I’ve pulled out a few lashes from my right eye because it’s the troublesome eye, the one that’s oddly shaped and more difficult to hide behind thick coats of black liner. I’ve arranged them in line next to crumpled pieces of used tissue and some sharply exhaled breaths crystallized in the cold air. I’m taking stock of myself, looking though archived emotions, replacing peeling labels and crossing out inaccurate ones. I’ve used my teeth to pull out the cream lace from that bra you liked, and I’m still trying to scratch off your name from the inside of my cheek. I’m trying to remember my name.

I’ve taken to cracking the ring finger on my left hand, so I’ll take out the knuckle and place it beside all my other things. It’s relatively easy to do, but the difficult part comes when I try to pry the residue of back-when-it-was-different from underneath my fingernails. I’m rifling through the old clothes hanging in my wardrobe, checking the collars and hems, ripping out loose threads every so often. I didn’t realize those were the same threads tying the muscles in my face together to keep my smile from slipping sideways and away. I’m trying to flip through old textbooks, but the pages are warped together with tears and heavy sighs. I don’t recognize the frantic scrawls in the margins, but I assume it must have been mine. I’m trying to remember my name.

I’m undoing the tangled net of shoelaces and headphones, hair ties and conversations that wound on and on to nowhere. I’m sitting on the floor surrounded by all these objects, and I’m sorting through them in an attempt to discover where I left the sense of self that was placed on the tip of my tongue two decades ago on a balcony thousands of miles away from security. I’m trying to remember my name, but it has passed through so many different variations that I am no longer sure which is correct.

I’m trying to sift through all the mistakes to find out when the gap between what I thought and what I actually said began to widen until I learned to fill it with what I was supposed to say. I’m taking stock of myself today. I just found a scratched mix CD and a coupon for a free dance class. Shuffling papers for the trash are shuffling feet on hardwood are shuffling selves until I find the one that I cracked when I tried to fit it into the right self for you.



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