In her entry from March 27, 2012, called “Radical Acts,” Masha Tupitsyn quotes James Baldwin as saying, “I was trying to make a connection between the books I was reading and the life I saw and the life I lived.”
Always this, in case you haven’t figured it out by now.
I think that’s why I first became so enamored with Masha’s writing. With intellect fueling a depth of emotion and emotion fueling a depth of intellect, she writes in a way that mirrored something of how I’d always thought and felt, how I sought and saw connections between my life and the books I was reading, the films I was watching, the songs I was listening to, and sometimes even the games I was playing.
The other day, a friend asked me why I feel the way I do about you. I felt like I immediately fell into conventional reasons that could apply to any number of people, like I couldn’t articulate what it was about you specifically. I was reminded of Masha’s entry “Saudade" from July 26, 2012, which begins, "When people ask me what I like about you (X.), I’m not sure I know the answer. Or I’m not sure I can talk about it. Or I do know the answer, but they’re not things I can explain, or that matter to other people.”
If I had to try to explain it right now, I know I would fall terribly short. I don’t know if it can even be explained:
from Museum Hours
but it has something to do with all the ways that you’re like me and all the ways that you’re not like me. The things we have in common and the things we don’t. How you’re strong in a way that doesn’t diminish but enhances your warmth. How when I’m around you I feel safe in a way that I don’t around most people and I feel comfortable with things I don’t normally feel comfortable with. (“People who are like forbidden cities,” Masha once wrote. “People who only love people who have the key to them.” And how I told you I didn’t know how not to be real with you anymore.) How I felt like I had so much to learn from you, like just being around you was good for me as a person. How I feel like to look at you is to know you and yet to know that there’s still so much I don’t know about you.
Though, to quote the last line of “Saudade,” “Of course I could be wrong about all of this.”
Writing about faith on January 5, 2012, Masha wrote:
Are you willing to love and have faith even if nothing comes of it? Even if you stand to lose everything.
Being faithful to what you cannot even see. To what might not even happen.
This is hard.
Writing about Christianity, Kierkegaard notes: “The contradiction which arrests [the understanding] is that a man is required to make the greatest possible sacrifice, to dedicate his whole life as a sacrifice—and wherefore? There is indeed no wherefore… At first glance the understanding ascertains this is madness. The understanding asks: what’s in it for me? The answer is nothing.”
And later, on February 22, 2012, Masha wrote of her own faith in love:
When everyone in class, including Avital Ronell, says that unity with the other is impossible, I know better. As Badiou puts it, “Love is proof of Two.” I know it’s been possible. I know all the opposing theories, I just don’t believe in them. At the end of the day, I believe in the possibility of the impossible, in communion, in the other as the only faith, in the odds, the stakes, the signs.
The same day I read this, the poet Bobbi Lurie tweeted:
and my phone shuffled up this song, which is about waiting, about holding on, with the hope or the expectation of being rewarded, someday:
“Once again happiness knocked on my door in vain.”
But I’m not holding on with expectations or hope of reward. Holding on to you for now is my way of holding on to my faith in love, and to my belief that real love is possible in my life.
In her entry from February 19, 2012, Masha is perhaps addressing herself but might as well be addressing me when she writes:
Your fantasy has always been to run away. To a faraway place, into a book and into love with just one person. Into the writing, into the place you need in order to write. In order to live, in order to think, in order to get away.
When will you stop despairing over people and just get cynical and detached and used to it like everyone else?
She then quotes from an old interview with Boy George in which he said, “Love is like God. You just have to believe it exists.” To which Masha replies, “You don’t know. You are starting to think maybe it doesn’t. There are certain things you haven’t lost because of what you’ve lost. That is the irony.”
The Things I Haven’t Lost Because of What I’ve Lost
On April 7 of 2012, Masha posted a journal entry she wrote when she was 21. It read, in part, “But after music at Bubalas, then the madness of the 1 am Spiritus Pizza rush, someone mentioned H., and then I wasn’t okay. I was sore in every vein, all bones struck by the name, a dull ache all over me.”
