I remember a time when I’d lost every sense of earthly ground. I was floating somewhere outside of my own perception. Moving in jerks and avoidance. I wasn’t alive and I wasn’t dead. I was existent, a body that I had to wake up and run every morning. Maneuvering around a world of obstacles. Waiting until the sun fell so I could fuel up and experience something again. Anything. And then forget it. I wanted to burn, but I couldn’t muster the energy.
I learned after a few years that I liked myself better after about five drinks. Other people liked me better, too. When I was laughing and stumbling. I would watch from a distance. I was easy to use and I wanted to be useful. Surrounded by so many smiling faces begging my company, I was completely alone. In the end I still woke up in my own aching head – constantly wondering why such punishment was necessary. My body begging me to stop. Me begging my body to keep up.
I wasn’t searching for anything. That was the problem. I knew there was nothing out there. All gods were dead and all hopes were false. Love was an illusion I’d already suffered and it seemed that all humanity and morals were constructs built on baseless grounds. I was free but there was no satisfaction in this. It was a purposeless freedom. With no path, I was wandering through a desert – constantly thirsty and undernourished. Taken with the most bizarre hallucinations of the actions of my body. Shameful. All I wanted was a direction and the world had none to offer. But, boy, did it have a lot of distractions.
And the more I distorted, the more I lost even a sense that I was wandering. Instead, I was spinning. I was spinning like a top about ready to fall, with bets on which side would land up. I think I even put bets down myself. Ass up, I said, she’ll land ass up. That’s what a drowned body looks like, anyway. I was inhaling liquid at this point, inhaling false confidences that collapsed implosion chest falls bottle crack inhale inhale inhale inhale inhale. Fuck, the drugs aren’t working anymore.
I could feel my blood thick in my veins. Couldn’t lift my head. Didn’t want to. Didn’t want to ever have to move again. Didn’t want to continue this haunted walk for a happiness that I would never obtain. Didn’t want to wake up again. Didn’t care to keep pushing this body around the world. These words spun webs around my fluttering eyelids. I could feel them as needles sewing my eyes shut. I wanted to sleep. A voice from outside struck me. It was sharp, a knife in my ear. Somebody was screaming at me. I was crying. Everybody was disappointed. My shoulders wracked with sobs and the right person wasn’t there to put their arm across them. I remembered when I was little girl and everything about life was doused in sunshine. I liked catching frogs and making people smile. I liked swimming in lakes with wild abandon. I liked running through the forest with a purposeful loss of direction – just to see where I’d end up. I liked bacon. I loved when my dad would let me mow the lawn because it meant I got to drive the riding lawnmower like a car. A hug from mom fixed absolutely every woe. My smiles were honest and unafflicted. I was so loved. I never speak to them anymore, my parents. Every time they called me I pressed ignore and had to drink away this idea with how disappointed they would be in that little girl that got lost somewhere. Kept picturing the body of that little girl cold and rotting in an alley off Pearl Street. Kept picturing them pinning her death on me. My head didn’t make any sense. The words kept swimming around.
What did you learn from this, they asked me. I was sitting in a cold room with only one window. It was snowing outside. I was surrounded by a group of people with stories sadder than mine. I learned that it’s really difficult to be alive, I told them. They seemed disappointed with my answer. They told me that this wasn’t my true answer. No, it was the disease inside me speaking. Some sort of beast that sat at the bottom of my trachea using it as a tunnel to yell in and joy in its own terrible echoes. I pondered on this. Were my words never my own? Did they ever belong to me or do they all belong to some sort of subversive purpose now? Some beast trying to claw its way out by belly or by mouth. By any means necessary. They promised they’d teach me how to tame it. That horrible beast. I looked the woman called the counselor dead in the eye and said, “But, what if I am the beast?”
I couldn’t go back. Innocence is something lost, not something gained. I mourned that little girl in the alleyway, bloated and ridden with flies – tried to talk to her. I wrote her lengthy apologies and begged her to wake up. Eventually I buried her in the most beautiful plot of land that I could think of; on a lake shore in northern Minnesota. She would love it there. Kissed with red and golden leaves that fall gently to her in the autumn. Watching the loons migrate through in the summer and the chipmunks play in the trees. The smell of barbeque never far off. The perfection of an untouched blanket of snow in the winter. Nothing but the soft pat of deer tracks. And the flowers of spring. More flowers than you could ever imagine. All colors and all a secret entrance to a magical world – especially the ladyslippers. Pitcherplants in the bog. Yeah. She would love it.
I still say to this day that the only people who ever saved me were all dead. Those that died too early and those that died for better reasons. Those that died with wisdom. Those that died but left words behind that still test time. Those that lived fiercely when given the chance. Arthur Rimbaud. Jean-Paul Sartre. Aime Cesaire. Ernest Hemingway. So many more. So many whose names I can’t remember but whose words still lie heavy on my heart. These people gave me a new purpose and new respect for my own life. My own life which means nothing other than the purpose I give it. Means nothing more than the words and memories I leave with others. I haven’t left enough. Living is difficult. This suffering was a stepping stone to greatness. A trigger of disgust for the waste that people use their lives for. If you get the chance to be alive you may as well use it whole-heartedly, stop putzing around in self doubt and pity. Stop worrying yourself sick over the meaningless shit that takes over our confidences. That little girl woke inside. She wanted to run into the world with wild abandon. I wanted to let her. Now I write for her. I write to fight. I write to live. I write because there is still humanity left in this shell, and it’s still as much of a force as it ever was. I write because these words demand their place out there in the world, for others. I write so that maybe a chord is struck somewhere, an important one. A bell that people needed rung. An illumination that so many people have touched my life, why should I not reach for others? So I’m reaching. I’m freewriting these words for you. Come to me if you feel them.