Letters to July: Artifacts

This month, I’ve been working on a different kind of storytelling by making video letters to July. I’m really enjoying this project and the way it’s stretched me to consider multiple aspects (visual, auditory, rhythmic) of storytelling while also challenging me to quickly master various software programs.

One of my recent favorites is about my collection of old postcards sent to and from strangers, and my collection of letters sent to me by family and friends. It was really fun to make a video letter about my physical letters.

You can watch that letter by clicking here.

I’ve also really been enjoying finding and watching Letters to July from people all over the world. If you’ve been making them– or want to start!– let me know so I can check it out!

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A Different Kind of Rhythm

I’m learning how to use Premiere Pro for my job, and it has me feeling a little bit like Ben Wyatt. I played around with this for at least two hours yesterday… and the final result is only about 30 seconds long. But it was so fun!

Letters to July is a series started by Emily Diana Ruth, who makes absolutely lovely films.

Resolve: Compliments

I spent most of New Year’s Eve in grungy, decadent pits, depraved places. Half full liquor bottles sailed through crowds, smashing glass shards around our feet. Blow was offered (not accepted) readily. Punk kids tried to be tough enough to fit the scene, but were not truly violent. They all rushed to pull up each other up after being pushed down. I was there, looking innocent and out of place with never-been-dyed shiny blonde hair, the curiously wary expression of a pre-pubescent, and at one point (yes, really) bath tissue sticking to my shoe. Later, the punks were replaced with suits in a place where the smoke hung heavy, wrapping around the falling curls in my hair. Posturing men drunk on power (because the alcohol was forbidden) bought the attention of topless women with leers and fifty-dollar bills.

Hours before venturing into the city’s less savory venues, I was at a fancy party. Adults who had graduated from their ivy leagues years ago and now own their own private practices held crystal glasses full of champagne, debating the structural integrity of walls formed from plaster and drywall while their poshly-named progeny pronounced charming phrases in foreign languages. Here, mentions of legal recreational drugs were met with blushes and I-would-nevers. I fit in here more. There’s the sense that, give it a decade, and my life will look similar. But something feels less real, less honest. Or maybe it’s just that this kind of posturing makes me more uncomfortable, because I can see it in myself more readily.

It’s the first of January and everyone is resolving to change their lives in 2014. I don’t know how to change my life because I hardly know how to define my life. I’m 22 (happy free confused and lonely at the same time) and there are so many things I don’t know about my own identity. I often feel that in my own life, I’m along for the ride rather than steering the ship.  I think that’s okay. I think we have to experience the world around us before we can form convictions. I also have the sense that I’m reaching a turning point in my life.

As the end of school and life-beyond-semesters approaches, I have the feeling that I want to direct my course more ardently. I haven’t drafted a list of resolutions. I don’t have a checklist of goals to make myself Better. But I’m always learning things from the world around me. In grungy bars and in classy homes, I learn about the world and about myself. From those experiences I’m able to make decisions about what I value and who I want to be. As important moments crystallize in my life, I’ll try to share them here. Here’s the first:

At the fancy New Year’s Eve party, I noticed a room full of highly educated folks cushion nearly every comment to a young girl with praise about her appearance. While the child was undoubtedly cute/pretty/precious/adorable, I was discomfited by the constant reference to her beauty, which I doubt would have happened had she been a young boy. It’s nice to tell and be told that we look great, but beauty is inconsequential. What we look like has little bearing on and is nothing in comparison to the substance of our character.

I am going to give better compliments. Instead of telling the people I love what I think of their appearance, I want to say meaningful things that value their worth. I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that what we’re worth is related to how we look. I already have a habit of only spending time with people who are meaningful to me. I don’t engage in relationships that are harmful or make me feel judged and unsupported. I want to make a point to let the people in my life know why they are dear to me—not because they look pretty in the pictures that fill my home (although that is true) but because they are vibrant people who enrich my life.

