You are flipping through an old notebook, searching for an answer you once had. You are trying to remember something brilliant you once wrote down in your undergraduate Queer Studies class. Skimming through your grubby notes reminds you that once, in your lifetime, you were amazing. You don’t even remember what you’re looking for, but the nostalgia bug has bitten, and its reverie venom is coursing through your veins. The notebook’s cover has patches of dirt where your fingers used to rest while holding it in class. It lives, with its notebook brothers, in a box rotting in the back of your closet. This box has come with you to three cities and two states, for whatever reason. Flipping through the worn pages of the heavy moleskin, you turn to a page you haven’t visited in a while.
Sitting down on your dusty hardwood floors, you stare at a doodle you once drew. Doodles were always a coping mechanism for you. You always had something to say, but when the time came to speak, your words became a car crash. Words piled up on one another, fender-bending into a conglomerate of words you meant to say but couldn’t articulate. Doodles were a way for you to calm your overactive mind, to slow down and pace through your orating professor’s lecture. You would apologize profusely for not being able to speak and would say half of what you meant to share, always wanting to say more but being too nervous to do so. Missing opportunities to share your greatness was a skill you didn’t know you would pick up in college.
The doodle your eyes fixated on is of a baseball player, faceless, swinging a bat. You can tell it’s a baseball player because, at that time in your life, you would put baseball hats on all your stick figures. While you only ever did T-Ball, A League of Their Own shaped you as a young feminist. Often, when upset about something, you would whisper to yourself there’s no crying in baseball.
Towards the corner of the paper, a ball is also drawn. Cross-hatched in small stressful lines, the ball occupies the dog-eared corner abused by backpacks full of uneaten lunch, too-full water bottles, and broken pencils. There is no diamond, no dugout, and no pitcher. The batter lives on and in the margins, accompanied by frantic question marks and nervous dots. The ball has no direction, no lines indicating it is soaring through the page.
You stare long enough that the lines of your paper begin to blur, and your sketch begins to pulsate. Your eyes are cemented in their gaze, and you can’t blink. You understand that time is passing, but it doesn’t matter.
You try to remember what life was like when you drew this baseball player. How stressful and chaotic your life was, how paralyzed you were with your feelings. How you were unable to cope with anything, as your prefrontal cortex wasn’t formed quite yet. How you missed the days where you didn’t have to think about your future, and you could read books and fantasize about the books you’ll write someday. You realize you’re in a trap of nostalgia, even worse than reverie.
And then a thought begins to form: What a pitiful existence. Forever stuck in this forgotten notebook. Why do you swing? Why do you still grip the bat?
As soon as your thought is solidified, your doodle moves. The baseball player swings swiftly. The residual woosh of the bat seems to ripple through your notes occupying the rest of the page. The faint blue lines wave, like fields of grain in the wind.
You drew me this way. It responds so aptly, so curt. You don’t want to offend your doodle, your creation. But you want to know more.
But you can drop the bat, right? Or better yet, go grab the ball over there.
You drew me this way. I am here. Is the ball coming to me or did I hit it over there? I’m unsure if I struck out or struck. That is why I swing.
A sadness washes over you, like a gentle wave hitting a rock. What a lonesome and tired life.
Why do you question what cannot be answered? I don’t remember what I drew, how I drew. Why not just believe you struck that ball?
You drew me this way. I’m content with the unknown. The missing and the scoring. Are you?
Your doodle swings its bat a few times as if warming up for a pitch.
I… I don’t know. I think I would rather convince myself to believe I scored for comfort’s sake.
I don’t feel comfort. You drew me this way. Are you missing? Are you scoring?
You sigh. I am missing. I’m missing people, places, feelings, memories… I’m missing a lot. I’m not sure if I’m content about either plane, missing and scoring.
The baseball player keeps swinging. Over and over, he swings. It has no response to your depressive state.
Are you okay knowing that the ball will never come back to you?
This is who I am. You drew me this way. With your stolen Bic pen from the floor of the lecture hall. In faded black ink.
I’m not sure if I can always be missing. That sounds so sad.
Did you draw yourself that way?