Day 37: Intrusive
My friends remind me of their presence in various ways: a touch, a brief hug, a wave. They lift my eyes from the ground, my twisted hands, and try to tell me they see me.
Dreams, all of them. Just dreams.
I’m on the verge of tears but I don’t feel safe enough to cry. So I hold it in and don’t even try to pretend like I’m engaged.
“I’m walking in an Eeyore cloud,” I say to no one in particular.
“I know,” Megan says.
Locking myself in the W.C., I realize I don’t want to die.
I buy two poetry books: Mary Oliver and Sylvia Plath. I think poetry is my coping mechanism. You have a mental breakdown, you buy a poetry book. One poetry book for every mental breakdown.
There’s pho for dinner. Faux pho, but at least there are beansprouts, and I have a special place in my heart for beansprouts. It all reminds me of my roommate, who I miss more with every passing day. We’re seven hours apart now instead of twelve or thirteen, but that doesn’t make her feel any closer.
Day 38: We support you
We discuss T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” in class.
“What if the pilgrimage wrecks everything you know about home?”
Student-led chapel beckons us to examine an object for ten minutes. I watch my pen scribble its way across my journal, and I realize I can’t pay attention to something unless I’m writing it down. The act of writing slows me down, tunes out all other stimuli, and acts as a contemplative process.
I wonder at this, often, that God speaks to me so strongly through the act of writing.
I call home right after dinner. What begins as a simple description of my week quickly turns into an unraveling of my soul. I’ve had uncensored conversations with them in the past, but this one feels desperate, like I need them to understand something they hadn’t quite grasped before.
I tell them I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of experiencing every single day like it’s an obstacle. I’m tired of living a life where I question every laugh, every smile, every glimpse of happiness. Am I pretending? Is it real? Am I faking the whole thing? How do I still feel sad in the light?
Then there are the resting places or distractions, when I simply exist in a numb and disengaged state of body and mind: not happy, not sad, just around, and maybe that’s rest enough.
My mother and I dialogue for a while before my father quietly says, “May I say some things? I have some thoughts.”
He rambles, carefully turning over his next words and desperate to speak into the darkness clouding my every thought. This entire phone call is desperate. A desperate daughter crying out to her desperate parents. Desperate to understand.
“I’m listening,” he says. “I can understand a little of what you’re going through but I can’t understand all of it.”
His next words are just for me, from the Holy Spirit. I can’t put them in a blog post or even in my journal for fear of lessening their power.
“We support you,” he says at the end. “We pray for you every day. I love you.”
He rarely says those things, and we both know it.
Day 39: Breaking down
Thrifting for vintage clothes reminds me of Mattea. Honestly, most things in this country remind me of her and it’s like encountering pieces of her lovely spirit everywhere I go.
After lunch I find myself at the edge of my bed, anxious out of my mind. For no particular reason, my chest feels like there’s a human sitting on it, and it’s difficult to breathe.
The tears come, uninvited and unannounced. Suddenly I’m screaming at God and not caring that my neighbors can hear me next door.
I refuse company. When my friends ask if I need anything I tell them I need to be alone, but even then I’m not so sure. It doesn’t seem like anything can help me. The storm just needs to pass, so I give in to breakdown after breakdown and wonder how long it’ll be before I just can’t be broken anymore. At some point I start ignoring everyone’s messages.
Kailin convinces me to go to dinner even though that’s the last thing I want to do.
I call my mom and we’re on the phone for four hours. She listens to me rant, distracts me from the pain, and helps me process the fragmented thoughts racing through my mind.
I never know what I need until my mom shows me exactly what I need.
Day 40: Moving
Today we move to a nicer dorm building than the one we’ve lived in for the past week. We pack up all our things only to unpack them again less than a hundred yards away, but it’s worth it. When I lie down on the mattress and can’t feel the bed springs digging into my bones, I cry.
I have a context presentation due tomorrow that I haven’t even started yet. For eight hours (two before dinner and six afterwards, until midnight) I scrabble together my research, write up an annotated bibliography, and design a lesson plan. This is how I got through the entirety of spring semester: everything was done at the last minute.
I’m not sure if I should feel guilty because my classmates have been working on this for a week.
My Converse shoes are falling apart at the seams no matter how many times I try to super glue them back together. I spontaneously decide to throw them away and instantly feel lighter, physically and emotionally. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.