October 5, 2020
2:13 p.m. EST
I’ve decided to write this now because I feel as if there is no other time to write it. I just finished reading 37 pages of Imani Perry’s Breathe because I tend to do my work and read in short bursts rather than all at once. I’ve found out recently that I burn out easily.
I’m sitting at my desk that I’ve moved from the other side of my room to under my window. I often hear the family across the street fighting and the clamor of construction a block away, but the light does good for me. Besides, I’ve learned how to not listen to things when I don’t want to.
I made the decision to write this at around 2:12 p.m. because I felt like I was drowning in empty space. I needed something, anything, to fill it in, and if it couldn’t be another person, then I thought that it might as well be more of myself. I’ll write these words and hopefully it’ll sprout to be something big enough to fill all the empty space around me—this void, this vacuum.
I don’t know if this is the right way to do it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it. I just know that I have to start sometime and somewhere and somehow and if this won’t work then I’ll just have to live with the empty space like everyone else does.
November 5, 2020
10:37 p.m. EST
It’s hard to fill in the empty space, so sometimes I feel like filling it with a person. But a person’s too big, too much of a responsibility, and too good to fill that space with. I don’t want to think of any person as an integral part of me, someone I won’t be able to live without. I want to think of them as their own person, separate but still willingly giving a piece of themselves for me to just hold onto, not to consume. One day, I’ll have to let it go—or maybe I’ll hold onto it forever. But that’s the kind of companionship I want: one that isn’t stifling or mushed together to create a heap of anything at all to fill the cracks, but one that is complementary, a warm hand on my shoulder, a firm body, and a beating heart.
I never was the type to think about relationships very often, but now that the pandemic has taken the possibility of one from me, I think about how another’s touch would be a way to fill the space. Which is strange, considering that I’m the type of person who stiffens whenever someone hugs me or I think too hard about how hard I should squeeze someone’s hand when I go in for a handshake. Being in contact with anybody has never been my strong suit, let alone physical intimacy, but all I’m left with is memories of when I hugged Sam at graduation or when I grabbed Chad’s hand because he was scared by a horror movie. I never thought I’d miss the feeling of a friend just physically there with me. There’s so much space around me and for some reason I just want it to be filled with a body, a person, a friend.
December 27, 2020
1:39 a.m. EST
It’s been a while. I always thought about writing something over the past couple months, but I never knew what, so I just let the time pass. Now it’s been over a month. I just felt like there was nothing worthwhile to write down. In the end, though, I think I just thought that whatever I would write would be uninteresting.
I know it’s illogical to worry that whatever you’re writing is uninteresting when you’re just writing in a journal, when you’re literally just supposed to be writing for yourself, but I can’t help that I constantly want my writing to be enjoyable to some degree, even to myself.
I’ve always felt pressure to do things with intent and meaning, to write short stories to enter contests and write essays to get good grades. Everything I do drips with practicality; I always consider how something could benefit my survival and livelihood. It’s tiring thinking about the practicality of it all, and it frustrates me that I feel guilty whenever I’m not doing anything academic or professional, like I’m wasting time or being lazy, like I’m not filling in all this empty space around me. Actually, it’s not that I worry about not filling the empty space—I worry about whether I’m being practical in filling it in. I fill it with awards and polished papers and paychecks to the point where there isn’t room for anything else. But I want to knit sweaters and beanies that I won’t even wear, I want to collect rocks and sticks just because I can, I want to splash paint against brick walls, mess up baking macarons, take the stairs instead of the elevator, make a pot and smash it, and plant a garden of flowers that will only last a few weeks. I want to drown in all my unfinished tapestries, my sappy love poems, my cliché rom-coms, my friendship bracelets, my Mario Kart losses, my laughs and awkward silences and stolen glances and everything that makes life soft and fresh and good.
February 23, 2021
8:47 p.m. EST
I let the time pass again. Sometimes that’s all I really can do. Even though I said that I wanted to fill in all this empty space around me, I’ve also come to realize that I need some space to be empty. Not cold or lonely, just empty. Like an open seat saved for someone else or a blank box in a to-do list. Sometimes there’s too much empty space, sometimes there’s too little, and honestly, thinking about it too much doesn’t change the fact that it will always be there in some capacity. The pandemic has stretched all this empty space, making it bigger and heavier and scarier. I wish I found a way to feel safe again, but I’ve just been trying to fill it in through this inconsistent and sloppy journal. It’s not refined or coherent or groundbreaking, but I’d like to think that that’s okay. Everyone has their own way of filling in the space, of making sense of the time, of being able to breathe, but it’s impossible to fill it in all at once. Living in empty space is a process. You don’t have to have the answer right now.