me: tattoo

kgrier

Dreaming by the Day

-Striving for the Faith of Job; Seeking a Desire like David-


angel bath
kgrier

If things had worked the way she planned them, her child—her little boy or girl—would be four this year.

The loss of that possibility, the unraveling of an absolutely certain potentiality, is a grief all too akin to the loss of a part of her she has held for as long as there has been a her. Some days, there is little sadness. Others, it feels as though the sadness is all she will ever know. She believes that there is this presence, this immutable force, that is missing from her life. She can navigate the corridors of her heart, her soul, and see the places where it should be, but isn't—she has walked between the spaces that were built in its anticipation, but where, ultimately, it will never dwell.

And she thinks…she believes…that it must exist somewhere, that this is what GOD meant by knowing us before we were in our mothers' wombs, because the grief she feels like a heavy weight where love is grown is not for something that was lost, but for someone.

At some point in her life, her soul touched another soul; they met in a field of daffodils, and they felt the joy of inevitability. Before her body became a prison, before what once seemed so distant and uncertain became like a reckoning, she held a tiny hand in her hand and they took a step toward a future promise together.

Her soul touched another soul, and she will never not long for it.

angel bath
kgrier

There's this feeling she gets when she's in the middle of something she knows is changing her. It probably has a name—whatever Webster calls that mix of joy and anticipation and fear (but maybe there's a little bit of anger in there, too, because who wants to change when you don't know how you're changing, or why, or by what?).

It starts with an admission.

She's never loved a man the way she loves words.

She used to think that loving words was a kind of mediocre safe she could someday learn to appreciate. Words themselves aren't safe, but they make for an easy relationship. Words captivate her. They can fan passion, trigger happiness, or they can inspire remorse. When she feels hostile toward herself, words can be kind or cruel. They are always what she needs, and sometimes, they are everything she wants. They make her a better person.

Mostly, it's this: words can break her heart, but they will never, ever leave her.

Sometimes, she treats her heart like it's been carved in the trunk of an old oak tree, the kind that has borne the weight of laughing children in tire swings. It's there, and it's permanent in a way, but it's less than an honest thing. Honestly, it's a funhouse mirror set in front of a day years ago she doesn't remember having, something people come along and brush sentimental fingers across with curiosity.

Then, loving words or loving a man becomes something else, entirely.

Because, she believes that we never know who we really are until we know who we are to someone else. Our lives are made of titles, of roles we play, responsibilities we are given and those we take on for ourselves. Spouse, parent, child, sibling, teacher, coworker, friend—we are so often defined by our relationships. We feel their weight always.

And, when your days are a reckoning of what you are at any given moment, suddenly what you could be or could have been seems that much more important. This means that, sometimes, she thinks about all the things she'll never have—money, good health, a small waist and a more feminine form, a magnetic smile or a melodic voice, an easy sort of vulnerability—because these invariably precede thoughts of things she'll never be: a wife and a mother, a superhero, a really good friend.

And it is that last one that always disarms her, despite the fact that she's always thought that she is the kind of friend she would hate to have (which is, ostensibly, no kind of friend, at all). It usually feels like a role not written for her, an ill-fitting character she carries onto stage without inhabiting her space or understanding her motivations. Shakespeare refused to be confined by language, molding letters around his concepts until they created a structure others could recognize, instead, and she does that, too.

It's what she is good at: words, and being alone, and disappointing people.

"You told me once that you didn't know that you could be in love with someone, like love was a talent you lacked," he said.

She was walking at nine months, full sentences at eighteen, reading and writing letters at three years. High school courses in elementary school and college by tenth grade. She has dabbled in everything, from art and literature, to philosophy and social policy, to sports and manual laboring. She's never stopped wanting more—to learn, to experience, to grow.

"I can't have it all," she said.

The only thing she ever really struggled with is chemistry and her behavior. That just means this: she could have been amazing, but she thinks she wound up just being someone that's holding on.

"It?"

"Them," she corrected without conviction. "Talents."

"It's not a talent."

It's not a talent. Love's not even a skill—a universal fractal ability one can manufacture with time and patience and practice. Love is a gift, and gifts are meant to be given and received, but not arbitrarily. Sometimes, love should be indiscriminate, a haphazard inundation without regard to the consequences. Sometimes, everything that makes up love should be piecemealed, a careful emigration. The hard part is knowing which should happen when, and that is a skill, one she hasn't quite manufactured.

