Fever, for Sarah

I spent most of the day in bed, which is unlike the me these days but is not unexpected to myself, as I know how I used to stretch minutes into hours all for the sake of catching up to some kind of balance, which of course I never reached. Today, the thing I chased was my own body; or rather, I was chasing things out of my body. Colin had food poisoning a few days ago, and now I do too, and he seems to think it might be his fault, and it might be, but there’s nothing to do about it once you start vomiting at 3:30 a.m. and continue to do so in bursts until the afternoon.

I got out of bed twice today; once to feed the chameleon, who seemed to know that I wasn’t well, and twice now, to get up and charge my laptop and write, knowing that I’m about to start my night work shift soon.

It seems ludicrous to try to explain why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this blog while also not bringing myself to write in it. Some of the answer is that I’m simply too busy working on the move, while knowing that I’m going to eventually have to carve out the part of myself that’d become rooted in this city in order to lift off. I wish I could carry everything I’ve built here to a new space, which I believe Colin and I have just locked down. I wish I could freeze this feeling and swallow it, let it drain in my mouth and my throat like poison or honey. Instead, it feels like a current, impassive but furious water. I’m scared and excited and moved by the fact of our moving, like a chess player hovering her hand above the board, visualizing the course of the game while never letting on how much she both knows and doesn’t know, enthralled by the options though they could just as easily be traps. I’m playing, of course, of course, against myself.

I generally don’t like board games, or most games, because I am too competitive and too proud to admit that I’m competitive and I am, of course, also impatient and impulsive. It feels both so easy and so damned difficult to think about refining any of the many things I want to do into The Thing, even as I begin to build my life toward that.

A home. It feels wrong to say so, like I’m letting down every other place that I’ve called that. It’s not meant to be discounting, just as I know these are, were, some of the best days of my life. This lucky life, resplendent and languid and longer than, I think, I could’ve ever hoped for when I was 15 and on the verge of ripping my skin off my body. When I was 20 and on the verge of ripping my skin off my body. When my fingers were always dirty and sticky because I didn’t know how to rest my hands, or look into the mirror and not want to claw or smear the veneer away.

I’m not the only one who does the song and dance around reflective surfaces, straining both to look away and glimpse myself as another might. I even bought a full-length mirror, so I can privately indulge the instances where I actually do want to pour over my face and deduce whether or not some skincare regimen is working, if my eyebrows need plucking, if there’s actually an unbleached part of my hair or if it’s just a fiction of the light. I use it to examine my body sometimes too; it feels like I’ve lost some weight, maybe through that spell of restaurant work or maybe from eating less or maybe it’s just a trick of my own mirror, the one that shows me what I sometimes want to see. These things are complicated. I should know better.

The past week had been hot, even at night, and I’d woken up several times in the way that I used to that one summer I didn’t really sleep. Waking in the early morning to sweat and shadows and the dull pounding of your heart in your ears. Sometimes I wake up crying. Sometimes I will be awake for a while and then the tears come in delay. These are private tragedies, and I am grateful to have them, which doesn’t mean I still don’t want to get better.

I think I’ve spent much of the past year racing away from the person I thought I was. In some ways, I am always doing that; not necessarily as a form of self-improvement, but as a means of testing how many of my fears are self-imposed. How deep my desires really are. How much I want, in a world that doesn’t really want to give anything. It isn’t that I deserve any one thing or another, but that I know who expects me to fail and that makes me want to burst into flame. One of the most thrilling things I learned this year was that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. One of the most heartbreaking things I heard this year was Colin’s mother telling me how proud my parents must be.

These things are complicated. I should know better. I am building a life that can stretch around its edges and change for better or for worse but always with the knowledge that it is unknowable. I am still too easily influenced by the things I read or watch, that move me in ways I can easily predict even as I willingly lose myself in them. Searching for a reflection that will let me say what I still cannot, that will let me be what I still am not and will most likely never be. One day though, I will create a magic mirror of, but not for, myself, and I will teach it to see — beyond me, beyond my moment, for a future I won’t be a part of all the way. How lonely. How lovely. How much love it takes, to set sail with only your heart at stake.

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