“What are you doing?” I ask. We’re in the backroom and R begins to thumb through what most people have come to call my bible. I can’t imagine there is anything of interest written on the quad pages, but these are still my thoughts. My summaries to stories I mean to write. Fragmented essays I plan on stringing together one day.
He ignores me. Or he doesn’t hear me. Or both. “What? Are? You? Doing?” I repeat. I snatch the journal from his hand and toss it into my backpack.
“Oh come on,” R protests. “It’s not like you don’t want people reading it. You go on stage and talk about your penis in front of other people.”
“I’ve never once talked about my penis,” I quip. “I talk about other men’s penises.”
I rode buses to and from Brownsville every weekend for a year. If I boarded a next-to-empty bus, I took whatever available seat I found in the back. Resting my head against the window, I memorized the different routes each bus driver took to reach Brownsville. A few times, I spoke to other passengers. Several of them spoke only Spanish and most of these stories were lost in translation. On these transits, I scribbled down notes and poem journal entries.
There came a day in December when I noticed a few passengers sitting down in front. From McAllen onward, these passengers spoke in whispers to each other. At Harlingen, they walked off into the cold wind and vanished inside the station. Few nights later, on the news, I saw one on TV. The news piece focused on the homeless issues in both the cities of McAllen and Harlingen. Turns out when one city wanted to handle its homeless population, they shipped them over to the next.
“People don’t keep journals for themselves. They keep them for other people, like a secret they don’t want to tell but want everyone to know.” —Marilyn Manson, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell.
My journal consisted of index cards that I left lying around the room. Quotes from books I read or characters I created. Pros-and-cons lists about joining the Peace Corps. Most of these are gone. Thrown away or lost in some bag I carried at the time. As a gift on one of our anniversaries or maybe a birthday present or maybe just an I-love-you-and-trust-you present, I gave Jeanna one of my journals. Unfinished, but I felt there was some sentimental value to the idea.
I’ve read from my journal during a few poetry readings in the past. And I can foresee myself getting on stage and play confessional to an audience of priests.
I found someone’s blog the other night. I didn’t intended on seeking this blog out any more than I would seek out this person’s private journal. Insomnia laid its blanket over me that night, so I took to scrolling through Tumblr. Tag hopping because that’s what I do. When I came upon a tag for some cartoon show that I’ll never watch, but is all the rave on Tumblr. Gif after clip after photo essay after fanfic later, I stumbled upon a familiar username. My midnight mind brushed it off as coincidence. The greater part of me wishes I would have stuck to that conclusion.
I didn’t read the blog because that’s a violation even my curiosity knows not to cross. Reading the description was enough to sate my need to know. I couldn’t keep this secret though, so I mentioned it later via Facebook messenger. I hope this explanation puts to rest any anxieties that I may have created with my little confession. Your secrets are still yours to keep.
I started reading short stories. At the moment, I’m thumbing through Drown by Junot Díaz. This is in hopes that my writing habits return to me. There’s a project that I want to work on, though I don’t have the resources right now. I might enlist the help of local writer friends. There’s still much to suss out.