Looked up my ex-boyfriend's Megan's Law profile in my hometown's police station, hands twitching. Back then, you had to write down the reasons for using the computers to look someone up. I wrote, "Finding out background for friend." It wasn't there.
Ate at posh bistros. Thought nothing of it.
Rented Blue Velvet, A Clockwork Orange, and Urbania as a seventeen-year-old. Spent the entire night watching them all for the first time. Possibly the beginning of a fascination with sexual violence.
Had my first symptoms of psychosis in a shower, in an empty bathroom. The voice said, "I hate you." Left bathroom in a towel, terrified, and told my roommate, who said, "You're crazy!"
Finished The Sound and the Fury on the sofa of my apartment, agape, and proceeded to delete the file of my first novel.
Walked to a park. Patti Smith happened to be playing a free show. I sat in the grass and felt her singing soar through me like light through a sieve.
Walked to a show in a punk house in a skirt I somehow didn't realize was phenomenally short. Was aggressively harassed by passersby. Felt nothing.
Walked to a party in a paisley dress, having been invited by a writer I crushed upon, where I would meet my future husband. The future husband was not the writer.
Walked along the shore of Lake Toronto every day for a month, where I was working on my second novel.
Years later, in the privacy of my bedroom, found the ex-boyfriend's Megan's Law listing. There he was, on my computer. I thought, He looks like he got off the drugs.
Drank with abandon.
No, wait. The fascination with this particular brand of violence began in childhood, when I spent hours, alone, drawing pictures of sexual mutilation that were later destroyed, I imagine, by my mother.
Received a congratulatory letter and a check for $40,000 to finish my novel.
Finished the novel in my studio, in the Maverick Studio buildings in Vermont, overlooking a river. Triumphantly went to the printing room to print the 400+ paged draft. Stood with my hand on the hot pages, warm.
Went to court to change my name.
Discovered my ex-boyfriend on Facebook. Wrote him a message: I forgive you. I'm married now to someone wonderful. My name is now legally Esmé, which means "beloved."
Did not send message.
Esmé Weijun Wang is currently completing revisions on her debut novel, Delusions. She blogs at The Diarist.
Photo by Esmé Weijun Wang