When I was in high school I remember reciting a poem that a best friend, Chelsea, wrote for a school talent show. She will forever be the prototype of an artist in my head: the poet, the painter, the conceptual powerhouse, the one who feels everything and is tortured by it. I remember little about the poem, except the subject (someone we both knew peripherally and who now has a dog and maybe a wife?), the feeling when we held hands while looking straight ahead for a verse, and the line “the lines of your face – coalesced.”
Chelsea was someone who, at 17, knew the word coalesced and used it in poetry. A word that this wordpress template identifies as misspelled. Seriously?
Anyway. Right now, I think, my world has coalesced. Is coalescing.
Lately, I will be doing something at 10am, or at 11pm, or at any other hour, and suddenly will feel vertigo. Something I will forever associate with the book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Prague, and feeling disoriented with the earth because This Is The Earth. Because I Am A Being On This Earth.
Anyway. Lately I have been experiencing vertigo. And sometimes, especially as I try to fall asleep, I will take a moment and discover I am completely out of breath. I will hold my hand firmly to my chest; I will compare my heart beat to my dog’s; I will count how many beats it takes to find one that is irregular; I will swear I will quit smoking Tomorrow. My body is telling me things.
There have been times in my life where my emotions and my brain cannot compute what is happening, so my body will remind me. Like after my last break up when I could not eat for weeks that became months. Every Friday at 7am, I would sit at a check in with Hannah at our favorite local restaurant, and if the meal was more than halfway finished it was a major celebration. I lost 15 pounds, which was more than 10% of my body weight. I realized that losing weight and Being Thin equates to literally no other change in life. The models, the magazines, the self-induced pressure to be thin, are nonsense. (And still, We Want It.)
Lately, I have had no appetite. I buy sweets and get sick of them before I’m halfway through. For a woman who consistently says I don’t have a tweet tooth, I have a mouth of sweet teeth, this is not concerning but… strange. I’m not worried, because women like losing weight, but I’m curious. What the hell is going on? Why am I not interested in food at all? Why can I suddenly go from being starving, to quite seriously forcing myself to eat because even the concept of any food is nauseating?
Am I stressed out?
Am I unhappy?
Am I anxious?
I don’t feel any of these things, not cognitively. Honestly, I feel the complete opposite.
Y’all: for the first time in my entire life, I believe I am making a geographic decision based on Relationships and not My Career. I am choosing to stay in Denver. I am going to stay in Denver for the next school year. I am choosing to live in Denver without a clear job, without secure money, without an understanding of what in the fuck I am doing. But, I am completely in love with the humans I have found and discovered and allowed into my life. I am completely in love with so many things.
I have never had a best friend like Katie. Perhaps better said, I have never allowed myself to have a Best Friend like Katie. I have Shoshana, who transcends friendship into sisterhood, who’s living room I am sitting on the floor of right now, in Carrollton-but-I-claim-it-as-Dallas, Shoshana who’s baby calls me Auntie Caroline, who I adore… she is not, and never has been, a best friend. She Is My Sister.
I have other people, I have the Hannah-Sarah-KP quad group. They are best fiends. Still, it’s different.
Katie and I call each other wife. Katie is a bond and connection I can’t compare to any other thing in my life.
Once, when I was probably-maybe fifteen or sixteen, my mother looked at me and very casually and yet very seriously said, Caroline, are you gay? and I said no, and she said, Because if you are, it would be okay. And I love my mother for that. And I love whatever confidence that she gave me that made it so when middle school kids called me Dyke in the hallway I truly didn’t mind that much. Similar to how when I was sexually assaulted in the greater Little Rock area I honestly, perhaps fucked-up-ed-ly, did not even feel that traumatized. Mostly confused, a little angry, irritated. I wanted to talk about it. For some reason the way I conceptualize the world doesn’t lend itself to owning or acknowledging or Needing To Process trauma in the way I feel I’m Supposed To.
When my mom died, my sister was angry at me for not being More Sad.
How can I be torn apart about something I have no control over? I was more upset, more traumatized, more vehemently angry when I was a downright awful teacher for a year and a half plus. When I entered and could not Fix the abusive relationship I was in. Those were choices. Those were Things I Should Be Able to Control. But death? It just happened. I didn’t cause the cancer; how can I fight?
Right now, though.
Right now I haven’t been eating.
After an okay stretch of smoking Not That Much, I have been smoking More. I drink fairly often. I am traveling A Lot. Maybe this is it. This, and transition, and things on the horizon, and so much energy. And More Work. When I go to sleep two hours after my roommate and wake up an hour before her four of five work days a week, I begin to realize the things I Do To Myself. I begin to wonder who and what I am, and why.
The bottom line of this, though! The thing to say! The only reason this post is so long is that, for once, I am typing on my computer as opposed to pecking away on my phone. It might also be that I drank half a bottle of wine with Shoshana. As usual, I am traveling. I am in a new place, I am compelled to write.
The bottom line is I am in a place of so much energy my heart beat is changing. Or is going back to the uneven rhythm it holds sometimes, when life is particularly exciting. It beats ten times normal, then is syncopated once, then eight times normal, then does the down beat again. Why is it doing this?
Is it love? Is it a happiness so whole, so big, it cannot process it the same way it does other Happiness? The world has shifted. My perspective on so many things has grown and changed and morphed and been challenged.
I started writing this post because I am reading my pre-work for the TFA conference I’m attending this weekend. The DEI work is about Liberatory Consciousness and Racism and Affinity Groups and Identity Work and so many things that I cannot even read because I love them so much I can’t settle down enough to focus on the words. I am so compelled I can’t even process what’s in front of me; I’m too busy Thinking About It Already. I am Giddy. I am bursting. I am on the verge of being Utterly Fucking Exhausted because I will be waking up in less than seven hours and have slept no more than six any night this week.
I am back to the Caroline I know: the one with three jobs, and a Man-Boy-Human that causes hope and curiosity, and a Self-Proclaimed Family she loves and so many things to look forward to. I am back to the I Can’t Stop Caroline. In the midst of all this finding myself and being new and being old, I am back to the middle me. The part of Arkansas that sustained the six years, that couldn’t get enough of All The Things. Engaged. Busy. Life.