She wants an indiscriminate emigration, because maybe she just likes when things are absurdly difficult.

"I don't think you even try sometimes."

"I don't try."

It was one of the biggest lies she ever told. She tries, and often she succeeds. She is in love with a lot of things, and more importantly, a respectable number of people. Love, especially recently, has made her a person she never thought she would ever be, and God! for once, she would like someone to recognize how hard that is for her to acknowledge. Because, she isn't good at this. She's bad at trying. But, she does, and often she succeeds, and she needs to be reminded of that.

Not that that is what he meant. She doesn't think she meant it, either.

"You want me to try?"

"I want you not to settle."

"Clearly I haven't."

Nobody to blame, really, if your perfect romance is always happening to someone else. It does sting a little, though, when most of those someones are fictional. Settling on no one is just as dangerous as settling on someone, though, and that is probably what he meant. It's a strange paradox that she's pretty awful at both—it means, she thinks, that she misses the prospect of love more than love, itself. Except when she doesn't. It's a messy situation.

She supposes anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

So, sometimes, she doesn't settle and she tries with words, at least, and love becomes the gift they give her. Shake me, she says. Shake me until you break me. This world is too beautiful to remain whole and free.

Sometimes, they do.

angel bath
kgrier

It's not like I haven't tried and tried
It isn't where I look but what I find
I've been keeping clear of stepping on the cracks
I miss just enough to keep me coming back



She wants to tell them that she's trying.

She's trying to be rock steady, the way she's always been. She wants to bite her tongue and soldier on. She wants to be happy. So, she's trying hard not to realize when she hasn't been out of the house in days. That there are people she hasn't called, hasn't written. That she'd like to miss them more, but she has to get over missing herself, first.

(Mostly, that the greatest joy she's ever known is wrapped up in a little boy that can't speak yet, that doesn't know her name or her story or even how very, very damaged she can be, because she's terrified she'll let him down, too.)

She owes people things, things she has so much trouble delivering—she owes people her—but she's trying.

She has a story in her head, one word that leads to hundreds that lead to ah-ha! They get it. They'll get her. But it's a crisis that should be a coda. So, she writes and rewrites; each paragraph is a vignette about all the people she used to be, people who dreamed of epic futures, of world-changing and life-altering, of so much passion. She wants everyone to read about all of these hers, to know the better version of herself she's still holding onto so tightly.

But she doesn't, because she's not ready for them to know how often she's failing.


Better late than not at all
Better to make the break than take the fall
I wouldn't mind hanging on
If I could find out what I'm hanging from



The truth is that the world is made of pockets of so much joy, but they're stitched together by tragedy and people can get confused. For her, it's how in seas of pain, little things can still hurt more—split thumbs and dry eyes at funerals and the feel of tiny fists tangled in her hair.

She thinks maybe this would all be so much easier if she could just learn how to ask for the right things. She wishes she knew what they were, but then maybe knowing them, asking for them, would kill her just a little more, and so she's okay with idling for awhile. Because, really, she knows that they're the hard things, and asking for the easy things has been hard enough already.

So, she doesn't tell them, because they think she looks good, and she acts good, and sometimes, just every now and then, she is good. She's really just so very good.

But she's also just so very tired.

It happens like this: There's a moment, right before the stupor of fatigue grips her, when everything pops. The world comes in sharp relief. She feels the swish of her hair against her neck, the gentle thump of her pulse at her wrist, the press of her lungs against the cage her chest has become. She hears peals of laughter, the heavy snap of sneakers on asphalt. She sees the cracks in foundations, chipped paint, warped shingles. The wear and tear on buildings, on people.

On her.

She's winding down, wearing down, and she can't even sleep to pretend that things might get better any time soon. Now she's getting careless, and that makes the words come a little easier. She tells them a little more than they probably ever expected to hear, about her, and how she feels, and what she needs. She's really just giving a dog a bone; the real things, the right things, are still locked up inside her.

She thinks they may always be.


I'm waiting for better angels
I'm waiting for any lead
And though my case looks fatal
I'm still hoping better angels come to me



She knows grace, though. There's a place deep inside her where her laughter is born. She drew a map so that she wouldn't ever forget the way.

angel bath
kgrier

Seven.

