how to be found

by Aimee Herman on October 5, 2015

how long until/ the limbs become/ just/ skin’s memory 

 Great Weather for Media vine

I travel west to contact every doorframe and window hinge I have ever touched. I want to know if they remember my fingerprint configuration. I need to know I am impactful.

In my pocket are three words I did not know before three days ago and one references a fruit I have trust issues with: aubergine. I contemplate renaming myself this word because I like the sling of its third syllable slapping tongue against roof of mouth. Is it ever too late to retitle oneself?

My mother calls me while I am pretending to write and she goes off script. She tells me my uncle has passed away. How long until a body loses its shape? And what shape does it become? Death lay there in his body for at least three days until. Until.

How to be found.          Out.

While living in suburbia, as a teenager with a license, I walked out of my psychology class one day with a mission to drive to my favorite park and hang myself. I was without weaponry, but I much preferred DIY techniques anyway. No one noticed when I walked out, right as the teacher—with three day beard or lipstick on teeth, I cannot recall—was offering a lesson on fight/flight and the biology of mental illness (or perhaps something completely unrelated). Slowly, I walked through the school parking lot to find my car, which really my sister’s, and it was red with only two doors. If I listened to the radio, I would have searched for Nirvana to scream his suicide notes into my ear.

This was the 90’s.

This park I liked was small, with evidence of duck excrement littering the ground like confetti. I did not care enough to watch where I walked; I just wanted to find the perfect tree to keep me elevated.

I ask my mother how he died and she does not know. I use a word like autopsy because of movies and over-saturated crime television programs like CSI and Law and Order. I need to know that even after addiction and depression, one finally reaches an age of understanding and stillness. I need to know I won’t want to revisit that tree with DIY weaponry when I am in my sixties.

I was fifteen when Kurt Cobain died. Less than one year later in 1995, I will try what he succeeded at, choosing pills and knives over shotgun. When Kurt died, everyone around me draped themselves in capes of flannel. When I die, I wonder if everyone will dye their hair red or just head to work because. Because. Why not.

On my travels west, I reach a doorframe found in an old school house, now called apartment complex. I licked the doorknob to see if it still tasted of me. All I can report is my tongue felt like pocket lint and pennies for the rest of the day. There was no sign of recognition.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an American commits suicide every 12.9 minutes. In the course of writing this, at least four people have died.

I ask my mother once again about an autopsy, sounding out each letter slowly. Don’t you want to know? I ask. But I know that I am really asking me.

The last song Kurt Cobain recorded with Nirvana was titled, “You Know You’re Right” and I wonder if we ever really do. The lyrics haunt like the loudest lover you never could get over.

Kurt growls, “No thought was put into this/ I always knew it’d come to this/ Things have never been so swell/ And I have never failed to fail.”

The tree refused to elevate me on that day I casually escaped the confines of high school. Instead, I carved my name into a bench that faced a manmade lake. I contemplated what I was contemplating. Almost twenty years later, I look up that lake on the computer, and find that it has a yelp page. People express joy for its vastness; a perfect place to picnic; a spot for fishing or handholding. I ponder submitting my thoughts on the trees and how they may have saved my life that day, when I might have contributed to the census of Americans who end their time. How many stars would I give and would I mention that I used to think this park was a perfect spot to die, but now I just think it’s the right place to remember how to be found.

 

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Aimee interviews Anne Waldman in great weather for MEDIA’s latest anthology, Before Passing.

Read more Aimee in her latest full-length collection, meant to wake up feeling .

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