We had just laughed about how we had made it to the last day of our honeymoon without getting hurt.  It felt like a real success because we had broken our boards in heavy surf and we were both ok. In hindsight, I wish instead I could have somehow prepared for this, that I could have told myself / If you find yourself unimaginably wounded, at some point I promise you'll start to feel better. // You can think about wellness as a well, a deep dwelling that is dark and liquid and seemingly bottomless until all of a sudden it isn't. That would make the inverse of wellness an unknown void. The lack of something than can't be found because it's missing from some place that is too deep to know.  When its gone, you’ll feel like everything else is ajar, unhinged, unable to be held or poured or swallowed. Deep down somewhere you cracked and everything leaked out to somewhere else. // The emptiness will remind you that something has been taken from you. It feels like it was stolen because you know you didn't give permission. Everyone will say you have to wait for it to come back. Or maybe, they will look at you and want to see that you have it back already even though you don't - and maybe that is your fault for pretending - but you can't show them they are wrong by pointing to the emptiness because they won't see anything there. // Your new heroes will be the ones who see the emptiness and respect you for it. The people who kiss you right on your scar and leave their tears on your face, the people who touch their own face when they look at yours, and the ones who will thank you for telling them that you aren't doing well. You don't have to tell these people that you got three times as many stitches inside your mouth where they can't see or explain how exactly a longboard fin entered and exited your face to begin with, but you can tell them that you thought your face was gone - that you still feel like your face is gone - that you felt the ocean move through you and take some of you away with it and felt your return to dust begin. When these people tell you you're more beautiful this way you believe them enough to consider it. You'll let one of them feel all of your scars, even the mountain range that runs along the inside your lip, and down inside to your jaw bone and all of the way up along your gums and you will marvel together over the intricacy of the topography and the strangeness of mouths. And on another night, you'll cry so hard in her arms that you both shake in unison until something else breaks open and your well begins to fill back up. // But meanwhile, you'll feel like a stranger to the person closest to you because he saw everything you didn't and he won't be able to describe it to you. It will make you angry because he's your greatest hero. You'll want him to play the hero in your story and he won't want to play at all and you'll know why. He will have seen the pictures being taken of the inside of your face for your new doctors, the pictures you tried to look at so that you could understand why everything hurt so fucking much, the pictures your eyes refused to focus on. He will be the only one who can say exactly how much you bled. You’ll remember the look on his face when you pulled yourself into the boat, when you asked him what happened to my face and he told you and you’ll wish this hadn’t happened to either of you. When he presses his hands to your face now you'll feel the memory of sublime return to wholeness from the horror of detachment, and you'll want to scream into his hands because you'll remember how great that felt on the boat with him wrapped around you so tight like he was trying to press the soft pieces of you back together. But now you won't be able to make any sound at all - maybe because you don't want anything to feel good, or because you think he's holding too many of your screams already. So instead the scream will churn inside you and the undertow will hold you down, away from him. // One night, he will wake you from a dream about a wounded snake screaming silently out of the side of her mouth. You'll turn your back to run from the sound and the snake will chase you. You'll feel yourself losing ground so you turn and stretch your arm out and watch her sink her fangs into the soft flesh above your wrist. Only much later will you realize you were you and the snake was also you. On that same day you will find a lifeless sea bird lying on the sand who is also you. It will be the end of your dream in waking life and you'll see her being swept back out and returned to the sea where the rest of you is turning to dust. //  Most of the time you'll fucking hate your own face.  You'll hate your scar, not for being ugly but for healing faster than you, for letting everyone think you're doing so much better already. And when your healing suddenly halts you'll hate that you've healed the wrong way.  The lightning storms inside your scar will scare you enough to take most of your color.  The stitch buried in your lip will fight its way out. Before it does, you'll think you're crazy because you can feel a stitch in there somewhere. When the first tiny blue thread breaks the surface you'll be fascinated, horrified, doubly justified and when you finally pull it out it will really hurt and then it all of a sudden it won't.  The smallness of these things will make you feel pathetic while their immensity will exhaust you.  All of this will make you thirst for more morphine and percocet, more distance from yourself, more fog. Healing is so ugly. More sleep, and then even more sleep. // You'll lose some of your most beloved friends who don't, can't understand. Your pain will make them feel far from you so they will retreat from you further, together, arm in arm. They will blame you and that will somehow make sense to them. It will feel so wholly unfair. Part of you will worry it's because they hate your new face too, while another part of you will hate yourself for even thinking that, but you won't be able to blame them either. This will hurt as much as anything else even though it shouldn't. // As this happens, you'll be left perfectly alone. Solitude will be the only thing that doesn't try you.  Once alone, you will find yourself filled with empathy for trees. For a small sickly weeping willow, for a branch severed by the wind, for twisted splintered logs from the woodpile. You'll feel the violence of their histories, their wounds, their apartness. You will surround yourself with them to feel less alone. You'll often think about the tree you could have sworn you saw growing out of the ocean and this will be how you start to ache for the water. You'll plot your return to it like you would to a lover and once at its edge, you'll let it tug at your heels while the tightness in your chest ebbs and flows with the tide.  Standing there you'll long for a day when the air is warm again, when you might be able to remember that before the waves passed through you, you passed through them and felt whole.

 


WELL // MAGGIE CARSON ROMANO // GLASS BOX GALLERY // SEATTLE // JANUARY 9-20 2016