You know how I was talking about how sometimes your past self has something to teach you? Well, once in a while I find some old writing that reminds me who I am in my best moments and it’s so reassuring to find it and meet her again.
Since looking for that last entry about The Vagina Monologues I’ve had a stack of journals on my desk and I thought, since they were out, I’d flip through them a bit and see if there was anything else interesting. I found a journal from the spring of 2001 and found myself engulfed in my tragic and tangled love life, when I was involved in not so much of a love triangle as more of a love hexagon. It’s so clear to me now what I needed to do then, but of course at the time I was completely confused. I was foolish and so selfish, I thought as I read through it. My past self teaches me so much, I wish I could return the favor and whisper a little advice backwards 17 years.
“Tell the truth,” I would say to her. There was so much unintentional deception happening, as a result of trying to protect everyone involved. It just made it worse, of course, but I didn’t see that then.
When I came across this entry it was a relief, a moment when I felt complete pride and love for my younger self. She reminds me how to be open and present and alive.
(No date, because I didn’t date any entry in this whole journal because, well, I didn’t think the date would ever matter?)
Today was haunting as I stepped outside though it took me a while to notice it for what it was and not just an inconvenience. I think it was when I went into Cafe Max and took off all my jackets and scarves and bought a cup of coffee from the morose, goatee’d guy behind the counter, I realized there was no way I could stay inside- I just couldn’t do it for some reason even though it was raining and gray and windy as hell out there. So I went back out- there were no tables or chairs on the sidewalk anywhere so I sat on the church steps and sipped coffee and watched people walk down the street.
I noticed that some people marched with their heads down, hands in pockets, everything wrapped around them and shut off, protected- and some people walked with their bodies pressed against the wind, their heads up, necks exposed, welcoming it and moving with it. I realize that on my way to the coffee shop I’d been walking the first way, as if the wind was an obstacle or an enemy.
So I got up from the steps and continued on down the street, learning how to feel the wind move through me- I took off my scarf and let the wind be my scarf. I took my hands out of my pockets to embrace it. I was drawn to the trees-
stood underneath a pine tree, pressed my back against the trunk, looked up into the monstrous thrashing branches as they dipped and danced, deafening roars of wind through the trees, all over. I could feel the movement and energy and even heat through the trunk- I hummed, throat vibrant, as the tall beings bent and sang. The grass rippled in shining waves as if bristling with a life of its own, and leaves chased each other across it.
Suddenly, a crash- and scanning, I saw a fallen tree, gray branches reaching sideways and thick trunk heavy on the soft ground. I gasped and ran to it, heard a siren in the distance, imagined it was an ambulance coming to save it-
thick knot of mud-choked roots, dripping, what used to be in dark wet warmth now cold and exposed, oh its long body, sad and sprawled, oh its bright white wounds of underflesh that I took off my glove to touch, moist and young. Caked and crumbling mud that I pulled a chunk from, held it in my left hand as I walked away, softly forming it into a ball.
I was late meeting up with Nate at the library, but he was late too. When he showed up, he shouted, “Let’s do homework later and go for a bike ride! It’s beautiful outside!”
I felt alive
Like a challenge, like a fight, like a test.
We ran into Crystal and Justin. Justin was still wearing his pink hat. We walked, the four of us. I left my jacket open to help the wind in. I took off my glasses to fall more into the world- couldn’t discern between this and that, couldn’t discriminate, waved to everyone thinking I knew them, didn’t care about my reflection in the glass. Who knows where we are.
Fences are fallen. Misplaced possessions. Parts of roofs on sidewalks. Bleeding oranges on the street. At Crystal’s house, there are large branches in her yard. Her grass is smooth and long, undulating. The playground across the street was built over a cemetery. Inside her house, my skin feels swept and clean and swollen, like I’d just gone swimming in the ocean. She fed us soup and tea. Justin and I ventured to the haunted playground and Nate climbed high into the redwood tree, so high all I could see was the yellow of his jacket.
Later, we went with Crystal back to the library to look up a photographer named Brassi- marred recollections, shining black and white images of large ended pale women posing in Paris, in the wet brick streets, in the misty night, with fleeting expressions now caged in a heavy book in a heavy library
on a windy night, somewhere else.