Every so often I force myself to clean out, whether it’s the closet or the file cabinet or my desk or the boxes of history I lug around the country whenever we move. This last move prompted me to go through one of those boxes of history, and I came across some writing from my late high school and early college years.

Most of this writing is. . . existential, shall we say. Even in the pieces in which there is a character doing something, the plot isn’t the point. It was a rough time for me, in a lot of ways, trying to figure out how to be myself and interact with the world, and most of the time I felt wildly unequipped and out of place. Not that it was all terrible, because it wasn’t, just very confusing.

Based on the date, I wrote this about three weeks after arriving in Hungary–foreign place, strange situation, no return home for another three months, and I was trying to make a decision about where to go to college. And so, on February 15, 2000, I wrote this:

I float from place to place, attached and not attached, flying free and bound with chains. The blowing wind forces me forward as the pounding waves crash over me, throwing me flat on my back and rendering me unable to proceed. The sky is under my feet, the earth spreads across the expanse above me, and I tumble through space. I smell the darkness, feel the sunset, and see the song of birds. All is nothing, but nothing is everything and more.

I scare myself but still am happy, content to rise and struggle against the tide once more. Sometimes I retreat and spend my time building sandcastles that I know will be overwhelmed when the waves come again. And still I walk on the sky, my toes whispering through the clouds as I breathe the dirt of the earth above me.

Nothing is as it should be and yet everything is right. The paradoxes blend and mesh until they no longer contradict, but rather complement each other. And still I float.

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