The Lost Word
As I sat on the bus, I tried to think of how I could explain myself. I wanted you to know me in my darkest hour. The girl who rode the busy train in Brooklyn at two in the morning, ready to just fall asleep and let the L take her where it may. I wanted you to know why words and love are so important to me, and how without them, I'm a little wooden girl. A puppet tied to strings held by adulthood where my motions are commanded by clocks and paychecks and bills and deciding whether or not to buy renter's insurance for a room in an apartment that hardly fits a desk to write on.
On the bus, a woman who sat a few seats in front of me took off her beaded bracelet and offered it to the gentleman next to her.
"I usually carry more, but I want you to take this and give it to a woman you care about. That you love. Can you do that? Please, can you do that for me?"
The man took the bracelet and wore it on his left hand as he nodded a silent, "Yes." The woman smiled.
I studied her for a few minutes. Her stringy, uncombed hair and layers of tie-dye colors honestly made me doubt her mental aptitude, and yet by the look in her eyes, I knew she had the magic. She quietly sung under her breath and her head bobbed in such a carefree way that I was sure she had seen the future and knew what most of us never trust: Everything was going to be okay. She was in charge of her own body. There were no strings attached to her shoulders, head, or limbs. She moved about in a way that made no rational sense, but it was her way. And that's something.
I felt an invisible tug on my hand, and suddenly I dove into my pocket and pulled out my phone. My puppeteer was apparently telling me to mind my own goddamn business and stop staring at the woman who had somehow freed herself from strings. I rebelled by not looking at the small screen in my hand. Instead, I looked out the window and the writer in me, the lover in me, began to try and explain my past self to you. I wanted you to know what I was like when I was heart broken, tired, and didn't know what to write about.
Not too long ago, my life was kind of like... a normal word that you read. And you look at it, trip on the word a couple of times, stumble over it... You know, so you say the word over and over again out loud... And then all of a sudden it starts to sound funny. Something doesn't look right. In fact, you can't even remember how to say the word properly even though you were completely capable of saying it right only a few seconds before. Now all of a sudden, it just looks like some messed up word in a language you've never even spoken before.
My life. It felt like that word. It felt like the more days that went by, that I woke up, that I worked, that I went to sleep, the more it didn't seem right. The more I felt like there's gotta be something more to it, that this just isn't 'it.' That there was something I wasn't getting. I tripped, stumbled, and then I was stuck. I felt like I wasn't living right anymore. I just felt like I was living every day, over and over again...Getting it wrong and becoming more and more lost the longer I existed. And I just wanted it to stop.
But it didn't. I had never really been suicidal, though I doubt there's anyone who hasn't been sad, depressed, and just kind of wanting to go to sleep and worry about the waking up part later. Life didn't stop. Instead, I went faster. I traveled to too many different places too fast. I became comfortable with strangers, and distrustful around people I would come across more than once. I wrote less and less because my life didn't seem to be anything worth reading about. I was sporadic because routine made me feel like I was sinking. I lived every day differently because I didn't want to feel like my life was on repeat, like I was just going through the motions.
And then last night you stopped by just to say hi before I fell asleep.
And now, I see your face every day. I kiss you hello every day. I feel your embrace every day. And missing a day feels like I'm missing a page in a book. Still readable, but a little bewildering.
On the bus now, I'm jotting down things to write about. (There are so many topics, I have to write them all down to keep track.) The first idea in my notebook reads:
The word looks familiar again. It looks right again. All of the words look perfect, and I'm going to write them all down.