It wasn’t until I’d been on the train for half an hour that I regretted not embracing Erica when we said goodbye. But by then I was an hour from London and it would have been silly to go back just for a hug. She was coming to visit me in four days, anyway, so I thought about that and smiled.
When my friendships with my roommates started to fall apart and left me in a state of shock, Erica let me sleep in her bed. I curled up on the end like a dog, unable to sleep. I heard the dull thuds, footsteps, and muffled singing of a few of my flatmates above. I could imagine it all, but it all felt very far away. I felt like a muffled human. Wary of waking Erica, I tried not to take up too much space in her bed. Even in the midst of shaky sleep, I was trying to compress my body into as tight a ball as possible, until I was jolted awake by a sensation of unsteadiness. I caught myself just before I fell completely off Erica’s bed. Desperate to stretch out my limbs and to catch some actual sleep, I went upstairs.
Upon entering my flat, I heard sex noises I really didn’t want to hear and felt numb. I fell into bed and listened to the birds—a pure noise, a comforting sound—and tried to drown out everything else. I wrote a poem about loving myself when the thing I wanted to do the most was hate myself. Hate myself into nonexistence. But I resisted. I survived. And I knew that when it was morning, I could hand in an essay and go to a seminar and see Erica.
On my walk to the library to print my essay, I felt the least confident I have felt for a long time. I avoided every person’s gaze, wishing not to be seen. But I knew I would get past that moment, that it would soon be over. I knew that it was a passing phase and my confidence would soon return. The kind of confidence that makes me run and sing in the street at night and be able to look people right in the eye. Most of the time, anyway.
Then I accidentally dyed my hair a dun brown, but it was all right, because I needed to feel a different person. Erica and I hopped on the Tube and went to the Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, which was crazy and in-your-face and very distracting. Then we walked by the Thames, past the London Eye. Big Ben chimed and the House of Parliament lit up. There is something about walking through London that makes everything seem better. It’s impossible to feel like life isn’t worth living.
Now I am home and I am really fine. Better than I ever thought I could be. I feel more tempered, more aware of life’s pitfalls, perhaps. But pretty much happy, ’cause the shit I’ve gone through has made me quite good at not taking any shit. ♦