I woke up today uncooked and unshelled and shivering, out of my element, overwhelmed, awed by all— in a word, raw. It has taken me hours to regrow my crust, boil away my easy tears. On a day when the rain is only a couple minutes away and the streets are ragged with leaves and cans and the ugly gullies beside the pretty moments, a child’s cheery nonsense would have unravelled me.
I know the exact exposed viscera of my psyche that I can touch, the way you probe a cavity with your tongue just to test that nervy burn. I know all the right phrases to think, in my matter-of-fact way: “They don’t actually like you much.” “What exactly have you done with your life?” “Why aren’t you more grateful for what you have?” “You’re a bother.” “What will you do when they all leave you?” I could have cried if I dropped… anything. A paperclip, an earring, anything at all.
The jack-o-lantern smile of the dirty woman on my morning bus almost shattered me. My thumbnail could cut straight to bone. I was insubstantial, nothing but fears and tears and naked wonder at the beauty and the cruelty of the world.
I build up my backbone, brick by brick, as all great structures start. I strap myself into it and tighten to a second skin, a shimmering exoskeleton, and even if I cry, in here, the tears are contained. I will grow sodden in here but at least I will be able to make it home before I spring a leak.