20181221_161940-01.jpgShe converted her privilege to tools. Her education saved her. All those abstract ideas she’d read, written about, and made her own–they saved her mind. They protected her sanity in a place that worked to annihilate both it and her.

An ability to bracket experience, to be an observer, to acknowledge when her efforts made no difference—helped her learn how to sidestep the passive aggressive power projections relentlessly fired at her. She learned how to disconnect from the poisonous top-down pressure around her whose force ceaselessly pushed her to bend to its will. Trauma surrounded her, the kind that people there don’t have tools to repair. The knowledge and belief that people are more important than institutions or rules or authority helped her find places to intervene.

Her body is starting to adjust since being home, since she’s learned to stay in her own lane. She sleeps in a little later now, goes out into the night again. Her body has stopped clenching every time she hears something that sounds like gunfire. She saw a whale the other day. It was surreal. Right there, in front of her–swimming and blowing and being magical–while she walked on the bluff. Like most things in her life, she didn’t share it. No reflection. She soaks in healthy experience and continues to heal.

She reads what she writes about herself, over and over. To remember where she is, how she got here. Who she is. Settling in to her new space has thrown her off balance, like when blocking is added to being off book. She forgets her lines, stumbles. Forgets who she is. Where she is. What she’s doing here. Where she’s going next. This story’s ending is only in her imagination, and when she remembers she’s writing toward it, she’s instantly airborne, stomach dropping out, like when you’re at the top of the roller coaster, right before you fall. (In the end, she’ll make falling into flying.)

Reclining in the chaise lounge in front of the giant picture window, she wraps her arms around herself, holding tight while a sailboat glides neatly through three quarters of her living room.