Everyone else was watching a Brad Pitt war movie. I was watching you. Little Annabelle, in my arms as you slept, wearing navy blue stripes.
I would hardly look up. But when I did, I had questions.
“Did flat-nose die?”
“Yeah. Wait. Who’s flat-nose?”
Shane from Walking Dead was flat-nose, but I knew that no one would know what that meant. So I said, “I dunno. The one with the flat nose.”
“The one from Texas?”
“Could be,” I said.
“Yeah, he’s dead.”
Then I went back to watching you. Hearing you. The soft way you breathed as you slept. The way your tummy lifted and fell. The corners of your eyelids. The way your mouth would sometimes twitch just a tiny bit. I felt like I was in that spot between radio stations, full of static, sometimes hearing something that makes sense, usually hearing hush. All that mattered was you. Which is weird because grumpy Brad Pitt killing Nazis is kind of in my wheelhouse.
Even when you’re here and I’m there, I miss you. You fill my heart with so much love it feels like crinkling newspaper. Like white noise. A constant pounding of waves on a shore. It feels like the sound of fingers on a keyboard, or a typewriter, like when you hear it too much it becomes a part of what you expect to hear and when it’s silent you feel the quiet viscerally. You are my soft, still space of peace.
You know how runners hit a wall? I don’t, because the only thing I dislike more than physical activity (and cleaning) is going outside to do my physical activity, but I’ve hit that wall.
By all known definitions this should have been a good day. I got my plants for the year, not including the ones I’m going to plant by seed. All my little chlorophyll babies are planted all snug in their beds, while visions of producing fruit and being useful dance in their heads.
And yet here I am. In my pajamas and a Batman t-shirt. Trying really hard not to have an anxiety attack. This afternoon I decided I really needed those glow-in-the-dark ghosty Halloween crocs I haven’t worn since college that I was sure I could get rid of yesterday, so I have that back, but I need to get rid of more to compensate. So I found a treasure trove! A bunch of technical manuals from 2007! I dropped it into the box. Plunk. It didn’t take up as much space as I wished it would. Two red crochet cushions I was going to gut for stuffing. Plunkplunk. A toy truck. A plant pot painted like a winter wonderland that I was going to repaint. Two empty containers of acrylic that just have one drop left so I can’t waste it. Plunk. Plunk. Plunkplunk.
The box is barely full. I still have to get rid of more for the shoes. But I’m not crazily emotionally attached to what I tossed.
So why do I feel like someone made me swallow a centipede dance recital? This post isn’t going to have a useful, uplifting ending that brings up salient points and ties everything together neatly in a way that makes you feel like what you’ve read gives you closure. Just: why?
I’ve run out of things I’m willing to get rid of and it hasn’t even been a week. So. That tells you a little bit about me, my personality, and my position. Rock. Me. Hard place.
I don’t know if it’s that I haven’t been getting much sleep because of the thunderstorms, the hacking cough the dust is giving me, or the fact that I keep procrastinating until late at night (probably a little of column a, b, and c), but I feel that little voice stirring in me, saying, “But you’re going to miss it.”
I don’t miss it. Not really. I miss it at night, and in the morning I feel mostly fine because my mom makes sure to empty the crate for me before I wake up so I don’t have second thoughts and reclaim what I’ve let go of. There’s a metaphor there for personal growth, but I’m too bummed out to find it. It’s exactly 9:30 at night as I write this, and, like the noble werewolf, I’ve undergone a transformation. Unlike the noble werewolf I haven’t sprouted more hair or gotten a craving for flesh, but I’ve lost momentum and started feeling sorry for myself. My box is full. Barely. I’m skating by. Black widow held, but just by my fingertips.
Coping strategy: hijacking my mom’s iPad and taking pictures of the things I’m getting rid of. (Hi mom!) That way, I’m losing the physical thing, but not the idea of the thing. Not the concept and the image of the thing.
My parents and my friends are being such a huge support to me. That does help. When I think about the faith you have in me, and that I’m not relying on just my own will-power (just my own will-power ends up with lactose intolerant me downing two scoops of ice-cream, feeling sick all night, and crying until there’s snot all over everything I love) it reminds me that, although I’m working by myself, I’m not alone.
I’m a hoarder. Not the sort you see on tv with overflowing toilets and every issue of the New York Times since 1982 and eighty cats and food garbage everywhere, but if I see a shiny bit of metal on the street I pick it up, and I keep tags from clothes and every business card anyone’s ever given me. I keep the crissy-crossy net bags from fruit. I keep scraps of paper that people have written their phone numbers on, even if I can’t remember who they are and haven’t seen them in a decade or more. I might need it. Might use it for an art project. Might reread it, rewatch it, reexplore it. It might be important; I don’t want to forget. It’s a symptom of my anxiety disorder (yayyy) and a side-effect of my creativity (non-sarcastic yay). So basically I’m about a skein of red yarn and a wall full of maps and photographs from being one of those over-caffeinated crime show problem solver cliches.
And it’s gotten to the point where I can’t handle all the stuff anymore, and it isn’t fair to me or the people around me. So I’m doing a thirty day challenge, getting rid of a milk crate’s worth of stuff every day for (you guessed it) thirty days. Yesterday was my first day. My pastor helped me out, which is totally awesome. He compared it to holding a spider when you’re arachnophobic. I need to learn to hold my spider. Today I got rid of a bunch of jeans that have holes around the thighs rendering them unwearable unless I am super lazy and out of clean pants, and a bag of torn cardboard (huntsman spider held).
But this is hard for me. So I’ll be doing an episode every week or so (or whenever I get overwhelmed) until it’s done, because maybe that’ll make it easier. Because I need support from you guys. Because this is my room:
28 days left. 28 spiders left to hold. I don’t think I can do it. But I need to, so… episode one is done. Roll credits.