“I’m so far gone,” I said. There was nothing between us, but the steam of my coffee mug. We were relaxing on the sofa, and he was reading his book, as usual. He paused and looked at me. “What do you mean?” he asked. I thought about it. I shouldn’t have said anything. Now I must explain myself. But what for? What is the point of a long conversation about my feelings? He will listen. I know that. It’s not about feeling unappreciated, ignored. It’s the opposite. I revealed myself. I said far too much. He would disagree, because I say so little about myself. Well, not about my life and daily occurrences. Just not enough about the simmering and incapacitating thoughts that inundate my days and keep me up at night.
He knows and waits. I flicked my finger over the mug. I could feel his gaze. He waited for something. Just a sentence or a few words. I took a long pause and sighed. “I don’t know. It’s nothing, really. I’m just tired and distracted.” That gaze again. I heard a low assent.
I took a deep breath, fighting the urge to sulk, open a diary and jot away my thoughts, as if I could disintegrate their meaning. If I could only will myself into transformation and life change. If I could only command myself as I used to in those youth poems about finding my true self and letting it bask in the sun, unconcerned and unapologetic saying “this is me.”
“I should write again,” I said. “It was something I used to enjoy and need. I don’t think I was too bad at it.” At this point he stopped reading and put the book on his lap, listening attentively. But I paused. That was too much of an audience. “You should write, then,” he said, really meaning: do go on. But it was decided. I refused to be another cliché and go write in a journal. Instead, I’ve prepared this introduction. Maybe an introduction to a story, a vignette, a novel, a thriller, an essay, a fantasy, or a poem. Who knows! But it seems as if I need to earn my right to write again. Never mind the question about language. To write in English or Spanish? In which language am I more comfortable writing? I will have to figure that one out as I go. For now, I just have to dive in. Dive, dive, dive, and then float, open my eyes and see where I find myself. In what shore or vast ocean.
What you don’t know about me is that I always go through this. I’ve come to realize it’s like a routine, a sort of courtship. I can’t just go on the computer and type up a story of any kind. I usually start from within. Or, if lucky, I start with a good story I’ve heard, a snapshot of a conversation, an observation or an anecdote: an introduction.
You see, sometimes stories keep me up at night. Not my own. But the ones that I’ve loaned from others. I pick up where they left and make up a sequel, a continuance, or a separate story line altogether. It’s like an exercise to keep me away from those incapacitating and insomnia-inducing thoughts. It’s an excellent sleeping pill. But sometimes, those stories I keep mulling over keep me up. Worse yet, they keep me from my own stories.
And so here it is. An introduction… sort of.