My housemate appears in the doorway, quizzically asking why I’m down here in the middle of the night. I manage to tell her, I am saying goodbye. After she closes the door, I burst into the tears I’ve been expecting like a guest at the wake.
Sweaty, nauseous, unable to sleep–handwriting and type, addresses, faces, moments imprinted on my skin–a sensation of memory heaving inside out from the bowels of the house beckoned me to sit in the quiet under the hum of a bare fluorescent bulb.
I could reach into any of the white trash bags with the red plastic handles and pull out a book as if delivering a child, open it and know where I was in space and time, how it felt to be me, how I examined my life, observed it, felt it, studied it, and struggled for so long to “figure it out.”
I see now life is so very patient. We are not here to win or improve or arrive. That is not living.
Save the journals, a couple of friends have told me, urgently suggesting I will regret this. So many others have called me brave, a word that sometimes makes me bristle.
Yes, my own hand has been my main companion throughout lifetimes within a lifetime, my constant, my steady, always turning to myself for friendship and solace–the two Fridas, the two Senjos, the two Jenas. Reunions by turn violent and joyful.
The time comes to come up for air from the bottom floor, no need to harbor evidence of the many selves I’ve preserved and protected. So I go back upstairs to bed, where my daughters mumble unfamiliar sounds in their sleep.
And I am here. A woman, their mother, a child grown. With nothing lost that wasn’t already long, long gone.