The sun twists its tendrils through my blinds and warms my face until I feel the heat of it, see it pink behind closed eyelids that I slowly heave open. I stretch my limbs until they crack and slide my legs like a pendulum off of my bed and to the floor. Muted pink carpet feels soft between my toes. My fingers ruffle my hair, gritty with nighttime residue. I yawn, and when my lips close, a gust of morning breath batters my gums, whips across the roof of my mouth, and slides into my nasal passages. It’s bitter. I scowl.
Sometimes I have morning rituals. Like stretching my arms above my head and admiring the way the light folds against their contours like melted butter. Like sliding my thumb down the hollow of my wrist, touching the veins, little blue trees trapped beneath the surface of my skin. When I put my hands side by side, I look like a leaf.
I’m always measuring. My feet – six inches, one point twenty seven centimeters. My height – five feet, two point something above nine inches. My hands – small and skinny, like grandma’s, Mom says. I like them all.
Old enough to know art and history, I am celebratory, taking ownership of a Roman fresco body. Wide hips, thin ankles, a stomach with slight curls in the edges. Art. They are art.
In tenth grade, I had ten inches of hair lopped off of my head. They twisted it into a braid for me to give to Locks of Love, but for the longest time, it sat on my desk. A decomposing body, the first home of a limb that died and became a phantom. It was a painful reminder of all of those ponytails I had loved and how I could no longer have them.
A date once asked me, as we sat in a dim corner of Olive Garden, twisting our forks through our food, “Why did you cut your hair?” It was barely past the tips of my ears then.
I gulped down my ravioli. “Well, in tenth grade some friends told me that it looked really disgusting long and that I should cut it but probably never would, so I did.”
Pity. I saw it flash in his dark eyes. Some ‘friends,’ he was thinking. Some ‘woman,’ he was probably telling himself.
I guess that in explanation I should say cutting my hair was an act of rebellion, but it wasn’t. I guess I should say that I was trying to be my own self and not let my friends dictate what I would or would not do, but I wasn’t doing that either.
I guess I could say that I went to bed crying every night because nothing I did and nothing I was was ever good enough, because I felt I was the ugliest person in the world, horrifically quiet and walked on because I wasn’t worth treating better. That would be closer to the truth.
A little girl and then a woman never forgets what people tell her about her hair, about her body, about her soul.
Cutting my hair was a plea for mercy.
I am twenty today, young and beautiful, even my crooked, lumped nose. My hair is kissing my shoulders, and, at the rate it grows, mere months away from ponytail length. A lovely, formulated mind is comfortably settled inside a body I’m quite infatuated with. I have discovered my definition.
I wake up in the morning with my soul on my nightstand and I go to bed with it scattered across the world like constellations, fixed, burning, unapologetic. It took me nineteen years to do that.
Some would say I lead a lonely life, and I guess so. I’m still quite shy, still trying to get over it, but I don’t hate myself for it, and this time, there are no tears.
Finding a self is a journey that leaves things and people and old ideas behind, and sometimes, that self is such a sublime little thing, it burns away individuals who don’t have enough determination to hang on. I’m okay with that, knowing what I know.
A body loves to feel that the soul inside of it is fixed. Not pliable, not susceptible. Not attached to the whims of a society or another, but connected by threads to a billion convictions that could light up a dead universe.
I wake and I breathe with just the slightest inkling of how invaluable I am, and just an inkling is enough. It always has been.
A sorta disjointed rough draft of an essay I want to write.