The Responsibility of Knowing

i feel better when i know about things. often, i want to understand things more upon knowing about them. i find myself struggling in the face of so many circumstances, contradictions, feelings & encounters that don’t make sense to me, for the purposes of my wanting to know. my brain unfolds and refolds itself, like a map.

some days, the map is of one singular place. i can barely trace my steps—just a slow turning on the small ground. the map goes: place. it is too easy to read entirely. sometimes i find myself wishing i didn’t know about the map to begin with.

i wait for the point in time where things will be easier. because i know enough. because i’ve worked through enough. because i’ve had enough conversations. because i’ve fucked up and then recovered enough.

i pedal, and i pedal, and i pedal. over time i may get faster, but going uphill is never not the difficulty of going up.

*

what to do with bad memories? a skinned knee. your body falling over a fire hydrant. the largest bruise on the softest thigh.

*

i began losing myself in men at 14. ribs, chunks of vaguely colored hair, whole sections of my calves. piece after piece, i set each one down and along with it the problems of my family, of gender, of selfhood. i forgot my self and the terrible burdens that might follow a body, one that is still healthy.

before i knew it, i had set my problems so far down that there was no other option but to turn away from the ground, to be swept off my feet. off my feet, off my feet, off my feet.

*

when will it be easier? cranberry juice, garbage bags, hair dye, tampons, pretzels. the grocery store i shop at most often sends out personalized coupons.

*

i began losing myself in men, slowly, in middle school. i didn’t know how to kiss. i knew this because i was told so. my friends and i even once took turns dating the same guy. by accident. or because we could only handle communal knowing. it was easier to look in the mirror and practice the mimicry of successful girlhood in the safety of groups. to share the same desires, the same tears, the same complaints. we all warned each other of his instability. that entire year of my life was an accident, a big hormonal oops.

*

dream: i met Tori and another idol, except in the dream it was just two of her: the Scarlet’s Walk T and the Night of Hunters T.

one of them (Night of Hunters T) had a handmade mug full of hot water that she gripped with both hands, taking long sips; the other (Scarlet’s Walk T) asked if she could get one too, “just like hers” (gestures toward her older self). to stand between the two of them as my boyfriend, accommodating my frantic orders, took a picture of the three of us—it was nearly unbelievable, even more so than the act of dreaming in the first place.

*

i began losing myself in men, imperceptibly, as a young child. i had my first “boyfriend” in 4th grade. we held hands during Skate Night and i must have thought that the sweat on his palm validated me, that his interest in me was like a souvenir that gave meaning to our encounters long after they occurred. i didn’t yet understand that i was slowly becoming the souvenir, the girlfriend, primed to be someone’s other.

i watched a lot of Boy Meets World. i believed in Cory & Topanga as if their relationship was a magic spell. i knew that finding a relationship was important. i knew my parents were going to be together forever and couldn’t understand why they spent so much time fighting, given my knowledge of their permanence.

girl gestures toward her older self.

*

pedal, sweat, pedal, sweat. i am so tired. there is no stopping, only the faint hope of one day catching up.

*

i can talk myself into anything and this makes me such a good writer and it makes me such a good thinker and it makes me, on my better days, such a good worker; and it makes me, on my focused and loving days, such a good girlfriend; and it makes me, on my self-care and feminist days, such a good friend; and it makes me, on the days where i eat food and enjoy the heater turned up a tiny bit extra in this chilled house, such a good cat mom; and it makes me, on days sandwiched by sleep, something else.

i can turn a TV show or a traditional binary or a social distraction into magic, just like that.

i want to say that i would eat the magic itself if i could, would pour a tall vial of it down through my mouth. but as it stands, it lives in me already in the form of a tiny ceramic pill, sitting at the pit of my stomach. contained, as if the thing down deepest within me is still somehow off limits. as if i can’t control what my insides are made of. as if the mass of the self can be too embedded.

*

dream: i was on my phone but my phone was a tiny phone-sized lined notepad. i flipped open to a blank page and sent a message to my girlfriend by writing something down. i closed the notepad. there was no way to know if and when she received my message without flipping the pages back open to check, hoping to see her cursive handwriting sprawled beneath mine. do you have time for a phone call right now?

*

always, i am having fake conversations in my head. it makes me a good writer. it makes time spent alone—early mornings when i wake up to an empty bed, when i’m driving on overly familiar roads, when i’m showering—treacherous. i get lost in everything i’m not doing, not really even saying.

*

all this talk of being present. these days, isn’t a healthy existence more of a balance? i have to know of my history, have to believe in it just as much, in order to exist fully in the present. and i have to also believe, for better or for worse, that i will continue existing tomorrow, next week, a year from now. i make obligations (job stuff, social stuff) and this helps me to exist presently and by exist presently i mean that i move through the day like a good human.

the lingering appeal of being a good girl. a good woman. “good,” as defined by…? and whatever the answer to that question is, tell me: to whom does it matter the most?

*

what happens to the body-brain relationship when you grow up encountering instances of bodily knowing in which your brain tells you to know otherwise?

for example: bodyhunger, versus the brain that knows the appeal of fitting through tight spaces.

for example: the visiblebody and all the agency it dreams for, versus the brain that knows how to disappear.

the brain that teaches the body how to disappear. please trust me when it comes to the value of relinquishing.

to live inside a human brain cursed with the need for perfection. it is basically to live your life tending toward some inevitable inward explosion.

like a tree pointing back at itself. some days, i bend my face down toward the dirt as if i may kiss it entirely.

*

i find myself—again, and again, and again—relying on language in order to know things. and yet it is language in which i find holes, cracks in the flooring, drafty windows, a mislaid roof. it is language which i know to be utterly untrustworthy and universally beside the point.

the revelation of language is only this: more language. compare this to the tree, revealing its various and complementary tree parts all winter long.

here is my naked face, here is a mile of pillows; here is the longest stretch of land that you can picture at once, and you’re almost certain never to see my body tracing such contours outside this lofty sentence.

*

everything you see, everything you encounter, everything you participate in: a person made it all. people just made decisions; they knew things and built outward from that knowing.

meanwhile, i remain: a teddy bear. i just mean i am still settling into myself. i carry fault lines. whole ecosystems of almost eruption.

*

language that is inclusive—don’t let it trick you into believing it knows something you don’t. language is a brain-centered body that doesn’t move. it can afford so much affection only because it’s a really good speller. it’s not even a person and yet here i am, conveying messages on its behalf.

i am just trying to stay alive in here.

i’ve experienced so very little, and yet it all barely fits in my chest; my brain can barely contain it.

*

big brain, small brain. big body, small body. i’ve known them all.

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