“We are always living in the right time. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it.”

– Andrew Solomon


A dozen caged canaries

In the afternoon I become sad.

It’s always happened, ever since I can remember. Something unsettles inside me when the heavy light of 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. slashes through the windows or wrestles on my face like oil with water.

I come back from two places with special people who I adore. I come back to Columbia. I come back to Columbia where I’ve laughed and cried and met some wonderful people and some less wonderful. I come back to Columbia where I have both lost myself and found myself. I say, “Wow, everything is so different from a year ago.”

I’m a little bit more jaded, a little bit more sad, a little bit more quiet. Sometimes. Other times, when I see the afternoon light for what it is — light — and not the harsh x-ray I perceive it to be, I find my core, my “happy core” as my mother describes. I laugh and I make fun of how emotional I get about things. I cried in front of a receptionist at the dentist the other day — “she was being mean,” I told myself and my mother. She was. And I cried in the car afterward.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to cry.

And then it’s okay for everything. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to lie down on your bed. It’s okay to wear something a little less put together. It’s okay to be secluded. It’s okay to be quiet, to be shy.

It’s also okay to pull yourself out of the sheets you’ve wrangled with over the night because your body can’t quite get used to being alone now, even though you slept alone perfectly fine for twenty-two years before you met him. It’s okay to go to the bathroom and take your birth control, wash your face and tell yourself to buck up.

It’s okay to be strong instead of being weak. It’s okay to contact everyone you love because you want to fill yourself up with the happiness you know they’ll give you. You are an individual and a light and a body who has mingled with hundreds of other little brilliants lights and you need to see that.

You get sad easily and you like to both be alone and with people and you can’t figure out which is more comfortable. You listen to yourself and stay alone sometimes. But you also push and pull with yourself and spend time with others who care about you. Sometimes you are not completely satisfied with the interactions. Sometimes you disappoint your good friends by thinking you need to be alone when you really should be with them.

Sometimes you disappoint yourself. Sometimes you cry in front of a receptionist. Sometimes you have good mornings, sometimes you have bad ones. Sometimes you will be utterly happy and other times you will be more blue. It is human and real and raw to feel.

The light in my room flickers when it has been on for a long time. A bird chirps brightly and constantly one morning, and the next morning you will not hear it.

The snow falls one day and the sad clouds inch across the sky, invisible to the eye, hardening the blue winter. The snow is slowly packed on the sidewalk. The snow will fall and it will melt. The sun will rise and it will fall.

The bright, harsh afternoon light will perhaps never change. But the snow on the ground fights it; it will melt, but at night, it will re-pack again. The clouds will hide the light as best they can. The dead of the summer afternoons even whispers in the winter afternoon light. The middle of the day. The peak of the mountain.

You are standing on the mountain and a rope falls behind you, twisted and strengthened every inch by each friendship and laugh and tear and moment of love and loss and hate. Your rope does not recede and snap and break and fray like others. It is impossible to have a rope that only grows stronger. But I have found it.