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02 December 2013 @ 08:21 pm
know who you are at every age: histories, part one  
every day on my way to school i'd drive past the elgin mental health center.

rows upon rows of brick and gables. for three years, i drove past it and barely gave it a thought. for two broken semesters, several years up my road, i drove past it again and didn't even give it a glance. there was, say, my car stereo, my boyfriend, my newspaper room drama. there were my ghosts, my scribbled up notebooks, my torn up pages. that stretch of twenty was the last quarter of my trip but it's what i remember when i think about driving to school.

twenty folded back from twenty-five, you'd rise up from between the highway walls, and there were were: above elgin, worried about boyfriends, about not-quite-boyfriends, and ghosts. "rubycon" on your mind (since you didn't have a tape deck). your own little asylum. and there was the real one, maybe a mile in, and then it was gone.

the community college was the first place i drove alone. another brick building, this one sprawled over itself in boxes, a larger and somewhat more complex version of the high school i'd left a few months earlier. i went into that building of brick walls and strange angles a poet and a necromancer. a girl who'd stayed up the whole night before watching a movie about lesbian vampires. i wore my fresh-blood red shirt of artist's signatures from the chicago art institute--a subconscious smirk to a lost ambition as i faced my daily commutable reality. the morning was cool and humid. my eyes couldn't open wide enough. i'd write seven poems in a night. i had a notebook full of poems in my bag--a bag i can't seem to remember.

(did i choose a bag from the surplus store? i must have. did i have that musty green backpack all through ECC? what did i carry? perhaps i discarded it. it doesn't seem likely. i can't seem to let a book bag go--though it's at least as possible as my not being able to remember what bag i brought with me that day.)

the first day of classes was my eighteenth birthday. i had three classes in the morning; they were over by ten-thirty, so i sat in the student recreation room until my last class, "fundamentals of arithmetic," at three forty-five. i didn't know anyone. i had nothing to do. i tried to write in my journal, but found i had nothing to say. i tried writing a poem. i wrote some lines about the concert i'd been to a few days before. i looked out the window at the courtyard and thought it might be better to write my lines outside, so outside i went. outside it was hot. there were unexpected breezes and bugs. it had been a day of inversions: i had time, but nothing to write. i had a car, but someplace to go. it was my birthday, but it felt like a funeral. of course instead of finding satisfaction in the solace of an empty courtyard, i felt exposed and ill. so i went back in and wrote a letter to faust.

dear faust i am drowning come rescue me, love judith is what i should have written, but instead i wrote it without writing it exactly. inexactly, i doomed myself to writing it over again, many times over many seasons. eventually, i closed my notebook and went to class. a half hour before class started. it was the soonest they let me in. i spent a lot of time in that classroom, you'd think i could remember it better.

by the time i arrived at my three forty-five class--usually the first student there, usually by fifteen minutes or more--my morning classes seemed like a dream. i'd take my pick of the desks, half turn in my seat, and look out the window from a very different part of the building. now that class itself seems the most dreamlike: disconnected so completely from the rest of my coursework--temporally, physically, ideologically. i got to class earlier than anyone, but never really showed up. in the mornings i had psychology 101, philosophy, african cultural history, english 101: classes that dealt with language and improvisation. classes that dealt with other places, the imagination, the constructed world; those mysteries i gravitated toward. then: three days a week, hours went by. i sat by myself not particularly sure what i could be doing, and, then, i went to math.


more to come.

part two
part three
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Kateariadnelives on December 3rd, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
I was ridiculously excited to see "part one" at the end of this title, and just as excited to see "more to come" at the bottom. Just thought I'd say so.
selva oscuraanonymousblack on December 3rd, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)
thank you.

this is being edited from something i wrote in the tiny beat up moleskine i was using when i first moved to baltimore--it's first four pages of an eleven page draft that gets even better once i introduce a couple friends i made that semester. :-)

sometimes i really wish i'd been better about getting people's last names when i was in school, ush.