The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

Listen, by now we've all seen the headlines. We've all read the stories, each one designed to scare you into freaking out. They go something like this:

Across the country, young women are disappearing at an alarming rate. One second you're talking to your girlfriend and the next she's vanished into thin air. What many initially suspected as a mysterious case of mass kidnapping now has law enforcement officials baffled as to what is causing the women to go missing. "We have not yet ruled out the potential that this is a terrorist threat," said FBI Director Hector Gonzaga, "and with assistance from the National Security Administration we are working every single lead we have until the women are found safe."

Maybe it is has happened to you, that a young woman between the ages of 27 and 29 just disappears while you are talking to her. You're in the supermarket and she walks down a different aisle and she's gone. Or you're discussing plans for the weekend and just close your eyes for a half second too long before she is vanished without a trace.

So you call the cops, but they're completely swamped and have no manpower left to handle new cases, nevermind the fact that no matter how much they investigate they have yet to find a single shred of evidence that would lead anyone to believe the women have been kidnapped, drugged or taken against their will by anything short of a Star Trek teleporter beam.

I am here to say that we as a nation need to calm down and cool our heads. There is nothing wrong going on here. It is not kidnapping or terrorism. Everything is fine.

Of course, that's not what the media is going to tell you. It was disgusting watching the press rush to see who could be the first to give the trend a name that stuck. That shit show yielded Slate's "Starbucking: Disappearing women taking after Battlestar Galactica's Kara Thrace", Salon's "The Vanishers: Where have the missing women gone and will they return?" and I think we can all agree that the less said about The Atlantic's "Lean Back: Women accepting they can't have it all" the better.

If we wanted to be accurate, we would call them "The Quiet", but nobody seems to care about accuracy any more.

Now I know what you're thinking: how the fuck do you claim to know what is going on when nobody else has a clue?

Easy, I am a woman who turned 29 just before the first reported disappearance. In all the furor, it seems nobody bothered to ask us (by which I mean 29-year olds) what might be going on.

What is happening now is a physical manifestation of something that has been, on an emotional level, going on for a long time. It happened to me. I did not physically disappear but there was a long gap where I practically but not literally disappeared.

Look. Sometimes people just check out. They drop out of book club, they stop returning your phone calls and emails. Maybe the blog goes quiet, a few years pass and one day you find it redirecting to an online gambling site instead.

This is perfectly normal, it happens all the time. Most of us barely recognize when someone is gone, our lives are so full of one another thanks to the internet and social media, when someone goes dark it can take you weeks or even months to realize.

I found myself at a moment when my mind broke and suddenly I was unable to do or say just about anything. Suddenly the fast-paced world I loved was too overwhelming to me. I could no longer even understand how I had been functioning before that moment, so many things I had to read and think and have an opinion on. So many things I had to do or feel guilty for not doing. All without much regard for how I actually felt inside, which was really a longing for peace.

When this happened I withdrew from everything until I was left spending my days lying in bed listening to the quiet. Sometimes you just need the quiet.

I found that even at my worst I could still force myself to go to work, to perform all the required tasks to remain alive and a functioning member of society, but I suspect for many even that is too much.

Finding myself missing things, people, I started trying to reintegrate myself into the world. Recovery came slow, I am still not at 100% of where I was before it happened. I have had to accept that how I am now is the new normal. But one day, five months after my mind broke, I realized that my ambition was back. It was different, I found the things I wanted to do now were much different from before.

That happened four days before my 29th birthday. Three days later when I read about the first disappearances, I immediately knew what was going on.

So listen to me when I say this: the missing women, The Quiet will return. It may take months or even years, but one by one they will re-appear. Do not panic but instead wait for them. When they return they may not be the same, but they will be hungry. Louder and hungrier than you have ever seen them.

Prepare yourselves, you had better be ready for them. Because let me tell you: you are not fucking ready.