What’s the best compliment you ever received? What made it special to you?

apart

winter-worn bark clutched my skin

the trunk cast a shadow
in the treehouse
where I clasped your hand
quiet fingers laced
beyond their line of sight

my hands shook
mint leaves into teacups
fluttering, sifting, forgotten
in those early hours when we were
the most crystalline versions of ourselves

the newsprint meant to wrap your dishes
became my handkerchief
smearing headlines across my cheeks
after the apoptosis took hold
shuttling blood away from our hearts

what I remember now are the
stars burned and scarred into your shoulders
the smooth swish-dub swish-dub
of a heart’s murmur, leaking ventricles,
your eyes flicking to mine in the rearview mirror
an earnest, infectious smile
the clouds dancing on strings above us

before the hawks came to circle

Lydia Page, sans appendix

Hi, everyone!  Long time, huh? After taking Autoethnography this semester, I’ve become very wary about what I share, where, and how. In exciting news, I started another blog as my final project for that course. And it’s going to grow up to be my thesis project! I’m so excited! The blog is called Angry Feminist Killjoy. I’ve been really delighted by the response- in just two weeks it has more visits and views than this little blog has after two years! Which makes sense, because much as I love writing about my life, I don’t expect many other folks to be interested in reading about it. Writing about actual issues that effect all of us obviously has more of an appeal. 

Additional exciting news… I’m finished with my first year of graduate school! I’m officially halfway through! That’s such an incredible feeling. There are lots of things that aren’t great about grad school, but I’m happy to say that this has been the best year of my life so far. I have healthy and rewarding relationships. I have a supportive and wonderful friend group. I love myself! I’m getting better all the time, and it feels great. It’s such a stark contrast to the last three years. I was miserable, insecure, and had pretty terrible friends/partners as an undergrad. My life isn’t perfect now. There are still fellas who do me wrong. (No scrubs!) I still have tiny existential crises now and then. But I’m much better equipped to handle life now. I know how to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After years of serious depression, it feels so good to be really and truly happy.

Okay, now a more focused update! Yesterday, the worst stomach pain I’ve ever felt emerged out of nowhere. I was waiting for it to ease up, but on hour three of intense pain, I headed to the Emergency Room. I was showing some signs of early appendicitis, but the location of my pain wasn’t consistent with appendicitis. I’d been asked about the possibility of pregnancy about a million times. There is literally no way I could be pregnant right now, but everyone seemed to be hoping they could put me on one of those, “Surprise Pregnancy!” shows.

I had an ultra sound at 1 am. It was cool!  Science is so neat. There was no fetus floating around, because there’s 0% chance I’m pregnant, but I got to see my organs floating around. My sister described them as looking like the Bic Pen mascot, Ewoks, and Tremors. I thought they looked like manatees in an ocean. My appendix didn’t show up on the ultra sound. The doctor wasn’t sure, but was leaning toward early appendicitis. I had to wait eight hours, basically to let the appendix grow more irritated, which would help us reach a more definitive conclusion about the cause of my pain. 

This morning I had a CT scan. As soon as the results came in, I was on my way to the Operating Room. Definitely appendicitis! I really didn’t want to have surgery, but I wanted a ruptured appendix even less. Right before the surgery, there was more pregnancy grilling. I understand and appreciate the thoroughness of the surgeons. The medicine can really harm a fetus, and I certainly wouldn’t want that. But as there was still 0% chance I was pregnant, I didn’t appreciate having to discuss my sex life, the type of IUD I have, the dates of my last period, and other questions I’d already answered a million times. I really do appreciate their concern for the potential fetus, but I would have also appreciated some trust and a little less condescension from those inquiring gentlemen.

The operation was only supposed to take 15 minutes, but ended up being a bit more than an hour. Turns out my appendix was a bit tricky! It was unusually long, stretching all the way up under my ribcage! That’s why I wasn’t exhibiting classic symptoms, the location of my pain was a little unusual because my appendix was a little unusual. I got to look at it as I was coming out of the anesthesia. It was cool!

I did have to sell my ticket to see David Sedaris perform tonight, which was a little bit devastating. I bought it the day tickets went on sale in November, and I had been ultra excited to see him. I’m on bed rest until Monday. I finished my coursework last week, and I’m so grateful I did! Another grad school bonus is the lack of finals. If this had happened last year, I would have been a train wreck! As it is now, I’m lounging about in bed, feeling rather bored actually. But I’m surrounded by books and the entire internet. And life is still very good.

PS: I hope this was coherent. There are doctor-issued drugs in my body that are making my brain a bit fuzzy!

Emotions, am I right?!

