This person has been gone a long time. So long I hardly know her. In fact, this person may have never been here before. Perhaps so buried, she’s just now reaching a hand up from the dirt. One of those terrifying horror movie moments that still haunts me from youth. But when one loses a part of oneself like this for that long, what comes back from the dead isn’t quite ready to live yet. It takes a new kind of strength to welcome her back, welcome her in. To say, hey, it’s ok. We are trying to remember you. Have you always been here? Here’s a pillow and fleecy warm blanket. Do you remember the smell of your room—vanilla, cinnamon. You are a fabulous cake. It’s not easy to be a part of this person. She will take a lot of your courage and a lot of your quick thinking, some sharp wit. It’s ok if you’re not quite ready yet, though everything around you will clamor for your attention. Realize it has always been this way and won’t change. Know now that the best you can do is take a breath and let it all happen around you. Smile occasionally but don’t invest. We’ve really grown too old for crushing disappointment.
Jen Rouse (she/her) is the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College. Her work has appeared in SWWIM, Pithead Chapel, Cleaver, Always Crashing, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. Headmistress Press has published her books Acid and Tender, CAKE, and Riding with Anne Sexton. Find her on Twitter @jrouse