Paula Harris

I was going to go to Dorothea Lasky’s book party in Brooklyn, but instead I stayed on the couch with my depression, not crying

I was excited and I was going to go with another writer I’d met at another book reading
a few days earlier and I clicked Going on the facebook event and I felt good about this.

that morning I went on a chocolate factory tour in Bushwick and I coped with
leaving the apartment and getting on the subway and finding the factory and being
around people and I chatted over hot chocolates and croissants with hazelnut butter
and I was excited about going to the book party that night and I felt okay.

I went back to the apartment so that I wouldn’t get too worn out before the book party
and Neha messaged to say she was worn out and couldn’t make it and I was disappointed
but still felt okay and I ate lunch and had a little nap and looked at the clock and read emails
and looked at the clock and wrote a poem and looked at the clock.

at 4:58 I checked how long it would take me to get to the book party and it would take
47 minutes and that was okay because all I had to do was brush my teeth
and put on my shoes and I checked the route again in case there was a different way
and it was still okay because all I had to do was brush my teeth and put on
my shoes and I looked at a different map to check the route and it was okay because
all I had to do was brush my teeth and put on my shoes and I looked at a video of
Dorothea reading one of her poems and it was okay because all I had to do was brush
my teeth and put on my shoes but I couldn’t face brushing my teeth or putting on my
shoes or leaving the apartment or seeing other people – even if I didn’t interact
with them, just seeing them – and getting on the subway and finding the venue
and being around more people and I didn’t cry because even though often there’s
no actual reason when I cry uncontrollably during the day or at 2am, right then
I didn’t need to cry. I couldn’t cry. I just couldn’t leave. I couldn’t.

First published in Berfrois (2018)

Paula Harris

About Paula

Paula Harris lives in New Zealand, where she writes and sleeps a lot, because that's what depression makes you do. She won the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and the 2017 Lilian Ida Smith Award.

Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Berfrois, Queen Mob's Teahouse, Barren, SWWIM, Glass, The Spinoff, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Landfall. Her essays have been published in The Spinoff and Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (Victoria University Press).

She is extremely fond of dark chocolate, shoes and hoarding fabric.