my sciatica is acting up again
for real, this time
not like usually when i’m just depressed and don’t want to explain it to people
it’s fascinating how much more appropriately people respond
to pain that they find visible and “valid”
either way it gets me upstairs, under the cover, and without interruptions
so i’m happy
or well. not happy.
not the opposite of happy, either
my back hurts like a MF
and i’ve done literally nothing physically strenuous for the past week or so.
fucking stupid body
fucking precious vessel
i want to start over again
and tenderly acknowledge every inch of myself, reverently
as i hobble up the stairs, rubbing aspercreme into my ass
or whatever it’s called.
i obviously know what my ass is called.
ass ass ass.
my cat doesn’t care that my back hurts, because she is a cat
it doesn’t bother me so much that she wants the same things no matter how much pain i’m in
or if i’m horrifically grumpy
or crying my eyes out
there’s something nice in the familiarity of a paw batting my nose
and her reedy little meow (not cute)
no matter what i’m about.
i threw out my back sometime in 2017 during a dance class
and when i told the teacher about it
she patiently and meticulously explained why it was my fault
for not doing the movement right.
maybe she was on to something.
i went to the hospital then, because i was told to
and england has the NHS so i wasn’t terrified of bills.
they checked me out
and told me it was sciatica
which i thought was something old people got, or maybe something to do with your eyes
(it is not).
i took the tube back “to my flat”
but two stops before i got there, came the stop for my stupid ass drama school
and the doors opened and i felt my whole upbringing flash before my eyes
and i knew what i would do before i’d even made the decision.
and i got off the fucking train
and went back to school
because the devil works hard.
and i -
i hope you don’t mind the lateness of the hour
but sometimes i can’t sleep at night
because i am haunted
by the knowledge that this life isn’t it for me
i see my future unfolding as a series of days
and i don’t know that i’ll ever get to where i want to be
and it haunts me
i spend my days moving stacks of textbooks from one shelf to another
and i am an actor
i spend my days lifting heavy packages and sorting mail
and i am an artist
does any of this matter?
some months ago, while writing
my collaborator made mention of that story about a person walking down the beach
throwing sea stars back into the waves
it’s especially of interest to me, this story, because i was born on an island
and live on an island
and every time i sit down to make something
i imagine myself, standing at the shoreline, a delicate starfish cupped in my calloused hands
and i am the hero of that story
but it’s late and i’ve been sad all week, remembering things from the past that i did poorly
and things that it’s far far too late to go back and change
or apologize for
and i am suddenly struck by the feeling
that i’m not the person on the beach at all
but one of the starfishes, dry and gasping and waiting to be rescued, gently.
like a ghost, the knowledge of my smallness haunts me at nights
and stands over my bed, making it impossible to sleep
so i reach for my phone to text my best friend.
at this late hour, i can admit things freely
my fingers flying fast across a luminous phone screen
i’m scared that i’ll never be successful, whatever that means.
i’m scared that people are not interested in my art, my words, my thoughts.
i’m scared that i will never become the person that i want to be
i am haunted by visions of my future, and the knowledge that there are parallel universes
where my left sock is red instead of blue
and i have everything that i ever wanted at my fingertips.
my best friend is smarter than me, and better, and she always has been
so she writes back (many things)
and of all of it, i hear this:
“life matters, too.”
and so maybe it’s enough to strike that fine and flinty matchpoint balance
and swallow down one hundred disappointments
and show up: not backlit, or on the silver screen, or in a limelight
but on sidewalks and roadsides and train station platforms
and wait softly as the tide creeps ever closer.