Some days, it pains me. I feel the weight of my memories pressing down on me. To leave, or to stay they pull me back and forward in time. I wish I were weightless. I remember looking at the rain wishing I was water, flowing through roads, car tyres, washing and flowing, and flowing away. That I would evaporate and gather in clouds. I would exist between particles, in air. And then, existing would be enough; my existence would be light and free. I would be as unknowable and forgettable as a rain drop.
When I was five, I was afraid to close my eyes for a second because I was sure if I did, I’d feel a ghost pressing down on me. I had to focus my eyes right on that spot on the ceiling above me. I was scared that my gaze would shift and I would see something in the shadows or a face in my window. My fists clenched in my pyjamas; my arms crossed over my stomach completely protected under the blankets. I would be sweating in my clothes. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d scream and run, barging into my parent’s bedroom.
I remember the nights where I stayed up drinking coffee, trying to finish any piece of work. I would have spent the entire afternoon trying to study but I wouldn’t be able to focus—I had too many thoughts about everything and I couldn’t let go of any of them. I was afraid I would miss something out, some realisation of the world, something that made my world-understanding less accurate in a time I was lost and confused. I remember going back to school, my body tired, my hair messy. I’d wear my baggy CCA jacket because I did not like the way my uniform clung to my waist, I did not like how fat my arms looked fat and so, I wore my jacket. That and because it was blue, my favourite colour.
Now I wear my uniform, an extra button down. I take my jacket on and off easily, whenever I feel warm. I smile easily in photographs and I think I am happy. But sometimes, I like to listen to the same song over and over again, to pretend that I am still that little girl. I like to remember how I used to be.
Every day that passes, we lose a part of ourselves until one day, we do not recognise ourselves at all. It is scary to let the past-self you know, that you lived as, die. But death is necessary for life. Christianity always talks about being reborn in Christ. And there’s evolution, population viability etc. I have to let myself (the familiar) die to be someone better and more beautiful. One day, I would tell my children that I used to be insane and strange and angry and sad. But I would hold them to sleep, through their nightmares. I would look into their ugliness and anger tell them that they are beautiful, just like my mother did. And I would tell them ‘this, too shall pass’, just as I will one day and they, and the world, would keep on going without me. But, all that matters is that you are here with me now and I love you. You are the only thing that grounds me. You and you and you and all your beautiful faces and stories, and this beautiful and messy world—I thank you for being here with me right now.