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Take A Deep Breath


Ever had to give someone the most unexpected news and found your tongue wrapped into itself? Yep, that's how I felt. Here I was, about to call a journalist who had no idea what I'd been through the last five years, waiting to know why I had called. In my brain it sounded like, "Ijustwantedtotellyouaboutmylifeanditchanged!"

The words began from my mouth. "Hi, it's Season. Back in 2005, you did a story about a girl in a bubble and how she managed her life."

They were the only words that could leave my mouth without encouragement. When the journalist sounded like he was searching his memory, then acknowledged his recognition of the story, it was my next queue. Time paused. Do I put it in first person or third person? Time up, decide!

"I'm that girl. I'm calling because I'm healthy and in the world."

His voice reflected the bewilderment he felt. I could almost hear his mind trying to recollect the details, as I gave further information. Was I using the right tone of voice? Was I talking too fast for him to manage, or not fast enough? These thoughts crashed into my own mind while the narration of my story crashed into his. Was there a right way to say it anyway?

I gave as much basic information as I could, answering his questions that were grounded in surprise and disorientation. It wasn't a shock when he said he needed a moment to process. It had been 17 years since he'd written my story and it was probably a frightening idea that I'd been left in that bubble many years after he'd published my story. He'd probably always imagined I would repair, or hadn't thought of me recently, on the assumption that nobody would survive that long in isolation. Now, suddenly, like some revamp of an old children's movie, I had re-appeared and stirred up all that he had considered when he interviewed me those many years ago.

After arrangements were made and the call ended, I wondered what his thoughts were at this given moment. How long would it take him to process? It had taken me months when I escaped, due to the sheer contrast of life. I sent him the baptism video for context and some photos of life now, to help him accept the stark differences in my life then, and the reality of freedom for me now.

I thought about the first time I'd contacted Chris a few years ago. He was my ex-boyfriend who lived in the bubble with me who hadn't been in my life a few years, but I felt deserved to know of my re-entry into society. The conversation is still so clear in my mind.

"I'm out," I'd exclaimed, without much context.
"Out? What do you mean 'out'?" he asked. His heart was racing, I was sure of it.
"I'm out. Outside."
"It's such a long story and I doubt you'd believe me unless you see it for yourself."

Chris arranged to meet me an hour later, despite heavy traffic and a 50 minute drive across town. When we saw each other, it felt like a surreal dream, where the location is known, but the person is not. He wrapped his arms around me, both of us almost in tears. He could hold me without detox, strict sterile routines, or weeks of planning. We were just in that moment. He saw me in the sunlight as we walked the esplanade by the beach, his wonderment getting the better of him, as I explained how my escape had happened.

It was a lot to process for anyone. Almost hauntingly beautiful to contemplate, but at the same time, bittersweet, realising these graces and opportunities should have been mine all along.

It was only later Chris told me, "When you first said you were 'out,' I thought you were telling me you'd come out gay. It was way more believable than you being actually out in the sunlight!"


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