My favorite day of the week.
I’m awake and it’s late.
8:30 in the morning.
Maybe not late for some people, but late for me.
I’m relieved that I don’t have to go anywhere, be anywhere.
The tired is stuck to me, a sweat-soaked blanket.
Cloying and musty.
I’m hours into a dream that just won’t quit. I wake up, turn over, untangle myself from damp, knotted sheets; flip the pillows to the cold side. I dive right back into the dream, trapped in this purgatory, a place between two worlds. I’m awake. I’m asleep. I don’t want to be here at all. The dream is troubling, dark and twisted. I’m in a foreign land, a guest, eating food I don’t want to eat, conscious not to offend. My meal is alive, a moving, bucking thing, squirming violently in my grasp. It’s revolting, a slab of tongue, between two wilted flaps of bread. Huge and wriggling, torqueing itself around, impossible for me to wrestle in the direction of my mouth. It thwarts every effort, with remarkable strength.
I have no clue what it means. I overthink everything, all the time. But seriously… WTF? Am I eating someone’s words? Stifling someone’s voice? Are these my words? Is this my voice?
I’ve no idea.
But the war has been raging for hours, and I’m relieved to finally wake. A welcome reprieve from this thing trying to eat me. Or me trying to eat it.
I’m fatigued from the effort, energy spent.
This never-ending battle, of me… holding my tongue.
I let the dog out, set the kettle…begin my morning ritual, squeezing lemon into a mug.
Pause, look out the window.
For the atoms to rage, pound violently against their metal cage.
Tip the spout, water rumbles.
The thought comes unbidden, again.
The roiling vessel, slips from my grasp, contents everywhere…
Molten, burning … my hands, my arms, my legs.
Oh my god.
Just stop already.
It’s not real.
You know it’s not real.
It’s never been real.
Hands tremble, tremors along my spine.
I shrug the imagining away, but it requires force.
I say a silent thank you.
To whatever god allowed me to fill my cup without incident.
Why am I like this?
Are other people like this?
Or am I just a seriously special kind of fucked up?
Is this OCD?
Why does my brain do this?
Do other people have whole interior worlds that dominate their thoughts like this?
I feel alone.
A solitary duck, in a galaxy of swans.
A persistent feeling… that I don’t quite fit.
That I’m not quite right, a square peg, in a universe of round holes.
I’m abraded, my edges scarred from the scraping, gouging, grinding.
Always trying to fit.
But I never quite do.
I don’t think it can be ‘fixed’.
I can’t transform myself into someone I’m not.
I’ve certainly tried.
Crumbled under the weight, returned home, bruised from the war.
Persistent, unrelenting, slamming who I am, against who I wish I could be.
I love the word ‘willowy’.
But let’s be honest.
That’s never going to be me.
I don’t enjoy slender ankles and a tiny waist, jutting collarbones, and legs for days.
I’m not thin, dainty or fragile – in any way.
I want these words, but they are not meant to be mine.
Wannabe me enjoys meditation, balanced chakras, hot yoga on weekend mornings. She freshens up, meets a gaggle of girlfriends – a leisurely lunch of avocado toast and mimosas. There are big sunglasses, under happy umbrellas, peals of delicious laughter, warm bells in summer air. Hair shimmering, soft waves, on sharp shoulders. The hem of her dress flutters, swishes, dappled sunshine drawing maps on toned legs, freckled thighs.
Effortless angel twists her silky mane into a graceful knot, playfully nibbles the arm of her glasses, reads classical literature, just for fun. She turns pages with delicate, manicured fingers, elegantly arching her threaded brow, when a particularly grand passage, gently amuses her.
Her glance hovers for a moment in the library, spines of her published work glint in the firelight. The fragrant scent of old wood, worn leather, and pipe smoke in the air, an intoxicating mix of magic and memory.
She studies opera, brushes up on conversational French, arranges Calla lilies, in Waterford crystal. Baroque music tinkles lightly in the background as she tidies, her home welcoming, ever ready for an impromptu dinner party or an unexpected knock at the door.
She is known for her wry sense of humour, sharp wit, an enviable ability to meld a questionable joke, with impeccable taste.
