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Quarantine Grand Rapids

Quarantine Blog, Day Twenty-Two

There are moments of time in my life; streams of energy that can’t quite be categorized by the nature of words.

There are memories that are sharp enough for me to find, but hazy enough to be definable by emotion rather than imagery.

The blue and grey walls of my bedroom in Grand Rapids, with its window that looked out onto Seward Avenue, as it led into the city. Records that would play on the turntable that sat on my desk, which was a gift from my mother.

I had wanted a good desk more than anything. One where I could stay up until ungodly hours in the night, trying to be the next great Aaron Sorkin, or William Shakespeare (not that those two are even close to being in the same boat.) I had one there, long before the flames, in that tiny Western Michigan floor of a house.

With its friends from Up North that would travel the two-and-a-half hours to see me in my semi-professional or collegiate Shakespeare productions. The Tempest at Grand Valley State University, where I only had a few lines but had more fun delivering them over the Louis Armstrong Theatre audience seats than I thought possible. Or King Lear, where I played brother-to-the-bastard as Edgar in black box theatres and stretched my skills much further than I had up until that point.

Colors of their visits remain only through photos that have long since gotten lost on Instagram feeds, or Polaroids in hometown closets.

Then there was the hospital gown.

The one that I had to wear on and off for years as a child.

As they weighed me on that cold, industrial-sized scale. The kind with the sliding weight in the middle of it, to make sure that they capture how small you are as a child with pinpoint accuracy.

After the weighing, being ushered to an uncomfortable room, where they’d shove instruments in my ears to check how the last operation was holding up, or if they’d have to do it again, which they always did.

Metal. The taste of metal and the sight of silver.

That’s all that sticks in my mind and on my tongue from those moments.

That, and the taste of stale bubble gum; the flavor of oxygen that they used to put me under, while lights shone down onto my bare feet and in my eyes. As I held back tears and shook my head, tearing the mask away from my face saying “I can’t. It tastes so bad.” The reason I’ll rarely chew gum anymore.

The deep brown of Chicago stays with me, and the morning light streaming through my window through the tree branches beginning to lose their leaves. As I sat awake with a new desk. A cheaper one than before. Shittier. Less exciting. But a desk. A desk before I had even had a bed; while I was still sleeping on a pile of blankets that I had laid on top of each other in a small square, and a pile of pillows to act as a headboard.

Together they all make a flannel sheet, that covers me and finds the weight in my footsteps at night, as I try not to wake the fox’s that sleepwalk outside.

They make up the streams of energy that course through me, the haze of imagery that keeps me alive.

The memories are me. And I am them.

And one day I will return to them.

But today I only write of them.

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Micah Mabey

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