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2002-09-03 - 1:02 p.m.

Writing Assignment: Write about a place.

There arenít enough windows in my room. Maybe there have never been enough windows in any of my rooms Ė maybe that explains why I canít stay there, why the walls seem to close in on me. When I am in my room, I can only seem to check email, or clean, or sleep. The living room has more light, but the air conditioning doesnít work as well, and before I know it, my legs are stuck to the vinyl couch, and my body is covered in a thin veil of sweat. The front porch is better Ė itís where I sit when I get home from work, because thereís lots of light, and Iím trying to erase the past eight hours, sitting under fluorescent lighting. I read out there, and sometimes I smoke cigarettes, if I have them. Itís nice out there when the bugs arenít bad, in the late afternoon, when the sun has already passed by overhead.

At night, when the walls close in on me, I go to Barton Springs to go swimming. There are no walls there. Sometimes there is a moon. Other nights, itís ten oíclock before I know it, too late to go swimming. If I stay at home, I know Iíll fall asleep; I canít even read in anything resembling a reclining manner without falling asleep when Iím at home. When the inevitable panic begins, I head to Spider House. There is just enough distraction there to ensure that I get something done. If I sit outside, there is no danger of the walls closing in on me. Sometimes I can see the moon. There are colored lights, and if I sit in just the right place, not quite conspicuous, in a corner somewhere, I can almost pretend Iím one of the students. I can almost pretend there is a reason that I go there.

There is the place inside your head that you donít want to go to. Thatís why you go to Barton Springs or Spider House at night. Thatís why you fall asleep as soon as you get home from work. Because you donít want to go there, because you never want to go there. Because itís too painful, and itís too hard. At work, you can always find some sort of diversion. The whole world is at your fingertips, but some days your body acts like some sort of weird computer virus, and all you can do is refresh your hotmail account Ė refresh, refresh, refresh Ė for email that never comes. Sometimes, it all becomes apparent, but usually you can hide it, until your body betrays you. Your stomach hurts, and you have no appetite. In a shockingly short period of time, your clothes are hanging off you and your ribs poke out just a little too sharply. Thereís a clarity that comes with this, a clarity of mind even as your body grows smaller. You know that youíve been through this before, and you know that it will get better, but that is little consolation now. Now your stomach hurts and now you have no appetite and now the saliva collects in your mouth as you lean over the toilet bowl wondering if youíre going to actually throw up this time. Youíve stopped wondering when this will pass. Your body is mourning what your mind has already rationalized. This is your bodyís mourning period Ė and itís taking its sweet time.

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