Are you there, Kate? It’s me, your immunosuppression.

At the beginning of this year, I had had enough.

It was January 29, 2021: The Capitol had been attacked; Biden and Harris had been sworn in; the COVID vaccine that promised a return to “normal” was slowly but surely trickling its way down the essential worker and health care professional chain to the rest of us; and I was sitting for the 49th time at the hospital in a plastic-coated armchair with an IV attached to one arm and a blood pressure cuff wrapped around the other, very aware of the pitying eyes of cancer patients around me who didn’t know why a vibrant 20-something (at that time) was also getting a bag of meds poured into their system.

A couple chairs over there was a woman in a bright headscarf getting receiving her own sack of chemicals. She was talking with the nurse about how she hadn’t seen some of her family members for a year because no one was willing to stay out of restaurants or stores for two weeks so they could safely visit her. By this time, my IV aperitif of Benadryl was kicking in and the room was getting fuzzy, but my brain was on full anger mode on behalf of this woman.

Like any well-adjusted millennial with hospital WiFi, I took it to Instagram.

Under a rather eye-catching (or so my Bennie-brain though) photo of my outstretched, IV-attached arm, I put this caption, which was my first true social media admission to having Crohn’s disease:

“Now, I *know* no one who follows me on here thinks COVID isn’t a serious threat, but on the off-chance one of you has someone in your life who does…
Any time I hear someone wrongfully say that COVID has a high survival rate and the only people who die from it are over 60 (that’s not that old, folx) or already sick, what I actually hear is that people who are older or disabled are expendable. As I type this, I’m sitting in a chair on an IV drip I get every 8 weeks to keep me from having Crohns symptoms. The trade off is that it makes me immunocompromised which…turns out not to be so great during a pandemic. But rather than go back to stomach aches that crippled me for a year and a half before diagnosis by skipping treatment, instead I remain exceeding careful and implore everyone else to remain smart, even as we start to open restaurants, schools, etc. One of those people at the highest risk is me, and I don’t care if you miss sushi bars and beer on tap. I love those things too, and I’d like to survive so I can enjoy those things when it’s safe again.”

What is Crohn’s, anyway? Samantha Irby succinctly explains it in her first essay collection, Meaty:

“Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract….the cells in my body that are supposed to protect against infection don’t recognize food and the normal, harmless bacteria that are in my intestine.”

Put simply, our immune systems are confused overachievers — and there’s no cure to their mania. None. Sometimes it goes into remission, but for the most part you’re always just waiting for a flair-up that will probably come at the most inconvenient time. For Irby, this means days of diarrhea, nausea, bread-and-water diets, etc., and, according to her own extensive research, it always hits when she has a new toxic boyfriend in her life.

For me, it means that I get knifed in the stomach by an invisible stranger every 7-10 minutes (the intervals change just to keep things interesting), and the only thing I want to eat is boxed mashed potatoes. The kind with the bacon bits and cheddar, preferably. I also lose my period (not a huge concern when you’re a 21-year-old virgin who hasn’t been visited by any archangels, but terrifying otherwise); my hair starts falling out from malnutrition and the blistering hot showers I take to feel better; my shin bones and calf muscles feel like they’re being pulled apart; and you’ll find me lying face-down on cool bathroom tile floors like a cat in the summer, trying to find some goddamn relief.

I’ve only had one flair-up since my diagnosis in 2013. It was summer 2018, and I remember it starting while standing in my nontoxic then-boyfriend’s kitchen. The room fuzzed out and I tried to put all my focus on watching him submerge a pork tenderloin in a sous vide bath while wondering who the fuck was shoving the carving knife between my ribs. A couple tests and six-week Prednisone regiment later (stay tuned for a mini-post of how fun that is), and I was back to normal.

Suffice to say, anyone who knows me personally knows that I don’t make a big deal of my Crohn’s because it never has been a big deal — to me, anyway. To a lot of people, Crohn’s is a near-death sentence; to some, it is death, because you essentially can’t eat without your immune system trying to kill you in the slowest, most painfully way possible.

