The split of my own personal Trousers of Time happens when I am fifteen and brought kicking and screaming back to this country. Something breaks. I don’t know what. Something just — breaks. And it’s no help that this coincides with 9/11. I am already alienated. I become alien.
I make mistakes from there. I don’t know at the time that they are mistakes, but I make them, and though I forget most of them, one or two will haunt me.
Later, I will wish I could talk about them; now I am shamed into a silence that grabs my tongue like a scold’s bridle and digs its rusty teeth deep. All my life this theme will emerge again and again in my writing: outlaw love, more-than-one love, love that must be a product of some deep sickness.
Is it less valid because I am sick? Is it, at seventeen and eighteen, somehow not love because people with mood disorders don’t feel love? Or is it convenient for my later self to think of it that way? Sick love, love that is a curse on whoever I love. Wrong love.
It springs from the void when I least expect it and certainly least want it. Later, when I am the age that he was, I’ll dream of him again. We are simultaneously our futures and our pasts; each is a variation on the present day. Aware that I am projecting my subconscious might-have-been and never-was, aware that dreams break from reality and carry us down roads we can’t walk in our waking bodies, pain is still pain, shame and sorrow, want and wanton.
Blended self. Isn’t this the goal? this integration of the parts we cannot reconcile? Who in her right mind asks to be all-in-one? Splintered off, the shards of eighteen were so much simpler. Buried, their radiation contaminated only their leaden coffin. One gamma ray breaks loose. One ray is all it takes and I am a hazmat scene, struggling to prevent the contamination of the real.
I dream of equations I cannot solve and though I wake knowing they are not real math, all the same they equal what-if.