it was about three weeks in when my face puffed up. it was ever so slight. hardly discernible to others, i'm sure.

but for me. i knew. i knew it was the signaling of the slipping to the other side of the line. you know, that slippery line separating happiness from oh-er-not-quite.

i was twenty when i first slipped. when i first became sad. and i have spent the subsequent five years working my way back. fighting for both air and light.

i have made lists. reminding myself to get out of bed and brush my teeth. to lock the door behind me and bring a book for the subway ride. to turn on music and turn to those who love me despite my many failings (and flailings). to sing in the shower (or try. to try, at least).

and oh the progress i have made! and oh the work that has been put into it. the choices made day after day. conscious. with great effort. until they became habit. the constant movement of kicking legs under still water. effortless. (or something like it).

but three weeks into utah my face puffed up. and i slipped again. and i watched as the happiness that i had fought so desperately for--that happiness that took near five years--that happiness that was more often thought than experience--more hope than faith--slipped through my grasping fingers. and. it. was. agony.

i think it might be harder the second time. because you know the path. and you know just how terrifying that trail can be.

and the thing was, i was happy. before i left--just a mere three months ago--i was really happy.

something happened at the start of this year. my tangled string of thoughts began to organize itself. and the thoughts became manageable and efficient. and this base level of happiness rolled out before me. and i met a guy who made me feel beautiful as i hadn't in quite some time. and life rolled on. gloriously. because there was sense. and feeling beyond sense. transcendence. even in my directionless, haphazard life there existed a little bit of bliss. and when some version of what always happens happened, and the guy became not-the-right-guy, and my heart broke just a little, i was still okay. yes, there was sadness, but it was passing. of a different plane. and because i was still okay, i was buoyant, even as i cried myself to sleep at night.

and somewhere not long after all this i got a little message. asking me to come to utah. to give acting a whirl. and because it was the absence of happiness and its accompanying companion (the eating disorder) that had driven me from theatre, forced me to take time to focus on those aforementioned little things like getting out of bed (and making said bed) i thought, why not? of course. i am well now. i can do this. i can see if i'm ready. to go back. to resume my path.

and so i went. and so i watched. as that happiness--that hard-won, hard-fought happiness slipped and slid away.

and i wanted to die. i wanted to get down on the cool, wet, utah grass, under that heaven of a star-lit sky and disappear into the ground.

because i didn't think i had the fight left in me for a second-go-of it.

but here i am. i survived (or some version of that). and there's always a little more fight. right?

it's just gonna take some time.

i know there must be a reason for all of this. that it's just another turn on this tricky little path. it's a patch of mud--a little muck, that's all.

i'm sure that before i know i'll reach a clearing. and things will get easier. but until then... well, until then, i suppose i'll just keep making lists, and getting out of bed in the morning.

and maybe i'll be wrong. maybe this second time will be easier. and much more meaningful.

yes, more meaningful. let's go with that.