Down and In
Sometimes when I’m scared I narrate my life to myself, like I’m the main character in my own film.
“She stabbed herself in the bathtub.”
My hands slither through my knotted mess of hair. The water is turning my skin pink. It reminds me of somewhere I wasn’t. As per usual, I am nostalgic for a warm night in a small town in New Jersey that a boy I loved spent without me. No, no specific one. Any of them, all of them. I grew up in Pennsylvania.
The water pools together with the spit on my lips. I don’t feel clean, I feel cleansed. I feel like screaming. Usually, this is the part where I begin to scream.
I scream and I sit on my knees, feeling my skin on my skin on my skin as I fold in half, in child’s pose, a scared child hit with bullets of hot hot hot water. Hot. I am laying in my own filth now, usually, and I am screaming. My screams are muffled by the shower beating down onto the porcelain coated fiberglass bathtub floor and my tears are gelled with the rushing water. I am feeling a particularly gritty, uncomfortable feeling on my legs and hands and arms and I don’t care, because here I am, finally vulnerable. Eventually, my eyes widen, I sigh, and I stand up to turn the water off. I pause for a minute, with my hand on the shower handle. I let the water push my hair into my face. I feel like a wild animal. I feel free. I feel freedom in my vulnerability. I feel freedom in my wildness. I have things to do. I turn the water off. End scene.
Sometimes when I am scared, I beg.
In a particularly desperate moment I remember falling to my knees, wadding my fragile body into a ball underneath of the chair next to my mother’s vanity, and begging.
“Please let me go. Please let me go. Please let me go. Please let me go, please, I’ll do anything, please just let me go.”
I was talking to my anorexia. Nobody answered, but somebody laughed.
Sometimes when I am scared, I repeat a phrase, any phrase that’s been around my head, shuffling through the crowd. I paste it on the marquee.
“DOWN AND OUT.”
I am… down. I am … out.
What if I were down and in? If I have to be down, can I be in?
Being down and in means that although I am down, I am connected. It means that I may be sad, but I can be brilliant in my sadness, and, often, I am. It means that I may not like what I see in myself, but the vast majority can’t get enough. Being down and in means that no matter the depths I sink to, the water will remain warm. It will caress my skin, not stain it in red streaks. It will be just warm enough. Not too hot.
“DOWN AND OUT.”
Being down and out means I hang low, under purplish fog, sticking my pale, grimy little fingers out of the gutter, laying as low as the heat shellacked to the sidewalk, sliding with the ghouls and goblins down the pavement while everyone sleeps or fucks or drinks or eats or kisses their children goodnight and sits down for a film. I am a film.
“She turned off the water.”
“She shot herself in the fucking face.”
“And then, she died.”