Two weeks ago my therapist tried to ask me what it might feel like to live in one room versus living in a whole house. I didn’t understand what she meant, even though the analogy is apt enough for what she wanted. I told her that I have always lived in all the rooms, that I’ve never been good at filling one and living within the boundaries of it. My mind paces. It never stops. I’m not sure I’d want it to.
What she really wanted to know, though, as we figured out, was the difference for me between being and inhabiting. That’s a stickier wicket and a harder question to answer. I’ve been trying to answer it myself for at least the last five years, but it’s something I was kicking around long before that. Long before I wrote the words:
You miss the way every little thing
used to speak up and tell you
that you were still here.
Am I still here? And if not, where am I? Does it even matter?
Friday I got home from work and couldn’t stand to be with myself, so I changed my shoes and went back out for a walk. I shoved my hands in the pockets of my jacket and thought about what I was feeling, trying to pinpoint its brother feeling to see if I could find my way back to feeling like me. I think it was homesickness. Or something akin to homesickness.
Not necessarily for a place, though I think more and more about moving back to Florida and what it would mean for my future. If I would return as a failure who gave up or as someone who has learned about herself and is ready to move on. What would I move on to? What else is there?
I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. And I’m going to have to go back to my therapist tomorrow empty handed, with nothing but a couple of old poems and some snippets of the cyberpunk to show for this hollow personhood. Not that I haven’t been working on it. I have. I’ve written something every day. Some of the ruminations are long, many of them are unweildy. The shortest and most succinct of them reads:
Being is feeling your heart where it’s buried in your chest.
Inhabiting is thinking that the echo is coming from the floorboards.
And on some levels, forget who I am, I’m still stuck on why I am. Why are any of us? Why are some people love and some people fear and some people hope and some people violence? Why are some people messy and splattered in all of it? Is it better to be simple or complicated? Is it a virtue to know?
I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. This knowledge alludes me and taunts me. So I sit down with my paper and pen and try again.
Being is accepting the future as a promise, a dimension through which we all pass with no fault or hurry. To allow yourself to feel the weight of it. It is coming and it is welcome.
Inhabiting is pretending, like every new day is a happy surprise, like your time resets when you wake, living twenty-four hours at a time and defying the people who would love you to save them the trouble, to save yourself.