I’m sorry. I didn’t do it right.
By Lauren Cichon
This personal essay is a capsule documenting life in my bedroom and wherever else I’ve spent time since the pandemic upended normal life. Since March, I’ve been daydreaming and losing time through fantasy and writing.
During the past nine months of quarantine, I’ve searched for comfort and an escape from daily overwhelm. As a writer, these escapes have become sentences of fantasy and bliss. Lately, I’ve found that I can’t always write beautiful words and phrases without stopping for a moment and going dark. There are also times when I can’t write at all. Although I carve out time to create every evening, I often end up doodling in my notebook instead of writing. My scribbles are agitated colors that bleed into a perplexing brown. I suppose being creative is not something you can schedule, at least for me. The entries that follow are moments of inspiration that I’ve selected from my Notes app, Post-its, receipts and a variety of other mediums to document this creative rut.
Spring evokes the feeling of being overwhelmed and resisting that feeling to the point of disassociation. When looking back at my materials, I find that I sometimes chase perfection to escape uncertainty.
Eating a grapefruit. God, I love grapefruit.
I don’t know what aspect of a grapefruit is so satisfying because I can’t eat it cleanly. My teeth puncture the fruit and the juice splashes into my eye. I always dust white sugar on the top to counteract the sour, but the bitter stays on my tongue until the end of the day.
It was that house. That house that holds our dreams of a washer and dryer. The house with the lime green shutters and the pristinely trimmed lawn lined with peonies and begonias.
I think of you in that house because you are perfect like its flawless windows.
You’re beautiful with your shaggy curls and dull brown eyes and yet I can’t touch you.
I sit at a laptop for seven hours a day and look at things I can’t afford while teachers talk about concepts I can’t grasp.
This summer, I felt like a shriveled version of my creative self looking for satisfaction in the color of my hair. People accept that my hair is constantly evolving: pink one week, black the next, blue a couple after, red the next month. I’ve been asked why I do this—change my hair so often. I really don’t know.
Genuinely, I can’t think of any “K” words besides kangaroo.
I’m currently reading Gone Girl.
It feels like I don’t take care of myself but aren’t I always looking in the mirror and assessing my self-worth?
I’m living in a dome.
It’s the beginning of my last year of high school, finishing up college essays and submitting applications. The days were repetitive so I found myself reminiscing about past routines filled with human connection. Lately, people around me talk about how much they miss simple pleasures. I, for one, yearn for dirty subways and hugs.
It’s that explosive flavor of lemon drops and sour candies from the deli on Fourth Place that reminds me of you. Of sugar-coated, electric-green and pastel-pink Haribo sour straws that I suck on until my tongue turns a shade of muted violet.
I’m drowning in passwords I can’t remember. I feel like I have five I tend to go to, but for some reason, none of them are working. I’m going to distract myself. Normally I can remember things after I distract myself.
The birds didn’t go south for the winter. The first thing I noticed when I woke up on that hot morning in January was the shrill song of the common blackbird out my decrepit window. The air dewy and sticky, my palms begin to sweat. I crave icy air and snow but know that I’ll never have to buy a winter coat. I’ve been removed from the outside for too long.
Winter is the most challenging season for me, especially now during the most bizarre time of my life. I stay inside more than I do in other months. I spend my mornings in front of a lamp that imitates sunlight so I can start my day bouncing on caffeine, emanating an artificial glow.
New year. Still reading Gone Girl.
I haven’t spoken to you in months.
But I’ll see you on Tuesday and it will be so normal.
We’ll go to the pond on Elmdale and sit on the fallen leaves.
Finally, we will feel peaceful.
You are the definition of grace
You are beauty
You are an arched back in the sun
You are clear skin and gentle hands
Cracked palms on beach sand
You are whispers on cold nights and
Hot tea on the kettle
Why are you making fun of me for heating water in a microwave?
I’m so sorry
I didn’t do it right.
I want to write like a watercolor painting. I want to float across the page in bright yellows and tantalizing oranges. Unblocked and released.
The reflection involved in creating this project is what I found most interesting about my final product. Throughout the fall semester, I’ve suffered from overwhelming writer’s block. I’ve never struggled with crafting ideas, but completing them has proved difficult in a time where I’ve lacked motivation. I expressed this frustration to my mentor Kara and she suggested that I take my half-formed ideas and write about my inability to write. I began my creative process by poring through my room, tearing through notebooks and receipts and looking for words and drawings. I then took to my computer, camera, film negatives and phone—searching through documents, text messages and voice memos. I looked for patterns in the materials gathered and for mementos that tell the story of the creative loss and discouragement I was feeling. I then sorted and digitized these materials, organizing ideas we deemed purposeful and compelling. I then compiled my creative bursts into one narrative about grappling with artistic expression.
Lauren Cichon is a senior at a high school in Manhattan, NY. She lives in Brooklyn and joined the Girls Write Now community in her sophomore year due to her passion for writing and desire for a more supportive and empowering environment for youth like her. Lauren often finds herself staring into space and making observations about the people around her, whether on the subway or in school. She imagines and creates their stories in one of the several notebooks that she uses to jot down what she notices. She often turns these observations into short stories, doodles or poetry.