By Natalie Raymond

I’m thinking of my brain as a map, with a thin line indicating the
division of countries: a red line for land & a blue for rivers. it’s
often a river which divides there from here. us from them. a river
draws its own lines & geography follows suit.

 

personality disorder: (noun)
a deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of behavior of a
specified kind, typically manifest by the time one reaches
adolescence & causing long-term difficulties in personal
relationships or in functioning in society.

 

the first time I hear the words out loud my therapist asks: have you
ever heard of something called borderline personality disorder? &
I nod because I own the movie in which winona ryder is curled like
a ghost around her notebook & cigarettes. I think that may describe
some of the difficulties you’ve been having she says, the words
bouncing off me like stones.

 

the Missoula floods are a series of pleisocetene era catastrophic
floods, probably numbering more than a dozen, which single
handedly carved the geography of the Pacific Northwest. the
catastrophic flood theory was wildly unpopular & mocked when it
was first introduced by self-taught geologist J Harlen Brentz in
1928.

 

insane: (adjective)
mid 16th century English via Latin insanus
in, “not” + sanus, “healthy”.

my mother often describes me to others as not ok.

 

contrary to common thought the Missoula floods were not named
for the town in Montana, but rather the town was named for the
floods, whose source was posited to be the giant inland glacial lake
Missoula located in present day British Columbia.

 

my mother is institutionalized first when I am twelve & in sixth
grade. she is paranoid & believes there is a plot against her being
executed by her co-workers & also the paramedics that take us to
the hospital one night. that night she comes into my room & gently
shakes me awake to say; I’ve called 911 & then she leaves the
room to wait quietly for the police to arrive.

 

I hear it again in a basement ward. it’s the middle of the night &
I’ve been waiting for hours in a clinical lobby beside an NYU
student coming down from a panic attack & an angelic trans
woman who talks in hushed tones telling us: it’ll be alright. I’m
interviewed three times & the psych resident on call prods
delicately: you’re familiar with the term borderline personality
disorder? I lie to him & say I’m just tired.

 

maladaptive: (adjective)
technical, not providing adequate or appropriate adjustment to theenvironment or situation.

 

my mother is institutionalized again when I am twenty four. She
has reverted to her fifteen-year-old self & as such has no idea who
I am. she refuses to shower & doesn’t sleep for days. I fly across
the country to help sign her into a hospital & the doctors ask me
questions about her health the answers to which I don’t know. We
have never talked about her diagnosis other than to joke about it.

 

general geological consensus prior to Brentz’s 1928 paper was that
the gorges of Oregon & Washington state had been caused by the
gradual erosion of small streams working their way toward the
Pacific ocean. geology always favoured the work of small
processes over long periods of time over the fast work of
catastrophic events & Brentz was ostracized for suggesting a flood
theory which appeared biblical.

 

I grew up in the triangle between two rivers; the columbia &
wilamette. named after native chiefs who have been eradicated.
each burned through the earth by the relentless press of water
seeking sea.

 

crossing the columbia by bridge heading northbound a green
reflective road sign reads: NOW LEAVING OREGON. several
hundred feet pass before the blue metal board blares: WELCOME
TO WASHINGTON. I wonder to which state do these unclaimed
asphalt feet belong?

 

borderline: (noun)
figurative, a division between two different (often extreme)
conditions.
(adjective)
barely acceptable in quality or as belonging to a category.