A man I almost met emailed me late tonight after reading my last blog post and said, “Snark over sweetness any day? I had you pegged for sweet over snark.” I was in bed, skin against sheets, but I couldn’t sleep. I looked at the Blackberry in the gray-dark and then turned it off, but my eyes remained open. Did I really say I’ll take snark over sweetness any day?
What I think I meant, I told myself, was the edge, I’ve got to have an edge. It wasn’t attitude, believe me, nor was it sharpness. And suddenly this vision of myself appeared in clear focus inside my head, my curlyhair and fair-skinned face open, awaiting, honest, and slightly naive. And there was no snark there.
What I saw when I first heard the word snark was self-assuredness and confidence, maybe too much. I approached the microphone to ask a question, a good question, one about reporting on one’s own community when one remains an outsider in one’s own backyard. And what the panel of three snarky writers saw at the mic was an honest, privileged Jewish woman, and they said to themselves, “She can’t be disadvantaged. Her community doesn’t need coverage. We won’t take her question seriously.”
I got smirks and scowls and averted eyes. And not one answer to my question. Because I was asking about how a people so clearly in the minority – but the privileged minority – can be disenfranchised, can have issues, can be troubled. We can’t be, is what they wanted to say, because our skin is light and our pockets padded.
That was snark in all its skeletal bones.
So if I said snark over sweetness what I meant was, give me my edge. Let me speak in the night, loud so all can hear, when it is quiet, when it is quietest, and I am alone awake between the blankets.
For two years before I filed for divorce, I tossed and turned at night, unable to drift into soundless sleep. Some nights I awoke with a start, my heart beating madly, from the fierceness of my dreams. I had nightmares, and I reached for my husband in the dark only to grab a fistful of pillow and empty blankets.
When I realized I would abandon my marriage in search of myself and truth and a serene path alongside someone whose smiling face I have yet to see, I fell asleep so easily. It was a gift then and one that I have returned to and lost like waves in the north sea these many months. The process of divorce is rocky and arduous and lined with boulders, and so I have reacquainted myself with the night.
But I never meant that my soul lives on snark. It’s that I don’t want to be crushed by the wind, you see. I don’t want to stumble over my words or stutter on the fly. I want the careful confidence that comes from sitting on the panel, looking down the stage at everyone arrayed in rows of stiff chairs in front of me.
Maybe I don’t even want that for it assumes a certain degree of superiority. It’s like the short man who drives a Ferrari or the bald paunchy guy with the tall buxom blond on his arm. I don’t want to have to make up for insecurities eating away at my skin.
This is me. First-time me, forever me, facing the rising sun each morning and watching it sink below the window frame each night. I’m listening to the call of the wind on the backyard swing, and being soothed by the warm water as I wash my dishes clean. I’m savoring the sweetness of the last drops of riesling in my bulbous glass.
It’s night and I’m tired, my friend, so I’ll leave you with this: it is spring dawning, streams running clear over lots of little stones. Look for the ridges, dip your hands into the crisp rush and run your fingertips over the smoothness. That’s years and seasons gone by, brushing the surface clean, smoothing it over, renewing it yet again.