the olive skin girl embraced her label of ‘conundrum,’ espoused once by my mother.

my mother would have me believe i was much more balanced and sensible.

i would take it upon myself to remonstrate—loathe for being told how i am.

 

frantically fighting against anxious proclivities, the rashes were the first clue, 

numbness had been coming on sundays,

when we died watching degrassi, eating

nachos with microwave cheese—my sister

joined us, but she never was in such a

toxic state; we didn’t use that word then,

we had others. so we laughed our ways through

point and shoot camera renditions of the same

people in the same pub, with only coarser and worsening results.

 

being a proud party girl, capable of holding down jobs, paying the rent, while

going to school for others, seeing the parents on weekends, staying out of

serious trouble, and only looking awfully disgusting while doing it.

 

but then there was Europe in spring, corner-midtown-office job with all the pretty color

coordinated files and the piles of stilettos under my desk, my two month notice given,

finally deciding on a major, the scholarships acquired, the rashes developing, and the accidental

relationships with people i had no business trailing through my wake having piled

in place of shoes. in place of shoes now there were books, and bodies, and rashes.

 

dermatologist: detergents, towels, sheets, creams, examinations, wash your dirty yoga mat,

no more second hand shops, phone calls, appointments, an allergist, but rashes,

and finally a shrink.

 

the olive skinned girl was very happy to try my small pills,

these were known as ‘footballs’ and i could trade them and sell them and play with my friends

with no care for my rashes.

but i took them, mostly,

and i don’t recall it, but the rashes went away.

 

as did the relationships with all the people that shouldn’t have been there in the first place—

the slow tearing and manipulating replaced

by sinning and lying and cheating and finding

more of myself

in the replacements

 

i was still lustful, bacchanal, vain, impressionable, excuse-ridden;

i was driven, determined, persistent, perfectionist, completely untrained, and susceptible

i was a wannabe looking about from suburban train-windows,

clutching latin textbooks, a clean thong always in my gypsy bag,

never sure how much was my intention and how much was my resourcefulness;

this was all long, long before the imposter syndrome had kicked in.

the irony is not lost on any of those involved.

 

i am working on not overly-apologizing;

i will never be good at being distracted.