This is not going to be polished; it is going to be a diary-like ramble and for that I do not even apologize because, my blog, my rules!! If you’ve been following this blog since its inception, you know that crying at school is more or less my worst fear. And today, that fear was realized…right in the middle of class. Ugh. It was the worst!! I mean, WOW. That was not enjoyable. Unfortunately, I did not even play it cool. Ideally, I would have casually waltzed out as if I were merely over-caffeinated, had a brief private breakdown, collected myself and returned to class. INSTEAD, my lips got wobbly, my eyes turned red, my face got wet; I had to climb over my friends to leave, and then I spent ten minutes locked out of the room.

I’m telling you this now because a) I deal with embarrassing situations by publicly acknowledging them and b) there’s a lot of important stuff I want to attempt to unpack. For me, and for you. Thing is, a lot of people cried in class today. Nobody else ran out of the room. I guess they are better at being adults with emotions. We’ve been talking about war. About Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh boy, right?? Talking about war is hard, especially in a classroom full of folks with military and civilian perspectives that aren’t exactly in alignment all the time. It’s hard, but I think it’s important. I think it’s okay to talk about difficult things and (even though I hate it) to cry about them.

After class someone said to me, “I’m really glad you left. I wish everyone else had, too. Like, this isn’t therapy. If you can’t keep it together, shut up.” And, I mean, WOW. This person proceeded to explain that they would never get that emotional in class, and come on, we’re reading a BOOK. Which is weird on so many levels. Firstly, the book (Sebastian Junger’s War) isn’t a piece of fiction, so we can’t really talk about it as if it isn’t personal. Because for a lot of us (all of us?) these wars are personal. Also, this was said to me by a fiction writer. If you’ve prioritized stories in your life, why would you dismiss personal reactions to them? You can’t be a fiction writer without being heavily invested in the idea that stories matter.

A lot of us in class come from military families. A lot of the class has had no direct exposure to military culture. So this was obviously going to get complicated. I should have known to be worried when one the discussion leaders told me she was disappointed by the lack of politics in the book. War is a book about military soldiers. It is not a political book. It does not take a stance on why we went to war, whether or not that was justified, or what we should do next. It is a book about the people we send to war.

We need to have discussions about the politics of war. But I felt like today’s discussion started politicizing military members, not the war. The class as a whole was polite, respectful, and sensitive to everyone’s varying perspectives. It’s possible that I was just a little too close to the issue. Because this is what was asked: Throughout the novel [it’s not a novel!!! This is non-fiction, people!!! THIS IS REAL LIFE.] we see some disturbing hypermasculine actions taken by some of the soldiers. In a way the men are just depicted as roughhousing, but do you think this might be part of hypermasculine military culture that embraces violence? Do you think that this is problematic, especially given the fact that there is such a long history of sexual violence/high rates of domestic violence in military families? Also, do you think young men who enlist in the military are attracted to the idea of belonging to this violent “brotherhood” that so highly values ideas of power and masculinity?

I had to leave the room before the discussion leader had even finished reading this paragraph. So much of this is clearly just naïveté. This is coming from a civilian who just doesn’t understand military culture at all. (I don’t blame her; I’m not even annoyed at her. I just have a lot of issues with all of those questions.) Here’s something a lot of non-military-related folks do not seem to understand: You cannot politicize military members. The places that need to be politicized are our government, our nation, our culture. The people who are in our military, the people who are dying in our wars, are the people our society has more or less marked as disposable. When you look at the demographics of service members, you’ll see a lot of poverty, a lack of familial stability, of advanced education. There’s a reason those trends exist. There’s a reason that this population is the one we send to die. We should be critiquing the culture that reproduces and encourages this system. We are complicit in that culture. But to blame or problematize military members, most of whom join up due to lack of other viable options… that is wrong.

Asking if people join the military because they are inherently violent is wrong. And clearly things are extra personal for me because, as most of you probably know, I come from a violent military family. I am part of that “high rate of domestic violence”. My life has been largely defined by the violence that existed in my home. Because of this, I don’t have a relationship with my father anymore. And in class today, I felt like I was being asked if my dad joined the military just because he wanted to be around other violent people, wanted to participate in a culture of violence. And that is wrong. I probably overreacted and misinterpreted a lot of that. I know that what I perceived was not the intention of the questions. But I was overwhelmed with feelings and then I cried and it was super gross. But COME ON. Who joins the military because they’re hoping they’ll come out of it super fucked up and can then feel justified in bringing that violence home? NOBODY, BECAUSE THAT’S INSANE.

