• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 08

Come Undone

The morning of my 23rd birthday, I was now sure the tightness was real and not made up in my head. I felt choked even after breathing as slow as I could. It felt like this: paper glue poured all over you covering your nostrils and lips so you are barely breathing. Encased in a rubbery mess. Protected but restricted. It had been around for 14 days, the birthday morning making it 15. What was this and what did this feeling want with me?

—Try sitting for hours in tub. More warm water, don’t forget your oils. This was Bukunmi, whose fix to everything was water and coconut oil.

— It is from inside, I can’t breathe on the inside. Me, refusing to spend one more dime on products. I had splurged too much. Now I placed a self- imposed embargo on organic products. Everything has its acidic spectrum, when it is all too much.

I breezed past the day. Looking through links on the bus ride to work. How to unclog, delete, how to clean your insides, delete, how to not…

At work I tried to talk a lot, perhaps it was too many words locked in. I called mother, the only person I know close to defying the claim of no man being an island. Self-sufficient, that woman.



— Hi mom. Did you ever feel so packed up, like trapped and you couldn’t breathe? I can't exactly describe it mom, it is just…

— Like you are locked in a clear perfume bottle? Do you feel heavy?

—Yes. Heavy inside.

— It sounds like you need to undo yourself.


Come Undone


—I’m going for my evening gardening. Just undo.

She always spoke like that, like a paranoid spy giving only so much. Cryptic sentences. It was not the war. After dinner, I felt even heavier. Sleep wouldn’t come.

I pull on my hair out of frustration, I feel a small tear. So I pick into the opening and come undone from my head like a zip. Out comes it all, a heap of things I don’t know where from: a rusty old stopwatch, a purple stuffed bear with a half-round black bead nose. A plastic sailor doll. Brown feathers and a lot more feathers. A nightingale in a silver cage. One half-ripped picture of myself. A coin with three sides. A crucifix made with palm leaves—it was already beginning to wither. Sheets of music notations. A book that wouldn’t open. Some pieces of a puzzle set. A tiny crankshaft. Acupuncture pins. Three polaroids of faceless people. The shelf from a doll house set. An accordion. It was all.

I stand on my head and wriggle my legs. Nothing else came out. It was all. When I stand back on my feet, I am so light it is dizzying. I manage to crawl to bed and, on it, I know that sleep will find me soon.