November 26, 2002

n

I’m having trouble with the letter n. I noticed this yesterday while writing my return address on a bill. I got to the n in Brooklyn and wasn’t sure how to make the shape. Does it begin at the bottom or the top?

It’s been like this for months. Usually I end up writing a scaled-down capital n, which isn’t at all how I normally write the lowercase version. I know this because the letter doesn’t feel right as I write it. All the other letters feel right.

How do you forget how to do something you’ve done thousands of times?

Sometimes I start to imagine that this is merely the beginning, that letter after letter will vanish, until the act of writing my name becomes a struggle, a struggle made terrible by the memory of a time when nothing felt more natural.

The final loss, then, will be the loss of all the smaller losses. I will forget what I’ve forgotten. It will be like the beginning. The end is just like the beginning, except it’s the end.