To Light a Fire


Holy week musings


In the past three days I have learned more about myself than the last three years. For example: I like medical dramas. I like strange terms buzzing in my ears, tinnitus. I couldn’t write, or read, or pretty much do anything else, with music on — if I’m blasting anything, especially the bands I like, it means I am hopelessly up to no good. I have zero tolerance for reducing appliances to bolts and screws nor do I have energy to put them back to work. I like buying my mother gifts. I like how the sky is a myriad of colors at daybreak, and pretty much just blue, then black, at night. I accept the fact that I’ve come to a point where I don’t put up as much pretense as before in my writing, because there is nothing to put up, really —  I haven’t written in a while, years, even, and I’ve loosened my grasp on metaphors and imagery and all things that make horrible things sound pretty.


Because that is not the point. Throughout the last several months, I’ve been asked how far I’ve gotten in that story I’m supposed to be writing, that manuscript I’m supposed to be submitting for this and that fellowship, and I’ve responded with feigned nonchalance, a rehearsed four-sentence explanation of why I’d quit writing, an additional two-sentence rebuttal if the companion is a friend who had seen me stamp then remove then re-stamp the writer label onto my forehead unabashedly for years. This is not a phase, I’ve said one too many times, I just don’t have anything left to say.


And that is so unfortunate, isn’t it, in an age which prides itself on how easily it succumbs to blab?


But to dwell on my inability to draw a response from myself would resemble a session with my therapist, if I ever had one. I imagine talking for hours and arriving at nothing, but the recognition of how, for years, everything tastes like stale breakfast left outside somebody’s door in those telenovelas. A knock on this door bolted shut didn’t do anyone good. So I let the flies hover and refused to digest what was before me, fasting without true cause, all in some god’s name.


But like I’ve said: I’ve learned more about myself in the last three days than in the last three years. How I can love two people at the same time, each love bringing no threat to the other. How no amount of caffeine can keep me up better than a bottle of water. How romanticizing the smell of rain irks me to no end. How I understand fuller now that it’s a different journey for each person, and at 26, whether I find myself with child, finishing up a PhD, still climbing mountains or still in college, I would be just fine. Because I’d still find myself writing.


Sometimes I’d look at my grandfather’s face and it would take an effort to locate his eyes somewhere beneath the folds of his splotchy, drooping skin. Then I’d remember the importance of detail for a look to qualify as gaze. And then I would realize that the last three years of my life can be summed up without making much use of insight.


These days, I tell myself again and again to learn to be fully present. To allow everything from the most crippling desires to the most elating loves. To memorize scenes, from how a stranger could smell like someone so familiar and how I automatically assume panelled hallways are rigged with boobytraps. These days, I even dream in the most vivid colors,feel the weight not the lightness of a classmate’s lips, hear Bach in white-washed walls, and remember everything throughout brand new days even as I have slipped out of what resembles wakefulness and fly by my life as if now truly fully awake.