“If my body could speak, it would ask for help.”
“I Was Looking For the Sun”
Fiction. Based on a True Changing of Seasons.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
I am outside, laying flat on the lawn. Sweat dripping unabashedly off my forehead, feet splayed, eyelids clenched shut. My right hand lifts and gives one deliberate, impatient shake to relieve an unwary ant of its perch. With my other hand I lift the corner of the towel from under my head and drape it across my face, and now I am enveloped in warm, steamy darkness.
When I open my eyes after some time, I am stunned by the perfect, deep blue. It is a world I never wish, perhaps, to leave. But finally, driven by my body’s thirst and intolerance for the pervasive heat, I stand unsteadily and crawl, not unlike a hermit crab, towards the indoors.
Time after time she is in the sun, and each time, a memory. Perhaps she shows the changing of the seasons.
I am outside, laying flat on the lawn. Shivering in the breeze. Raindrops pattering softly on my skin—or I imagine they are (if I could hear them). I can certainly feel them, heavy droplets splattering onto my bare arms and legs, sliding towards the earth. Those left behind are uncomfortable resting on my skin, lacking a sense of belonging.
I was looking for the sun.
I was looking for happiness. And I didn’t find it. Not this morning, not any morning since it happened.
Each morning, each moment, each day is a struggle. I wake from a night of tossing and turning with an interminable ache in my head. I wake and take a breath and feel the unsettledness in my stomach, the butterflies in my diaphragm. I lie in the covers and know that I will not fall back asleep, and yet I do not want to leave.
When, perhaps an hour later, I arise, I am shaking, cold. The house is too cold for a body and mind bereft of sunshine and joy.
I drink the coffee that will only increase my jitters because the warmth comforts me. I am a creature of the sun and of warm beverages. I love coffee and mulled wine and sunshine and cool green grass. As it fades, my anxiety increases.
I am sitting in the car, looking at the park. I had driven into town very early that day, thinking I would go to a coffee shop to write or apply for jobs before my counseling appointment. But when I went into my favorite coffee shop—the small, dark, warm one full of ambient light and, in the winter, a fireplace—it was too loud. The space was swelling with clanks and whirs from the machinery, loud conversation and unwelcome laughter. I did not feel like laughing, and the room felt as if it would burst at the seams.
I wanted silence. Silence only. In my tired state, I took my coffee and left. I would have stepped outside the car if it had been warmer. But as it was, I simply sat with my windows rolled down, trying not to shiver. I thought about how the seasons were changing and felt fear. To be afraid of the changing of the seasons? Of the day fading into the night? Like I said, I am a creature of the sun. Without the sun, without the green grass, I die.
And now, in the midst of the fall with winter approaching, I am resigned. I adapt. I no longer sit outside on the porch in the mornings and write my morning pages. Now I sit in front of the fireplace (still seeking warmth). I no longer stretch out on the lawn on my pool towel and meditate and listen to my audiobook; I stretch out on my bed instead. Sometimes I take a bath in the evenings to warm my bones. And last night, or two nights ago, I slept next to her.
She told me that she was always cold. And she slept in my pajama pants and her open weave sweater and sheep wool pullover. Colder than me. We slept next to each other, at first with her spooning me. Then she pulled her arm back but was still curled into me. We slept in different positions but always touching. In the morning I turned towards her and we slept with our faces almost against each other. I would open my eyes and see her lips and her closed eyes just inches away and smile and feel warmth. And then I would fall back asleep.
I remember her breasts beneath her sweater, large and out of proportion with the rest of her body. I remember undressing quickly in front of her. I remember that when she removed her glasses, her face looked very different: all edges and thin lips and stunning green eyes with full lashes. I remember wanting to inspect all of her different piercings. And I remember thinking her nose was bigger up close.
When she spoke to me, we stared into each other’s eyes without flinching. I stopped thinking about the eye contact and simply focused on her words. I was tired, my throat was raw; I was losing my voice. I was losing focus from listening for so long. But when I spoke to her, she lay on her side and looked at me as if there was nothing else she would rather be doing than listening to me tell my story. I showed her music, and I would have shown her writing if there had been time. I asked her about being bisexual.
Maybe our story will simply be one of friendship and unrequited love. I understand her implicitly, and I grow to know her more and more. I observe and internalize and remember so that I can understand her actions in the future. I do this so that I will not hurt when her actions affect me—when she fails to respond, when she changes our plans. I do not want to be hurt by her; I want to understand why she acts the way she does.
I want her to heal.