I’m in a foul mood, and there’s no reasoning with it. I’ve filled myself up with chocolates and it hasn’t sweetened a bit. There isn’t a — ta da!– here’s why coming, because I don’t know why.
I truly just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, which is a marvelous feat considering I do not sleep on a bed.
There have been reasons to sustain my mood. The rain and the wind is surely uncalled for, both of them strolling through my city like there’s room, nudging the fog and sun to the side like unwanted leftovers. The construction in the apartment below me is a symphony of din and smells sewer-like, and so do I probably after marinating in it all day, which of course I have to do because a person dies every six minutes in my county from Covid-19. There is an ache in my head that hides from medication, dancing between the bridge of my nose and the corner of my eye.
In a phone call interview, a potential employer was unkind, and set off a series of thoughts that brought me back to prison and death. There’s been so much of the latter.
Would it be unkind to never go to a funeral again?
I don’t know if I could stand it, and it isn’t the done thing to steal the show by proposing to someone at a wedding, or dying at a funeral.
It’s an issue of etiquette. I will literally die if I have to do it one more time, but of course– life has a funny way of testing my limits. Take a deep breath, it says. The deepest breath you think can hold. And then, as I’m holding, it says: take one more. And I do.
And every time, it turns out I can hold much more than I thought.
Did I ever mention my dislike of graduations? You see, my family overdid it. We went to graduation, after graduation, after graduation. For my five brothers and sisters, for my parents and uncles and aunties, for their students, for family friends. By the time I graduated high school, I was absolutely done with the things. Done with the overused quotes. Done with the universal cadence of a graduation speech and the never-comfortable chairs.
I still had to attend, though. My younger brother graduated high school just two years after me, and then my sister graduated college, and then my baby brother graduated high school, and then my little sister, and then I went to prison.
At some point, I remember sitting under a table, telling myself I couldn’t do one more. I wouldn’t.
I just wouldn’t.
When I got to the fire camp program, I was greeted by women I had met at various stages through my journey. They had already started the process of camp. I saw them come home, sweating and aching. I saw them run miles and miles and endless miles. I saw them cleaning rooftops, working like I’d never seen people work. Studying, with heart and focus– flipping through pages of fire information, even if they struggled through it.
When they graduated, I still wasn’t classified so I had to stay in my cell through the ceremony. Tears burned behind my eyes and I was so frustrated that I couldn’t be out there to celebrate them. To celebrate this monumental thing they had done.
I knocked on the door and did something I didn’t think I’d ever do: I begged to attend a graduation. Begged to take another deep breath on top of the too-many I’d already taken.
And I think of that today because I can’t pull my heart from prison memories, and I feel like I don’t want to. There was so much in there, so much in the women there, so much in the world that made the kind of women that could be there. They were so much more than that interviewer.
It is frustrating that I have limits in my ability to explain as much. It is frustrating that I didn’t say anything, and thought all day about whether or not I could say anything.
I can’t afford to, but I will.
I woke up on the wrong side of a deep breath of air. It feels like a chokehold. Everything feels like a poke against my skin and I am envious of the wild wind, knocking down everything in sight. I am envious of the clouds, how they shed all they’ve gathered with wide open arms. Wide arms in the gathering, wide arms in the let go. I am envious of the construction workers, making something of rubble.
They’ve pulled the ceiling off the floor below. They’ve shaken my old flooring so much there are gaps in the hardwood. It gets winter dark early here, and as they work below, the light shines through my floors and its like I am walking on the stars.
It smells here now like they say space smells, acrid and bitter and smoke.
It feels today now like they say it feels in space, lonely mostly.
I tip myself from the hardwood floor onto my kitchen linoleum.
Just like that, falling off the edge of the galaxy.
Just like that.