I used to tell stories in long form essays, every-other-week like clockwork, delivered to your inbox. I did this for a number of years, six of them I think—maybe five, maybe seven, maybe none of that matters. No, I’m certain the number of years does not matter—because that’s one of the things I have been taught this year, over and over again. Time is not linear, chronology irrelevant.
The hard and fast rule for those essays was I couldn’t share them with you, until I had already learned what I was supposed to have learned. That meant I’d survived the event that inspired the essay, processed it intellectually first in my journal and reprocessed it again as I constructed words for public consumption. Finally, when I posted the story for the world, in the feedback from you and other readers, the final insights were revealed. After all of that I could set the experience aside as a lesson learned and a level of my evolution unlocked.
But 2021 has been a colossal knot, and I have not seen the breaks where I could parcel out an individual story for you, because all of the threads wove to a net which so deeply ensnared me, I couldn’t detach enough to make sense of a story to share with you.
So how do I tell you a story from the inside out, when I’ve always told them to you from the outside in? How do I explain what I feel is almost within grasp of my intellect, yet still eludes the knowing to my bones from which I normally write? How do I share the lived experience of unlearning everything from one reality and walking in that scary space between the reality you’re leaving behind and a new reality that has not yet emerged?
The short answer is, I can’t. But I feel a responsibility to try.
January, three books come in unusual ways. A compulsion to follow the good energy—the energy that comes after a good writing session, the one that leaves me energized after a bout of work. Feeling a thought is crazy and acting on it before I can censor myself. Watching seemingly insane actions lead to opportunities and partnerships. Excitement derails to terror at mom’s cancer diagnosis, and fear that days are all we have left. The realization that none of it matters, not words, nor work, nor money, because time is slipping forwards and backwards at a rate that leaves me clawing onto whatever it is to be right now—right now why mom is here. The horrible 80s song with the refrain of I believe in miracles wakes me up each morning, and there has to be other words to that song, but I only hear that line over and over and over. So, I choose to believe in miracles, because science says our time together will stop in the next few months, but the song says there is another way—a way I cannot yet see. Another song tells me There’s writing on the wall, but I can’t read it. I do not know what that song means, but I believe in miracles I understand so I hold onto that because there’s so little to hold onto. Four gold coins and a check, because I am supposed to learn money is energy and how money comes to you can steal your energy or boost it. The last week of June. I am ready to quit. Quit writing. Quit building TCA. Quit pretending we will be okay. Everything is too uncertain, and it is all so hard. I say goodbye to Color Eater because it is clear that if will alone could make something happen that book would have an offer by now, but I do not have a way to make it happen, so I say goodbye to the book, knowing as I’m saying the goodbye to my first novel I’m trying to find a way to say goodbye to my mom as well. She is still here, but time slips, and I am in the time where I do not know how to exist without my mom. I sit in pre-emptive grief attempting to let go of the life that is meant for someone stronger than me to live. Uttered in passing I invoke a name I’d expunged twelve years ago. Written in my journal with no expectation, just a moment of comparative remembrance of another time I died. The very next day, after the ink dried—the last day of June—the name is in my inbox, and I have nothing left to give but laughter because when a nuclear bomb detonates you can cry or laugh—and I am fresh out of tears. A barrage of energy pummeling my chest as if I’m at a rock show standing in front of ten-foot-tall speakers and the pounding bass beat blows me backwards—but I’m in my living room in total silence. Time jumps back to January 2020 when I write words in a different journal. The names of the city where the expunged lives in 2021 and the pages of things that will happen, the pages of things that will happen in a time I did not yet know, the things that will happen have happened in a time I now know. How could I know those things? Time slips, but mom is still here today, and I hold onto each Thursday, driving to the hospital to play cards in windowless rooms where poison kills poison through a port too near her still beating heart. Four days of riding the energy tsunami and sitting in silence when I hear the writing on the wall: PATIENCE & THE WRITING IS GOOD. I am not yet skilled enough to read it, but when I listen in the space between silence, I hear the words. I don’t doubt the message and has been sent via a messenger I cannot ignore, but I can’t live like this. Paralyzed and crippled against the crushing back beat that no one but me seems to be able to feel. Wave after wave of vibration cracking the foundations of a person I once was. Standing in my living room another author’s words come from my mouth. “The soul’s experience on earth is not meant for hard work and toil. It is meant for freedom, ease, and expansion.” There has to be a better way, a way that doesn’t hurt so much. A way that doesn’t feel so hard. I collapse on my bed, unable to sleep with the energy crawling my skin—an advertisement in my Instagram feed for a class from the company of Book #2. Follow the books, this is where the energy has been steering me towards. Eight weeks of learning and unlearning. The fourth week, a rip in reality where I find someone through space and time, but surely that is madness, and I giggle myself to sleep because it’s fun to feel a bit mad—but I wake up to a text message and confirm it’s not madness it’s the writing on the wall I could not read slipping into this reality. Time is not linear so why should communication be limited to spoken words or technology. For weeks I send pleading texts for validation from those I’ve trusted with parts of a story that makes no sense. Again, and again, and again they say, “You’re not crazy.” But when you’ve spent most of your life thinking you are crazy it’s a hard thing to let go of, no one ever tells us that. On the internet I read “Crazy is just normal arrived early.” And by week eight of the class, I finally understand. I’m learning the language I’ve been speaking my whole life, but I never knew it was a language until now. The writing on the wall is coming into focus, and it’s re-teaching me the language I was born with—the language I’d trained out of myself because others couldn’t feel the invisible ink on their skin. The language that knows how to skip time and follow energy, the language that is everything at once, because at once is all there is in the very moment of right now.
And that’s as far as I can bring you. I haven’t figured out how to write nicely organized essays with a beginning, middle, and end in the new-old language quite yet. The old way of telling a story has limitations that don’t serve me right now. I have a call with my agent later this month, and I don’t know how to explain it to her either—other than to say I have two partially finished books where time doesn’t do what it’s supposed to in either one.
We’re almost to the end of 2021. Mom’s still here, with a fighting chance of being the statistic everyone wants to be. We still spend Thursdays in small, windowless rooms playing cards as I believe in miracles runs on repeat through my mind.
After she and I have made our way out of the knotted madness of 2021 I may try to tell you this story again, in the old way you were used to—when I understand everything and am on the other side and able to tie things up with a pretty thread… That’s a lie—because my way of telling stories has changed just like we have all changed, and it will never be how it was before 2021. None of us will ever be how we were before 2021.