I save everything. I’m terrified of losing myself. After all, what am I, really? I can’t figure it out, but I’m afraid that if I don’t hold onto it all, then I might fall apart. It’s like, what if I woke up one day, and looked in the mirror, and didn’t recognize anything that I saw? What would tether me to reality? How would I know to go to work, or what would I do if someone called my name and I didn’t recognize it?
I am really careful about locking the doors. I’m always afraid that during the night, someone is going to come into my room, kidnap me, and put me in someone else’s room. When I was a kid and I took naps more often, sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the day and be completely disoriented. It would take me hours to piece together who I was, and I think it’s taught me to be careful about relying too much on my brain to hold my individuality together.
What would I be without my things? I’d just be a thing—like an animated rock or a zombie. How many times do I die in a day? Am I created anew from one moment to the next? If I’m not consciously holding my memories together in my mind then am I not me until I am? Is it just a little bit narcissistic to be so afraid of losing my individuality? After all, how bad would it be if I accidentally wound up in someone else’s life instead of mine somehow? What’s so great and irreplaceable about me that I’m so afraid to lose?
When I go back and read all the school papers I saved from sixth grade, am I reading papers written by me? I don’t remember many of those things, and what I do remember could be remembered by anybody. The blood and brain and bone that made me up in sixth grade is all dust bunnies in the closet of my old room in my parents’ house. Me from sixth grade is happily living in some spiders, and being used to make up some dirt in the yard now. My sixth grade body has completely dissipated itself into the world, and I’m a new man.
But if that’s true, then how many people am I really? All of the stuff in me was probably someone else at some point. How long ago was my arm just some dirt on the beach? How long ago was my toe part of a little girl’s smile? How far did my eyes travel to see for me? You can’t hold on to everything, I guess. I don’t think I’m ready to die.