James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room, 1956
James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room, 1956
I find myself regressing.
Repeating behaviors I exhibited back when I was in college.
I cut all my hair off and am letting it grow out again only this time the cutting was from losing the battle to save my ends from a bad dye job, not a surrender to early 2000s punk rock.
I return to my mother’s house where I live in the old room I had in elementary school. We played musical rooms a lot, my family and I.
I wear the clothes I wore as a child: jeans and oversized t-shirts only this time because they’re comfortable and not because we were flat broke and the authorities felt the need to hide my rapidly developing curves (I had the second biggest breasts in middle school).
I used to smoke cigarettes and I miss them with all of my heart.
I would tape magazine pictures into my notebooks for collages instead of gluing them, the glossy strips formed a layer of protection, preservation, I felt I could never attain.
I wanted to be a vampire. I wanted to stay the same, never age, never gain weight, never feel anything but cold.
Now I hate the cold and I weigh 50 lbs more than that girl I want to go back to.
She made a lot of mistakes.
I want to give her a hug and tell her to stop hating herself.
I want to tell her everything’s going to be alright AND she will find the PERFECT PURSE even though she’s also going to fuck up many, many times.
Fucking up is okay.
Do you guys out there feel that way too? Do you notice little things that you thought you outgrew? Or things you haven’t done in a very long time like make a collage or cut your hair?
Do you replay all your fuckups and cringe?
I don’t like all Stephen King books but I can’t deny he is a master of the horror genre. And the books of his that I do like, I like because they entertain me as a reader, not a writer. I get transported into that world and I don’t want to leave because there’s something there in the terror that feels like home.
So when I was a kid, my mom went to Pennsylvania for a conference or something and first I got scared because I didn’t hear Pennsylvania, I heard Transylvania and I thought Dracula was going to kill her. I was corrected rather quickly about that before I could realize that if Dracula “killed” her she could turn into a vampire and have a pretty cool life after that.
But then after we dropped her off at the airport my dad said something about how her plane might crash, a possibility that had never popped into my head before even though I had my first plane ride when I was 3, and when we got home he put on The Langoliers.
And I fucking loved it.
I loved the creepy abandoned airport, I love how the characters could pick through other people’s stuff and explore things that seemed ordinary but were really out of the ordinary.
I loved the little girl, I wanted to be her. I loved the tough Australian guy, I wanted to marry him and I was sad when he died. I loved the pilot and his bravery flying the plane through the rip in reality knowing that if he fucked it up they would all die. I even liked the guy who ripped up paper, even though he was also kinda creepy. And I felt kinda bad that he was messed up. But I also loved it when the Langoliers ate him.
I could go on and on about those characters. I think it’s one of the few stories where I like every single character, which doesn’t happen often.
I hot-glued cotton balls to a rock and drew teeth on it. I am not artistic. It was an albino langolier. Whatever.
I thought those monsters were fucking adorable. And if you think about it, knowing that a toothy, round monster thing eats the past is kind of comforting because everything embarrassing or humiliating that ever happened to you is, technically, gone now.
And that’s how I got into Stephen King.
A clean handkerchief
wraps around grief
like a soft breath
breathless in the
Your hand, my hand,
hiding from the memory
a missing moment—
that are not there.
1. As a bird that has no hope.
Embrace the numbness in your hands, the writhing micro-fractures in your ribs as they grow into bright veins of quartz and agate, burst into winged fractals when no one is looking.
2. As a bird that thinks she has a lot of hope but really has none.
Choose the number of vertebrae you’d wish your favorite enemy to take out of your spine and treble it, if you are brave. That is the number of shiny things you must gather to attract a mate and keep yourself sane. Learn to make up the lines of poems you can’t remember. The dead won’t mind and the living are too preoccupied to care.
3. As a bird that has reached that powerful space beyond desperation.
Don’t be afraid to create with your teeth. Blind them with your claws, dive down their throats. This technique may not promise survival but in this way you can make beauty out of whoever tries to kill you.