I have notebooks full of this, full of half-formed sentences and carelessly scribbled notes. They are full of lists and memories, full of dreams and fragments of dreams, full of the beginnings and endings of a thousand ideas that could have been. They begin, or end, and I never read them again. Like the smoker who wears a nicotine patch but continues to smoke, I am only going through the motions. I never follow through.
In a book with a cover the color and dry texture of a robin’s egg and yellowed, unlined pages, I write down a comprehensive list of every scar, or set of scars, on my body, and their origins. There are twelve items on the list, beginning with a thin line, about ¼” long, on my left hand where the line of my thumb and the line of my index finger intersect, from a thorny bush I walked through on a choir trip in middle school, and ending with a slight indentation in the middle of my back, at exactly the point where I can’t reach it from either above or below, from the surgical removal of a sebaceous cyst one year ago.
I have been collecting these notebooks for almost as long as I have been collecting scars. As the scars fade over time, the distance between my earliest scar and my earliest notebook grows smaller. Some day I will have notebooks older than my scars. Some day I will take all these books and tear them apart; I will build something from the pieces. I will build a new body out of all of the thoughts I’ve abandoned, out of all the people I have never been.