I used to live on the third floor of an old apartment building in Crewe, right in the back corner. The placement gave me an extra window in my bedroom. The building was brick and tall and rustic, with ivy growing up the walls, alternatively sweltering hot or freezing depending on the season. The day we moved in had to be the hottest day of the summer, and I regretted wearing jeans. As soon as my parents and I had everything moved in, they went with Abel to the market and I locked myself in my room, stripping down to bare skin and laying in the floor until beads of sweat stopped sliding down the dip of my spine. I had pushed the AC to the coldest it would go without blowing up, and laid there until I pulled my knees to my chest and my skin was an odd pale shade of blue and I rubbed at my shins. It took every ounce of energy I had left to pull myself from the carpet and slide into a t-shirt before falling asleep for the evening.
I painted the walls colors a 1950’s housewife might have chosen: pale teal for the bedroom walls and golden ochre for the small bathroom that I got to myself. The walls were soon littered with pictures of countries I wanted to visit, and there was a large world map marked with pins of places I’d been and would like to go. I collected paint swatches from small markets I’d gone to with my mother, and lined them in a rainbow-esque pattern above the bathroom door. My brother bought a small potted ivy plant that grew happily in the larger window-sill, falling out of it’s planter and dangling down overtop of the teal wall until it bunched itself up on the floor. I didn’t have much in my room; a bed, a desk, and a large red Victorian-style armchair in which I sat naked and read piles upon piles of books. I could often be found there, bare legs swung over the arm, knees pressed against my breasts and book cradled delicately between the caps.
This small room was my safe haven, the only place I could exercise my demons and work out any and all problems.
One day I noticed the screen in my furthest back bedroom window had disappeared. It wasn’t anywhere in the apartment and when I looked outside, I saw nothing below. It was a mystery. I thought nothing of it for weeks, waking up early every morning to traverse to school and back again, head weary and shoulders heavy with all of the things going on in my life. It began to drag me down, and my body began running on little sleep. I unconsciously forced myself into a Spartan diet of tea and bread with jam, and sat in the screen-less window mulling over my thoughts. There was no way that I could have pinned my over-alertness and simultaneous tiredness as depression at the time.
Weekends brought some peace of mind and I sat, bare legs swinging in the morning air while I sipped tea and quietly ate toast. My heels would sometimes kiss against the cool brick, dewed by the morning air, and watch the town sleepily rise and work into it’s daily routines of opening shops and delivering papers. Sometimes I would rub at my eyes, remnants of eyeliner smudged underneath the socket from the previous day, and I would focus uncannily on the rushing of blood underneath the thin layer of skin covering my body. I wondered if to dissolve there would be like swimming in a current, one that endlessly circled through the same path, unaware of anything else but the course and how long it would take to reach the destination. I was much like that at the time, ignorant of the world around me, everything hazed over by this shadowed sadness that I couldn’t place.
It took a lot of events for me to realize that I did not belong in that little window. And these things happening brought me to this place, so full of faces like mine, hearts heavy and stories long. It’s the first time that I’ve felt…normal. I belong here, on some level, even though I can’t place where. It’s small, insignificant maybe, but I belong somewhere, and so fat, that has been my biggest accomplishment in life. I would gladly trade all the trophies and awards to have known sooner, but it’s always been said that hind-sight is 20/20, and now I believe that.
Now I sit in this window, legs swinging out in the New York breeze, watching the sleepless city adapt to the sunlight and sometimes I’ll see you and wonder if you feel just as in place as I do.
But I guess that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?