My journal ran out of blank pages this week, so I sent my boyfriend to retrieve some things from the condo. He donned the P3 respirator and goggles, and went inside. When he emerged, he was not carrying any of the items I had requested. He found the blank moleskin notebooks I collect each Christmas, 25-years-worth of journals in a cardboard moving box, and my notebooks of draft short stories. All have amassed fungal rashes. All must be left behind.
One of the most significant symptoms I’ve experienced over the last seven years is memory loss. Those old notebooks are filled with the curiosity, lessons, and dreams of a young woman coming into herself. Some of those ideas developed into a successful blog in the early 2010’s. They detail hope, heartbreak, and the confused ramblings of youth. They helped me discover myself. Yet, along with cognitive impairment came a sense of indifference. I don’t mourn the loss of the past.
However, when I think about the book of short stories, I’m sliding up and down the spectrum between disappointed and devastated. It’s my space of possibility. The set of notebooks and binders contains a curated set of 20 dystopian social science fiction stories, culled and refined over the last decade. It contains character profiles, environmental details, perfect one-lines, and thoughtful opening lines. During my many years of chronic illness, I would spent the good days tinkering with the stories and dreaming of one day publishing my cautionary tales. Maybe they would resonate with someone the way that Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, Ted Chiang, and Roberto Bolaño do for me.
This year, I crawled out of the swampy sickness, eager to get back on track. And, today, I discovered that the same entity that cost me seven years of my life has irreparably damaged a hope-filled slice of my future–mold. And I don’t know what to make of it. There are moments of slight disappointment, similar to when you drop a pastry in the dirt and can’t even consider the “5-second rule.” At other moments, I’ve overwhelmed with grief, as I consider how much time, effort, and energy went into those creative endeavors. No amount of lawsuit money can replace that.
While I continue to oscillate, I seem to be settling a bit closer to the “hairy eclair” end of the range. The hundreds of hours spent reading, brainstorming, writing, editing, and reading more were filled with the joy and frustration of creating something new. While the train never made it to its final destination, the journey to no-man’s land has been an adventure, filled with wonderful sights, interesting people, and opportunities to grow. And for that, I’m grateful. At the end of the day, I haven’t much choice in the matter, but I’m at peace with the loss.
As the brain fog lifts and my creativity returns, I’m hopeful that the gears in that corner of my mind will start gently clinking along and then work themselves into a fury. I can start over. I can begin development on a new and improved space of possibility. And I am eager to do so.
Now, to track down some new notebooks…