in the center of your computer screen, an empty text box wants to know, who are you?
answering, you become a peacock framing itself in a fan of beautiful feathers. the list reads like this: menthol cigarettes, sugary snacks, & small blessings. tabby cats. whiskey sours, caramel apple martinis, & oatmeal stouts. warm baths, mom’s blueberry pie, glimpses of chipmunks on the roof & squirrels in the trees outside your window. quiet strings & violins, ivory keys & big bass beats, songs to help you sleep. the color green. soft blankets & warm beds. love songs & awful pick-up lines. laughter.
you part & parcel yourself into the image of a girl who eats six servings of vegetables, eight servings of fruit, & half a cup of ice cream each day, rests eight hours a night, & has pleasant dreams, a girl who doesn’t–does not–lug eight carry-on bags full of gunk with her everywhere she goes.
but too often, who you are is just getting by, & that means you, the world, swallowed by white noise, your body curled at the edge of the bed, head stuffy, polluted with the TV’s static sound. your heart dripping, shredded with a sorrow too deep to name. all that you keep out of the big white box with its cursor blinking patiently & stuff it, instead, into your carry-on bags, which you hide–in the closet, smooshed below backpacks & shoes you never wear, in the awkward open spaces made by tables, dressers, & a bed diagonally angled into a corner.
all the while, you believe that you are a liar who carries a secret too big to say out loud, so you say (when you say anything at all), something happened to me as a child, allowing those words to act as a variable for which X could mean things so simple as i skinned my knee or i have been stung three times by bumblebees. again & again you lie, you are a liar, you are a liar who lies: a child on a bed in a room with two wooden dressers & a tall mirror, your knees locked together tight.
then, slowly, a shift, shifting, the way a glacier melts into the sea. then, there come days when you can treat yourself with grace & allow yourself to be who you are, which is not defined by something happening to you as a child but, instead, by the light you generate, your heart a piece of flint catching sparks on almost anything. at first, though, there are few things you need to know about yourself besides this: you survived.