Illustration by Leeza Lakhter
I grew up in Brooklyn before Williamsburg was cool and everyone still said hello to one another and old women still made fresh mozzarella sold in tiny shops. I think I was happy for a while, but a series of events unleashed a spiral of darkness that left me untethered, reaching for the edges of darkness, seeing if the black hole was actually infinite or if any glimmering light might break through the space.

Through that darkness, I gave myself to others, hoping that in doing so I would deem myself worthy of being taken out of orbit. I hoped for light to break the bleakness. Instead, I was launched on asteroids that sent me deeper into the abyss. I grabbed onto them, grasping the ragged edges, my hands bleeding and the lifeless air pinching at my skin. I was afraid of what would happen if I let go, convincing myself that perhaps they would bring me somewhere safe even though the space around me seemed to darken with each passing moment.

Despite it all, I somehow managed to find myself coming closer to Earth. Suddenly I could feel and hear and see again. Although I am thankful to be out of the abyss, even this new atmosphere has been challenging. The air no longer pierces my skin and I can breathe once again but sometimes I feel myself go flush and start gasping for air. I’ve realized that although I’ve been lucky to feel the Earth’s soil graze beneath my feet, I am stuck floating above and hoping gravity will take notice of me.

I’ve learned that tethering myself to others will not bring me closer to the Earth, no matter how much I wish it would. They are nothing like the asteroids I clung onto so dearly and when I cling to them, their arms clasp around me, grounding me for a fleeting moment. My fear of being launched back into ethereal darkness causes anxiety to boil within me when I am alone. I keep hoping that in giving to them I will be pulled down to Earth, but the voice itching at the back of my head reminds me that I have to do it myself. The thought of normalcy, the thought of achieving things for myself feels unattainable, like something that never was meant for me. 

In the quiet moments, I dream of laying in a field of grass, feeling stems poke at the nape of my neck and fall under the weight of my humanly body, feeling ants climb all over my feet, feeling the sun’s warmth tickle my pores. I want to feel a hand graze against mine for just a moment, allowing myself to reach back for it without fearing that if I don’t find it I will be lost. I hope that I will one day have the chance to enjoy earthly pleasures, to feel all the goodness of existence that everyone else gets to. I hope to stop floating. I hope that the illusion of me will become real, no longer a guardian angel just waiting to be put in the ground. 

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