Okay, clearly I have a lot of issues. I’m working through them. Slowly. (THERAPY, AM I RIGHT??)  A lot of uncomfortable stuff came up for me today, and I wish I could have kept it together long enough to offer my opinion instead of freaking out and then blogging about it. I’m being very one-sided in my discussion here, and for that I apologize. But I needed to sort out some of my own feelings before attempting logical rationality. And that’s okay. Yeah, I’m uncomfortable being emotional around my peers. And those questions made me upset. But all of that was and is okay. I think the only thing that was really not okay was being told later that we all should have left, that our emotions were invalid. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to watch people cry. It’s sometimes hard to understand where those feelings are coming from. But they’re real and valid. Class isn’t group therapy, but if we can’t be honest with each other and our experiences, what is the point? I hope we can all work on having empathy.

Quite a Description

I’ve been doing weekly blog posts for an Autoethnography class this semester. And, uh, since I have nothing else to put up here (sorry sorry sorry) I figured I’d do some cross-posting. Sorry, y’all. I’ve been feeling mightily uninspired lately. This week’s prompt asked us to describe ourselves, what we like and don’t like about ourselves, and how graduate school has changed our self-perception. So. Here’s something!

——-

In the eighth grade, my Honors English class did a ‘Compliment Your Classmates!’ project. We spent one class period writing down one thing we appreciated or admired about everyone in the room, then distributed our notes. Every single person said I was “quiet”. Most of them wrote that I was “quite”. Some kids added that I was ‘really smart’ and ‘nice’. This project did not have the intended effect of making me feel good about myself. It just reaffirmed in my mind that I really really hated everyone. Quiet is not even a compliment! I was so annoyed. Not only had every single one of these kids given me a misspelled ‘compliment’, they had also failed to imagine me complexly.  Quiet? Jesus.

And yet, I think that were we to do the same activity in our class, I would probably get the exact same results… hopefully with better spelling. I never think of myself as quiet, though I suppose it’s an apt descriptor. Personally, I find myself hilarious. I crack myself up all day long, just by making wry observations about the people and places around me.  I usually keep these comments to myself. My humor is incredibly dry and sardonic. Most people don’t get it. They don’t associate Quiet with Funny, and assume I’m being utterly serious.  Still, I would estimate that about 95% of the things that come out of my mouth are meant to be jokes. People who think they’re funny probably aren’t, but I still find myself endlessly amusing.

I had a few bumpy teenage years of disordered eating and self-harm. I remember sitting in my very first college class (here at CSU!) talking about The Bell Jar. I didn’t want to be like Esther so I decided to love myself on my way back to the dorms. That sounds rather trite and glib, but it’s how I remember it. It took longer to change my mindset than to change my habits. It was easy to choose to take care of myself (it’s not easy for everyone, so I feel grateful there) but it was difficult to feel okay with my choices. Anyway, all of that is largely why I don’t engage about conversations around body hate. I’m not going to risk my health and happiness by contributing to the dialogue around self-hatred. You know what I learned about today? Elective cosmetic surgeries on vaginas. Designer vaginas. A huge number of women hate their vaginas so much they’re having completely unnecessary surgeries to make their parts look smaller. I mean, REALLY!? (Where’s Seth Meyers?) As if there weren’t enough things we’re told to hate about ourselves! I’ll just be over here loving myself- all of myself, including my non-designer vagina.

I think graduate school has been detrimental to my self-perception. My entire life has been spent in school, and I’m tired of being defined by that. It doesn’t help that when people ask what Rhetoric and Composition even is, I have no answer other than, “Yeah, man, I still don’t really know.” I fill a lot of roles in my daily life. There are lots of ways I could describe myself to you, but none of them feel completely right. I’m 22. Did anyone know who they were at 22? Does anyone know who they are, ever?

I guess I know this much:  I’m Lydia Page. I’m quite.

Articulating Memory

My mother was born in the forties.  I was her fourth daughter, born a few years into her fourth decade.  But the number four has never seemed particularly important to me before now, just another series of facts creating the pastiche of my generational identity.  The stagnant facts of my life, the answers to getting-to-know-you questions don’t have much bearing on the life I remember.  I don’t recall the year of my birth, or the political climate at the time.  I don’t know what songs were most popular, or what fashions were en vogue.  I don’t remember the facts a biographer would find interesting.

