So there was this little beetle, maybe an inch long or so, that had found it’s way to the edge of our full-length mirror the other night. Barry called me into the bedroom to ask me if I’d put something there somehow – on the mirror’s frame – and it escaped my view so well that I was practically nose to nose with it (nose to… ?) when it finally did come into focus. The beetle was just hanging out there, blending in; the back of it looking like some kind cross between a tiny section of a tiny turtle shell and a really symmetrical, heavy leaf. It was pretty, but too close for comfort, and I let out a scream-y yelp and made Barry take it outside. (Sorry, babe!)
The beetle lived for a few days, hanging out around the edge of the back door, long enough for me to get up close to it and see it in better detail – by choice this time. I suspect it had been hanging out in a box I’d recently brought up from the basement, lodged between an old sweatshirt and some love letters, or maybe it lived in the little bundle of wedding ephemera that I’d tied up with a bow. Anyway, on Monday, I went outside to have a smoke and saw it lying on its back, legs twitching a tiny bit. Maybe it fell and couldn’t right itself, maybe the cat attacked it. Probably both. I hovered a flip-flop over the beetle so, so gently and it latched on, letting me carry it out to the grass past the steps, where I set it on some leafy dry grass that was all bright and warm in a little patch of sun, a perfect microcosm of a perfect fall day. I sat there with it for a minute, had my cigarette, and went back inside.
Later that day I went back out to check on it, and the beetle had either blended in completely to the point where I’d lost sight of it again, or, found the strength to get away. I like to think it made it’s way to someone else’s back porch, burrowing inside a different love letter, to spend another year in a half in someone else’s box in someone else’s basement.
Either way, it left well.
Tonight at therapy Frank asked me what I hadn’t been forgiving myself for lately.
I went in all headachey and tired, almost dreading it a little bit really, even though I only see him about every three weeks or so. I’d cried and told him about the feeling untethered part and how small I felt when I saw the imaginary drone zoom way up out of view when I was in bed one night last week, how we’re smaller than fleas compared to the galaxy, really and how some days that’s a good thing to remember and how other days the insignificance of it all – of us, life, everything we do – is just like, deafening. I talked about old friends that turned out not to be friends at all, and the holes in the fabric of the tent I’d fashioned for myself in the scene out here, and how stupid and naive I’d been about so much. Seattle had failed me. I’d failed Seattle. I’d failed me. And even though I’ve already dissected all of this, even though I understand every moment and every facet of how I got here, now, exactly as-is, and even though I know this is all elevated as a result of my current hormonal state: still, something in me has been snagged here for a long time, and I haven’t been able to give it a proper release.
“So what in your life needs to get off the bus? And what haven’t you forgiven yourself for?”
I can see him and hear him as I type. My brain’s been kind of turned inside out ever since. If you asked me, I’d describe myself as someone who took good care of all her pieces, napping when she needed to and Trying To Make Stuff as much as she could, giving herself a hard time sometimes but doing her best with what she had at hand.
As it turns out, that same person (who is here in tandem with me, and all my pieces and facets, because there’s room for all of our respective everything-ness) can’t even seem to sort out that it’s okay that she dropped and broke a dish that can’t be put back together. Not only can she not sort it out, but she fucking like, annihilates herself for it. At any given point I’m just a few moves away from putting myself in front of my own self-generated firing squad. I want to say that sentence isn’t true, but it is, and I know that it is because of the way my head can barely understand the idea of cultivating some kind of forgiveness for myself. The total and complete unfamiliarity with the concept of the idea is blowing my mind, let alone processing the idea itself, which I haven’t even gotten to yet.
I know me, you know? I’ve been there for everything I’ve done. I’ve heard every thought and remember every dream my consciousness makes room for; every idea, the really good ones and those other really good ones that I never wrote down and forgot about. I’ve experienced every regret and every moment of Awe that I’ve had, like how it was when I saw Alaska for the first time, and how I wish I could talk to my sister again, and all those bits and pieces that are squirreled deep away. I can forgive that part of me that I try to separate from, the part that’s just doing the best she can, because we all are (doing the best we can, I mean), and there’s no reason not to carve out the same space for myself that I would for like, Barry or Gwen or anyone else close to me. But when I contemplate really and truly forgiving my whole self, looking around, lost in thought, it feels like my brain is scanning the overworld map on a video game screen endlessly without result. Looking for clues. Looking for a place to go to even begin to start the thought process around all of it. Finding nothing outside of rooms I’ve already been to a hundred times before.
The thing is, I know it’s there. It’s there, hiding in plain sight: I may have to go like, free a dragon to get a book or whatever, that I then take to some mystical witch in a hut in the desert, who finally marks my map with the right location – but it’s there. I can feel it, conversations with Barry point at it, Frank can see it, every horoscope I’ve read this week screams it… it might be under a rock or hidden in the uppermost branches of some crazy tree, but it’s there. It’s in me. It’s embedded in my map.
I think that’s all I’ve got for now. There’s no pretty wrap-up here, just my brain doing that scan as my eyes dart around the room, waiting for the thoughts to come into being, and probably a dead beetle in the yard, and me typing this out in front of the fireplace, writing so much these past few days after not having written much for so very long.