I have a scab that will not heal. It is in between my last two knuckles on my left hand, half-moon shaped, a raised bump that is unnoticed unless I am meaning to notice it. I could not tell you when it appeared or how long it has been there, but I imagine that once it is gone I will not be bothered until the day I turn my head and find the place empty.
I moved to Paris on September 8 of this year. Although, perhaps it would be more accurate to state that on September 7, I stepped onto an overnight flight, that sedated limbo passing over an ocean, over lakes and rivers and streams, over all of the places I have called home at any point in the last 21 years. It was a one-way.
In some respects this is the culmination of the same story I have always known: one that has lived inside of me, whispering, jeering, shouting, crying out for as long as I have felt a grain of self-awareness in my breast. There are qualities in myself that I have come to revere — my own aloofness, the bold seed — that must take their place next to the ones that I admire with less fervency. And, much like the scab, I could not tell you from where these traits arose, or how long I have known their tune, but it doesn’t matter: for the first time in my life I am singing along.
‘I also didn’t really understand why you left everything behind on a whim, and I don’t think I can,’ a friend of mine said to me recently, a flourish to end a mounted list of grievances. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I moved across an ocean to be harshly alone, yes. I moved here to live in an alley and do some ordinary things and some extraordinary ones. I moved here to get away from what I thought I knew previously, and consider the things I might have actually known.
But it runs deeper than that — through forests and fields, across skylines cluttered and empty, through New York and Missouri and Kansas and Virginia and The District of Columbia and Atlanta and Birmingham and stretching all the way to rural Siberia. I might trace this ache of mine with my fingers forever, just insofar that when it is finally gone, I will notice its exit before the day I turn my head and mark the absence, a faint little ring of scar in place of where it lived in me.