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With myself, always myself, never forgetting. I’m waiting for cigarettes to get so expensive that they eventually become some perverse status symbol for the ultra-wealthy. I can’t for the life of me decide, as I sit on my porch and look out at the rain, a trail of smoke from my mouth floating lazily upwards and becoming the fog in the sky, if I’m depressed or just incredibly lethargic due to some outside force like the weather or the pile of dishes in the kitchen sink that continues to grow. I can’t do anything anymore. My thoughts only exist in the form of singular sentences. They dissipate like the smoke from my cigarettes. A scattered, quickly fading cloud above my head. My words fall flat like a pebble being dropped into a deep well; these days, I think that by the time sounds leave my lips, people have already stopped listening. Everything comes out in whispers. My housemates have stopped asking me questions. I don’t leave my room. I don’t see my friends. I don’t want to. I’m thinking ahead even though it’s in my nature to reflect. Everything is temporary. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s “reflecting” so much as it is self sabotage. I still cringe over things I said in grade school.

My mother and father had a weird way of parenting. When I was in high school they tried to discourage me from every dying my hair or getting a piercing or tattoo. They mentioned articles in magazines they read which shamed modified women. Girls with piercings and tattoos were promiscuous, had no self-respect, would never be taken seriously, were good fucks but bad wives, damaged goods. “What would a man think if you had metal in your face?”, my mother would say.

While reflecting on this, I’ve come to realize that even my most depressed state here is nothing, comparatively, to feelings of the past because I have had time to become more comfortable with myself than I ever have been. My sadness is caused by outside forces that I sometimes choose to internalize because I am sensitive, while putting on an air of being tough. I think the most important and uplifting part of being here, away from everyone and everything I know and (some things) that I love and spending so much time inside my own head is the realization that there is nothing more liberating than being damaged goods as long as you are also aware that you can rebuild yourself. Scar your body. Pierce it, mar it, cut off all your hair and make it yours. I’ve learned to find the beauty in broken things. It’s the only way I know autonomy.