Libraries, for example, are good places to escape the viciousness of people when they try to get inside of you. Between the shelves there is plenty of space to lick your wounds. This is something I do often. My first twenty years weren’t easy I was always busy with the important occupation of dismantling myself—an exhausting and ungrateful enterprise. I did this so earnestly that I was, in fact, convinced I had invented the vocation. I just kept carving and carving. Did I ever succeed? in scraping clean the rind. in turning myself inside-out. What is left? after such a thorough cauterization. One raw little soul. I can still taste that grief in my mouth like champagne, icy & no hint of sweetness. I could have stayed inside all day. Meanwhile on the quad, a pretty girl walks her small white dog across the grass & shadows sprawl across the perfect lawn with their splotchy memory. Although memory, I am learning, always give back much more color than what was there in the first place. I look back now, and I want to feel that grass on my skin. But all I can remember is that I hated my life and I hated my life. The feeling comes and goes, but at least I find a quiet absolution in my landscape: the restfulness of books and sunlight in an empty room that transforms the isolation into something else entirely.
After everything, I couldn’t stand to be alone in my bedroom, so I started sleeping on the couch. Then I couldn’t stand the couch so I slept outside in the grass, but I couldn’t stand the grass. So I slept in my body, strung from my ankles and my wrists like a hammock. When I couldn't stand my body, I chiseled myself out of it. This use of knives broke my heart, because it was an act of violence. My weakness broke my heart, because Julia comes from Jupiter. The meaning of my name broke my heart because I would rather be beautiful than strong. My vanity broke my heart because I am a scholar. My education broke my heart because universities are mostly lonely places and knowledge, in the end, is empty. My emptiness ate me alive; I was starving to be whole. The thought of wholeness broke my heart because it is elusive and I could not have it. So I tried to rationalize wholeness as the mastery of all interests: I walked into the yard trying to vomit and pray simultaneously. I fell asleep while whispering a love song. I was empty empty empty. I've had enough heartbreak to fill every inch of this house. Really, I was drowning in a room I couldn't stand.