my skin is peeling and falling like leaves. the place underneath is dark and scratched. i have a tattoo, and have for nearly a week. (i am a map to every city. i have a map to every place and every thing.) it is fall. things are dying and hiding and coming back, like my skin. i feel myself coming out of it. i feel the thing underneath. i am becoming different. i backslide. (isn't that the nature of the map?) i once had very good teachers that taught me the dangers of emotions. i miss them just now: the teachers, not so much the emotions, which i have in abundance. but i'm wondering: is it good that i feel better when i'm colder? do i sin when i feel close? when i still want anything at all? i am an emotional thing, to a fault. it is something i am learning, i think. i am getting older while this black skin peels away. distance is growing, even if it is in ways i would not have.
there was a house meeting. a roommate was asked to leave. although, that wasn't entirely the point. what most of us actually wanted to address were the ways in which megan has been... unreasonable. she is an angry thing, occasionally... not violent, yet, but childish. she kicks things, and throws things, and needs someone else to do the work for her, because she is only manic and enraged. it happens often, and when we confront her about it, she explains that she would not have been angry if we hadn't failed. she does not hit people, and i do not believe that she will, but i've heard those words before. i've seen this behavior. it has ended in bruises every other time, and regardless of the end, it is simply unacceptable. there are the other things, too. any problem we try to address ends in her explaining why it isn't a problem, or if it is, why it is ours. this happens again and again, and it always has. i am a stupid thing, and i believe my lovers. i often fail to see them. so i'd not noticed it as much before the end. but i've never seen megan lose an argument. she merely explains. and i've tried to explain the levels on which this does and will affect her, but she does not seem to hear. if it does not change, the boys still might ask her to leave. i do not want this, and doubt that it will completely come to be, but i am not sure she understands the extent to which her behavior is affecting all of her relationships. i am not sure she understands at all. there are people i really like who have stopped coming to my house because she makes them uncomfortable. and, foolish as it may seem, we are broken up, but with the hope that things may happen again one day. i had wanted this to happen sooner rather than later, but i'd failed to understand the extent to which she completely refuses to acknowledge these problems. i love her, but i have enough experience to know that i should not ever date people who follow these patterns. i do not see this changing any time soon. i am disappointed at how long i expect i will have to wait for her to grow. i expect that it will be too late. but i know that i love calm, grounded, still people; people who are passionate but who can channel that passion; people who actively look for places to which their roots and branches can stretch. i know that they are the people i should be seeking out now, and i am. although there will still be the spasms. i miss her and feel stupid for it. do you understand how long it took me to say all of that? gods.
i've experimented with illegal drugs for the first time since i was a minor. it was lovely. it was nothing more than a warm tribal bonding ritual. how strange and wonderful.
the day that i was to get my tattoo, a labyrinth on my shoulder, i went to school to find fliers with the same design everywhere. they were on every tree, on every board, in rows and in circles. there was to be a labyrinth you could walk the next day. i worry, sometimes, that the gods are not looking, you see. so they tease me. i was so nervous that day. i shook and i could not quite eat. but then i was there, in a chair, and it felt only like cutting, which is nothing at all. and it would last as long as my skin, yes, but seventy more years at most is not very long at all, in the larger scheme of things. the artist was a lady, and the stand on which she kept her ink had a saint brighid's cross for a base. she knew what i meant when i told her. and i sat very still while the path happened around me. and the next day, i followed my map and my flier to a larger labyrinth, one i could walk, because so very rarely, but sometimes, space and time do exactly what i'd have of them. there was a priest at the door: he asked me if i knew about these things, and i showed him my arm. he smiled. he looked genuinely pleased, and said, "well, you must know all about this, then." and i thought, not quite. that is why i need the map. and he let me in, and i walked. the second time i did this, the time that made me need this brand, was an experience of finding a centre, and of learning to walk away. this time, it was about the centre again, but it was more about the process: about the geometry of it. you see, in walking a labyrinth, in doing anything, really, relationships, religions, educations, thoughts, you are taken immediately almost to the centre. you circle it right away. and you are proud: you've come so far so very fast. you feel brilliant. you feel accomplished. but then you are taken away. you wind around and out and it is gone. you go back upon yourself. you walk the middle path. you go back again. and you are all the way at the outside. and it is frustrating! you are so far from where you were! you had it, i was just there, you could see it, and now it is gone, and you are cold. and you move, from there, path by path, in by degrees, in ever decreasing concentric circles, but one at a time. it is slow, but you move far. and then you are at the centre again. you are inside of it, only after you have walked the full path. the feeling at the centre of a labyrinth is like nothing else i've ever known. there i feel held. i feel close. i feel someone there: someone wiser and more loving than me. it is a quiet place. i felt that, although distantly, even when i felt that place to be hell. and you stay, until it is time to leave. because rituals must end, and we all have lives to which we must attend, for the time being. and upon leaving, sometimes the labyrinth is about something else. it does not belong entirely to the centre, anymore. it is retracing every step you took, knowing that it was all there, that it was all important. it is noticing that the outside is not a lonely place: it is a place where you can see everywhere that you have been. it is a straight path. and the labyrinth is kind: before you go, it brings you close to the centre one more time. it reminds you that it is there, that you can and will find it again, and that the knowledge of it will always be with you. and then you circle out, and you are in the world, and you are different than you were. i am, different. i am learning as i go. i am glad that i am, and i understand why it must hurt.
goodbye, old skin. hello, fall. onward, map.