If this is the only thing I am good at I will keep mining the words. I will hack at them with what mental strength I have that my arms do not share.

Everywhere is ugly. The ocean turns ugly, the palm trees turn ugly, the most beautiful old cathedral turns into yet another building you have to walk around to get to where you want to go.

Picture the male university professor. I have him stuck in my mind. He is tall, bearded always, shabby but neat, well spoken. He leans against the front table in the room, always, he sits there listening, nodding, looking for more people to tell him what they think morality is and is it real or did we just make it up and is there a god and what do you think about what this German philosopher had to say 500 years ago please give me 12,000 words double-spaced by Friday at midnight to my email.

I miss him, this authority figure who had all the answers and so many more questions. Your brain would never travel that far down a path otherwise.

I was 17 when he announced to the class full of college freshman, “There are two very strong writers in this room.” I don’t particularly know why he needed to say it — doesn’t that make the other 50 people feel bad? — and of course he went on to point us out — doesn’t that make us feel bad? — me and another girl, both of us quiet little mental philosophers who enjoyed listening and reading more than anything else.

Something Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal made me stop and think, I am listening to her, reading is listening. Writing is speaking. Hello, hello.

I want to write a book. I want to make a movie. I want to learn guitar and make music. These things are beautiful to me, like old cathedrals.

He tells me I don’t need to be so hard on myself. (Trust me, I’m not.) But what if that effort, that little mental push, is what draws the line between the successful author and the professor?

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The skies here are gray forever. The last dandelion of summer is gone from my walking trail. The season is on the edge, it is on the edge, we are all on the edge forever.

Somewhere in my father’s house there is a box of VHS tapes covered in the dust of a decade. My cartoon friends live there, abandoned on strips of film – baby happiness, streams of joy, dancing smiles, tea parties with friends and balloons.

The things that we love and cherish become vintage collectibles to be sold and then given to museums if they survive long enough to deserve a little placard with the date stamped on the face. Those are real things. We are real things.

We cannot say how the past should have been lived. I cannot tell you about my long-gone family. We have too many stories to share with our children. They forget most of them, passing down shorter and shorter sentences until there are no words left.

My grandfather standing at the top of the stairs. He brings us Kit-Kats and grapes. Cinnamon gum. My grandmother’s house. The smell of the basement laundry room. The yellow eyes of a black cat staring at me from the shadows. Black Cherry ice cream. A napkin holder with a picture of Jesus. A swinging chair. Purple was her favorite color.

If you start enough adventures, they never end. One after another becomes a single journey. A place on a game board briefly visited. Gum Drop Mountains. Molasses Swamp. Lollipop Woods.

I don’t know what the past was like. I can barely remember my own. I wonder if it has ever been like this before. Is this the most terrible? Are we? Is this the worst it could be? This could be the worst it could be. What a thought. What a thought to be capable of having.

We are all of the past and the present. We are all of the cycle of the universe. Gray skies and blue and black and red and pink and cotton candy summer’s end and bright orange leaves on the ground in piles we raked together and our old dog jumping in them and gobbling snow and sawing down pine trees and vacuuming up tinsel. Cycles and cycles and adventures and hoping we’re all going the right way and that no one will hate our old photographs but wonder who we were instead.

 

 

 

Hey Infinity is 6 years old now – being just have had a birthday this month. And no, no one sent it or me birthday cake. Yes, we are offended.

This means I created this little space on the internet when I was 20. Back when I wasn’t legally allowed to drink – one year before I bought my first (and only yet) bottle of adorably pink, strawberry Boone’s Farm wine, and tiny rainbow-sprinkled cupcakes for the crazy 21st celebration I had with my friend and her cat. One year after I voted in my first Presidential election, smiling as I colored in the tiny bubble with a pencil to support Barack Obama, thinking to myself that much-younger me would have been shocked to know that my Republican parents’ opinions hadn’t stuck with me to adulthood.

