Nina Leen, 1949,Ringling Bros. Circus, Life Archives
I open my eyes and for a moment, maybe two, I don't know who I am. I feel weighed down, tethered by a thousand unanswered questions, yet unable to voice the simplest one. I am a ghost, waiting to come into skin and bone, afraid of the faintest flutteras if the slightest movement might erase me forever, never to return. I want to cling to something heavy and solid, to hold myself steadfast despite my unbearable lightness. I fear the fading... into nothingness. Curious, since I have pared myself down into almost nothing at all. In the mirror I see a caricature of everything I despise, the reflection of all my fears and flaws.It can't be smashed even as I break into sharp fragmented pieces, the broken edges slicing into me until I bleed. I do not know what it is to be whole.
I fear most being exposed, under the magnifying glass of my own censure. I fear the fray that will unravel me, laying me open at the seams, my underbelly laid bare for all. I have enemies disguised as friends, and friends that are strangers. Everyone is interchangeable, puzzle pieces for an undisclosed agenda. Who do you trust when the faces all look the same, including your own? When you can not distinguish yourself among the swarm that buzz around you until you are dizzy. Am I not just another drone working for the promise of honey? It lingers in the air, thick and heavy, but all I ever feel is the sting. I do not know the comfort of a hive, have no shell to protect my soft insides. I break when I should bend, fold when I should expand, and dim when I should shine. Some day, maybe not today or tomorrow, but some day is a promise of things yet to unfurl. I wait to come into my own, when in truth maybe I've already come undone.