I remember clowns and cacti.  My grandmother collected them.  Her apartment was a menagerie of porcelain dolls with painted faces and desert plants. Resilient things surviving on little.  Most of the clowns were crying, even jest can be melancholic.  My grandmother grew up in the Great Depression.  She was one third of the first set of triplets born in Iowa. I ran through her home, through piles of plastic canvas crafts, weaving between clowns and cacti in search of her wooden rocking chair.  Every time I traversed this path, my body became covered in the spiked needles from the cacti.  I was laid out on the kitchen table, yellow laminate with a leaf insert for holiday parties.  It was like attending my own wake, staring up at the ceiling, the light humming its brightness into the room.  My aunts, one never learned to drive, the other never learned to turn her hearing aid on, put Scotch tape on my legs and arms.  The sticky strips yanked away the cacti embedded in my skin.  All the while, I strained toward the rocking chair.

I was five when my grandmother died in the Walter Reed army hospital.  My mother says she felt the moment the life left her mother’s body.  Her father was a Comanche, dead long before my birth. He refused to live on a reservation, but I imagine some reserve of native knowledge was passed along to my mother.  How else could she perceive her mother’s death before the nurses in the room?  As I watched the uniformed men and women lower the flag outside the hospital, fold it into a triangle, I thought I must have a mystic for a mother. My grandmother willed her rocking chair to me. My father broke it in a fit of anger years later. But the soothing, oceanic motion of the chair, the wooden rods and rails wrapping around me in a steady rhythm lives in my memory as my closest encounter with divinity.

What I remember are the lines on my mother’s face.  Her skin was (is) soft.  The wrinkles around her eyes and lips softened when she read me stories at night.  She always smelled like drugstore face cream, clean but unpresumptuous.  I was a deeply frightened child.  My memories of life outside my mother’s family are denoted by anxiety and embarrassment.  I much preferred to curl next to my mother and listen to her read me stories of adventures than to seek my own adventures. The outdoors were dangerous where we lived.  Children were often kidnapped, or maybe it just seemed the way on the evening news. My sister would talk to anyone, anywhere.  I wouldn’t come out from under my mother’s broomstick skirts.  The world scared me.

In the early 90s, the race-charged politics on television- a black man charged with killing his wife, the trial set against the backdrop of the Rodney King riots.  My sister and I were the only white girls in our classes.  We rode a bus out of our gated machine-gun guarded military base home to a private school in Prince George’s County.  It had heavy chains on the doors, padlocks bigger than my hands.  Now, I wonder about the fire hazard- we all would have burned- but then it was the most effective way to keep the drug dealers, high school gang members and custody battling parents out of our school.  At the end of the day, we were bussed home, to our gated and guarded white neighborhood. The people in the world were dangerous. I stayed inside trying to tunnel through my closet. There was something happier waiting for me on the other side, but I never could make a hole bigger than a thumbtack.

My sister went outdoors, and often came home bearing bloody playground battle scars.  I spent my days sitting under the kitchen table, listening to my mother shuffle papers, pay bills, balance the checkbook.  She constantly worried about money.  My father felt entitled to the money he earned by fighting wars- never felt any attachment to his wife and children. My mother worked three jobs and took night classes and had the unfortunate tendency to treat her children like tiny therapists. I sat at her feet while she wrote school papers, fretting about finances.  I was obsessively concerned about bank accounts.

What I remember, always, is the cold.  The blizzard that piled three feet of snow in our backyard, our basset hound up being scooped up and tossed into its soft banks, then crashing back inside, collapsing sheets of snow in with her. When I pressed my palm to a dusk-frozen window, an imprint of fingers seeped onto the glass. The warmth and security I hoped to find inside don’t register in my catalog of memories.  What I remember are the momentary flashes of crisp autumn air, damp foggy mornings, ice crystals clinging to my tights.  When I am living in it, I detest the cold.  I hate the aching stiffness of my joints, fingers and toes like blocks of ice, my nails a perpetual purple.  But the shock and pain and discomfort of the cold live in my memory as a pleasant reminder of my miraculous existence. To be a sentient being is an unfathomable thing. To possess the capacity to feel discomfort is itself a joy. Even my small self could recognize that. Or maybe I was just looking for a stable presence in my life, even then.