When it was a new infinity and not a 6-year infinity veteran, I ordered some tiny business cards that have the website on one side and “I think you’re beautiful” on the other.The idea was, I am pretty sure, to give those away to people so they knew this place existed, or forcefully leave them on cars, or stick them in random places wherever I found myself – all of which I never did. When they arrived in the mail, I opened my package to find someone else’s cards, listing actual helpful information like a contact email. I emailed the lady, told her I had gotten her cards by mistake, and suggested the following: She would probably get my cards in the mail soon, and when she did, we would swap, and also report the error to the printer, thereby getting another order for free from them. And she agreed! It worked out well in the end. And so, yes, I have two tiny boxes of tiny business cards that I still am planning on someday giving away. Probably. Maybe in 6 more years.

I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot recently. “I think you’re beautiful.” Six years ago, I was infatuated with newness. With people. With places and all that they held. The world was magical to me. I wanted to see all of it. I wanted to tell everyone that they were a beautiful story. I wanted to write them all poems about the sky.

Right now, it is so hard to feel that way. Is it not? There seems to be so much more hatred and violence and sadness and fear and global warming. Our planet is dying, and we are dying, and our teeth are falling out.

I know it is all still there, everything I used to see. I am searching for it, still. I want to feel all of those things again, and just as deeply. It was a wonderful way to be.

There is goodness and beauty. There will be safety and logic. We will keep going, together. Please send cake next year.

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1. I’m only 26 (Yes, Mother, only, I’d say, if I were still speaking to her. Only! Only!!) but I’ve already seen a remarkable, terrible sameness in people. Three in three years is plenty for me. It is best to make a change, whether in place or perspective.

2. The person who screams back at a screaming person might be more foolish than the other guy.

3. Don’t lose the good parts of you.

4. They are afraid. They cling to their fear like it will save them. They don’t believe they can do anything to save themselves.

5. Stop ruining it.

6. He cries himself to sleep every night. Don’t feel sorry for him. He enjoys being miserable.

7. Shock yourself and do it. Fear is fine. Weakness is not.

8. They are at war with “other” — a battle they can never win. But they are a mighty army. Are they impossible to beat?

9. It is going to be good. It is going to be so good! We will get there.

10. It is all a search for something.

 

A twinkle of a sound. A flash of color. A tiny smile.

A skeleton eating homemade pies in a small room. A kitchen used for heating soup, boiling potatoes, making liters and liters and liters of coffee.

An obituary: a rotting smell, an ancient, beautiful young man.

A Christmas card, a useless lung, an empty bed, much laughter, an understanding, five or six months.

How many words did you speak before this? How many after? How many words have you read before this? How many after?

It is not anger, it is sadness. Another death. It will be the last.

 

 

Moving on: We will build a wood cabin in the forest of the sadness of this year. We will cut the trees and form the boards. (We will plant replacement trees and beg the nature spirits to forgive us.)

We will see new places and meet new people. (These people will not have social problems and will love us.) We will make beautiful art and music. There will be more joy than any heartbreak of the last decade.

We will be kind and strong. We will move on like creek waters from things and people who will prefer to stay behind.

It is what you wanted to do and it can still be what you want to do.

Gathering the ancient Christmas decorations from their crushed boxes, giving them all their yearly dusting, freeing something else too.

Some people are parts of you. Some people struggle to be until they stop struggling and try somewhere else.

She is beautiful. She is strong. She is confident. She is smart.

It is only finished when there is no room for anything else; the universe is expanding.

It is over now, I wrote our story down, and wept when it was necessary for me, and the tissues gathered up the love I still had. It is all for everyone else now, and they accept it, and they love. Everything is new and you are rotting somewhere old.

We will be happy again, and still, and people watching will think we carry laughing gas in our pockets but it is only in our hearts.

The snow is falling in a way it never has and never will again. Watch.

He is some creature in a cloud. What is real attachment? How does it all end, so easily? Little bits of spider web stretching, breaking. They are only the repeating song in your head – does that exist?

He marks his skin with dates. He will die, become flattened, back-packaged meat on a metal bed. Little green clovers wrinkled and lacking sweat.

Sweet boy, we will all grow up. It is some terrifying thing, marking time with someone else, on a field of our lives. Is this why people watch sports? Easy rules and bad calls really are no matter. Pay the big boys big bucks to keep us looking away and thinking about yellow flags.

She thinks she is as smart as me. I laughed at her. Perhaps it is only clarity; I don’t watch football.