Spots and splashes of yellow, purple, blue, and grey grew in vibrancy as each day passed. The bruising. The aftermath of a trauma that I failed to fit neatly under a two inch bandage.
I fell hard. Against a marble trimming. I woke up in a daze, convinced I was no longer living. My world, muffled and translucent. I rose slowly, using my hands to help me. Oh god, I was getting blood everywhere. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I should have been horrified, but I was very calm. I called an uber. I picked a random pair of clean underwear to press against my wound. A sock didn’t feel as clean. I checked myself into the emergency room.
I left with seven stitches and a tylenol prescription. It was snowing. I swore I died that day. My head was heavy, but my feet were light. An overwhelming sensation that my angels walked me back to Earth.
I returned home, alone. Prepared a bowl with detergent and water. I prayed over it. I found a rag. I cleaned the blood off the floor. The trimming. The phone charger. The door knobs. The bathroom sink.
A few months after the stitches were removed, I fell again. This time I was in the East Village by a mural of Mickey Mouse. I remember knowing it was going to happen. In preparation, I took off my air pods, put them in a clenched fist and brought myself closer to the sidewalk. A man woke me up. I hit my head but I could still see the world clearly. I said thank you and walked myself to the CVS.
A man in the store told me I wasn’t allowed to use their restroom. I begged. He told me to go to the restaurant across the street. Instead I walked to the make-up aisle by the cotton balls and facial pads and laid down. Soon enough, I would muster enough energy to go home. I was a long way from the Bronx.
It was different this time. I wasn’t alone. We were in line at a comedy show. I knew now the cries of my body, the ones that preface my falls. Maybe if I make it to that wall? I thought before falling head-first– crashing into the pavement. I was told afterwards my eyes did not close. My arms straightened. My muscles tense. My neck, stiff. I literally froze. Blacked out. Next thing I remember was a splash of water. Strangers circled around me, yelling at me. You have to go to the hospital, they’re words zoomed through my mind. I didn’t care. I’ve been here before. I just wanted to be home. I left before the ambulance came.
The day after I was utterly, terribly, incredibly sad. Depressed. Hurt. I was attracting chaos. In one year, I passed out three times (or seized– I’m still not sure). Each time felt like death. Each time, a transformation. A cry for help. My relationship was a cage. The relationship with my lover, with my body, even with my ambition.
I’ve learned throughout my life that the pain of my body is not detached from the pain of my mind or my spirit. My body was a crackling vessel. An earthquake emerged to the surface. A liquified state that held no structure, or sense of true self. An inability to take the shape of any emotion, any relationship. A constant questioning and unclarity, held together through the love of a crumbling relationship. My third fall was the lowest I’ve felt since the day after my father passed away. Yet still, I had so much to fucking do. I had papers to grade. Papers to write. People to speak to. Events to organize. Students to support. Clothes to wash.
After all these incidents, the gash is now a subtle scar. The bruising is long gone. Yet the concussions still showed itself in the words lodged in my throat. I burned palo santo each rising, allowing the smoke of burning wood to caress my neck. An attempt to free the misplaced words. I closed my eyes, one hand holding smoke the other my stomach.
I felt drained, bloated, and unwell. Heavy. I was not moving my body like I used to, the world was not as clear as it used to be. I spent weeks this year in the dark, healing from head traumas. I had a lingering headache, a perpetual fog. I was in desperate need of a change. My body was begging for me to let go of what was not serving me. I held an incessant need to heal my body. This time it wouldn’t be from within, but from without.
It was October, the day after the end. My shower lasted an hour. Sounds of thrusting water, heavy rain, and car horns orchestrated the soundscape to my steaming tub, skin, fingers. I was standing in my room now, in front of the mirror. I pulled my wet hair into a bun. I found my softest clothes. I put them all on.
I bought strawberries. Some coffee. Ginger. Guava. Although, that was his favorite. I don’t take a bite. I had every intention of doing so, but instead I let time consume them.
I watched a movie. I remember the words of the protagonist. She spoke of a time when she put her brain to rest. She was studying in the United States when she realized she didn’t understand the language or the culture very well. She didn’t have too many friends. She spent a lot of time by herself. It was then, when she felt free of the noise… when she began to write again. Abundantly. Quickly.
I laid. I cried. A grieving, snotty kind. A yearning. I wanted to call him. But that wouldn’t feel good either. I tried crying more. Stretching my limbs this way and that. I stretched my jaw. Pursed my lips, stretched my neck. My shoulders. I took a deep breath. I stuck my tongue out. I closed my mouth. I got on my knees. Lowered myself . Child’s pose. I tried again. Ommm. I was gonna be sick. I walked to the shower. I bathed again.
I covered myself in oil. Lavender and chamomile, the last few drops from the bottle we shared together. My skin gleamed, still a little pink from the hot water in which I cleansed. I watched beads of oil drip down my shoulders, my hips, my chest, my back. I reached up, tippy toes. Stretched out my joints, pouring the last few drops of the oil we shared down my back. I rubbed the scent across my legs. My toes. The space between my fingers. My face, my hair. Letting it all go. I threw the empty bottle away.
Laura told me anger is powerful. Women are taught not to lean into their rage. We should. We should yell, we should scream. We should come into community with sisters who will be enraged for us. My mother was my rage for a long time, before I ever was. My cousin was my rage, when I didn’t know if I should endure or fight through a relationship that would inevitably end. My sister was my rage. Laura was my rage.
As I sank in sadness, in the static state of my desperation to be free of pain and sadness and woe. The women around me held on to my sorrow firmly enough to lift me up into something else. I allowed the rage in. This physical, this emotional, this spiritual pain. Impossible to neatly bandage, was in the open. I allowed it into the physical realm. These words I once misplaced rose again through my body. They were not lost, but lodged. In the back of my throat. Waiting for a good scream, a solid yell, a true release of expectation to be freed. My anger pushed me into a harsh self reflection where I inquired: how was I complicit in all of the spiraling shit that was 2021?
A question that let me take the power of my pain back. How was I complicit?
Two days after the end of the semester, I fell again. This time, into a deep sweat. My body turned feverish, cold, hot, congested, trembling and aching from the virus. I forced myself to sleep. To eat. Then to sleep again. I slept for six days. I healed, and I am still healing.
Two concussions and a positive covid test later, there is no neat conclusion. The metaphorical spots and splashes of yellows, purples, blues, and greys won’t fade. I won’t let them. I’ll carry these colors with me into next year, unsure what this palette will transform into next.
Soon, I will return home. Prepare a large bowl with part water, part detergent, and part oils. I will pray over it. I will use my hands to splatter the mixture across my home. I will mop. I will burn sage. I will write more. I will paint my kitchen blue. I will pour love, abundantly. Gracefully. I will walk, confident that my angels are taking me exactly where I need to be.