I am participating in Isabel Abbott’s With Love + Defiance: a letter writing sanctuary course. It is so powerful, and has helped me reconnect to my nonfiction roots. There is something about writing a letter that allows me to say things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to say. Below is one of the letters that I wrote along with a piece of art I created that was inspired by the letter.
dear childhood home,
i believed your thin, paper walls held all the secrets. believed that your fist-sized holes were where all the secrets would go to hide. i thought i could come back some day, hold up a black light and the narrative of my childhood would glow – like invisible ink – page after page scrolled out on those paper thin walls. what atrocities you held. what dirty, sticky secrets that remained long after the memories had dissolved. you were supposed to tell me what happened. you were supposed to save me. i cannot remember anything but the pain and the darkness.
i dream about you, sometimes, your tiny structure transformed into layer upon layer of maze that i cannot find my way out of. i am stuck and at some point, i always give up, resolved that you hold all the power. i think it is then that you will spill out your secrets, pour them out of your cracks and crevices, your deep, black holes, that you will fill me up, drown me in all that I cannot remember. but, instead, you offer up your cryptic flashes, and i cannot orient myself to them, trapped in their vertigo, merry-go-round, flashing disorientation. you beg me to remember, but i am already sick with the lies. won’t the truth kill me? i turn away, return to the dark stillness of unremembering. but my body, she weeps and stabs and screams with her memories because she cannot forget.
i drove past you several years ago trying to find some kind of closure, but you were gone. there was nothing but an empty lot, and i wondered if you had ever even existed, if i had ever even existed. if you are gone, am i gone, too? where did all the secrets go? where did you put them? how can i ever find them now? i dig in the soil down into the sewer – did you store them there? i wander through its maze trying to find its secret places, its cracks and crevices. i wander and wander, uprooted, untethered, my body unable to cough up the truth in her spatters of blood, and i cannot find a way out of this darkened maze, and you are no longer here to show me, to tell me, go this way, on this wall, in this room, the eyes, they saw it all, they stored every second, you were seen, it was witnessed, you were never, ever alone.
i eat the dirt in hopes you will come back to me somehow, show me the way out of the black hole i’ve found myself in, give my body permission to expel her visionless pain and suffering so they will stop walking around aimlessly through her searching for the matching truth, searching for the proper way to escape.