Call it privilege of the greatest kind: I grew up in a middle-class home with access to incredible health care and a father who had already been diagnosed and somehow found the greatest gastroenterologist on the planet who, upon retiring, referred him to the runner-up. So the minute I finally, begrudgingly, told my parents I was feeling like shit (I thought it was bad Chipotle eaten the night before we dropped my first magazine issue as chief editor, but a burrito bowl consumed on Oct. 17, 2012, shouldn’t still be causing stomach pains on June 25, 2013), Dad got me an appointment with his doctor. Three blood draws, a barium series, a colonoscopy and an endoscopy later, I received for my 22nd birthday a chronic illness diagnosis and prescription for a bimonthly Remicade drip — a drug that tells my immune system to chill, which works wonderfully…until a fucking pandemic happens.

Which brings me back to January 29. (I heard that sigh of relief.)

When I woke up after my treatment two hours later, my Instagram showed that I had upwards of 50 likes and several comments from people in my life who I never knew had Crohn’s disease. The burlesque singer whose gigs I used to stalk — I mean, track — around the city? Crohn’s. My coworker out in San Diego? Crohn’s. The IT & Data Analytics director I worked with in London last spring? Almost died from COVID that December and I had no idea. Something about my post made them all feel more comfortable with talking about their own experiences, and to this day I thank them for it.

We’re not all like Samantha Irby, writing out our experiences for everyone to read. Sometimes I wish more of us did, though, because I spent half of yesterday laughing, then pondering, over her bluntly honest exploration of a different, far more severe experiences with the disease. It made me think harder on how my rather minimal experience with Crohn’s has shaped the way I view its effect — or, rather, lack of effect — on my life.

For one, apart from having to take time off for treatment, I’ve never missed a day of work because of Crohn’s. I’ve never had to say “I can’t eat that” because I’m not sure my immune system will allow my digestive system to tolerate it. I’ve always had good health insurance — either courtesy of my parents or my cushy corporate job — that not only approves my Remicade prescription every year but also pays for most of each $10,000 treatment session. You read that right: The meds I’m on cost half-a-newish-car every eight weeks. Our health care system is fine. At my sister’s wedding, guests were telling my mom how healthy I looked, like they expected some waif hobbling down the aisle instead of a gleaming bronze yoga goddess. That’s a joke, as I’m still pasty and had by that point accrued my winter insulation despite daily vinyasa practices, but it’s also not, because that’s what Crohn’s does to a lot of people: It wears them down into joint-pain soup or brittle skeletons.

In 2018 my company happened to assign me the internal communications project for a disability self-ID effort among our employees. Leadership wanted to know how many people have disabilities so we could better serve them with accommodations (and put the numbers into our growing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report), and as an ad hoc HR Communications teammate, I was the go-to for it. When I pulled up the ADA list of covered disabilities, my eyes went directly to it: Crohn’s disease. I’d been living for five years with a disability and didn’t even realize it, mostly because my experience with it has been so milquetoast — milk and toast, two things that people with a severe Crohn’s flair-up need to stay away from, by the way, but not your eat-everything-and-anything girl! — compared to the scary connotation that the capital-D Disability caries with it.

But then COVID happened, and I had to hear every armchair epidemiologist under the sun talk about how only the already-sick die from the virus. And I thought about all the people I’ve seen when I go for treatment. I thought about the people over 60 like my own parents. I thought about all the people who I didn’t even know had a disability like mine. And, finally, I realized that hey! I’m one of those people! I’m immunocompromised and immunosuppressed, and COVID could actually kill me! My underdeveloped sense of mortality suddenly graduated college and got its first apartment.

It’s been almost a year since hearing the conversation at the infusion center that launched the Instagram post that told the world — meaning 270 followers — I had Crohn’s disease. Maybe it’s just the kind of people I attract and retain in my life, but everyone understood and shared words of concern and encouragement. A lot of them have taken hold of my “I’M IMMUNOCOMPROMISED BUT EVEN IF I WASN’T YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT IMMUNOCOMPROMISED PEOPLE’ banner (a long tag line means a long banner and plenty of room for fellow carriers) and carried it into their own battles with people who don’t view disabled people as worth protecting, either as immunocompromised people themselves or using me as their poster woman. And I love them for it.

If my story changes the mind of just one person to be a little more compassionate, a little more understanding — or if it makes a fellow Crohn’s disease diagnosee (aka a Crohny) feel seen or less alone — then the last hour I’ve spent at my kitchen counter nursing day-old cold brew while typing this out will have been worth it. Putting my weird-ass arm photo on the ‘gram in January will have been worth it. Continuing to navigate around the small but loud group of inconsiderate Americans denying COVID safety precautions will…still be annoying.

