the city: things people leave on the street

Next to a pile of neatly stacked vegetarian cookbooks, there is a plastic bag of tidily stored bound journals, with handcrafted papers of different types. Open the covers, and a young woman, an aspiring artist apparently, begins speaking from them. You are peering into her life like an uninvited stranger, but at the same time, she has obviously dispensed with this persona, the author of these inscriptions, and left it on the street to be carried away by you. Odd? Of course it’s odd. What’s the backstory?

What strikes you as read, besides the neat, regular elegance of the handwriting, is her complete adoption of the language of self-affirmation, with its now so familiar as to be unquestionable terms, which she applies with the urgency of a private discovery, as if they were hers alone. I am a good, exciting, creative person. I am beautiful; I am worth loving. I need to take care of me, to love myself. Every day is a new opportunity to grow and increase my potential. There is no limit to what I can be.

There is one long passage in which these phrases build to a crescendo of affirmation as they descend down the page. But with a strange tingling at the back of your scalp, you perceive how that remarkably elegant script begins to disintegrate as the pile of affirmations mounts, until, at the end–the final I am ME— her writing is an almost illegible scrawl.