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Open Rhythms — Bodies of Water

I have had so many moments lately where I have to remind myself to breathe, where I find myself in the elevator alone and I slump against the wall and put my forehead to the metal, when I try to carve out little bits of “it’s okay,” putting this song on in the car before I walk in the door for work. Breathe, move your shoulders back. Look out the window. Things are bigger than this.

I moved out of my little room at a local university the other night. I did it at 3 a.m., making the trip out to the street lugging bags and hangers, over and over, because I could feel myself think out there in the dark. Up the stairs to my room, back down to the car, clear night, inside, out. A drunk teenager sat in a chair out front smoking a cigarette and watching me, his feet up on the iron table in front of him. Every now and then he’d tilt his head in that cocksure drunk way and ask me if I needed help. I said no because hauling all my things was clearing my head in a way that was moving something inside me and I didn’t want anyone to toy with it. So I kept lugging, and he kept watching and flicking ash. I slammed the trunk when I was done and went to bed.

Moving is at once an acknowledgment of forward motion and of failure. Of where you’re going next and of what was supposed to have been accomplished in this space but wasn’t. I was supposed to practice my French. I was supposed to spend less. But those are the who-cares failures you can chuck aside or pack up with you, open them up again in your next space, good as new. Those carry on. 

The other failures are the ones that catch you when you’re confronted with past iterations of yourself — the girl who tacked this poem on the headboard because it meant something, the girl who thought a new apartment meant the ability to leave things behind — the realizations that, though you’ve changed in this space, you haven’t changed enough in the ways you wanted to. The inspiration board in your head of the girl you want to be isn’t arranged at all in the way you’d planned.

You’re not over him yet, not in the way you wanted. You think about him when you’re with someone else sometimes. You don’t love yourself in all the ways you want to. You want to be more assured. Of what? You’re proud of the things you’ve done but still feel aimless. You’re angry at yourself for feeling aimless because look at what you have.

This is what we do when we move into new spaces. “This is the room that will be mine — no ghosts. This is the room that will be mine — a new start.”

And this is what we do when we leave those spaces. We unpeel things from the wall and touch bottlecaps and wonder at the person we are and were. We expect to leave with shoelaces tied but nothing is so clean a break.

Breathe, rest your head against the elevator walls, ride it a few more times if you have to. Slam the trunk. Open the door.