Intervals (or the spaces between my letters)

by Charlotte E. Wilde

I’m writing again. Writing because I’ve found that strange solitude that pushes me to do so, the heavy alone carried on a shoulder or a look that keeps me errant down the streets of a city that allots me exactly one secret per year.

I’m writing again because I’m swimming. Swimming in the intervals between my words, my breaths, my letters or the empty space where lonely licks my dripping mind clean. It chases me to corners where I watch strangers for signs of alive and fill my mental pages with the stories they write in the margin of a scattered conversation or a sideways glance. That’s me, knees tucked under and eyes glassed in wavering between invisibility and a presence so violent I feel it burning on my cheeks.  But looking down I see my splayed fingers flicker like headlights on a country road; I’m fading, surely… then again aren’t we all?

It’s the weather or the way of things in November. It’s that sneaking memory of a desire or the desperate tug I have to feel some consciousness other than my own. I call it trouble, and trouble is at best a fickle, fair-weather friend.

Last year on this day in this chair I didn’t know intervals. Last year on this breath, in this circle, I saw dead ends instead of second chances, a long line of mistakes instead of spiraling lessons learnt. But today, this time around, I know that people come to me, willing me to write their stories on my skin, to sift through memories like a prospector to find the pains they’ve tried hide or relegated to forgetfulness.

I think most of us are ever willing to ignore how memories function on a sliding scale. They slip gently down, pooling deep and  patiently waiting for the right combination of clicks or notes or eyes to bring vivid lucidity flooding back into these lives we live half-heartedly, ever batting them aside like sleep out of 4am eyes. Call it collective consciousness or a generational gap, I’m here to remind you– a miner of moments too precious, too formative, for us to have the vanity to believe them so easily brushed away.

But why stop there? Has it been a lifetime? How long have I been holding tight to these secrets, collecting the pieces that slip, the ones whose eyes we meet on the subway and quietly look down pretending not to recognize. The repressed ones that slither into sweat-soaked dreams that we tell ourselves we can’t remember in the morning. Has it been that long?

But these are are our chain link fence, these are our blushing beds, these are the soil of a soul.

No response? No matter.

Yes, poetics are often lost on November– falling short like the day-light savings, like luke-warm morning coffee for one, like the time and like the space between the paragraphs of two lives destined to dead end into a [death] sentence writ to skip.

I wonder if you can read it in my glance or smell it like sleep hanging static in the air when you walk by me in the morning. You’ve taken refuge in some past version of yourself that I only thought I knew, but you stay. Then again I always knew I’d be the one to open my fingers, to release you trickling through my palms to the ground. I suppose nothing surprises me anymore, not the change nor the cycle, and certainly not the spiral of a coexistence based on held tongues and a healthy American complacency with the status-quo.

So here we are. I’m spinning intervals and you’re thinking simply but for bulbs and branches. Here we are again, but we are not fallow. We are not fallow but we’ve forgotten how to grow just as winter forgets the changing of the seasons, just as summer struggles to rise and meet the fall.

I think maybe one day, this November or the next, someone will stumble upon the remnants of this garden we planted with upturned-eyes. A secret garden laden with original sin and those stories we buried in tiny boxes made of ticky-tacky. Tiny whispered secrets that grew branches and found their way to the surface of our skin, a veritable treasure trove of reasons-why.

Lately I’ve been sleepless again. I spend my nights stacking memories, storing scattered thoughts on a windowsill. I’m watching them for signs of bloom, waiting patiently for them to grow into a page worth reading, a page worth forgetting, a page worth tossing for some other perennial scavenger to swallow and re-write.

I lie on a couch that knows more than it lets on, imagining my breath slowly filling the room with a carbon-monoxide haze that will sing me back to sleep. I count seconds until the space between my words has become so great that they turn back to letters, the letters back to ink and the ink back to liquid which runs off the sides of my thoughts into my dreams. I am just a memory of these pilfered moments repressed into a reverie, into a void, into the desire for the comfort of forgetfulness, the most human wish of all.

But I wont take refuge in refusal.

We’re all living in intervals, the space between us gets wider every day.