I’m not asking whether or not I am, that is not a question that interests me. Who I want to be–is much more of a mystery–one that delights in hide and seek, and counting backwards from an infinite number. I want to be there for the unveiling, when I find whoever it is that I seek to be.
I know this much is true–I have shed the skin of my former self. Scales of it remain in the things I have written, the photographs I have snapped, the words I have let fly from my mouth and the thoughts I have let seep into my brain. The way I viewed the world then was like trying to smile with a scratched cornea–you show your teeth but close your eyes. The pain is too much. Everything is cloudy with a thick film that traps everything in, even the tears. But alas! This is the last sentence I will write of that eternity.
You see, my body died in the ocean a few nights ago. In a dream, it must have been off the coast of Portugal. I got swallowed by a wave the size of the Tower of Babel. No, the enormity of it didn’t make sense to me either upon first look. There was only surr(end)er. For that surely was the end of me as my body became engulfed in midnight blue waters. No sooner had I closed my eyes when the tidal wave crashed down on me, had I opened an entirely new channel of myself. My soul had washed up on shore, and I was suddenly viewing the world from a place that had no eyelids. Nobody could see me. The people I was with were still searching the waters for my body, but I knew they would never find me. I was just a presence that could be felt. A ghost of whoever I was surfing in those waters, and an entity yet to define who she desired to be.
I’ve already written with great enthusiasm about my new life. That is what this feels like, anyway. But a lot of questions remain. It’s important to be asking myself the right ones. Cue Shakespeare.
But speaking of Portugal, their language is interesting. There are actually two forms of “to be.” A permanent form–ser. And a temporary form–estar. Ser is for intrinsic characteristics. Estar is for temporary, passing things. So I guess the most important question actually comes down to a what statement to make:
Eu estou bonita–or–Eu sou bonita.
I am (temporarily) beautiful–or–I am (always) beautiful.
English seems funny to me now, having one only form of “to be,” yet giving it a past, present and future–I was, I am, I will. Sure, it reflects evolution. But there is no guidance given to the speaker as to when to apply each tense. I am could easily be confused for I was or I will. We become unreliable narrators, especially to ourselves, living in three varied dimensions of ourselves in time. At least in Portugal, people can hold you accountable for using the wrong form. And this is the hidden gem of truth: it doesn’t have to shine. Knowing what you are not, is just as valuable as declaring who you are.