Thursday, May 30, 2002

For Liza:

Underneath my breastbone is a shallow, tender hollow, and it is here where I store all my insecurities, fears and pains. As time passes, my collection of hidden objects grows piece by piece. Suddenly I discover the space isn't large enough. It's full, there's no more room. Thankfully, nothing spills over. Nothing falls exposed to the sidewalk in front of my feet. Instead, the hollow expands, pressing deep into my spine, against my lungs and my heart and my stomach. I can no longer breathe. My spine is severed by the weight, leaving me numb and empty. When this happens, I am forced to make room before the black blood of depression overwhelms me.

I take each item out for individual consideration, examining every picayune until I know which I must keep and which I can let go. "You, HumilationOfTenthGrade," I may say, "you can go free. I am so over you, I have no use for you anymore." Or "You, LackOfProtectionFromMyBrother, since you have slimmed down over the years, since you no longer take up so much space, maybe I can keep you for awhile longer. Just for awhile, because eventually I will be done with you, and you also will be free." Or "You, DisappointingFriendship, I know I should let you go, but I will not. Instead, I will bury you at the bottom of my collection. I will place you exactly where you can do the most damage; I will encourage you to fester and rot. You will never be free."

Finally, everything is neat and organized, shielded by the flat of my breastbone. Everything is safe from harm, because it is harder than you could imagine to penetrate a protective cage made of ribs, even with the sharpest arrow. So, I can rest and relax, and tuck every painful bit into its proper place until the tender hollow threatens to overflow once again.

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