i had to write an essay recently and after four drafts of pure drivel this came out. it was an attempt at explaining the last few years in the very short span of two pages. some of it is recycled and much of it is known, but i thought i'd share anyway...
It must happen silently. The slipping from one's skin. On long subway rides and quiet mornings. In the middle of a crowded room or alone in an unknown city. Perhaps it exits the body like a breath. Such a sad quiet thing, the loss of one’s self.
My story isn't singular and I can't say that it's particularly interesting. There was the usual depression and the usual difficulty getting out of bed, but that's not really of import, nor is it what I remember. Instead my mind continuously circles back to a night late in December nearly three years ago. I walked down a freshly blanketed street, white with snow, my suitcase trailing, leaving behind two clean lines. The air was perfect and clean and there was this sense not just of returning home, but of returning to myself. Oh, here I am, came a thought, dropping down weightless from the nearly black sky. And then another, I didn’t even know I had gone. Until that moment, until that quiet walk, neither thought had ever occurred to me. It was only upon the start of the long sojourn back--that beginning of the bildungsroman—that I became aware of the loss I had suffered. Funny thing about sadness, the kind sneaks and steals whole years from your life—it doesn't just steal time, it takes the whole of the person—skewing memory and experience, wiping whole moments from one's life.
What occurs to me now, courtesy of the lovely gift of hindsight, is that I had begun writing just months before this revelation. It began innocently enough. I wrote about silly things. Morning lattes and fresh flowers. Men with deep-set eyes and long lashes. Cobblestone streets. I used words to dream my way out of sadness. And before I knew it, words were moving up and through that I hardly knew were in me. Stories were everywhere. And everything, even the worst of it, especially the worst of it—the anger and frustration, the sense of unknown—was part of a tale and thus worthy of a voice. And so I became worthy of a voice. The words had lungs, the words breathed life, revealed life, unraveled and unfurled that which I had hidden for so long. I credit writing with returning me to myself. And so while my loss may have been marked by silence, the return was anything but. I was a writer. Without my words ever being published or seen, I knew at the core of it all, I was a storyteller.
Writing to me seems much like gathering storm clouds. That is to say, nearly impossible. But then such is life. It is nearly impossible and absolutely frustrating and more often than not, a great mystery. But when things get tricky on my end, when upheaval reigns, and nothing is clearer than murky, when I feel most alone, I remember I am filled with words, and their endless, malleable patterns. And so I am never without. There is the loss of one’s self. And there is life after. And the life after, it's just so much better. You walk home one December night, snow collecting in your shoes and find you’re a better person, filled with the love of small, tangible, wriggly words--and those words open worlds and life thrums along. Only different, better.
I don’t yet know what my life will be. I don’t know if I’ll author a book or make a living speaking the words of others. It is all so unknown. But I do know who I am, and the rest is adventure. And heaven help me because I’m yearning for some adventure.