And with that, I’m off to yell at anti-maskers at a brew pub. (Cue “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead.)

A list of reminders that you were here

Signs that you will soon be arriving:

Coca Cola bottles in the fridge.
Large ice cubes prepped in the freezer.
Crunch Bars and Chex Mix in the cabinet.
Folded towels waiting on the bathroom counter.
An empty dishwasher.
My favorite lingerie laid out at the top of the drawer.
Bed made, throw pillows on the floor
(Because, as you said that first night,
“Too many damn pillows!”
After I pulled you into bed
And tried to keep you there for the rest of the year,
Or at least rest of the weekend).
The light smell of the late afternoon coffee I brewed
To stay awake until you’d arrive,
Even though the adrenaline wouldn’t let me sit still.

Signs that you’ve just left:

Empty Coca Cola bottles in the recycling bag.
Fewer large ice cubes prepped in the freezer,
A new batch that you started still half-liquid.
Crunch Bar wrappers in the trash,
The little corner of one tucked under a placemat.
Half the bag of Chex Mix gone.
Towels hanging on the back of the door,
Then put into the basket for the wash.
A dishwasher waiting to be turned on.
My favorite lingerie waiting to be gently hand-scrubbed in the sink.
Bed made, throw pillows still on the floor,
The scent of your hair stuck to the sheets
(And to my hands, from how many times
I brushed it away from your face at the train station,
Wondering with each stroke
If I could crawl into those deep gray eyes of yours
And come with you).
Your Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue cologne mingling with
The smell of the bacon you cooked for breakfast to go with
Eggs and a flawless potato galette.
Pieces of that potato galette on the edge of the stove.
A clawing silence that I can’t cover up,
Not even with the Four Tops record you gave me
Spinning at the highest volume my Victrola can play.
A quiet that’s filled with the sounds of sirens
Bouncing off buildings in the city I love,
Just love a little less when you’re not here.

Is this a reboot, a remake or a sequel?

Yesterday at about 3:45 p.m. Central, I had the sudden urge to get to the water.

I can’t explain it: I usually avoid the Lake Michigan beaches like the plague, even in times that aren’t a plague. Call it residual hesitancy from a childhood where summer night news reports would announce that the fecal matter count was creeping up toward unsafe levels (because there’s a safe level?).

A 25-minute walk later, and I was back on the path that I used to run in pre-COVID days, staring out at the water:

Thursday afternoons in September are clearly a great time to go sit by the fickly fecal-infested lake.

Never before have I had such an intense need to get to this view before, and I still don’t know what drew me to it. If we’re being honest, the past 24 hours had been wrought with some personal drama and much-necessary self-reflection, none of which I feel like boring you with #onhere. Maybe it was an innate need to exhale all the drama and angst over Lake Michigan so that the breeze would carry it over to Indiana while I went back home to rewatch Oceans Thirteen only to realize I had actually never seen it and, two hours later, that who I thought was a budget Al Pacino actually was Al Pacino.

That’s just a snapshot of yesterday, and I don’t know why I decided to open with it on this post, apart from how it gave me an hour of a walk to think about how it was Thursday and another Friday was about to pass without me publishing anything to Convincing the Muse, making it nine weeks since my last substantive post.

I could lie and say I’ve been absent because I was reassessing what this blog is and why I contribute creative blood, sweat and tears to it for little in return. I could also lie and say it’s because I’ve been busy with a summer that I overfilled due to an already underdeveloped sense of mortality stunted even further by two jabs of Pfizer and the promise of a booster shot.

But I refuse to lie, and that’s why I’m not using this post to make any promises about a return to weekly Friday posts, or more substantive short stories, or constant NaNoWriMo updates come November. You might see more personal pieces a la Sara Benincasa or Samantha Irby (my new favorite essayist — please pick up her books ASAP). Maybe some updates on my newfound vim and vigor around querying Omaha. More Axiom Thorne entries from our now two-years-and-running D&D campaign, found fiction from the annals of my high school creative writing notebooks, and book and music recommendations.

Or maybe I just won’t post anything until after my sister’s wedding in two weeks because do you know how crazy wedding planning is, even when you’re merely the maid of honor and the bachelorette party has already been a success?

