my mother doesn’t read my journal often, saying instead that it feels “too much like prying”

One day I will see my mother in the mirror shrieking through the mask of my father. All of it will still be my face. I can feel it. It’s part of growing up. My hands will look like a drag queen’s, loaded down with silver rings and slightly too big for my wrists. I will touch my skin and try to remember what it looked like before freckles, when it felt like softly licked flower petals.

I kind of like that.

It would be nice to have someone to gently walk with on that potentially painful day. There would be sweet balm in looking away from the framed silver to the honey eyes of someone who never knew my parents when they were young, but remembered me. I already find her gestures hiding inside of some of mine. Instead of worry, I think of memetics, and I ponder how ancient this particular arc of form might be, passed from daughter and son to yet another generation again. How many movement phrases are from my great-grandmother, my great-great-grandfather? I tilt my head in conversation, trying to pretend that I’m not as shy about being silly as I am. I look up under my glasses feeling like a shadow. What parts are from other people? I can casually recognize every ex-lover who left a fingerprint in the evolution of how my muscles drape my bones, but how I do see the first woman who raised her eyebrows in disbelief the way my family does? How much of my mind is echoes? Long circles spiraling outward from what I’ve read and who I’ve seen.

I have this joke: “Yes and then we all wake up to be butterflies.”


I don’t seem to know anyone anymore who’s read the book or even seen the movie. Sweet Hermine, sweet Marie, whores just as afraid of death as he is. Kill me, they say as he says, I am going to throw myself off this bridge. They’re shadows of who they would rather be, trapped in feeling empty because their lives fell short of their expectations. It resonated with me the first time I read it, (at age thirteen? fourteen?), the same way I decided that Henry Miller should only be read by people past thirty. There’s such a sense of being drunk on failure, reveling as a disaster of loss, that children should be told to wait. I knew then that I didn’t want to grow up to be these people. I know now. The tricky part is noticing the doors out when they pass by, knowing that to grasp the handle is not to be plunged into the dark but let out into the light. It’s not freedom I want, but liberty.