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  • Writer's pictureNoah Ashley


When I first wrote this

it was 11:20pm on Tuesday

tired, determined, raw.

Now it’s 6:45pm on Wednesday

and I’m editing my words a bit

feeling thoughtful, clear, connected

I am not ready to write too much

for a new community.

But I do just want to clarify some things

before impressions begin to go around

and labels become lenses,

shading views of honest existence.

A lot of people think I am a “happy person.”

By this, they mean that they think that I always feel happy.

I do feel happiness.

I try my best to cultivate joy.

But I do not always feel happy.

I cannot imagine what it would be like

to always feel happy.

From a young age, multiple rounds of

depression, eating disorders, exercise addiction

have swallowed me up.

My 17th birthday marked a year of

antidepressants and on-and-off talk therapy.

I made it to the end of December

senior year of high school

before I quit dancing.

At that point,

logic rattled against reality in my head

and my heartbeat strained in a chest of bristled bones

bound to crack.

My mother and I spent the majority of those high school years,

crying on the kitchen floor together

trying to feel our way through my cycles.

This is why I took a gap-year before beginning college,

and also why I became injured as soon as I tried to dance again.

It took two more years

until I could move without fear.

Sometimes I scream (wild screams) in the car

where no one can hear me.

Sometimes I sit in the car

and linger in that transitional moment

between coming and going

or going and coming

doesn’t matter the order, except for

keeping the door shut.

That part matters.

Time, effort, guilt, desire

they all wait outside.

Allow me to be liminal for a moment.

I have had panic attacks.

I have hit rock bottom.

I have pushed away suicidal thoughts.

I have pulled my hair out and smacked my head.

I have cursed myself out under my breath.

These things happen.

To many people.

They happen.

My mind works in spirals,

I live on an edge constantly.

The highs are so high

and the lows are so low.

I use “my” because I don’t want to speak for others

but these things happen

to many people.​

Graduated college nine months ago.

I’m still most comfortable when I feel overworked,

when I physically cannot do more

and my eyes close as soon as my head hits the pillow.

So that I don’t have to think

or so feel much.

I’m shedding this.

I’ve been shedding this

and I’ll continue to shed it.

I’ve made vast improvements.

I have so much joy within me.

And I feel it often, every day.

I’ve always felt it

through the chaos.

The two co-exist and may even

support one another.

I dance because moving is the only mode

in which I can

think, remember, communicate clearly.

There is familiarity in my muscles and bones

that has come from holding my life up.

Sometimes they are heavy with my maternal lineage baggage,

--“you are not enough”—

passed down from grandmother, to mother, to me.

Deeply threated, although surfacing

(we work hand-in-hand on this).

Other times they are light

with the freedom of

--“you know who you are”—

I thank them for their patience.

My dear friend once told me that

chaos can be so productive.

I believe her.

I lean in. I feel the edges. I see myself opening.

Annie Aguilar is a dancer, doula, and movement educator from the foothills of Grass Valley, California. She holds a B.A. in neuroscience from Middlebury College in Vermont. Since moving to the Bay Area in August, Annie has performed work by Raissa Simpson, Gerald Casel, Stephanie Hewitt, and Ashley Gayle. She is an apprentice for PUSH Dance Co. and a founding member of the The Collective SF. As an artist, Annie is currently focused on the power of beginnings and the transferring of stories between generations. In the future, she would like to deepen her commitment to birth work as a midwife. Visceral Root’s invitation to collaborate on this project feels serendipitous in timing.


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1 comentário

I Noah Place
I Noah Place
13 de fev. de 2023

This is still one of my favorite pieces since the pandemic. So eloquently done.

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