lessons on identity
1. i still don't know how to snap or whistle or ride a bike. i've been to two weddings and one funeral, and the latter barely counts since the memory is blurry and fleeting when i can dig it up. i've lived in seven different houses and three different states. re-construction of identity is not unfamiliar to me. look around: everything we have is pulsing in the night like a beacon. like an anglerfish.
2. i am young enough that my childhood is still sore. i wince if you prod it. all my yearbooks are kept on the bottom left corner of my bookshelf, half-hidden by an unused canvas and a box of school supplies, and i still don't know how to articulate why. i glimpse an old picture of myself over my dad's shoulder, and for a second i don't recognize my own face. the brief, disconnected judgement of my own appearance, the casualty that we afford strangers but can't seem to re-direct towards ourselves. when i realize who i'm looking at, my skin crawls.
3. imagine the house you lived in when you were five. imagine that house, re-constructed, slightly to the left. it is your home. look, your shoes. your books. a family portrait on the mantel. it is not your home. the couch wasn't that stiff, you didn't choose that bedspread. did you? it is your home and it is not your home depending on what you trust. it is your home and it is not your home depending on how much you care.
4. even my most vivid memories don't feel as though they belong to me, but to a version of myself, re-constructed, standing slightly to the left. when i wake and glance at my clock, it is 3:36 AM and suddenly i can't remember if i fell asleep at all. something warped and residual is left in my head but i can't remember if it was dream or reality. i am me and i am not me depending on what i trust. i am me and i am not me depending on how much i care. at lunch, my dad tells my brother that there is no past you or future you, there is only you. and, i think, you can't remain a stranger to yourself for your whole life.
5. i stare at my hands under the fluorescent lights. sooner or later, i realize, i am going to have to wake up.