I washed up on threshold after threshold, chaotic and unkempt, dirty brown hair and hollow brown eyes, translucent and paper-thin. Dragged against my will, violently tossed against the door, crawling on a whisper, swept in like a dry leaf. Screaming in protest or brimming with hope, always in desperation. Thresholds of homeless shelters, crack houses, detoxes, alleyways, halfway houses and jail cells. Each threshold crossed some kind of turning point, toward, or against, or both. Running to, running from, running in circles or torn in half, a nail in each hand on either side of the cross(ing). Each threshold crossed bringing with it some form of grief… a loss, a thing, a person, an obsession, a piece of myself, an entire being. Left to be mourned at some other time but not now. Never now.
I started running at 15. I ran from my selves. Each one a new version, a reinvention, an attempt to create the self that could make it this time. The self that somehow knew the magic trick of being human. I reinvented, and reinvented, and reinvented, each time discovering my new self and turning away, disappointed. Already running each time as I reemerged, a new version of my self, rejected before tested. And so I ran like this, dripping in drugs, smothered in excess, trying to drown the world. I ran through drink, through smoke, through coke and through heroin. I ran for 23 years, stopping to catch my breath once in a while when the alchemy was just right, grabbing a few months or half a year when I could see straight.
I caught my breath at 28 for the birth of my daughter, long enough to march through the war of drug court, long enough to imagine what standing still might feel like. But then I ran. I ran and I ran and nothing mattered but the running.
38 caught my breath unexpectedly. My daughter, ten, messy and shy, ginger hair and wild eyes, gifted back to me after six long years. Her middle name, Grace, a gift I didn’t deserve, coming true yet again like the day she was born. Her broken-down and patched-up ten-self, unsure of me, afraid of this new world together, meeting my broken-down and patched-up 38-self, unsure and afraid of this, too.
We grew together, ever so slowly, tenacious dandelions in concrete, emerging as flowers from the seed of a weed. Our stems woven together, intertwined, indiscernible until we could grow on our own, until the wind caught her seeds and blew her away to where her roots grow deeply and her 21-self thrives in her own wilderness, strong and resilient, made of many worlds and many lifetimes, many more than her share.
I thrive today, a dandelion, resplendent in recovery, to some a weed but to my 49-self a most surprising and spectacular flower. Each threshold crossed in these 34 years leading me to this sure-footed wilderness, this place that I stand still, and tall, and sure, breathing deeply of the world, this life, this self of mine. I will reinvent myself many more times, every time excited to discover this new self, this wonder of nature that I’ve become, that I’ve always been.