We have found the crevice just outside of real time and I am determined to stay in it for as long as possible. It is dark out, but I know that if I get up to return to the bunker I won’t know how to deal with the loss. I am not used to feeling as if I could never spend enough time with another person; the only constant exception to this is—was—my mother.
My class was gone on a trip from Tuesday to Friday, racing around upstate New York to see colleges. I bled on the first day without having my period. This has only ever happened to me once or twice, and I can’t recall if it took place before or after my mom died. (This is my demarcation line for most unusual things.) I bought two tampons even though I knew the blood wouldn’t come again and locked myself in a steel box in the Cornell bathroom to hold them in my hand.
I wrote five new poems in the same day on one of the bus rides, which happened so often that they became as natural as breaths. The writing was another rarity; I am not used to regurgitating that many words at once. I refused to talk to anyone I knew for reasons I still can’t explain and read Anne Sexton (I rolled my eyes at how cliché this sounds too, but it was my initiation, and a good one). I broke down more than once. Most of the time it was in the dead stillness of passing through Ithaca or Rochester with almost all of my classmates asleep and unmoving around me. There is nothing scarier than realizing that it’s too much to live but you cannot die and either path will have serious repercussions while you are sitting with 40 other kids. I didn’t think I would make it. I thought that it would finally be the moment where I shrieked with no end in sight and ran off of the bus and into the forest to deliberate my last minutes in a sweaty panic. In all honesty, this would have been a relief, like the last melatonin down before sleep. But I knew that it wasn’t right. If there is a time when it would be “right” for me to leave, it was not then and it is not now, or even close. I can appreciate this fact for now.
I sit on the floor of my bunker and listen to the Virgin Suicides soundtrack at 4 AM after four hours of talking to the boy I like. The air feels strange because of the summer equinox. I notice a swollen bug bite that I didn’t notice earlier and suddenly it burns like my thigh has kissed a flame. My body is a battleground, except I must always watch from afar. Even the sidelines are too good for me—I’m not allowed to know what is happening.
I turn 17 next month. It is strange to be witness to such a polar difference between years. When I turned 16 last year, I was still moving and I spent my birthday in Israel and my concept of intimacy had been warped into a series of hookups that I am still shaking off memories of. I am not the same at all. I am very pleased with the switch. My life will never be perfect and there is no fact I am more content with than this one, my golden rule. But this is the closest I have come. I ban all of my considerations of possible ends or screw-ups and just…exist. ♦