i’m a co-founder of the scintilla project. our goal is to give you a reason to unlock your storytelling voice. we provide a selection of daily prompts and encouragement, and you provide a post that goes beyond the surface into Why. in some you’ll be the hero, in some the villain, and in some an innocent bystander. every day is a new chance to go deeper. today’s prompt: show a part of your nature that you feel you’ve lost. can you get it back? would it be worth it?
(i’m pushing myself, today, to do the prompt i’m not so comfortable with. bear with me, ok?)
there was a time when i was a wild girl.
at 20 i’d been tied down for two years and he’d torn my heart, my life, my trust to shreds and there was nowhere else to turn but outward, so i shattered and i let my pieces fly. it was during this time that i lived in dee’s house, where i burned candles on a huge bureau that wasn’t mine and i photographed myself in sepia smoking cloves, after hours of crying. i could not believe how dead my eyes looked in these pictures with smoke curling around my face. my self photography sessions make me wince in their very cliche-ness now, but i was only doing whatever i wanted. i ate one meal a day, which i bought from the diner up the block, an omelette with fries topped with cheese and gravy, until i realized i just wanted the fries so screw the omelette. i lost weight.
i went back to my old job on long island every friday, a long drive that probably wasn’t worth the gas and tolls for whatever i made for the day, but i needed an anchor. where friday nights took me was up to the wind. there was a night where i talked to my friend m while i drove from the island to brooklyn, from one boy to the next, without knowing where i would sleep. we joked about the holes i was trying to fill but it was bigger than that, and we both knew it. i stood outside in the cold at a hipster bar in williamsburg to flirt with the bouncer* all night, and he let me wear his long leather coat. a few hours earlier i’d been in the back of another boy’s car and i would end up sleeping on a coworker’s couch, rigid in fear, knowing he was doing coke in his bathroom ten feet from me.
i was not alright, at this time. as i mentioned, the photographs followed hours of sobbing, my writing and chats with friends took me til 3 or 4 am every day, and i could barely tell you which way was up. i could not exist ten minutes without calling someone – i had no idea how to sit with myself, there was too much that welled up whenever i tried. and really, i didn’t want to try.
i had the greatest freedom that i’d ever had and because the pieces of me that were moving through the world were doing so with their own velocity, i did not have to decide what to do, and i never had a chance to say, stop, i am scared. i never had a chance to be scared, so i did anything.
i do not want to break, again, and i do not want to seek my solace in the things that will rot inside of me. but i miss flying without fear. i miss going, doing, seeing, saying whatever i wanted for only a hint of a reason or no reason at all. i hate why i landed there and i can’t be too proud of what i did with it, but this freedom, it was precious.
*if you had tried to tell me then that i’d be sitting in bed typing this post next to that bouncer, that we’d fall in love, move in together, and celebrate three anniversaries, i would have laughed so hard in your face. ah, life. funny, right?