Saturday, May 4, 2013

(If you want to be happy be yourself)

I put on the Grateful Dead and read for a little while and start to feel a little better. Earlier I felt scared, partly because I made the mistake of reading House of Leaves while home alone and partly because I have not had free time in so long that I have forgotten what I like to do, how I like to think, what it is to have room to breathe. Tonight I sit on the brink of two whole wide-open days and I am ecstatic with relief and anticipation at the same time that I want to hide under my covers or in front of reruns on the tiny TV.

A mouse has taken to sporadic wanderings through the apartment. The first time I saw him, he ran underneath the futon where I was sitting. I stood up on the hard thin mattress and said, firmly and with conviction, "Get out mouse. Mouse, get out." Pretty soon I got sick of standing, so I sat back down cross-legged on the mattress. A few minutes later he left. Another time I got home from work and sat on the futon for nearly two hours before he scooted out from beneath my legs and headed nonchalantly for the kitchen. We have named him Donny.

A week ago it was a veritable menagerie in here, what with Donny and the caterpillar, chowing down then slowly metamorphosing. He slid from his chrysalis and bled blood. He tested his wings for sixteen hours before he flew. I raised him then he left. Daddy daddy where have you gone.

Not long ago I detested butterflies. What may have been months ago I painted tulips growing out of onions and dark shadows. Many months before that I painted two neon-blue cala lilies, intertwined.

I shower, looking at my body in the window's reflection. I am in love with my collarbones. I come and gasp, then realize I've forgotten my towel. I tiptoe fast across wooden floors to the back of the apartment, wrap myself in damp navy blue cotton that belonged, once, to my mother. I stare at my reflection again, this time in another window. I look through the slats in the blinds and see lights turned on across the alley. I wonder what my neighbors are thinking to themselves. I am less concerned with what they do.

If you want to be happy be yourself. If you want to be yourself do what makes you happy. Also, don't listen to self-help advice, except when it's helpful.

The trouble with writing anything nonfictional is that everything changes, even in the time it takes to write it! Still there is virtue, I suppose, in one sentence being true.

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