We are all but a collection of stories – memories with family, notes passed in class, poems by friends, impressions of strangers, our very own diary – with some parts pre-written, and some parts yet to be filled. Each one of us carries a book with a carefully-selected cover, and a hope that others will find it interesting if they chanced to lay their eyes on us.
And every time we connect with people, we give pieces of ourselves by writing on each other’s books.
Some leave their signature, some draw, some don’t bother finishing their sentences, and some will need more space. Thing is, anyone can write whatever they want, wherever they want; there aren’t any page numbers.
This is what we’re made of: fragments. Fragments we try to make sense out of. Fragments that are never in order. Fragments that are made and left by everyone we ever meet.
There will be those who’ll want to read you even when you think you have the most crappy cover ever. Maybe you’ll stop to chat about things you both find interesting and exchange a note or two. But they’re mainly readers; most won’t even leave a mark.
There’s going to be someone who will lend you a fancy pen. They will show you how fun it is to doodle on all the blank pages. You get to be in control, steering life in any direction you want. You get to create stories from your perspective. That is, until the pen runs out of ink.
And then, another will come along and go through all the previous pages. They will highlight the parts they like, cross out the ones they don’t, and jot down their comments on the margins. You won’t mind this at all; in fact, you’ll appreciate the fact that someone could get so engrossed in you. Until you realize they’re about to take up the whole of your book, whereas you only find yourself in a chapter of theirs.
You start to lose yourself – you can’t write anymore, and so you tear up some pages in frustration, loosening the binding.
Then someone will come around with some kind of adhesive. They will patch you up, and you’ll think they are the answer, but only temporarily. They won’t be strong enough to put your pieces back together. Besides, the stories that once defined you are no longer concluded. All you have now are in-betweens. Pretty soon you’ll drop the cover, your whole book will fall apart, and you will helplessly come undone.
This is what you’re really made of. Loose leaves with muddled words. Loose leaves that you try so hard to put in order. Loose leaves with misplaced splices and confusing run-ons that will make you question who you are.
I’ll fix me, you think to yourself.
To hell with these strange clauses, these torn off pages. I can throw this away and start anew if I need to.
I can rewrite the sentences that leave me hanging. I’ll find a nice cover, and…
You’ll never see this coming, but you’ll collide with someone so hard, your pages and their pages get thrown up in the air. And as you try to pick the scattered parts of yourself, you won’t be able to tell which ones are yours, or how many are supposed to be there. You gather what you can and arrange them in your hands.
You flip through the pages you’ve collected, and the strangest thing happens. For the first time, these stories have continuity, and the phrases that didn’t make sense before are now complete, significant narratives. Like these pages sorted themselves for you. You look up at this stranger, speechless, of course, your eyes beaming with amazement. A sense of familiarity hits you. Who the hell is this person?
Fuck it, you hear them say. They turn to look at you, with, surprisingly, no hint of annoyance on their face.
Wanna sit somewhere and fix this together?
That’s the kind of co-author you wanna write your stories with. That, right there, is the one you shouldn’t let go.