The problem with sleeping in the whirl of a sea shell is that there’s isn’t any room for anyone else. It begets a certain type of loneliness.
Tonight this is ok. My thoughts have led me far away, somewhere I could not take you, and yet I miss it anyway.
Because I’m thinking about being in a dim lit room. The soft pink colour of a womb, holding all of us there in a moment of stillness. Outside the cars swish past and past and past. In this sequestered part of a busy city we are quiet and anonymous. I could say I miss the world outside, but it would be a lie. I am content to let it all go with a sigh and float away.
I have paid much to be here and I am not the only one hiding. Not alone with my bandage wrapped wrists and raw, red eyes. I am ready to slip away, tethered only by the voice of our guide. The room smells of sandalwood and ash. How do they do that here, I wonder, where we cannot have anything so dangerous as flame. I push the thought away but it has stirred me from my reverie. I have always been easily seduced away from things that are good for me.
Beside me on a pile of cushions lies a pink haired teen. She is thin enough to be on a different ward, but I can see she’s one of us. The chalky pink is wearing out and tells me how long she’s been here. She is new, and so lost I can still see the ache of home on her. I am about to turn my gaze away and return to the drifty musings of our meditation, when my eyes hit her feet and I am jotled.
She is wearing sparkly sliver combat boots. They shine in the gloom and my eyes sting at the sight of their grey, untidy laces. Shoe laces so long they bring me undone and my mouth goes dry. I cannot even have the ties in my yoga pants, ICU robbed me of anything longer than a bracelet. But she is here, as broken as me, her glorious boots intact.
Bitter as the bile in my throat are the visions that dance behind my scrunched eyelids. My own feet that were once encased in thick soled boots. My hair long and wild, every thought dedicated to chasing the horizon and giving it a shove. Climbing, twirling, singing through the days in my battle boots. Wearing my brokenness with pride, unknowingly undamaged. Bared teeth in a flashing grin, counting the hours by moonlit parties, passed bottles, stories told. Eating the miles behind the wheel of first cars, giddy with the freedom, the music louder than a heartbeat.
Gone now, taken from me as surely as my shoelaces. Plucked away by frowning nurses. Gone, like that old thrumming search for what’s next. Trying not to remember why I stopping looking.
Because I found it, and it took me up like the intake of a wave. Breathed me in and smashed me down. Down and down until there was no way up. Shuddering small in my weakness. Beyond their reach, surrendered here for the hope of help. Into rooms like this one.
This womb room suffocates now, I want out. I can’t have it. My choices aren’t mine now and for a while I didn’t mind. They could take everything and I only stared at the walls. Take it all away, willingly given if they’ll take me too. But I feel myself waking. And I don’t want to. Give it back to me, my blessed numbness, I’ve bloody earned it. Wanting only leads to pain. It shows me everything I lost along the way. Discarded like pieces of clothing that trail a wandering soul in the wilderness. Leaving pieces behind as their mind loses reason.
Things I want back. Like the sharp edge of the day, now unreachable. My crusading heart in pieces, the whale song around me no longer soothes. Becomes instead a lament to what might have been, if I’d been better, tried harder, won more often than I lost. What I could have become, had I not found myself here, in this room, with a pink haired girl and her beautiful boots instead.