I spend a lot of nights making horse-like sounds as I tromp up the creaky steps of my Washington, DC townhouse, my sandy leather backpack slung over one shoulder, ballooning and nearly bursting open from its contents: my server’s uniform, consisting of a crusty, browning white button-down, an ankle-length apron, splattered with ink-markings, brushed about the surface like spin art in accidental waves of black and blue, and unbearable black shoes, wreaking and stale. It’s on these nights that I breathe heavy, sometimes I cry. I often don’t know why, sometimes things just get leaky up there late at night. I like to lay down and look at my ceiling because it reminds me of limits, and I like to think about limits but then also imagine—launching, movement, surging speeds escaping boundaries and gracefully expanding the skies. Sometimes my cat licks my face, presses his paws into my sweater, and coos softly. This is his bliss, though it may not be mine.
I do quite a bit of recovering. I’m getting very good at it; that’s not to say I brave the storm of various traumatic events that require recovery. There’s something in between doing and not doing, and it’s recovering. It’s not often spoken of, but it’s a state of being. Even when recovery is discussed in an applicable context, it is inferred as rehabilitation or moving forward, moving on before looking at the limits and envisioning the breakthrough. I’ve watched the ceiling quite a bit, it’s where I learn the most about myself; that and this playlist on Songza called Music for a Woodland Clearing, which is essentially Van Morrison sprinkled with near miniscule flavor bursts from other woodsy artists. Regardless of its semi prosaic musical DNA, it helps me to learn about myself, and all things considered, it evokes wild and diverse spiritedness and life, which I’m desiring more than usual today.
I’ve received a few job rejections now. I almost have to run back into the house each morning to grab my coat of resiliency. I’m rather calculated now as I dress myself as someone whose cares are less numerous than they are when dressed in doubt and fear. I’m afraid to face anything that might’ve once seen me as seamlessly and conventionally successful: the buildings, the faces, the mentors. Sometimes I sit down to write thinking maybe I could write the story of non-success, maybe I could write my own story with more grace and beauty than failure and pain. But the words are too close and not yet far enough to become story or tale. I think maybe one day when recovery is past, when I’m not staring at the ceiling, concocting innovations and mental revelries of my untold flight through ceiling, stars, through woodland clearing, I’ll have moved enough to write the story of untraditional success—a sort of success that occurs when nothing else does. When I’m walking up the steps late at night…
My mother sent me an inspirational yet delightfully childlike piece about her own life told in the fairy princess and her kingdom and castle-style. She, the fair maiden, was described as having lost control over her kingdom, then claiming ownership over a kingdom that wasn’t fully realized until she believed in her ability to rule what was hers. I, like the princess, need to rule that which is mine: myself, my time, my late night walks up the stairs, in the dark, with tears welling up in the pit of my stomach. I have gifts of words like paint, voice like movement and song, hands accountable for change I can feel before envisioning it. I make decisions like paintings. It’s not even real yet, but I know it, think it, then it is realized like the artist, like the princess who decided life: the inner the outer—it was all hers.
Anyways, my mom doesn’t like Bob Dylan, but I bet the princess would like this song that makes me think of all I can do. It’s simple, but really I feel the message of what one can do rather than not do is tantamount
She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back
She can take the dark out of nighttime
And paint the daytime black.
Recovery is in realizing that it’s all there; it just has to be taken and held in one’s arms, wrapped up and called “my own.”