It's the number of the month she was born, and the number of places she's lived. It's the number of diseases she has, and the number of times she's dodged death. It's the number of deep down desires she still nurtures, and the number of times her heart's been deep down broken. And today, it's the number of years she's spent learning how to live without her father.

She forgets sometimes that things have changed, and that practicality is an imperative. Seven years ago, she had sold off many of her possessions, made good on all her debts, planned a move. Deep South. Home. A few acres near her family, room for a pair of small houses (because she knew her parents would have probably followed her eventually), a horse like the one her cousin used to let her pretend was hers over long hot summers. Simple life, hard work, socking money away so she could travel to every corner of the earth. Now, she thinks it's funny how easily dreams die when the people you never knew were a part of them die first.

She still wakes most mornings with images of days spent in strange new places, air saturated with words in foreign languages, breathing so deep she can taste history on her tongue. It's not even the slow, steady arrival of pain, the dawning realization of her disability, that clears that fog; at times, she feels as though her mother's smile is all that tethers her to this place. When nothing much matters, her mother's smile matters the most.

It makes her own lips heavier to move.

Because, she sometimes lives in a world where feelings don't hurt. Hearts don't break. No one ever loses anything, because no one belongs to anyone. It makes her so very tired, vacillating between that chasm of impenetrability and feeling so much she's near to drowning. He was always her grounding wire, her lightning rod. Things moved through her, and they didn't stick. She was less singed.

He made things make sense, and made her feel all right about herself when they didn't. He gave her space, but hooked her tight to reel her in when she came undone. She realizes now that he gave her too much space, seas of water and stars, but what else could she really expect? They were the same. She thinks he was the only person who ever really understood her. The air is so much harder to breathe away these days.

Seven is the number of years he's been gone.

She's still not sure if anything works right without him.

angel bath
kgrier

She loves the changing seasons, the smell of Fall and Spring.

She wishes she loved Spring more; Spring is an era of promise, of things waking and coming alive. It is new, and beautiful, and something concrete she can point to when the drudgery of a compromised life seems a little too much to bear. Spring is a world in motion, unrepentantly obstinate and, ultimately, redeemable.

She used to think she was a little like Spring.

But the reality is that nothing moves her quite as much as Fall. Keep her in the dark, tell her it's June, and she'd still know the truth; she could feel it in her bones. She knows the desperate edge of inevitability that saturates the air, the kaleidoscoping colors, the very light -- a sun setting before it's fully risen, a world whispering, lulling itself to sleep. It's cold, and it's haunting, and it's so goddamned glorious, it makes her heart ache. Because, for a time, she feels like she's part of something again, part of something that comes easy.

There are some days when she does absolutely nothing at all, and she still thinks she's not done it right. It confuses her and it makes her pensive, and as transcendentally apropos as that would be this time of year, she doesn't wear it well. There are things she thinks that, after thirty pretty good years, she should be able to understand.

Mostly, she thinks she should be able to understand herself.

Melancholy hits her like vertigo lately. Laughter, singing, then sudden, inexplicable sadness. Her rooms are littered with relics: her father's wedding band, pictures and scrapbooks, awards, movies and music from her youth; they all radiate a life she remembers, but too vaguely. But that's not even the point. There are new lives to spend; mornings are afternoons that bleed into nights, and she's lived a year, a turning of the seasons, in every day.

She doesn't get it, what's changed after all this time. She hates that she hates that, that she can't let it go as easily as she's let go of more important things, like family and friends and the prospect of love. So, she just vibrates in the Fall, barely held together by her skin, and she waits for all the sleeping and the cover of snow. She knows she won't feel at home again for awhile.

And she thinks she would hate the world so much if it weren't just so beautiful.

angel bath
kgrier

Time passes in her periphery, vaguely realized like REM dreams and reflections in foggy mirrors and those first few days after a heartbreak. It's something so many overlook in favor of what they think are even bigger, more important things: pain and atrophy, loss of dignity and a sense of uselessness, anger and frustration and redemption there from (never let anyone tell you that that isn't a constant, cyclical journey, an ebb and tide).

Maybe they understand it on a broader spectrum, how we're so easily able to lose track, as if what little time we're given isn't just the most important thing in this world (next to love, of course). People can space out, five or ten minutes at a time, half an hour, a day or a weekend, but then they can snap out of it, and get out of it, and make up for it all in the next stretch of time.

