This letter was written by hand on Sunday 20th April 2014, in a shiny blue notebook used originally for work-related scribblings and important meeting doodles.
I’ve started this like a letter because I feel somehow that it being a letter gives it more purpose, even though it is a letter to no one, that will never be received by anyone, therefore surely negating its purpose as a letter? Saying that, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve written a letter with absolutely no intention of sending it to anyone, least of all the person it was addressed to; my teenage years could be documented entirely through angsty diary entries and unsent tear-stained letters.
So although we’ve now established that the letter type layout serves little purpose, be assured that the actual writing of the letter is important. In this case it’s not a cathartic process, it’s something to do with when roughly six weeks ago I ended up in hospital paralysed from my tits to my toes. Just before the scrub-clad doctors wheeled me backwards into the MRI coffin for a spinal scan I was asked to sign a document that possibly involved me agreeing to have my brain fried in the name of research. I honestly had no idea what I was signing. I wasn’t really in a good place mentally, I was going blind in my left eye and it doesn’t really matter because it wasn’t my signature anyway. Suddenly, as I aimed for the dotted line, I realised I couldn’t write. My usual floaty looks-nothing-like-my-name ornate autograph became a tiny angular H followed by the L-e-a-r of the seven year old dyslexic boy that had clearly possessed my right hand.
Up until then I was only aware that my legs didn’t work and my torso was going numb. I hadn’t realised that something wasn’t right with my arms – they felt fine. I let the MRI Machine of Certain Death consume me and whiled away the following hour of clicks and buzzes and whirring, wondering where the paralysis would stop. How long until my arms are numb? What happens if your lungs go? How about my heart? I could only hope that if I lost the power of speech, my brain would go as well. Imagine a life communicating via eye movements, with my blind left eye. Nope. There is way too much going on in my brain for that. I’d rather be brain dead.
I over think things don’t I?
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is to practice my handwriting. I never did lose the use of my arms and as I’m sure my mother will tell you I certainly haven’t lost the ability to speak. I’ve even got most of my vision back. But when I put pen to paper it’s… awkward. What I picture in my mind doesn’t naturally flow into existence. It jigs about and gets stuck sometimes and at others has a mind of its own. So I’m practicing. I’m trying not to think so hard. But I want my writing back. It wasn’t the neatest or most elegant. But it was mine. And it was swirly and I always did my capital e’s wrong and crossed my t’s a little over-enthusiastically. You don’t realise how much a part of your identity your handwriting is until it’s gone. And you don’t realise how much you need to write a letter to no one until you do it.
(It’s still not right).