I can’t escape your name, nor do I want to, but it has a power over me. Sometimes when I hear it and I’m not expecting to, it hurts. Recently I got an auto-generated, social-media-related email “from you” (not really from you) and seeing your name there in my inbox made my heart skip a beat.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s childish of me to have feelings like this, if these aren’t the sorts of things people are supposed to outgrow after high school, or maybe college. After all, Masha wrote that journal entry when she was 21. But a few days later, she wrote, “I still have teenage desires. I still have a teenage heart.”
And I think that’s me, too. I think that, because of the years I’ve lost, because I haven’t had the experiences that most people have had by my age, I still have these beliefs about love that are unclouded by cynicism. I still yearn completely for a person. I know this makes me too much for people to handle sometimes. On May 28, 2012, Masha quoted from Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote: “I can’t be normal because I can’t stop loving.” She went on to say:
Love means being insane in today’s world (the lack of it is also what makes the world insane), and it is what makes me intense. As a person, as a woman.
"You’re too much," everyone always says, and there is nothing I can do to hide it. It always just shows.
The green still shows. Why didn’t I rust or go dead like so many others? Let the color fade. Why didn’t I learn to turn the volume down? Why did it only get louder? I am not camouflaging, I am sticking out. I am like glass.
When I think of teenage desires and teenage hearts, I think of Gone Home. On January 24, 2012, Masha refers to her friend Elaine quoting Bliss Cua Lim’s “The Ghostliness of Genre”: “The ghost film’s core conceit, visualized in its mise-en-scène, is that space has a memory.” This is the core conceit of Gone Home, too, a game which cleverly employs tropes of ghost stories and horror films in order to subvert them and, in so doing, create a greater affirmation of Sam and Lonnie’s love. Thinking of what I haven’t lost because of what I have lost, of how I still have teenage desires and a teenage heart, I think of the words of game designer (and transgender woman) Merritt Kopas on Gone Home:
I want to be Sam. I want to be present in my youth. I want a riot grrl romance. I want to make zines and go to girl band gigs and dye my (girl)friend’s hair.
But I can’t have that, not in the way that part of me still desperately wants it: it’s not the 90s, I’m not a teenage girl, and neither of those things is ever, ever going to change. That’s something I’m still dealing with. But ultimately Gone Home left me hopeful rather than grieving. Hopeful about storytelling and games, and hopeful about my own experiences. Because obviously we can’t go back home, into our pasts, and change things – like Katie, all we can do is observe, witness, turn things over in our heads until they make a kind of sense that we can work with. But we can write new stories, ones where girls in love don’t die tragic deaths and where big empty houses are scary but ultimately safe and where you can have a teenage girl romance at 25, or 35, or whenever you want to.
(The only problem with Gone Home was that I couldn’t open this magazine and read the article about Guided by Voices.)
I believe that space has a memory, too. The desk next to mine is empty right now but sometimes I remember how you once did some work there, giving me the gift of your presence as I gave you mine.
It’s not just places that get entangled with memory. Yesterday I read Joanna Walsh’s essay “Ventimiglia,” which includes the line, “The trick is to untangle objects from memory.” That is not a trick I’ve ever known how to pull off. The game you and I once spent hours playing together, a game I love—I haven’t played it since. It reminds me too much of how it felt to spend time with you.
So here I am, with this teenage heart and these teenage desires, trying to figure out just what to do with them. Whatever happens next, I know I’ve got my work cut out for me, and if someone comes along who I love and who loves me, they’ll have their work cut out for them, too. I won’t make it easy for them. I don’t know how to. I don’t know how to do anything. But on March 19, 2012, Masha quoted Jeanette Winterson: “It’s a sin this not being ready, this not being up for it.”
I think I am, as they say, as ready as I’ll ever be.
"A text is for someone. Not for everyone. The way someone is for someone. Not for everyone." —Masha Tupitsyn, March 11, 2012