Updated: Oct 10, 2021
I’m not sure I’m the obvious choice.
I’m not bold or powerful. My brothers were always more forceful than me. My sister was always more steady than me. I have small bones and a fainting reflex. Whenever I see blood I faint. I was shy at first. I took long to first start speaking and when I did I spoke. In. Broken. Sentences. For. Quite. A. While. I felt afraid of scary things or ugly things like spiders or darkness, needed help with checking pockets and shoes for eight-legged creatures. I woke feverishly from nightmares on hot humid nights. I felt anxious for the feelings of inanimate objects like shoes or teddy bears, wondering if they felt scared or hurt or lonely somehow. I stood in the corner of rooms while other children played. I sat on top the monkey bars, overlooking children on playgrounds. I wrote in journals. I sat on the dining room floor listening to Tchaikovsky on snow days, opted out of trick-or-treating so I could avoid all the gruesome costumes. I hid kittens in my backpack. And I made friends with my stuffed animals because I felt real friends were less interesting.
I don’t always feel very American to myself. I feel unconcerned about status or money. I feel surprised when I succeed, but frustrated when I don’t. I feel interested in the species of trees and enveloped in clouds especially. I say rude things just to entertain myself. I feel embarrassed that I’m pretty, but proud about it too. I recognize the beauty in nature and the presence of God in the existence of flowers. I drink hot tea religiously and spend an entire day in thought. I feel imaginative and introspective. I get stuck in brain loops sometimes, get songs stuck in my head in a way that feels maddening. I’m not thick-skinned. I’m porcelain, delicate, and refined instead. I feel acerbic about badly written music. I’m not always humble. And I’m not always kind. I’m not sure I’m the obvious choice. I struggle to understand my genetics, that someone with so much sensitivity could exist in the world, inviting natural selection to deselect me and take me to wherever undesirable things get taken. But instead I always get selected for this or that. I’m a leader, they say. I’m talented! I’m intelligent! I’m clever! I’m beautiful. I’m this or I’m that.
I want creamed honey on mornings I can’t sleep. I want hot tea and eggs and then to sink into bed for a late morning nap. I sleep deeply this way, in a black as pitch way, dreamless and utterly lifeless. It rains in the mornings and I listen to cars moving over puddles, splashing lukewarm water on hot Summer concrete and care little for how society runs itself.
Sometimes I feel serious in a way I can’t handle. And I imagine brutal things I choose never to say. Sometimes I feel indifferent and I feel suspended, caught between two equally powerful forces. Serious and heavy, light and detached. I’ve been having a conversation with myself my entire life. Or maybe for the last decade. I’m not sure when it began.
I went to the ocean and swam by myself, and thought maybe it was between me and God. One current pushed me under and another held me there. I felt convinced I could float away and not care. I wanted the waves to engulf me. I felt a desire to be cold and empty, vacant and lifeless, distorted by the ever shifting ocean. I felt pure and ready for deeper parts further out.
You see, I think of humanity as a concave species, needing to be filled. What are all the drugs and sex for but an empty space that needed filling. We gorge ourselves to shut up the hole but it weighs us down. A demon clutches within us and gnaws on the bone until it’s throbbing. And we want and we want. We desire and relieve the desire only to desire again and more. This is the hell we’ve chosen for ourselves. Persisting and insisting. I prefer desolation instead. Cold and sharp, feeling God hovers in like a vapor not fully realized but slowly manifesting himself...