My flash fiction piece "Wellspring Wandering" was published by Bait/Switch, which is a unique journal because it is intensely interdisciplinary and collaborative. My piece was inspired by a sculpture by Victoria Rosenblatt which was inspired by a previous piece put out by the journal. Another neat fact about Bait/Switch is that the editors conduct interviews … Continue reading Publication Alert
It’s easy to be happy online. You work to put together the filter, the caption, the hashtags, the everything, and the end product is this shiny version of you. Don’t get me wrong, life has been good to me these last few years, and so it is always with no shortage of guilt that I present a version of myself that is less than happy. But I don’t want to lie to you.
Her knee jiggles. Incessant anxious energy has made its home in her veins, moving through her as steadily as blood. Today, though, the anxiety is a physical manifestation as it plays on her nerves. It is a violation of spirit.
When I moved to Boston in 2017, I wanted to be a clinical psychiatrist. After working as a therapeutic writing facilitator, I was so intrigued by the thought of helping people heal that it became more important to me than being a novelist (plus no one was interested in a fictionalized account of the French Revolution, despite its cultural and political relevance). Add in my new job with Harvard Medical School, I realized there was a lot of growing I still needed to do before spending any more time as a student. My life had to start, so it did.
I don’t write much about my home situation anymore, but it’s not because I’m not happy. Quite the opposite. It just started to feel more and more invasive to write about the daily goings-on of my community. I moved from the observer stage to the participant stage. Any anthropologist will tell you that a loss of objectivity dulls your argument (but a good anthropologist might tell you that it makes you better at your job). Anyway, since there’s a baby in the house who is actively becoming a person, it felt weird to capture that growth. The facts? She's two, knows more Spanish than I do, is funny, her favorite color is purple, and she’s really into dinosaurs right now.
The young man who lives above the organ rents his room for ten dollars a day. It’s a good deal for a student in the city, especially for one who’s rarely home and doesn’t mind choir practice on Monday and Thursday afternoons and during Sunday services. He’s rarely home on Sundays, anyway, spending those moments instead doing rounds at a community clinic. Though his mother raised him Catholic, he doesn’t spend much time in the sanctuary. He sees God in the world, in the face of the sick, the poor, the forsaken. Being a Christian, he thinks, means that you are a servant as Christ was. To be a Christian, one with absolute faith, your life is in service of love, no matter how painful that love often is.
It’s been a few weeks since I ended a year-long habit of going to therapy on a regular basis. The last time I ended my session, it was because graduation loomed and there was nothing else the counseling office could do for me. This time, though, I ended things because I felt that I achieved the goals that I’d set out for myself. For now, there is nothing else to unpack or dissect. Life can’t always be about introspection, sometimes it’s about living. That being said, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I learned over the last twelve months because maybe it will help someone else see therapy as a viable path to healing.
It’s been such a long time since I saw you on stage, honey dripping from your hair in the spotlight as you transformed from one of those caged birds into a wild falcon. You were all motion and music. And as your violin cried out its sequacious notes, I sat in that uncomfortable auditorium chair with stemmed roses and baby’s breath digging into my forearm. Lateness forced me into the back of the room due to lateness, but you reached me from your perch a dozen yards away, standing before the conductor, swaying in time to his baton.
With your cayenne lips still burning, you drive up the interstate. Family far behind, it’s easier to be at peace. Vacation becomes vacation, and New Orleans is a place to be at ease. The drive seemed longer when you were a kid, but it’s only three hours. You stop at the gas station your cousin insisted you go to, the one she goes to for fun. You kind of expect to make fun of it, but it really is quite the to-do. Employees get paid almost $20 an hour. No wonder it’s so clean. You wish every gas station in America was like this. The snack aisle is more fun than any memory of Disney you have.
Going back to your Gulf Coast hometown after a long time is weird, a little uncomfortable, especially in the middle of a highly politicized pandemic. Things look the same; they look different. Buildings you grew up in became Panera Breads or are abandoned altogether. Your childhood home is still yellow but is covered in the green mold your mother pressure washed off every summer. There are more broken shells on the beach than you remember. It’s weird to be a Southerner who’s become a Northerner in so many ways.