I Was There
“i was there,” i say and it’s my favorite thing to say
the places i’ve been are the best parts of me, and they claw their way out of my chest, up my arm and through my pointing finger, bubbling up out of my mouth like bubbles in chocolate milk, the way joy is supposed to. they’re the best parts of me and when i see one, printed in a magazine or flashed on a television screen, some of my cells know they were born there and they’re screaming, singing, soaring to go home.
even the worst places i’ve been are still the best parts of me. some of my cells were still born there and they still want to go home.
it wasn’t the road into town that did it, or the sign that read “welcome to silent hill,” or even when the fog rolled in. but when ash started to rain down like a plague from the heavens, it bubbled up again. that familiar phrase
(my favorite phrase)
“i was there”
Centralia, Pennsylvania. a place perpetually on fire (and still one of the best parts of me)
one of the best of the best, in fact, because i was advised not to go but i went anyway.
it was july 6th, 100 degrees. there was no fog, no ash. nowhere to hide from the beating sun that felt like it was exposing all our secrets for the world to see.
no town. nothing to see. nothing but the inferno raging below our feet, the fire i never could have known if i didn’t come there already knowing.
one secret, but it was the same secret that i was so used to. a secret, perpetual fire, right beneath the surface.
100 degrees and so much different than i expected. i wedged myself into the fissure in the abandoned pavement and swore the heat i felt radiating up wasn’t the sun reflecting off tarmac, but the smallest proof of the disaster i was standing on top of. and the only fog was inside my lungs and the only ash was inside my mind and the sun beat down so strong that it was evaporating, stealing away even my imaginary fog.
i knew the advice had been right. i never should have come here. there was nothing here.
but even the worst places i’ve been are the best parts of me.
and when i see the “welcome to silent hill” sign and vomit up, practically involuntarily, “i was there,” i know it sounds silly, like some grotesque parody of myself
but it’s a tribute to all the things that weren’t what you expected, all the advice you’re glad you ignored. it’s a love letter to the worst places i’ve been and the best things about myself and all the flaws i would never trade away.
and when i say “i was there,” maybe it’s because i’m afraid that the present will never live up to when i was.
but there are so many more mistakes to make and my gears are already turning