Sometimes I feel myself slipping; sometimes I’ll find myself halfway down the ladder and not sure how I got there. I’ve been feeding myself bad thoughts for most of this summer, the kind that are too familiar to be alarming, tendencies I revert to unthinkingly. I’m hungry, I’m angry. Still. Still. Still.
On Monday night I ran along the perimeter of Manhattan, from the overpass at East 10th down to the South Street Seaport and back. It was the best run I’ve had in as far back as I can remember. I was nervous (“I’m running along the FDR footpath, you know, in case you need to find my body,” I texted B before I left) but, as usual, for no reason. The parks along the East River were full of people, and after all, at 9 pm, it was only just dark. One of the less well-lit, more isolated playgrounds was actually not a playground at all, and was really just a shitty basketball hoop on a rundown court. Two girls were playing against each other with their backpacks against the rusty gate. They looked about twelve. I ran past them, thought, “Do their parents know they’re here? Aren’t they worried?”
I’ve gotten so much more fearful as I’ve aged! Does it only ever get worse? Is it a matter of learning what exactly (and how much of it!) there is to be afraid of? Were those girls in danger? Probably not. But I think of my mom, who survived on her own at 14 years old but now is too frightened to visit my sister across the country alone. What happens?
I sent a newly uncovered picture of myself at age twelve to B, with the caption, “This is your girlfriend.”
He sent back a bunch of hearts.
Later, in bed, I told him that I felt bad for that girl, that version of me, and he surprised me by asking why. I brushed it off, saying something about how awkward she was, how I know now what she was walking into. The truth is uglier: I feel bad for that girl because, for all of my insecurities at the time, I was never as unkind to myself then as I am at 28, looking back. I feel bad for that girl because she would grow into a woman who could skewer her from 16 years’ distance, look at her and feel disgust, retroactive shame — how embarrassing, how stupid that that girl had crushes, asked boys to dance, was optimistic about those feelings being returned.
I am so much more afraid, now.
Sometimes, when I’ve forgotten what’s good, when I feel myself slipping, I defer to a braver version of me:
October 16, 2005
it has been a very long time since i felt as good as i did tonight with andrew on our fancy dinner. sometimes i think my heart will burst because of how deeply i care about him. also i think my heart will burst when i think about where i am today and where ive been. i am so happy. so so happy. and i think of the time i went for a walk with andrew while we were eating ralphs, and he told me that one day i will be happy and not in a way that im happy because ive accepted being depressed but that i will just be happy, and i think that is coming along soon. i can feel it and my heart is racing because of it. one time i wrote in my actual journal “i wonder if when everyone else eats, theres so much screaming going on” and i read back on it and cried because i remember the desperation and the hopelessness and i cried because there’s no screaming anymore, sometimes there’s barely a murmur. i dont know when things started to fit but they did. i feel like this huge part of my life that i didnt even remember existed has been given back to me. i love eating. every day i love choosing from the menu at jts and not being scared. i love not being scared. sometimes i am, but its happening less and less. id like to get back in touch with gillian. when i left mather, i gave her a note saying that more than anything i hoped she would find her happiness. i wonder if she has. i hope she has. i think im going to write a letter to daria saying most of this stuff but in a much more organized manner. daria saved my life. but so did taylor and andrew and emily and amy and caitlin and nena and everyone. im excited because now i get to take charge and do the saving of my own life. aggh im such a melodramatic asshole, but at least i know it.