A Letter of Reclamation

On endings, beginnings, time travel, and change without change.

John Gorman

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

That there, that’s not me
I go where I please
I walk through walls
I float down the Liffey

I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not here

In a little while
I’ll be gone
The moment’s already passed
Yeah, it’s gone

And I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not here

— Radiohead, “How to Disappear Completely”, Kid A (2000)

I am writing to you today from the Caribbean. I am emphatically not on vacation. I dropped a grenade into my old life and microwaved an entirely new one in less than three months. In between, I disappeared in plain sight.

I can’t be the only person who’s ever yearned to vanish. I have to imagine there are some of you out there who, given the opportunity, have often thought about up and leaving home or jobs or people and places we knew weren’t good for us … just to walk anonymously somewhere new and maybe never speak English or even answer to our own names. Just to appear out of context and wonder if we’d still be the same.

I often wander the streets in the evening popping into bars and restaurants and down streets, eating fresh seafood, immersing my ears in loud bachata and soca, and speaking a disastrous pidgin of English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian to strangers. People ask me where I’m from. I tell them, “New York”. I haven’t lived in that state since 2010.

I sound different. My voice changes volume and register, soft in public spaces, loud and unhinged in small groups, but — more often than not — mute.

I look different. The Sicilian olive in my skin glows like melting caramel, cracking and glistening in a sandy haze. My beard is grizzly and peppered with long salty whiskers that are as new as they are wisened. I look as windswept as I feel. I remind myself to fashion a walking stick made from reclaimed wood.

I work, but the work is entirely different than it used to be. I’m currently sitting in an air-conditioned cafe, invoicing new clients for intensive rebrand projects, charging regular sums that would’ve watered my own eyes mere months ago.

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John Gorman

Yarn Spinner + Brand Builder + Renegade. Award-winning storyteller with several million served. For inquiries: johngormanwriter@gmail.com