On not writing

I have not known how to write, where to start, or how it ends. I still do not know, but I am beginning to know why I don’t know.

I tell my sister on a couch in this home I worked so hard for – where I hang my art and on the best days, my hat – that I am not sure I want to remember any of it. Words have always been a tether back to myself, to a self still wandering the supermarket aisles of Paris and fighting with a boyfriend that hated almost everything, to a self that went missing in California and did not make it home, to a self that felt things in a way always like, and completely unlike, me. Phrases and sentences as a messy but still legible roadmap of where I’d been, a way to predict what I might do next. Writing has been a way to pour gold on the fractures and still call it whole. I am not sure anymore that words could, or should, stem the break.

I did not know the true weight of this stone that slipped into a coat pocket in Mexico and never slipped out. The self that could have told me what was to come stayed behind, in an apartment where lightning still streams in and there are always limes on the counter. She dances in the afternoons and always has seared tuna for lunch and replies to emails from an old man who once thought he could love her. She is no longer anything like the woman she kissed goodbye in department 402.

I have started reading about the girl I once was, and what I want to do most is put her somewhere safe. In a room not unlike that one with the fourth-floor window and no railings on the stairs, somewhere where the sun is always coming through the slats and the dust motes always dance and nothing that could hurt could ever cross the threshold. The problem with writing is I do not know if the words I write live inside that room, or are the very things I would most like to keep out.

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