Maybe my 115 or so followers will unsubscribe from those WordPress email alerts. Maybe I’ll successfully kill this website by the end of the year and be out the 18 bucks I put down in July to renew the domain name. Maybe these posts will give my boyfriend a chuckle (and that’s worth it, honestly) or a fellow writer an idea for a story (go for it, fam) or the NSA something else to put in my file (eat my Google search dust, feds). Possibly all of the above, come to think of it.

Pitter-patter, let’s get at ’er.

5 quotes from John Logan on screenwriting

This week is the (virtual) Chicago International Film Festival, and as an associate boardmember, I’ve been diving deep into the events, screenings and activities from the safety and comfort of my couch. Yesterday I sat in a masterclass conversation on screenwriting with John Logan, who wrote films like Any Given Sunday, Gladiator, The Aviator and Skyfall, created/produced the Penny Dreadful TV series, penned lots of plays, and just yesterday received a Tony nomination for the book for Broadway’s adaptation of Moulin Rouge! (which I was supposed to see at the end of March in New York…thanks, COVID).

In alliteration, Logan is a legend.

I took a ton of notes, but here are the top five quotes I feverishly jotted down during the hour spent listening to him describe process, research and the filmmaking business in general:

1. “Our lives aren’t interesting, but the characters we write can be.” Rather than writing what you know, write what you feel, what you think, and what’s important to you. This is good news to me, a Midwesterner for Life who’s trying to craft a novel set on the Western frontier. Logan also warned that we check preciousness and over-fondness at the door. You’ve heard “kill your darlings” when it comes to paragraphs you like — this is “kill your darlings” when it comes to the memories and autobiographical elements we try to preserve through fiction.

2. “Pitching (a movie) is not an audition; it’s a negotiation.” When approaching a director, producer, or (in my world) agent or publisher, don’t perform the entire work for them and hope they like it as-is. Instead, approach it as “I have something to offer you. What about it interests you?” and go from there. Note that Logan’s first feature film was Any Given Sunday, which was one of 10 pitches he brought an agent in LA. He sold the film by calling it “King Lear in the NFL.”

3. “Remember you’re a dramatist, not a historian. You’re just painting a base-layer with research.” Logan has written a number of historical fiction films and warned against the “siren’s song of research” — he spent five years studying Howard Hughes and all the industries touched by his octopus-like reach before having to actually sit down and write The Aviator. Currently I’m working on a Western, which means I’ve fallen down rabbit holes about clothing, food and weaponry during the Western migration; how a quarter of cowboys were Black; and how Jesse James was actually an asshole. It’s my first historically-set book, so I’m learning just how appealing that siren’s song can be, especially when procrastinating on putting pen to paper.

4. “Truth of the character is all that matters.” This really hit a nerve. When I wrote Nobody’s Hero, it was a cry for help as I sank under the waves of having a successful corporate job I wasn’t (at the time) sure I wanted or deserved. I poured my imposter syndrome and jaded perspective into the main character. From what my former agent told me, publishers and editors weren’t too enamored, and I think Logan made it clear why with this final quote:

5. “It’s not about my voice. It’s about my character’s voice.This is something I struggle with sometimes more than writing action scenes (which, I was surprised but comforted to know, are also a sore spot for Logan, who wrote two freakin’ James Bond movies). All my characters either sound like Kate in Life, Kate on Paper, or Evil Villain in the Show Kate Just Watched. Logan said he tries several voices and approaches for his characters, and eventually one clicks: This is a new practice I’ll be implementing for books moving forward.

BONUS: “Writers are great weeping masses of emotion and need.” No comment. Pass the Kleenex.

I’m mad as hell, and I can’t write it anymore

Another non-creative piece this week, folks.

Originally I planned on doing a whole post about new horizons and starting fresh. As of this week, I’m officially an agent-free free agent after mutually deciding to part ways with my two-year literary cheerleader.

But this post isn’t about that. Or me.

OK, it’s about me.

