. Father. University Student. Performer in local Theatre. Fish owner. Greenhouse worker. Dropout. Baker. Customer Service Representative. “That guy who faked a seizure ’cause he was bored at work.” University Student. English Teacher (as a Second Language). Smoker. University Student. Father. Dropout. Deli Clerk. Movie Theatre Attendant. Literacy Worker. Telemarketer. Personal Support Worker. Delivery Driver. Musician. Friend. Temp worker (greenhouse, winery, orchards, tree-planting, garbage collection, recycling plant, meat packing plant). Factory worker. CNC Operator. Drinker. Drug user. Manic Depressive. Cuckold. Divorcee. Couch surfer. Lover. Homeless Person. Gas Station attendant. Novelist. Reckless. Enemy. Angry Ex-Husband. One time Cross-Dresser. Illegal Cab Operator. Factory worker. Boyfriend. Musician. Artist. Writer. Poet. Smooth talker. Heavy drinker. Karaoke singer. One night stander. Bachelor. Customer Service Representative. Live in Boyfriend. Disappointment. Professional Artist. Expat. Nanny. Waste Disposal Management Dispatcher. Receptionist. Waiter. Bachelor. Musician. Pizza Delivery Driver. Waiter. Unemployed. Customer Service/Wine Importer. Friend. Car Owner. Marijuana Enthusiast. Wine Connoisseur. Enjoyer of pancakes. Coffee Addict. Long Distance Boyfriend. Desperate Romantic. Fool. Embarrassment. Couch Surfer. Homeless. Home Owner. Disappointment. New Employee. Fired. Unemployed. Telemarketer. Husband. Receptionist. Writer. Author. Executive Assistant for Charitable Organization. Poet. Student. Father. Brother-in-law. Friend. Painter. Technical Customer Service Rep. Writer. Magazine Editor. Clinically Depressed. Book binder. Medicated. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. “Survived By” More Nothing. Suicidal. Friend in need. Dependent. Self-exiled orphan. In Withdrawal. Non-Medicated. Writer. Writer. Writer. Writer. Lizard owner. Dilettante. Actor. Fictional Character. Happy. Insecure. Conflicted. Miserable. Disappointed. Writer. Blogger. Helena. Friend. Author. Suicidal. Unhappy. Confused. Jessica. Author. Playwright. Dilettante. Ken. Now what?
Can I — can you — be defined by any of these things? Is this who I am? Am I the sum of all this, or is it possible, do you think, to wipe this all away and take the definition of ME into my own hands. I’ve run away from my name all my life. I didn’t have a straight path, I can’t think of a right choice I’ve ever made.
I write this not in self-pity, only as a realization that my life has been strange and eventful. I’ve been very happy, and I’ve been downright miserable. At times I thought I knew it all, and other times I felt like a fool. I’ve been angry enough to kill, and have been scared for my life. I’ve been loved and hated. Kissed and spat on, been made love to and been fucked. I’ve done stupid, foolish things, and I’ve done good things that no one will remember, and great things no one will forget. I have fought any chains that people tried to put on me, and for the most part, I hope I’ve been successful.
There is still so much I don’t understand, and I think that I’ve spent more than my fair share feeling lost.
I’d love for you to share — whatever you’d like to share with me today. I’m listening.
“We’ve got these chains that hang around our necks,
people want to strangle us with them before we take our first breath.
Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same,
when temptation calls, we just look away”
-Barenaked Ladies, “What a Good Boy”