I am sitting on the linoleum floor, legs outstretched back against the hinged cupboard. I have no peripheral vision, this kitchen is a bright flat canvas of wall to wall cabinets. White cabinets, no grooves. I need to say something. There are no appliances–A memory where there was a stove, or was supposed to be a stove. I’m alone and something is very wrong. I can’t remember things. I can’t remember what those things are that I can’t remember. Plans? Names? I’m not trying to leave, but I couldn’t if I wanted to. I feel words gurgle up my throat, but a sentence is too hard to make. Adulthood is deceptive. I see a stack of papers attached at the side–something like a telephone book, with a pen. I pick it up, and it’s clear: I need to write. This barren room, a storage space for nothing but space is a cage. There is no paper, no one here to pull the edges down. I walk to a cupboard, a smaller version of myself, write a giant W in green ink. Images rise up from behind it, a face in black ball-point, words that reflect nothing real, snips of tin instead of a mirror. I am an eyeball, hold nothing. I know not to write on the wall. But the consequence is only memory, a hashtag for a blank page.
Something has to be done. I run my fingers along the painted wood, note the dents from one door to the next. The pen is gone. I want to write “Why Can’t I think Right?” or, more aptly, “Help Me.” I can’t. No one is coming. No one can breach this hold. The words are all serif and filigree, the curled dent on the q has no letter attached, no word to click in. I open my mouth, sound is grape skin and no grape. The cabinet doors pulse their bright white invitation. Something is dreadfully wrong. 911–don’t call. Don’t. This is not that kind of emergency. But I don’t know what to do. Nothing is right. I want a marker. What happened to the marker?
I find a phone, and pick it up. I need a marker. On the other line, flat relief, is my mother. I need a marker. I say nothing. She says, over and over, you have to hang up, and call me back in 2 minutes. Dial 322. I must be 322 years old. She says over and over, hang up. Everything has run backwards; time has changed directions. I go back to the cabinets, there are shelves open, doorless, with baskets of markers and board games. I fall to my knees, I’ve looked for this for so long, and it’s been right here. How do I not see? How can I have so little control over such a small space? I understand that I can’t understand.
With my marker, I pen fine little lines into the cabinets, and time moves in four directions. Time moves, but I don’t. I know I shouldn’t be writing on cabinets, but I can’t stop myself. One door is twenty, this is as close as I can get to sense. I am acutely aware of my place in the underworld. This is it. I want to go back; let me be overwhelmed, let me be heartbreak. I am the consistency of a wheeze. This, though, is going to be beautiful, these marks, a liquid desperation kneaded into the innocent walls, this will last. My death will be less relevant. I had had had said I was lost (cleaved at San Francisco, unfettered myself from faulty employment, men like cacti blooms and vicarious curses). I am loo. O o oh. Ocidt driyg sdou wpivb zdip zdip grunununun ehb wmi-xx jf haedp.
Last night on NPR Susannah Cahalan explained her new book, Brain on Fire, which details her descent into madness for one month. The photo is from an exhibit at last summer’s Documenta(13) in Kassel Germany–it haunted me when I walked in, apparently more than I remember. I’ve spent years thinking I would go mad, dogearing diagnoses and taking notes from psychiatrists who take notes on me. I’ve read studies that told me writers were twice as likely to have a mental disorder. And in my visions of bravery, I’ve hoped it would offer me insight enough to make art, text, or music that mattered. But the dream I woke from last night at near midnight erased any instance of insanity I feel. I am so sane.