an interior look
[prologue: there is a fabric that is torn when we break from interior to exterior, when we move from inside to out. but that tearing is not always a negative. that is my intention here. to be tender with the tearing. these notes are meant to provide clarity for what happens in the depths of a mind that is always reviewing, evaluating, and considering the many tears that happen. these notes are a kind of performance that is partially personal, partially public. a performance with a promise to be tender with whatever might arise, with whatever drifts out, with the conversation that is implied within this space. between your eyes and mine. ]
the first question when starting something new is always: why. why do it. why now. what is slicing through the walls of your heart that needs to be given a space, a name. well, to answer that question for you, i must tell you a story.
when i was a child, i was fixated with the idea of the monster under the bed. but not just your average monster. i imagined a multi-tiered, jagged tooth mouth, venomous eyes, and an amorphous, dark, lurking body lived beneath my bed, and if i stepped one foot onto the floor at night, it would snatch my ankle and drag me under into the abyss. i couldn't move when this monster gripped my mind, the conceptualization of it was paralyzing. at the time, my dad had a book on one of his many book shelves, titled, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. He had a hard copy with a glossy blue background and bold orange lettering. Whenever we were afraid of something, he would say, 'feel the fear and do it anyway.' one night, after some time of routinely waking up around two or three in the morning and wailing to be saved, i woke again with the urge to flee from my room. while that initial churning in my gut, of the monster beneath, climbed up my throat, i found myself repeating, 'feel the fear, do it anyway, feel the fear, do it anyway, feel the fear, do it anyway.' i made a choice and leapt further than i had before, landing on the ground near the door. i don't remember if my gorilla crash caused my dad to rush out of bed to see what was the matter, but i do remember looking back at the dark underneath the bed, and thinking, 'it worked, i faced it.'
throughout my life, if have found that the most comfort i could achieve was within the walls of myself. while i make friends easily, and seemingly find no trouble relating to others, i consider myself an interior person. yes, you read that right. not an extrovert or introvert, an interior soul. i function like the inside of a house. i am comfortable and warm when company is present. i am put together and curated in a specific style. but at the end of the day, i am here for one person, the house's owner, me. and i am most comfortable within that space. it has taken me decades to arrive here. decades to sift through the debris and boxes of myself, unpack all the components, throw away what i truly did not need, and keep only the items that sustain. this is all to say that i have been perfectly happy as an interior, knowing that everything i need was within my control.
then something shifted.
it was an unexpected shift, though i assume they almost all are, and one that took me some time to fully wrap my mind around. and that shift was the sinister underpinnings that developed from the virus that still grips the world by its throat.
[editorial note: you have probably noticed that i have used many words thus far that cognate negative or unsettlingly imagery for the reader; i.e. 'break,' 'lurking,' and 'throat.' this is a literary technique one uses to create the emotional landscape of the writing, without carte-blanche telling the reader how to feel.]
in the world there has been a great deal of tearing, most of it negative. the virus that spread as swift as mountain wild fires tore through homes, through families, made neighbors nasty toward one another, and the general populous fearful and on edge. it has isolated so many from their routines, their friends, their activities, and ultimately their life. it has has given a space for the racial and socio-economic problems that have existed for the entire history of this country, and while being ignored by many for far too long, to boil to the surface of our murky waters. there are some that believe in blindly charging around, doing what they desire to do because they desire to do it, while others attempt to keep themselves and loved ones safe by staying fully removed from society. there has been much tearing, and in the that, tearing apart.
