In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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You have probably never used a map like this before. Read it carefully, and know where you are starting from.
When I travel at night, under a full moon, I prepare myself in the following way: I drink from a bottle of strong red wine. I paint my lips and slip my feet into high heels. A brightly colored dress swirls around my hips. I wash my hair but do not comb it, so that it stands out from my head, gleaming wet in the night. I leave my house quickly, glancing over my shoulder as I slip through the doorway. I run through the city streets, heels clicking on the pavement, hand clutching the hem of my dress. Traffic lights are green, yellow, red; I race to beat them. Horns and sirens blare as I make my way down alleys and under bridges. Now your house is not far. I ignore the staircase’s metal railing and fly up the steps to pound on your door. I beat the wood with my fists until you hear and open the door a crack. It’s me, I whisper, and you draw me in, wild and laughing, to your darkened room.
On days of clouds and mist when the wind is howling, I do this: I stay in bed a long, long time. When I rise, I wrap myself in soft wool, brew a pot of tea, and tuck a loaf of freshly baked bread in my wraps. Disguised as a cloud, I move from my doorway into the street. Mist drips from my arms; steam comes from my mouth. I float across nearby fields and roll past shuttered shop windows. Winding my way through a stand of trees, I am near your house now. The curtains are closed against the cold. I glide up the stairs and carefully push the door open. I hear you breathing in your room and go to you, leaving my wraps behind me on the floor.
When the sky is clear and the day promises to be hot, I rise early from bed, slipping into the kitchen even before the sun is up. I peel oranges in the cool morning air and eat the slices, one by one. I slip a cotton dress over my bare skin. My hair hangs loose. I stretch myself up tall and reach for the ceiling, then jump and touch it. When the first bit of pink shows in the sky, I ride my bicycle to your house, my legs pumping up the hills and flying free around the corners. I ring my bell at every tree. Dogs, running in the streets, bark as I go by; I smile at them and pump my legs harder. Down city streets, behind the park, I cut across the schoolyard, where I reach out with my foot and kick at the swings. Your house is close now. You wait for me on the porch. When you see me sailing down the hill, my wheels spinning fast and faster still, you hold out your arms, and I know I am there.