At 2am, unable to sleep, I wrote in my head. It was a beautiful piece. It was smart and complex and maybe even a little witty. I was pleased with it and pleased with myself, which doesn’t happen often. I was too tired to rise and walk to my desk, so I focused all of my energy on remembering. I squeezed my eyes tight. Remember. Remember. Remember. By morning, it was gone.
Some days I can feel myself disappearing. It starts with something small; a fingernail perhaps, or a pinky toe. Then goes an eye, a hand, my entire right leg. By mid-afternoon, I have only one shoulder, a tongue-less mouth, and a single ear. By nightfall, I am gone.
I am aware of this vanishing act. It is something other than forgetting. It is the empty space the forgetting leaves behind. All day long I feel the weight of my phantom limbs. Nothing feels heavier than absence.
There are moments I have tried to cling to. I have stood in the very center of them and squeezed my eyes tight. Remember. Remember. Remember. A few times this has worked. But mostly I have remembered the act of trying to form a memory and forgotten the memory itself. There is always the sense of something beautiful just slightly out of reach.
I have forgotten to remember more than I’ve needed to remember to forget. I suppose this is something to be grateful for. Holding on is one thing. It is another to let go. To do neither is something else entirely. To do both is a form of grief.
When I was a child, invisibility was my superpower of choice. I imagined it. I wished for it. But now there is nothing about it that seems powerful. There is nothing super about being unseen. There is nothing heroic about fading.
When I was a child, I learned to be quieter. I wish I could remember to forget this. I wish I could remember how to scream. I wish I hadn’t stopped demanding of the world “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”
Because one day the world stopped looking. They forgot to remember I was there. And because there was no one to see me, I disappeared.
Every second of every day of every year of my life, I have gotten a little further away from one thing and a little closer to something else. There are many names for these points; past, future, happiness, sadness, closeness, loneliness, here, gone. They are not singular or linear. They pull from every direction. They stretch so thin that they almost disappear.
But when they do appear, clearly and fully, screaming “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” I remember to allow their weight to fill in the empty spaces. I try to hold on and I try to let go. I squeeze my eyes tight. Remember. Remember. Remember.
I forget how to be gone.