birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Refuge

Tonight, my housemate Vincent is meowing his head off at the door. He does this around this time of year. He must want to mate. Or maybe he has a wild urge to hunt. Depending on my mood, the sound of the meowing can evoke either a sense of curiosity or irritation. Sometimes it ekes over into rage. It is just so damn piercing. After a long day it makes me want to punch a pillow. Once in a while I wonder if maybe Vinny would be happier on a farm than in my studio apartment.

My most familiar and longest-running housemate is my breath. It's been with me since I was born and it'll be with me until I die. Every conscious moment I have, I can be confident that it's there, whether I notice it or not. I take refuge in my breath. Often I do this on purpose. Sometimes, like tonight, my mind is too restless to stay on it for long. It's okay, though. Restlessness is something everyone feels. And the breath is still there regardless.

Sometimes when Vinny's incessant meowing threatens to throw me over the edge, I take a deep breath. I remind myself that he just wants to be happy. Then, it's easier to just give him what he needs: love and attention.

I haven't had a human housemate in a long time. I moved to LA 9 years ago this August. The last time I had roommates was just before that move. I miss having company sometimes. But other times I enjoy being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. And there are some parts of me that I feel scared to share with anyone else.

Lately I've been discovering that maybe there's a housemate I've been carrying with me my whole life, and didn't know. This housemate is...hmm. It's hard to find the words. It's not actually that hard to find the words. It's just hard to say them. I guess what I can say right now is that I think maybe there's an incarnation of myself inside me that I never fully let be known.

I'm trying to know it now. The way I know it is when I take an action that gives me a little spark of joy. It's like Marie Kondo and the magic, only I'm not tidying. I'm just uncovering and trying. It's only in trying that I feel the spark. When I don't try, I don't feel sad or dysphoric. I just don't feel the spark. And the spark feels better than maybe anything before.

I spent so many years covering up and covering up. So many layers of covering up. I didn't even know I was doing it.

But also...maybe I'm making this whole thing up. How can there be another me that I didn't know for 36 years? Is that really likely?

It's confusing.

So, for now, one breath at a time. One racing thought at a time. Remembering to notice that my thoughts are racing, one remembering at a time. My breath will always be my housemate in this life. I can take refuge in that. And once I am breathing steady, I can give myself what I need: love and attention.

It is always possible to begin again.

Cats, Rats, and Bats

You Can Lie 'Neath Your Covers and Study Your Pain