I wake up before Amanda does, when the sun starts warming the room through the thick plaster walls and the dogs start barking in the field behind our rented room. I don’t want to wake her, but the wooden table we’re using as a bed creaks as I try reaching for my journal. I roll quickly out of the mosquito netting, settling on the floor, away from the walls, just in case any spiders are still lurking in the shadows from nighttime.
My journal has become my friend these last couple months. The first week in the country was a whirlwind spent travelling from Delhi, to Gwalior, to Shivpuri. After that we went through so many small towns I couldn’t keep track. I wrote silly things in that first week, about how excited I was, about how new and “interesting” everything was. Mostly Amanda and I were just overwhelmed.
Even now, just a eight weeks later, I can feel the security growing in my own writing. I hold the book in my lap for a moment before opening it, appreciating the way the leather has worn, and that the tie keeping the thing together is filthy with dirt and sweat from my constant nervous twisting and untwisting of it. These are the pages that hold my summer. My confusions and angers and joys. Imperfect as it is, this book holds a new version of me that I still need to work on getting to know.
The first line of a poem was what woke me up, a poem I have to write before I’ll be able to go back to sleep. I open the journal to a page already cramped with writing, and flip to the next. I’ve been trying to conserve space as much as I can, knowing I’m bound to run out of pages before the end of the summer. Out comes a poem that’s been writing itself inside of me since I got here, swelling and heavy and insistent.