This woman has her shit together, is an engaging conversationalist… able to wear linen that doesn’t rumple like a bedsheet.
But I don’t.
And I’m not.
And I can’t.
She is not me.
Actual me is awkward, unbalanced, predictably clumsy.
I trip over my words, and invisible objects too.
I drink a little too much, laugh a little too loud; choke on gulps of air, in dramatic ways, at inopportune times.
Real me is ragged cuticles and busted nails, one in every length. Because actual me doesn’t give a rat’s ass about manicures, and pedicures, and the fashion implications of Pantone’s polish colour of the year.
I’ll never be ‘blowouts’ and ‘setting sprays’, and sleek drapes of silky hair.
My mane has two personalities, neither of which are bouncing nor behaving.
Snaggled ponytail – Wash and wear, just don’t care.
Restless hairs grow out of my chin, in a repetitive tango with a vitriolic pair of tweezers. I don’t do lotions or potions. And I’ve never ‘anti-aged’ a goddamn thing. Not because I’m already smooth and supple, and youthful AF. But, because I find them greasy and gross, and detest the sensation of being glued to my own skin.
Real me reads classical literature on occasion, but harbours a secret soft spot for teen fiction, and novels about magic, and wizards and vampires. And I don’t care if you judge me uneducated or gauche, because the real world is fucking brutal, and sometimes you need a well-timed reminder that love trumps hate, demons need to die, and heroes really can find their happy endings.
My sense of humour is off, a bit too bawdy, a shade too blue. I yearn to be witty and charming and clever, but instead am dreadful and crass, coarse… as feminine as a pirate in pearls.
I will panic-clean if you are coming over. Which is probably almost never. Because I don’t like people that much. And that’s pathetic and sad, but also honest and true.
Real me carries no fondness for tulips or orchids, but will swoon like a 19th century schoolgirl over sunflowers and daisies, buttercups under our chins; lilacs wilting over cracked pitchers, the scent of apple blossoms in spring.
I become fixated on certain songs or albums and play them obsessively… on repeat.
Over and over and over and over.
Like, a zillion times in a row.
I don’t know why I do this.
No one does this.
Probably serial killers do this.
So, where does that leave us silent sufferers, prostrate at the throne of our own unmet expectations?
What are we supposed to do, when we feel like we are never winning at this game called life?
Why do we always roll a snake, when what we really need is a ladder?
Society rewards beautiful.
Society rewards loud.
So, what happens when you’re neither?
When you can’t compete?
When you’re a small person, living a simple life?
We inhabit a world that wants you to scream about yourself, or be quietly forgotten.
No one is going to give you a medal for being quiet, modest, and unassuming.
You will not be ‘discovered’.
The world will not ‘gold star’ you for being humble and kind.
There are no television shows about ‘not drama’ queens.
Good deeds will go without trumpets, devoid of fanfare.
No bright, shining legacy when you are decayed from this earth.
Sifted invisibly, through the hands of time.
A fleck of gold, in a Sahara of sand.
I write because it’s how I think.
Sometimes I’m good at it.
Sometimes I’m not.
I once thought my words were my way out of my own darkness, a way I could be seen.
That I could somehow stand out from the crowd, by being myself, and making beautiful things.
I envy the people for whom this comes easy.
Not the words.
I know those never come easy.
But those for whom, their daring never fails them.
To carve their heart out from their chest, and lay it bare, for all the world to see.
Unflinching and brave.
Take it or leave it.
This is me.
I probably won’t be the writer I once imagined I could be.
Because it requires courage.
And I have none.
But if I care about you, or you’ve touched my life in some way, I might my set my words in your path.
I will struggle them, wrestle them, fuss them into place.
I will beg them, plead them, threaten them.
Wield my sword, until they beg for mercy.
And when I can ask no more from them, I will gift them to you.
Lay a jewel at your feet.
Freely, and with absolute grace.
That my gifts might encourage yours.
That you should be emboldened.
To spread your talents across the earth.
Plant them wild and free.
Fling them headlong into the wind, so that they might root where they land.
Sprinkling the earth, with the seeds of you.
And I will delight in your joy.
And your reckless beauty.