photo by Maurice Kessler
by Kellie M. Walsh
After 20 years, I am selling my guitar. Am I no longer a musician? I only ever played—truly played—for a handful of those years. Was I n/ever a musician?
How many times must one X to be/come Y? When do/es I become synonymous with the doing, the am equal to the act? I am a musician, or I was a musician, or I may have been a musician, but I am not now, nor may I n/ever have been, a musician. I was what I did; now I am what I am not.
Yet I am where I am: [town]er, [state]ite, [metropolitan region]er, [coastal region]er, [abbreviated country]n, [continent]an, [planet]ling, citizen of the [whole damn galaxy]. And I am relative to whence I come/came: over here, native or local; over there, foreigner or alien. I even am where I no longer be: “Once a [city]er, always a [city]er.”
I am how I got/get t/here: on two feet: pedestrian; two wheels: cyclist; four wheels: skater; eight wheels: roller skater. On four wheels (motorized), I am a driver; on ten wheels (motorized), a passenger; on three wheels (airborne), a(n in)frequent flier. And balanced atop dozens of wheels coupled together by arms of steel and metal alloys, hurtling deep through the earth or high through the tops of trees, shifting between who/where I was and who/where I will be, dreaming into the moving black or to the (not-)far off mountains beyond of being elseone, elsewhere, I am, alas, a commuter. I think therefore I am, but I am not what I can think.
I am names and nicknames, identities and categories, truncations, abbreviations, diminutions, initialisms, neologisms, and at least three concepts appended with “mistress.”
I am (race) white, (reality) beige-peach-pink, sometimes (feeling) blue or yellow or green. I am what I eat (vegetarian/omnivore), how I buy (consumer/ist), whether I believe (a/theist) and what (myriad). I am innate: female. Cultural: woman. Sexually oriented: flexible.
I am relative, gender-neutral: spouse, sibling, child, grandchild; and relative, gender-specific: wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter. I am goddaughter, niece, first cousin, second cousin, third cousin, eventual fourth cousin, and daughter-sometimes-sister when my father can’t keep his sibling/’s name and me/mine straight.
To my mother, I am surviving; had she lived, she’d be a survivor. I may be/come a widow. I’ll likely be/come an orphan. But I am not. Yet.
I am not you, nor you I. And though you or I may be he or she or him or her, you and I are we, and we are not them—nor they us.
I am not a brand.
I am what I am not. I (y)am what I (y)am. But that’s not all that I am.
I am, indeed, what I do. Titular: Writer, Editor, Web Content and Development Manager. Procedural: writer, editor, Web content and development strategist. Spatially challenged: writer, editor, Web strategist. Verbal, easier: I write, I edit, I build Web sites. I am how I do: essayist, journalist, interviewer, playwright, copywriter, (generally bad) poet. I am that I do, whether when or why or if. Writers exist in the spaces between words, else they’d never exist at all.
Many older guitars are finished with a clear nitrocellulose lacquer that naturally yellows with age. Two decades ago, I bought a (then) new Pearl (powder) Blue guitar. By the time of this posting, I will have sold an old (to me), new (to her) minty, seafoam green one. Green/blue, old/new, mine/hers: it is all of these things, and none of them. I am becoming. And so am you.
Kellie M. Walsh is a (procedural) writer, editor, Web content and development strategist, and organizer of all things. Her writing has appeared in PopMatters, The Rumpus, and Creative Nonfiction, among others, and on the sites of Fortune 500s, nonprofits, and seven-piece jazz bands. In her spare time she is working on a book about a flag that stalked a drummer around the world.
You can find more Fourth Monday action with Pam Parker’s flash Roadside Attraction, “Unroped,” and Chris Miscik’s sci-fi and fantasy images in the Gallery. If you’d like to contribute your writing, art or musical talent to the pages of V’s Place please send an email to email@example.com, and remember to sign up for future installments straight to your inbox by entering your email address in the take out menu to the left.