That’s what the tattoo to the left side of my right elbow pit means. Maybe I got it too soon or maybe the universe–what the agnostic in me calls all I can’t disprove–knew something big was coming. At the time, I thought I knew what that something was: an all-consuming partnership, a platonic love at first sight. The type of intimacy that made a guarded only child believe in soulmates. But I think the message from the universe came out jumbled. And now, with my life spread between my mom’s home Oregon and my car where I sit, things feel more like a new puzzle, pieces spread out before me.
My friend Sally passed away recently. We had not been close in a long while, but the conversations once we had were about all the right things. I looked forward to what she had to share and what she was scheming. She was always scheming. We had that in common, plus law clerkships and circus and the desire to connect and create. Sally had lived a long while with cancer, long enough that you sort of expect that she’ll keep on with her living.
Sometimes I feel shackled to this living body. Its limitations. Its flaws. Its curves. Its breasts that get in the way. Its folds that run too deep. Its hairs that used to run astray and now run amok down the backs of my knees. Its nails that have grown ridges seemingly overnight and shoulders that snap crackle pop. Its thumbs that leave joint and names that disappear from my tongue.
And other times I’m so goddamn grateful for my scars and the chance to connect pieces of a new adventure.
Have you ever sat down to dinner with a friend and thought, if I don’t tell them about the cute thing my cat did and what I what I ate for lunch and how I cannot stand Michele from marketing I might implode? Now imagine that everything you say has to go through a filter because all of your friends also pay your bills. Self-censorship is exhausting, especially when your instincts are to share, to conspire, to stay up until 3am drinking cocktails with names you’ve just made up. I’m exhausted.
I joke about being incapable of disguising what I really think, but here’s the truth: I’m fucking good at it. For 10 years, I worked at a job in which every day I had to lie to or evade questions from family, friends, and strangers alike. And at year 11, I couldn’t keep going. Being good at it was exhausting.
In 4 days, I will set off across the country in my CRV, the one that that my mom gave me a couple of years ago because I am privileged enough to quit a job that was eating away at me from the inside. A sensible person would be sad to leave and nervous about teaching in new spaces. I’m mostly contemplating the monthlong nap I’m going to take when I reach Corvallis.
Come visit. We’ll sample pinots while we make unsellable art and plot world domination. Because like I said, I just need a nap.
It’s a mere 9 days until I kick off a summer workshop tour en route to my West coast adventure. Two of the kitties (Lola and Penny) are now safely in wine country with my mom, and the remaining furball (Mia) is wondering where her siblings have gone. 9 days to figure out how to get the rest of my belongings in my car without turning it into a burglar thirst trap. 9 days to solidify workshop content and test out things on current students. 9 days to make sure I have places to stay and a car that is safe to get me there. 9 days to say so long to places, people, and roads not taken.
I’ve been in DC since 2002, right after finishing law school and clerking.