by Diana Rusu
They say that the age of personal essays is over. Well fuck them.
London is a scary place. It’s like a pair of glasses that you don’t really need, except maybe for reading, but they don’t seem to help anyway. What they do help at is seeing your past as if it were someone else’s. You can rub your eyes all you want, you’re still going to remember the way that Mr. C. from Secondary used to make you jump those old vaulting boxes, climb those weird wall bars or push up those smelly gym mats – and all this whilst he was sending one of the boys to get him a pack of fags from the nearest shop. He used to smoke one in less than a minute. A cigarette, not the whole pack. And I still don’t know if I invented the memory or it was really me on that bench pretending to be sick just to skip the class.
The way we were told that we were normal if we were straight and didn't come from a Romani family. If we were sometimes bullied.
I found myself dreaming about that gym many of times, but the school looked totally different. It was always empty in my dreams, dodgy, always obscure; not in total darkness, but kind of like on a shitty, rainy afternoon. In my dreams, I would rush up the stairs, walk all along the corridors, looking for the one door that would be my classroom. I wouldn't go in, instead I would feel that I'm in someone else’s dream and I was living some place far away. This made me feel happy and safe, knowing I'm actually years and miles away from it. I took so much pride in this imagining I’m someone else, that writing came to me in perfect timing. I was doing pretty good at everything, but after the first few years of school, things started to shake. I was 13.
My first diary was a maths notebook. It had cars on the covers. No, that was my second one, after I’d lost the first one – which I kept away from my sister’s hands, hiding it in different locations all over the house. I’d probably lost its track, but when I started the second one, the year was ’99.
Ace of Base was still banging on the radio with all that she wants is another baby, she's gone tomorrow. And no one told me it's alright to feel that way for all the people I was attracted to.
My diary entries were usually about how I liked this or that boy in school (always more than one, usually two or three) or how I fantasized having a girlfriend after I've had my first boyfriend, what was I going to do that holiday, where did my family go last Sunday. It was great, I was writing pretty much every day. And my sister found it, eventually. Ripped off the first page and ran into the garden with my cousin, reading from it out loud and having a blast.
I have never felt such humiliation before. But of course, I had to let it go, I'd grown used to her/ their abuses. When I finally got it back, I just looked for a new hiding place. Life went on and so did my diaries. After a while, I had so many notebooks that it was useless to hide them anymore. They became poetry practice, fragments, drama exercises, one time I even wanted to write a novel. I was awfully bad at it. Horrendous. So, when I went to college I started my first blog.
During uni, things got out of control. I was writing blog after blog. Writing, editing, deleting, writing, chatting, emailing. There was a thirsty beast inside me that just wasn’t ever content with what she had, it always had to be more, and better.
Back then, I would have given anything to hear people say about me “she lives in Paris and London”, but that was just my way of being a Bovary while ignoring the educational and social system of my country, feeling stuck, unable to do anything about it. The traumas that I had gone through made me shift from Earth to another planet.
Today, I feel like coming down and taking over my body; and my life. I feel like becoming myself, eventually. Like all the pain and crying sessions and panic attacks have fled from my heart and I am blooming, coming down to earth back to my body and back to my roots. I see them now, I see the roots growing inside me, feeding on light. I watch the picture again, like trying to convince myself that I am wrong. I am looking backwards through my retroverted uterus, back into my body. And it's only me in there, my roots all over the place. What have I done?