There are people who know my body as intimately as a lover might. They know of the tiny mole in the arch of my left foot. The faint scar on my left elbow from a childhood scab that got infected. They know that my pubic area was waxed a few weeks before my death. Underarms and legs shaved, perhaps the day before.
They know I am not a virgin, had poor dental work done on two back teeth, and one or two of the men stop, as they catalogue my body, to think how pretty I am. How the sketches don’t quite capture the full of my lips or the honey of my hair.
Some men get obsessed with the dead as much as the living.
~ Alice, What We Have Left
A whole week off to write … edit … write … edit …
You say there is no meaning. And I want to lean over, kiss your moving mouth. To prove my point that even the smallest thing matters. To show you how something as simple as my lips on yours would tip the table, smash the row of glasses between us. You and I, met in the middle, would set this entire room spinning.
You think it is about what we construct. But I know it’s what we leave out that keeps a world intact (when you want to stay safe inside it). So I remain where I am. Bite my thumb. Pour another and another drink. Try to smile at you as I swallow. Knowing too, in the deepest down, just why I wanted this argument won.
(Character building. Or revealing character flaws, perhaps)
My body and the clocks say different things.
Last night I poured my vodka down the sink and fell asleep on the bathroom floor. I fall deepest when the sun comes up, and wake disoriented from my morning travels. Everything is the wrong way round here, or I am. So much corner turning, so much emerging from below, and it creates a kind of alert exhaustion, an expectation that something is about to happen today if I just get up and in it.
It all feels so possible, so utterly and entirely possible, this living on the brink.
“I did not belong there,” Joan Didion said of this city. And I recognise her words, because I know I do not belong here either. I do not know the rhythm and the rules. I am a step out of time, backwards dancing across these cracked pavements and sticky stairwells.
And like Joan Didion, I am in love. I am in love with this grimy, swollen, stinking city. With her teeming masses, and the bare-bone trees of winter, waiting.
They are anonymous, quiet like me.
And I too am on the verge of blooming.
My first blog post from New York, back in April, 2015. And now …
I woke up this morning and saw the news. Barely awake and suddenly weeping.
Grief was drawn from the well of me, pulled up from my girlhood, womanhood. An excavation from the deep of my experience, and yours.
I never, ever forget yours.
And then – this morning – I screamed. Mouth against pillow. Careful, even in my anger. Because that’s what we’ve been trained for, right. Self-silencing, lest we wake the sleeping.
I cannot take this anymore. I will not put my hand to my own mouth, or yours. I will be louder than I have ever been before.
And I will be quiet, when you need me.
When you need me. I am here.
I see you. And I believe you ♥
(I don’t know what else to do right now, but rage. And write)
“My rage could swallow whole continents. I suspect I am only one of millions of women worldwide who has finally unleashed her fury. We will never placate you again.”
~ Jane Caro
Artwork by @many_bothans
(Buy a print. All proceeds go to Rainn. And take care of yourself. I believe you ♥)
Do you trust your instinct, Elliott?
Sue’s question feels as large as the room, and all three women pause to consider it. Thinking about the nights they’ve crossed the road to avoid a parked car with its lights on, or pretended to make a phone call as someone walked too close behind them. Remembering the longer routes taken to avoid unlit streets, and how they automatically take note of who gets off at the same station or stop they do. The way they would never leave a drink unattended at the bar, and how they always check who’s there before unlocking the door. Self-preservation as a replacement for instinct, because being right would be the real danger here.
Elliott feels her body arch toward this sudden realization, a shudder that almost lifts her from the floor.
I’m afraid to be right, she says, holding out her arms to examine the tiny hairs standing up from her skin. I would argue away the most obvious signs, if it meant I could be wrong about him.
Because if I’m right – my god, can you imagine what that means?
~ What We Have Left
The first time your heart shatters, you become one woman or another.
The first can only ever love the broken after that. She sees damage as her canvas, and she spends the rest of her life trying to make it beautiful. Cobbling together the lost and fragmented, soothing their sadness and their grief. She creates a mosaic from their stories and their sorrow, mends the pieces into something whole again. Because if she can love something back together, it means nothing, no one is too far gone for saving.
The other starts to sees damage as inevitable. So she strikes first, destroys anything that comes too close. This kind of woman will sabotage her own happiness, snap it clean in two, rather than let someone or some thing surprise her again. Her heart inured, she will be the one to lay siege from now on. For her, it is obvious people were never meant to stay whole. And to survive this world, we must learn to live with what we have left.
What We Have Left (A Novel)