as an interior, i played witness to the sweeping lifestyle/work-style changes affecting hundred of thousands, and was emotionally gutted for those suffering the way they were. and felt guilty. guilty that my privileged situation was mostly unfazed by the changes affecting so many. i have worked from home for almost eight years now, and my company, while significantly busier than usual, was otherwise unaffected. i was still getting a steady paycheck, could pay my bills, and didn't have to worry about losing my housing. i was and am absolutely lucky to have that situation. so i felt that i could not complain, not really, and not while so many others were suffering in much greater ways. so i began to take some comfort in the changes. the quarantine allowed me a barrier between myself and others that i didn't need to make excuses for. i had no issue wearing a mask and gloves to keep my loved ones and others safe. as an interior and as someone who lives with mental illness, i found relief in not needing to find valid-seeming reasons to avoid making plans with others. i enjoyed the quiet isolation my home provided. i found it easy to call or FaceTime with my family and keep in touch. i spent a few weeks like this. churning through each day's work load. doing workouts in my living room. spending endless evenings reading, fussing over my dogs, cooking elaborate dinners with my spouse, and working on my most recent writing endeavor. and i didn't mind the lines telling you how far to stand from another or which way to go in the food store, because to be honest, i really enjoyed the new norm of a personal space bubble. i was content.
or so i thought.
as time wore on, not much changed (other than the mismanagement of our political systems and random disregards of societal public health) till one day it dawned on me that i didn't know when i would be able to hug my dad again. while i have the incredible fortune of living close to him and going on morning dog walks together (six feet apart and while wearing masks), i hadn't hugged him in months. what if i never could again? this thought began to metamorphose and grow. what if i am never able to see my mom in person again? and laugh with her at the kitchen table? or my grandparents, would i ever be able to hold their hands again? or my brother, what if we are never able to have our morning tea time rituals again? or my friends, would they fade into the horizon of my life? what happens if i become a fully sealed off interior. if the walls are all spackled together and then it is only me, alone. and then i came to the final thought, what is being alone, other than being dragged into the abyss. the monster had altered its appearance after all these years, but it was still here.
with this cascade of thoughts descending on me, i sat in the middle of my living room, and tears began streaming down my cheeks. i spent hours as a sputtering lump, while my dogs laid against me, unable to help in any other way than to press their small bodies lovingly against mine. that pitting loneliness welled inside me. and there was no where to put it. eventually, i am sure i stopped crying and went through the motions doing of the evening's tasks. but that nagging depression hung heavy in my chest.
i believe that everyone has within themselves the capacity for great change, for vibrant wild swings. but you need to be the one to create that change in yourself. several days after the sob session in my living room, i was re-organizing my bookshelf as a distraction from my murky thoughts, and a glossy blue book with bold orange lettering tumbled out of my hands and landed face up on the floor. and then, everything clicked.
i cannot change that there is a virus that could sneak in and kill the people i love the most.
i cannot change that the world is a tumultuous and stressful place every single day.
i cannot change that for the foreseeable future i cannot hug the ones i love.
but there is a change i can make, and that is to break out of the interior, leap off the bed, face my fears and say, i can do this, i can continue in the face of the abyss anyway.
[editorial note: braided essays are one of my most favorite literary endeavors, because the concept is to introduce a few concepts and then continually braid them throughout the essay or piece. that is a bit of what i have done here. the braiding of multiple themes throughout. a beautiful example of expertly constructed braiding is Maggie Nelson's Bluets. go read it.]
i created this website to be a home and a showcase for my creative writing projects, work that i am proud of and am grateful is out there in the world, work that i needed to create, work that was always and always will be spilling out of me, work that is worthy even if it is only for my eyes. i created this website to offer to others my ability to provide editing and education services, to share something that i am deeply passionate about and brings me a great deal of joy, because working with others within the creative world is the greatest experiences one could have, the ability to teach is the ability to learn oneself. i created this website to be a space to display my film photography, because shooting these images gave and continue to give me hope every day in the vast beauties of the world, hope to continue.
and finally, i created this website to house these notes, which are a look inside at who i am, how i think, and what moves me, but most importantly, can be a place to remind each reader that one person is not alone in a sea of many, and that every voice counts, even if it is small and scared.
i started all this for all those reasons and one more, only you can choose to see the tearing happening around you, go from interior to exterior, and do that which you were afraid to do.
so why start something new. because you always have a choice.
and a choice is all you need.