In the atmosphere there were two things: oxygen and words. I desperately needed both. The words floated through my mind nonstop, begging me to pick them, insisting that I deal with them. When my head hit the pillow at night, they were closer. Without the quotidian distractions of my life, I could feel their breath.
In the inky silence of my bedroom, my mind hummed with the staccato rhythm of their footfall. I became a spectator on the sidelines of the marathon route. The words were racers flying past me, their numbered bibs flapping before they disappeared in pursuit of the finish line, where they’d wait for me.
Every park outing with my kids bent itself into a story. Something for the blog. A friend’s offensive comment about my nanny or a (perceived) slight while idling in the carpool line—all of it pressed together to form a bullet that I stuffed into the muzzle of my Word Press gun and shot out for all the world to read.
I had to get the words out.
Memories that had only ever lived inside of me became stories I told in 600-word increments. Now, anyone can read about the time the Boston Ballet deemed me too fat for their summer dance program. Or when the fifth grade girls at Preston Hollow decided I couldn’t sit at their table at lunch. Those stories, and others I’d assumed had fossilized or become fused to my bones, crept out of their hiding places. I used the 26 letters at my disposal to make them a new home. Outside of me. They squinted in the sunlight, so unused to the vibrance of natural light. They stumbled forward, experimenting with having all that space to expand, extend their limbs, stretch out.
They now belong to the world. They are no longer the sole property of my marrow. They still belong to me, but they are not Me. They are just stories—flat combinations of letters marching across a screen. But me? I’m all my versions of those stories, but of course more. Things that can’t be reduced to words or branded or packaged for a post. Things I don’t actually have words for. Things that change as soon as the words are memorialized.
Now I know there are more than two things, but without words and oxygen, I can’t begin to take them in.