I remember flashes.  Incomplete memories splash out across the canvas of my past life. There are so many empty spaces, unfilled gaps in space and time. There are parts of the narrative that I willfully erase, forcefully excise because to acknowledge them, to label those parts of my life for what they were is unbearable.  Every so often I try to find those moments, to bring them back, to prove to myself that I did not emerge fully formed in college. But every attempt (especially this one, perhaps) results in some uncomfortable rambling that feels at once pretentious and rudimentary, self-indulgent and sweeping in its generalizations.

Origins

I’ve heard that where you’re born is just a fact; it’s where you’re from that defines who you are. I’m from a military family. Liminality defines me. Even when traveling the world, nothing feels new. Every country and city viewed from the insular stagnation of a fenced-in base. But I find some places hover in my memory more vividly than others.

Flugplatz, Germany
I was born in a paper town.  It now exists only as a placeholder on decades-old maps.  Like the towns submerged by floods in Indiana, all that’s left is the whispered memory of a name. Those ghost towns reemerged in the summer drought. So too do my origins appear, in moments of unexpected calm. The harsh language is loving in my mind. ish lee buh deesh, loodia.  I remember Germany in glimmers.  The slick texture of a nylon windbreaker, crisp autumn air, breezes chapping cheeks, the whirring autobahn, a view of the world from the height of ceramic garden gnomes, bread driven in a truck through village streets- too hot to hold and steaming when broken, chocolate too decadent to eat alone- rich and sweet Kinder Eggs with puzzles and toys inside, castles rise in the landscape of my mind.  I remember this place as magical.

Washington, D.C.
The fog clouds every morning of my memory.  Dense enough to consume us all, the yellow bus tears through it with a polluted wheeze.  When my father is not overseas (which is often and for years at a time) he is Presidential Security.  Air Force One is smaller than the movie made it seem.  The lawn of the White House is more green and lush than the postcards show- I know from rolling slimy, peeled hardboiled eggs across the chemically fertilized lawn on Easters.

Baltimore, Maryland
I will never forget the lancing of the live crab. My grandmother’s apartment, filled with clowns and cacti. Me, speared by their spines then laid down on the kitchen table while aunts hover above my body, pressing Scotch tape onto my legs and ripping it away, full of plant needles.

Cheyenne, Wyoming
Though there is an active war now, my father is rarely sent overseas.  The best days are when he is gone, underground guarding missiles for weeks at a time.  When he is in our home, our lives are shaped by his violent outbursts- he is manic depressive and bi-polar- raging disorders that flood our house with fear.  It is the first time I am aware that adults are fallible and imperfect beings. The wind never stops screaming here. There is no greenery. Dust buries itself in my eyes.  I am always tangled. No one, it seems, is happy here. Seven kids from my high school kill themselves my senior year. The nuclear unit of my family dissolves, gusted out on the wind. Life improves.

Portland, Maine
Half-sisters, twenty years older than me live here with their children.  I am an odd aunt to nieces and nephews twice my age. We retreat here in the summers, searching for sea glass. The ocean curls my hair, fills it with the buoyancy of the waves. The dampness never leaves my clothes, the sand is always in my shoes. There are forests to run through. Ticks burrow into scalps, their blood-fattened bodies are coaxed out with hair dryers and tweezers. We catch toads, try to store them in the sandbox overnight but they’re always gone by morning. There are blueberries to pick and lobsters to boil. There is a ladybug festival. Millions, maybe billions of ladybugs released in a city park. We leave with freezer bags full of writhing bodies. You can keep ladybugs in a freezer through the winter. They’ll unthaw when spring arrives, ready to inhabit gardens.

When I return to the good places, I am certain I am home. This, I’ll think, is where I’m meant to be. But in a moment the yearning will return, for ocean foam or snowcapped peaks, the rain that moves in for days, or the sun that never stops shining, My home, the place I’m from, is intangible. Where I’ve been is always creating who I am- an anxious nomad constantly reaching for place. My origin story is complicated by a lack of heavy anchors. Simultaneously a desired and reviled life, I propel myself forward, always looking for the place I am from.