I went around the world and when I came back, my bedroom was a fitted sheet over a mattress, lined with navy stripes and the stains of tears, of salivating my sleep over dreams. Those stains sat on my pillow, reminders of who I was and that, although I had been everywhere and had seen everything, when I walked back in that door it was as if I had never left.
I lay down and felt as if I was a torso with no limbs. My legs, which I had walked with – ran with, with great forceful pushes, with lifting my knees and moving through rain and moving through the hottest of hot suns – had rotted off, leaving me with horrifically ugly stumps. And my arms, which I had thrown to the sky to ask some sort of deity – whichever one is the ‘real’ one – for assistance to make it to where I needed to go – were worn and had fallen off like autumn leaves. Deflated, they fell to the ground, shortly covered by the detritus of a fading summer, and forgotten. And all I could do was lie there. All I could see was the ceiling. It took too much effort to turn over. It took too much energy to sit up and remain erect so I could see the pale beams of sun again from the window, which was hazy anyway. With dust stains and covered by wispy chiffon curtains that looked more like chicken feathers than drapery. So there I lay, recounting everything; the day it all died, the betrayals, the rock bottoms, my hideously overweight body and how I looked and how I felt, my withered soul trapped inside before I courageously and forcefully set it free. It took so much, that I had nothing. I had no hands and I had no toes and all that got me here, was gone, was ripped off, was treaded upon. I could see the ocean and the drives through the farmers’ fields full of sickeningly bright canola, stretched out like a carpet of pure freeing gold under a hot blue sky – no camera could capture that kind of beauty. It is something you can only experience with your own eyes, even if your eyes, as mine often have, fail you.
I ask myself as I lay there on my weary, withered back, if laying here now with nothing was worth it at all. To my name I had still, my head and my hair and my eyes, which strangers often tell me are beautiful so with nothing to gain I have to believe them. I ask myself again and again and I am unable to reach a decision until I think of three things: I think of him with his round, boyish eyes and pointed nose and soft cotton polo shirts, his red zip-up jacket; I think of her, with her long cascading black shimmering hair, her height, her soft voice and the imperfect inflections in her speech; I think lastly of him, who has shown me utmost kindness, patience and warmth, whose simple life and soft voice and his own travels which to an extent, have too, left him as merely a body lying in a bed as I am now, but who does not care – who presses on anyway with what he perceives as a sword that he has pulled finally, after years of repression, from the stone that bound it. I think of his slight, small smile that carries with it burdens I myself could not even imagine. And when I think of these three people – the ways in which they are linked, the ways in which their mutual exclusivity has all been a part of the tapestry of my life, and the ways in which the three of them have inspired so much terrible, and strangely wonderful prose and thoughts and stories and memories and comforts and horrors – and I can definitively say, yes. This emptiness, this risk, this stagnation, was worth it after all.