The last week has led me to read and reflect on a lot of ways that systematic racism embeds itself in white artists’ work, whether or not they realize it. I’ve also learned more about “copoganda” and how popular media centers around police power — both as heroes and as the plot-drivers in anti-hero stories like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos — and fetishizes Black pain, even when trying to point out that brutality is wrong. Law enforcement has a pervasive presence in our stories: Just look at network TV lineups. At least one law procedural airs every night on every channel.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own work. Those who’ve read parts or all of Nobody’s Hero know it’s about vigilantes, but they’re still overseen by the Federal Vigilante Agency that helps process the criminals they catch. Cops aren’t the focus, but they’re in the background, and even though my Black FVA agent has a conversation with her sister about the use of Black people as cops in popular culture, the very nature of vigilanteism is linked to violence-based responses to crime.

There’s probably a number of scholars who could better explain that, but the TL;DR version is: “I’m not sure Nobody’s Hero accurately represents my opinion on America’s law enforcement complex.”

So while I grumble a bit about being back to Square One on my journey to being a published novelist, I also thank my lucky stars that no editor or publisher wanted to pursue putting my latest project out into the world, particularly now that I’ve continued educating myself. Maybe I’ll go back to Nobody’s Hero and try to adjust it to my new view of the world. Or maybe it’ll get tucked away with so much other work.

I do know that my next project will contain no references to police whatsoever. It’s a supernatural mystery centered around journalists, and I’ve been struggling to gain the courage to write it for more than seven years now, and I think it’s time to buck up and write. No cops allowed.

Vignette: Floating chance

The body floated, bloated, down the river toward the sanitation facility where it would presumably get caught in the filter and cause a nightmare kind of day for the plant supervisor, who’d have to call the cops, then sweet-talk his team into helping guard the scene until the investigators arrived, then wait for all the photos and little yellow tent markers to be placed before he could get on with the day’s duties.

He’d act all day like it was an inconvenience, like a large tree trunk had gummed up the works rather than a former person But then he’d go home and cry into a tall glass of tequila-less margarita mix about the fragility of human life and all the regrets he had — how he’d never seen Spain; how he’d never applied for that MFA program; how he should have asked Stephanie to marry him when they were teenagers so he could be divorced with three kids by now instead of dragging the scent of sweat and sewage into his empty studio apartment next to the Kwik and Save.

And then he would fall asleep — floating, bloated, almost inches off his sheets as he dreamt of the life he’d have if he had taken all the chances he’d been offered, before he’d have to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

Scene of the write: The last bar on the crawl

By the time we get to the final bar on our list of dives to visit on a clear but cold Saturday afternoon, none of us remember what it’s actually called. Partially this is due to four other bars that gleefully poured us shots and beers, called out the owner to give us a history of the joint, and allowed us access into their digital jukebox so we could play Celine Dionne’s “My Heart Will Go On” and all the Lizzo our liquor-loosened lips could name.

This bar is different. It’s the kind of place where, if walking in with a couple friends, you’d turn right around and leave.

The place wasn’t always a dive: The bar itself serves as the entrance to what was once a restaurant, and clearly a popular one in its heyday. Tables for two, four, six sit either in the middle of the floor or stacked on top of each other in the corner, half of them still draped in red-and-white checkered tablecloths that can be wiped down with a washcloth.

Before you can intrude on this museum, a mannequin — draped in a blanket for modesty, with a blond plastic wig and vacant, store-rejected eyes — stops you in your path. Her arms splay out like a priest’s at an alter, and before her is a brown couch that has played host to so many overnight patrons that this place might also be a B&B: Beer and bedtime.

Next to the sleep setup, you’ll notice a high top with a bag of tortilla chips and plastic tub of off-brand salsa, sitting out all day for anyone (anyone?) to munch on while they drink $3 whiskey-and-cokes and try not to think of how dirty the couch is right behind them. It’s easy to forget when you look up and see that a Svengoolie-hosted B-horror film from the 1950s is playing above the bar on a TV the size of a compact car trunk.

The date I brought with is starting to get deep in his questions for me, as if the beer and shots have made him more introspective. They’ve only made me need to pee. Again.

“So your last relationship — were you in love?” He asks.

“It was complicated,” I say, wondering if I have enough cash in my bag for another whiskey-Coke.

“Do you want to be in love again?”

The mannequin and I lock eyes.

“I don’t know,” I say. “The last time I was, it didn’t end well for either person. I learned I could be in love. He learned he couldn’t.”

Music of the Write: “Brand New City” by Mitski

I’m late to the Mitski party, but “Brand New City” came on my Spotify radio, and it struck a nerve in my writing — so much so that I added it to my “untitled fantasy bounty hunter story” playlist. But here’s the thing: I interpreted the lyrics differently than I’m sure they were written.

