Eleventh Twelfth

Cutting Room Floor

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I can’t explain why November is my favorite month. When anyone asks, I say that it’s because my ascendant sign is Scorpio and hope that they buy it and that they won’t try to debate me on whether or not astrology is real in the first place.

Ten novembers ago I was small and clueless about the world around me. My cousin introduced me to “Runescape” and showed me his “Runescape” girlfriend and all of the items he’d collected throughout the game. The world inside the game was so big and all of a sudden everything around me was so small and suffocating. I left his house clutching a color-changing fiber optic toy and refused to turn it off during the entire hour-long car ride because the darkness outside made me so uncomfortable.

I remember each November by the things I came to love and lose. November no longer exists as a real month for me. It is an abstract image of warmth and growth in the face of increasing darkness.

Four Novembers ago I started to become familiar with myself, but I felt trapped within myself. I stayed up late every night to watch “Neon Genesis Evangelion” after the rest of my family had fallen asleep. I wanted to be alone, drowned in Shinji Ikari’s confusion. I watched each character completely shatter over the course of the series and still manage to reappear in the finale, smiling and congratulatory. I wanted to believe that I could do the same. I wanted my confusion and emotions to eat away at me and then slowly help me recrystallize into something completely different.

I remember each November by everything changing within me — aside from my tendency to compartmentalize too much. I still want my feelings to be held separate from anyone else.

Two Novembers ago I devoted myself to seeking out romance and melodrama in the most minute details of my life. I learned to drive. Every night I went with my dad to the local high school where my sister had swim practice. For 20 minutes each night I would lie in the back seat of the car listening to Merriweather Post Pavilion and think about the future while my dad went inside the natatorium to get my sister. I would leave all the windows open and keep the heater running and text a boy who I fantasized about being in love with.

I remember each November by the destructive imaginations they gave birth to. That November was the first time that I’d ever imagined the future. I constructed and demolished hundreds of grandiose romantic fantasies that month and I became obsessed with the feeling. I could throw away any part of myself. I could put pieces of myself into the things I loved and unearth them only when I wanted to look at them again.

Last November, I purposely threw myself into disorienting situations. I cut off half of my hair. I went to San Francisco alone on Veteran’s Day. I listened to Radiohead on the MUNI bus and felt unfamiliar with myself. I wasn’t the kind of person who had short hair and listened to Radiohead. I took a picture of myself and felt confused and vaguely intimidated by the person inside of it.

I remember each November by the time I spent rebuilding myself when everything falls out of place. For the rest of last November, I stayed up until 5 a.m. with friends doing nothing at all and spent entire days with absolute strangers to rebuild points of reference for myself. By December I felt like a living, breathing three-dimensional figure more vividly than I ever had before.

This past November, I became passive as my feelings took control of me. I told myself that soon enough, I would find a perfect outlet for the wisdom and heartbreaks that November would bring into my life. I waited for something new to arrive so that I could cut a part of myself cleanly away and leave it attached to this something new and never return to it. I woke up at 4 a.m. one day to a missed call from the boy who I texted from the backseat of my car two Novembers ago. He hated me now. I fell asleep again feeling paralyzed by memories of the past year and feeling ready to fall apart again.

I remember each November as a triumph and a funeral both for parts of myself and for the things surrounding me. This November I would not let myself become a ghost. I cut my own hair again. It was a bit too short, but I could look in the mirror and recognize my reflection as myself. I would not let myself fall into multiple separate entities. I wanted to live with and despite the past, not independently of it. I wanted to put pieces of myself into things I created, not into things that surrounded me.

I want November to be my muse and to live without falling apart. For a moment I recognized myself completely and I will do whatever it takes to feel that way forever.

Contact Sannidhi Shukla at [email protected].