She has years to make up, and they don't come cheap.

On bad days, she's just tired of it being the largest part of who she is, of what she'll always be. On good days, it's much easier to accept. Then, it isn't too difficult to pretend she has a choice in the matter, because there are things she can do, things she does (all she does), that many wish they had the time to do, too.

But now there's a part of her that isn't part of her.

She can feel her skin stretch across it with each breath, during every move she makes. She can see it through thin t-shirts and peeking out from buttoned flannels, and even though she knows that's really only because she's so very aware of it, it doesn't stop her from walking around sometimes with her hand over her chest.

(She says it's because it's still sore, but that's only half the truth.)

In the grander scheme of things, it really means very little; she has an offshore drilling rig buried in her chest, that's all. It's a length of tube and a docking platform, and her arms and all their worn out veins are grateful to have it aboard. But, it's another reminder, and when she already has so many, it feels a little mean. Her body is picking on her, and it's as juvenile as the temper tantrum she still wants to throw at times.

She thinks that's probably the wrong way to go about handling this.

angel bath
kgrier

This is the way Kim's World works (specifically, the same World as everyone else's, but that's moot, in the purely academic sense of the word): Things happen as they must, but on and according to an agenda only they understand. Usually, the agenda appears to be sequential, One After Another, rather than All At Once. (Appears, in this case, because she knows that these things, all of them, or at least the possibility of them all, have been with her for a Very Long Time. Some since birth, and them all possibly then, too, because, really, wasn't that an ordeal, and an almost nonevent?)

And a sequence is horrible. That is, logistically, All At Once seems worse, but it only ever really does at the time. One After Another is worse, because people need to breathe, and sometimes this means you can't; gasping for air becomes grasping at straws, and there's no real rest in sleeping, because what if you wake up to One More Thing?

(She usually does.)

squee: cooties
kgrier

Sometimes, I forget that what I have is just not normal until I'm out among the living and I catch a stare or a double-take. And, that's okay, the staring. But, I have to admit that I do sometimes tire of assuring people that I'm not contagious.

Let's twitter: #thisisnotleprosyfolks
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angel bath
kgrier

It has always been said that she has a pretty great poker face. She suspects that, having spent much of her life composing her features on stage (and as often off, but that's a touchy subject), it comes naturally; it has always been as easy (easier) to show no emotion or a false one than to exhibit an authentic one.

But now, she's looking at the stubs where fingernails used to be, and she's wondering if she has more tells than she thought.


...little breakdowns in coastal towns,
they come suddenly crashing over you,
they come easily...



Her head is a jumble of medical textbook terms; she's a diligent armchair physician. That could pass as responsibility, but the real reason is far more pedestrian: When you've got 24 hours a day with little to do, Google becomes a better friend than that one guy in college you still wish you'd kissed.

Now, her mortality comes threaded through the letters of a word she can't quite pronounce easily just yet. It sounds more like a -phobia than an -itis, but, with a laugh that's a little more bitter than her mouth is accustomed to, she realizes that it's perfectly both; who isn't afraid of just kind of...wasting away?

Of course, it could be cancer (lymphoma is its favorite form), or pneumonia, or a heart attack -- her disease is nothing if not varietal. A handful of ways to kill her, 15 to 20 years to do it. It's a little like a prison term (and that's an analogy she's used a lot lately).

Maybe she'll get time off for good behavior.

Then again, it could just as easily take 50 years. She knows that. Even if her doctor hadn't lowered her eyes, nonplused, she wouldn't have believed her. She doesn't trust doctors. Not that she doesn't have confidence in her team, no... Just... She knows God has a way of making things happen; He never lets something as silly as a prognosis stand in His way.

And she thinks that there will come a time, maybe in a couple hours or days or weeks, when this will make sense to her the way it should, that she'll have to confront it and process it the way a normal person would. For right now, though, there's a disconnected calm. A poker face. She'd like to say it has something to do with being at peace with her fate, but it's probably more that she never had a chance to live her life the way she wanted, so it doesn't really feel like too big a thing to lose. She knows that will change. That has to change.

She can wait for fear patiently. Curiously. That, at least, is something new.

Also, she could get hit by a car tomorrow, so there's that.

angel bath
kgrier

Ogi, I miss you.
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