“My brain is rotting in places / I think my heart is ready to die…Honey whatcha take, whatcha take, honey look at me, tell me what you took, what you took…”

On the third listen — this time detached from the project I was thinking of — I realized that “whatcha take” refers to drugs: What drug did you take? What’s in your system? Do we need to pump your stomach?

But the first two times I heard it, I was in such a headspace with this potential fantasy story (as well as my current Dungeons & Dragons character, the undying warlock Axiom Thorne) that I heard them as “What did you take from me that’s making me fall apart now?” It’s a little Dorian Grey: The narrator is disintegrating, and she’s quite convinced that some asshole stole the Grimmoire or relic that has sustained her for so long.

Again, probably not Mitski’s intended meaning, but it fits this potential project…

Vignette: Slim for what

“I’m not skinny for you,” she said, bolting upright in bed. She pulled away from his fingers as if they had turned to cattle prods reaching out to trace the ribs under her skin.

Truthfully, she wasn’t doing it to look like a magazine ad or provoke even more men to buy her disgusting vodka cocktails or catcall her from their cars. She woke up at five every morning to exercise, ate small lunches, avoided the sweets aisle at the grocery store, etcetera, because she liked when people underestimated her. The pitying, hungry smiles they flashed at this bird-like creature whose skin was too tight for her bones as they assumed the least of her until it was too late — she had swallowed them whole, and she hadn’t gained a pound.

A farewell love letter written in tears and Lysol

This morning I decided to clean. I do that when I’m trying to force myself to think about things — the book I’m writing, a problem at work, what to get so-and-so for their birthday. Today it was so I could examine all of last night’s feelings now wadded up in tissues layered three-deep inside the bathroom garbage can.

The shallow layer is the fear most late-20s women fear when they find themselves having to start from scratch in finding a partner. I blame my ovaries and ticking biological clock for this one: I will be fine. My creative spirit, work ethic, long-term happiness, emotional strength, relationships, and passions will soon stand up and dust themselves off. My primal reproduction function does not believe this is important and is a finger away from dialing up a sperm bank.

Under that is betrayal: When simplifying it to the very basic core of everything, you lied to me. You let me carry on like there was nothing wrong, and you didn’t trust me enough to tell me we didn’t have a future. For a year you let me continue to fall in love with you, and never once did you warn me that my descent would end in a crash of two emails, two phone calls, and a weepy ramen noodle dinner.

And within the deepest layer lies self-anger, because in truth you didn’t lie, not even once. You told me everything from the beginning, and I refused to hear it. You told me the first night you came home with me. You took off your shirt and explained every beautiful tattoo on your skin and challenging tattoo on your soul. And then you kissed me, and I saw stars, and then we fell asleep in a cider-drunk haze before waking up to a mid-March snowstorm that failed to cool us off from one another. The next morning, and the next year, I convinced myself that if I couldn’t change your past, I could at least make your future a bit brighter.

You said I helped get you to this place you’re in now, where you’ve learned to slowly light the lamps of recovery and discovery so the dark shrinks into something less dreadful. And that’s when I learned my mistake. For the last year I’ve tried to torch the darkness, burn it all to the ground, and singed myself in the process because that’s not how it works. It has to be you wielding the matchbook, and it has to be methodical, or else you could disappear into the flames, rather than emerge in the light. If I stand around and watch, I’ll only get in your way. I love you too much to do that.

As I scrub down my dining table with Lysol, I notice that another puddle has appeared in the northwest corner of my apartment. The tenants upstairs must have left their windows open again during a rainstorm. The last time this happened, I asked the landlord to repair where the speckled plaster had crumbled, and he did. Except now that replacement plaster is on the floor in varying states of dust and chunks that I have to sweep up and add to the trash can.

Shattered plaster. Crumpled up tissues. They all look the same — not quite white, but trying to be. All the emotions that gushed out of my eyes and nose the night before, mixed with the broken shell of where I tried to secure you in my heart, convinced you’d find the light you needed inside.

That broken shell doesn’t mean you’ve left, though. You’ve just moved somewhere else inside it, and it’s going to take me some time to find you again. I’ll keep looking, but first I have some cleaning to do.