My head is filled with rocks. Not the smooth sorts of pebbles that you find layered beneath placid waters, but sharp, jagged, moss-infested rocks. The ones that cut your feet. The ones that you throw to break windows of abandoned houses. Those kinds of rocks.
I write in my notebook the order in which I will do things today, underneath this quote:
May you build a ladder to the sun
And climb on every rung
The list looks as follows:
Go to the library and write to Brianne, Liam, and Professor Smick
Put the framed Paris photos on your wall
Bake a chocolate cake
Go to mission church and sit
I get off work at 5pm. Channing wishes me well as she sends me on my way, spinning around and off down the other hallway. It is raining lightly outside. I don’t bother pulling out my bright green raincoat. I think about all that I promised myself I would do, troubled at how quickly the day’s hours dwindle when we allow them to. But my feet lead the rest of my body towards the church, through winding paths lined with sharp grass edges and cradled by weeping willows.
The colossal entrance confronts me for the second time in my undergraduate career.
“Do they ever lock churches?” I think seriously. I would not have known.
The doors reveal rows and rows of empty wooden seats, a muraled ceiling stretching towards the sky. I sit. Silence fills my chest.
My hands lay folded in my lap. Minutes pass. My eyes drift slowly under my lids and my neck stiffens. My head pulls backwards, floating on a threshold of storm and stillness. My breath calms. My limbs lock. The tip of my nose fixes upward, almost detaching itself from my body. The rocks tumble, agitated, searching for escape.
I am not smothered in demands or sounds or words on lined paper. I am not crushed hope, mangled and exhausted. I am not good or bad intentions.
I am not a mother who weeps alone, longing for the warmth of a hand, or a sign of life. I am not catastrophe sweeping through impoverished nations, murdering. I am not a broken cell phone or unread books stacked neatly on a dresser.
I am not chipped nail polished; I am not neglected messages. I am not a brother, burdened with the fear of revealing secrets. I am not hurt because I know them already.
I am not labor’s sweat; I am not unguided or crude. I am not frustration or laziness or inhibitions. I am not a father buried under scars, slipping twenties for consolidation.
I am not a sister who tears at foreign skin. I am not schedules; I am not dirty clothes heaped on floors. I am not a lover whiplashed by selfish deceit. I am not choices of what to eat, when to sleep, what to say.
I am not a grandmother standing in her bath robe in the kitchen in the middle of the night. “This family is falling apart.” She whispers. “You have to do something.”
I am not without love. I am not alone.
I simply am.
My neck loosens. My head straightens, resting steadily on my shoulders. I don’t know if I’ve been breathing, or if the life within me simply halted and has resumed again. I can feel red blood cells swimming to my fingertips. Colored light from the windows floods the room, washing gently over me, unlocking my knees.
"I have a meeting," I remember. I rise and gather my belongings. My bag is lighter.
I walk out onto the steps. An enormous pink cloud envelops the darkening sky. And I think:
Well, God, it’s nice to finally meet you.