It was one night. Late. Alone in the center of tangled white sheets. Lost in the throes of fever and cough. Of chills and heat and sweat. Of the way the room grew distant and sounds became liquid and I floated in the middle of all that was and had been. And that night, in that space, I typed these words and then left consciousness behind and forgot they were here.
Tonight, I found them again. And I got lost in the fever dream of memory and make believe and reality. And lost also in the wonder of what lives beneath the surface and of all the stories our bodies hold.
My body, she holds so many stories.
“All your life is a fever to be perfected.”
I am lying in bed tonight, at midnight, heating pad on my chest to try to calm the wracking cough. I am lying here and I am thinking that being sick somehow makes it like this, makes the truths seem closer, both sharper and softer at once. How the fever and its heat creates a lucidity that makes the edges come into full relief and surreal separation while still allowing the body to sink into things as if there was no distinction at all. The heat of it, burning from the inside out, it brings everything near enough to touch, and hazy enough to still feel safe enough to get close to.
So tonight I am here in my bed, thinking of all the true things I know and remember, and live and breathe and bleed and love.
All at once and one at a time.
Swirled and tumbling and clear and free.
I am thinking of the ways that some loves are groundwater and bedrock, and on them all that is to come after will rest, because they are integral to everything before and since and forever.
Of how other loves are the knowledge of what it is to come home and still others a return to breath and a filling of the lungs with air, even underwater, over and over and over again.
How all these loves have formed the self into what it is. And without them something would be different, shifted from what has come to be known. Nothing quite the same. How the way all the pieces have settled, nestled, found that the place they belong feels good, and right.
How in the haze of this heat, all these loves are on my skin. The pieces that belong to them named and touched and owned. Like notes on a piano. Distinct and known and recognizable. Touched and blessed and given thanks for what was given and what was taken.
Some fullness is only found by leaving behind and cutting away.
How there are some people you are born knowing, and when you meet them you know that you’ve only been waiting for them to come back to you. How you’ve done this again and again and again, in lifetime after lifetime. How this is comfort and exhilaration and sanctuary.
Of how, on certain dark nights, your heart will always travel places and the questions will remain. How this is an unchosen fidelity, but one that is true, just the same.
How faith without choice holds its own wisdom and is sacred.
The sheets are wet with my own sweat and the cough shakes me hard. My body no longer fights. I’m just in it. And outside of it. Writing these words and letting this sickness work through me and finding some space inside of this to unlock things.
God, how things need unlocking.
God, how I’ve always craved that which is my undoing.
I am thinking of how it is that sometimes there are songs that call. That speak of stories you’ve not heard or read or known or lived. Not in anything you call knowledge or truth or memory. But somehow they live in you already.
I am thinking of all the stories that live in me already. I am thinking I will never tell them all but I will try and try and try because it is on this purpose that my blood pulses.
I am thinking of fire and rain. Of the blood red hunters moon. Of cinnamon and cloves and chosen scars and the way ink settles into skin and teeth sink into bone. How pain, the edge and burn and truth of it, can become something sought and sometimes something saving.
I am thinking of ink and the way it spills, telling truths that can’t be formed in words. I am thinking of whiskey and hot wax and honey. Of the burn and the burn and the burn and the sweet relief. I am thinking of slow dances that are over in minutes and yet last forever. I am thinking of tomorrows and tomorrows and tomorrows and her voice, husky with promise in my ear.
I am thinking of smoke rising and of wrists pressed against hard metal. There is a clarity there, when I allow myself the revisiting. How everything pivots on that moment. How long it took me to know that it did.
Sometimes the things we know take a long time to settle.
And then that moment. The moment of choice. Of saying yes to this. When that word, choice, was fully known and illuminated into something living and breathing and whole. And whole. And whole. And so very good.
I am thinking of candle flame. Of the color red. Of the shadows that dance on the wall. Of spinning and spinning and spinning in the deepest night.
I am thinking of desire. Of the way we were made liquid by this. Of hands and sweat and knowing and hope and the words ’you feel like beauty’. Of skin and bone and heat and slick and wet and then not two but one.
How fever and desire are similar this way. In the way they bring us into our body and beyond our body.
I am thinking about how the language of fire feels like home.
I am thinking of olive trees. And how sometimes what is created becomes more real than what was actual, by virtue of the intensity of its creation and the story that needed to be told.
That story needed to be told. It still does.
I am thinking of the rising of the wolf. Of how I feel her in me. Nurture and cultivate. How she is my survival. Of how, over and over again, she howls me home.
I am thinking of teeth on bone and the bruise that remains. Of the night that I did not return and irrevocability and of the way I sang my own redemption. Of the hard cost of integrity lost and regained. Of just how long and lonely that path was.
I am thinking of celling fans. Of red blood on pink cotton. Of knees on carpet. Of faded blue dishcloths and the moment I truly knew what had been lost. Of how objects are just objects and memories are just memories and stories are things we tell ourselves to make things more true. And how when I tell you my stories you don’t know if they are all true just the way I tell them and how you don’t even need them to be true.
What makes something true, really?
Because truth is created to be what it is. Because the second this fever leaves my body I will be different. And the second these stories leave my fingers they are changed. And that is not untruth. That is how it is with fever and with love and with stories. The heat is alchemy. The heat is desire. The heat is the spark.
Everything becomes what it must become to serve its own purpose. We never go through the fire without being changed.
I am thinking now of cold winter air and hot tubs with music playing below that water. Of how sometimes in the grip of fever everything in memory sounds the way it did then, below the surface, where there was no air and yet I finally learned how to breathe.
And then I am not thinking anymore. I am only feeling.
Feeling the alchemical shift. Feeling what is between us. Feeling myself always and never alone. Feeling her hands on my body. Feeling my body on her hands. Feeling all the ways I have been branded. Feeling the skin and bone and heat of me. Feeling the heart and blood and pulse. Feeling the earth under bare feet. Feeling the moon on my skin. Feeling the fever and my body shake from this cough. Feeling the howl. Feeling it spiral towards the open sky. Feeling it loosening things held tight.
Feeling the way fever dreams tell truths that are not always ready to be told.
Sometimes it is best to tell truths before they are fully ready to be told.
What these words mean and who these memories belong to are the work of a life lived and a fever that took hold and a heart that believes that sometimes what is born of art is more true than what is born of life.
Fact? Fiction? Memory? Reality? Figment of fevered dreams?
None of this matters. These are my stories, after all.
We all have stories.
What are yours?