Naomi Washer

[CREATIVE NONFICTION] Here’s a Picture of Me

Here’s a photo of me with my big sister before I knew about sadness. Here’s a photo of me getting spit in the face by a grade school friend on the playground. Here’s a photo of me crunching glass beneath my feet in an abandoned tobacco barn. Here’s a photo of my bloody feet and the other dancers bullying me. Here’s a photo of my self-aggrandizement. Here’s me looking up that word. Here’s a photo of the shame I experience when I acknowledge my gross self-aggrandizement. Here’s a photo of my shame. Here’s a photo of my crooked spine. Here’s a photo of the pain I never felt in my spine. Here’s a photo of your rejection of me. Here’s a photo of your rejection of me. Here’s a photo of your rejection of me. Here’s a photo of me faceplanting over a tree root that Halloween we dressed as M&Ms and you laughing at me. Here’s a photo of our arms sticking out of yellow cardboard boxes the year we dressed as Legos for Halloween. Here’s how much it hurt to never put our arms down. Here’s how you and I don’t speak anymore. Here’s a photo of my Dad doing Tai Chi listening to Enya. Here’s my early interest in Enya. If a teacher asked me to bring in a song I liked in elementary school I would have brought in Enya. Here’s a photo of your rejection of me. Here’s a photo of how much you look like my Dad when he was that age. Here’s a photo of how there should be a word for friends who look like your Dad when your Dad was that age. Here’s a photo of shifting pronouns. Here’s a photo of that happening because I continually deflect people away from my inner life. Here’s how Johnny’s dead. Here’s how I thought it was my fault. Here’s a photo of us all thinking death is our fault, all the deaths, all of them. Here’s a photo of my dance teacher, my grandfather, my grandfather, my friend, my friend, my friend, my friend, my grandmother, my first Chicago landlord. Here’s our silence on the phone. Here’s a photo of you and all your autumn sweaters at my front door. Here’s a photo of that Yo La Tengo song “Autumn Sweater.” Here’s a photo of the abandoned house on Windsor Ave I never got to live in because they tore it down as soon as I left home. Here are all the ways I’ll never find to tell you what I need. The denial we feel is never the denial we express. Here’s my silence. Here’s my silence in this room. Here’s a photo of my silence filling up every square inch of this room. Here’s a photo of my inability to let go of the things I do not want in favor of the things I do. Here’s how famously talented I am at suppressing. I am so famous for suppressing I haven’t even heard of myself. Here’s a photo of the line between what is too much to share and not enough. Here’s a photo of my emotional state. Here is my sock drawer. Here’s a photo of your twenties are the most difficult time of your life. News flash: every time is the most difficult time of your life. It’s never going to settle down. Here’s a nice basket of oranges on the kitchen table. Here’s one orange gone to mold. Here’s a photo of my sardonic tone. Here’s a photo of how I can’t walk into a party alone. Here’s a photo of me needing you to come with me. Here’s a photo of me needing you to want me to come with you. Here’s a photo of me standing in the corner on my cell phone in every room of every party in every city. Here’s a photo of everyone you’ve ever kissed as a long gray line. Here’s a photo of my “type.” Here’s a photo of what I think I look like. Here’s a photo of what I want to be. Here’s a mirror-image of my self-effacement. Here’s what I actually look like. Here’s me seeing me differently than you see me. Here’s me, holding out my hand.

 


Naomi Washer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Ghost Proposal. Her work has appeared in Passages North, The Boiler, Split Lip Magazine, Essay Daily, Blue Mesa Review, and other journals. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, Hambidge Center for the Arts, and Columbia College Chicago where she earned her MFA in Nonfiction. She lives in Vermont, below a mountain, between two rivers. www.naomiwasher.com


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