“Nothing unusual, nothing strange.”

I’ve been here before. How many times must you do something before you can trust you know how?

This is the place. Not that it must be, but that it is.

This is the part where I’m scared. A little. Where I hate every bit of it. Where I’m scared of what comes next, and just barely keep the anxiety at bay. Where I worry, “What hasn’t come yet? What might not come at all?”

As of Friday, I’ve been unemployed for over a week. The longest I’ve been unemployed in five years. Six years? The numbers, here, are not important.

I’m itchy. I quit without a solid plan. But I did what I said I would, and it has yet to really fuck me up.

“Go before you’re ready.”

I’m several thousand dollars in debt, and that’s the one thing I remember from CCM. I’m being facetious. Where is the lie?

“Go before you’re ready.”

“Choose joy.”

Don’t toil.”

Those lessons I learned while losing my mind.

Here are the lessons I learned while I put it back together,

“You can do better than this. Do better than this.”

“You’re not so good that you don’t have to work.”

“You aren’t a bad person for feeling that way, but you’re a bad person if you stay.”

At this point, I was an English major.  Everything with more words.

“It’s okay.”

I’ve been here before. How many times do you move through something before you remember how it feels? Before you remember what it felt like? Before it stays in your skin?

The skin, an apparatus for protection, for absorbing, for breathing.

I have only one skin, and I shed it as often as possible.

This is the part I’m scared of. This is the part that is sacred.

Something about sacrifice. Something about fire. Something about the new, the pain of birth.

What do I know about the pain of birth?

The only thing screaming out of me is my own inexperience. The only thing screaming out of me is fear. And recklessness. And courage.

I lay claim to courage.

I’m not big enough yet. I’m not wise enough yet. I’m not smart enough, or calm enough, or patient enough.

I might never be.

I’ve been here before. Each time I am new.

When I was very young (very young is under 10 years old) very young, my mother tasked me with planting the zinnas. I love zinnas. I did then, I do now. I love zinnas. The bright, bold-faced blooms. The bright, heavily saturated petals. The strong, sturdy green stalks, so few leaves. Growing towards the sun like nothing bad ever happened on this planet or in your lifetime. Growing like it’s the only thing to do. It’s the only to do.

I took the seed bag, and tossed them around. I remember feeling silly even then. I made up a song, sung it to myself, and spun in circles. I carelessly cautiously simultaneously threw zinnas seeds into the ground in front of our home on The Retreat. I pressed them into the dirt—I knew enough then to see that even seeds benefit from a good firm push—and went back inside. I played Fairytale and Dress-Up and read Beatrix Potter for weeks. My zinnas, carelessly cautiously tossed about by my growing hands, my aching limbs, were watered by the fickle Texas clouds. They were watered by my made up songs, and they grew bold and proud.

I’ve been here before. Each time I’m new.

I might never be whatever it is I believe I ought to be. I keep admiring other people and longing for a bit of them.

Longing for a firm push.

Longing for a made up song and weeks of benign neglect.

Something about what’s next. Something about you. Something about the things I admire in the wrinkles around your eyes, the cough in your laugh, the ache in your smile, the way hands always give us away.

I’ve been here before. How many times? How many times? How many times?

“It’s okay not to be okay.”

I learned that way back home. Before I came here. Way back before I knew I couldn’t be enough. I’ve been here before. Each time. I’m new.


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