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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.

 

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He walks into his life with a nasty grimace on his face. He is tired of everyone already. It is all repetition with only a few beautiful moments. It is all time being traded for other things not as priceless.

He got a tattoo on his right arm near his elbow when he was about 23. It says family, even though he hates his family. He stole his mother’s jewelry and gave his sister a black eye for Thanksgiving. There’s more, but that’s all repetition and no beautiful moments.

In the Summer, in some places, there is light for 24 hours. It is hard to sleep. People get used to it. Then it changes. This is important but you can figure out for yourself why.

The man with the grimace loves me. He’s not very good at showing it. So instead we fight and give each other figurative black eyes that last for months and stop us from speaking.

My brain hates repetition. The same office chair, the same people, the same city, the same stop lights, the same food, the same love, the same words, the same good mornings, the same country, the same world. Everything gets better and then worse and never really changes. And we get used to it. The sun rises and sets. Bruises heal and we mostly forget them until the next one.

My memory is bad. Worse, I think, than most peoples. I don’t know why. It’s never been very good. Maybe my brain is bad. Too simple. It thinks simply. Uses small words. Is incapable of remembering. Doesn’t care about trying to sound impressive when the story can be told easily and simply and slowly.

I love him, I think. But we will always keep hurting each other. We don’t get used to it. We don’t have the words to get along. Most things are not tattooed and permanent. Love isn’t. People aren’t. Repetition might be.

 

The fish is dragged from the sea in a spray of salt water and slammed onto a wooden dock. A black fishing net entangles him for a moment until he accidentally wiggles out of it. He is free. And that terrifies him more than his inability to breathe.

“She loved me once,” says a shaggy-looking man on stage at the bar built semi-parallel to the ocean. “I wrote this song about her, but I don’t listen to it anymore.” He puts bright orange earplugs into his fuzzy ears and strums his guitar.

The fish flops across the dock, grows legs, and steps wobbly up to the bar’s counter to order a glass of water. “We’re all out,” the bartender tells him, “we only have beer.”

In a corner sits a girl with hair so blonde it’s almost white. The fish sits down across from her and smiles. “I’d never thought I’d sit in a bar with someone before,” he tells her. She stares at him, mouth gaping, bubbles leaking out and floating away over her head. He likes her immediately and decides to never leave her side.

“I lost my ocean,” he tells her. “I have legs now. I can’t go back. I’ll follow you.” The girl agrees, happy to have attention, even from a fish she never wants to be friends with.

The man on stage is still playing but no one is listening to him, not even himself. He realizes this and smashes his guitar noiselessly on the ground. Then he asks the bartender for a broom and carefully sweeps up his mess. He digs the earplugs from his ears and holds them carefully in one hand as he steps over to the fish’s table.

“You’re an idiot,” he tells the fish, flicking an earplug at him. The fish doesn’t mind too much. He knows he’s an idiot, but now that he’s found the blonde girl, he doesn’t have to think about anything ever again.

The musician looks over at the girl. “I don’t know what to tell you,” he says to her, flicking the other orange earplug at her face. He turns to leave, waving happily at the pile of broken wood and string he’s left on stage.

The fish looks at the girl. She looks at him looking at her. A tsunami arrives and washes them all into the ocean.

 

 

 

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I am walking around the grocery store with my little basket of harvested goods. I walk past other people with their little baskets of over-processed foods. This is how people garden in the city. This is how we gather our food. And we do it in a semi-clean grocery store in semi-silence.

I love people a lot. In general and specifically. I care about people a lot. I think people are the most interesting things on the planet. I love meeting new people, no matter how shy I am, and getting to know them, and asking them weird questions, and seeing how they respond. What I’m not very good at is losing people that I love. I haven’t lost that many people in my life. And when I have, it’s been because of their death — something permanent and impossible to change, something I had no control over, something natural and sad but simple and easy to understand. It had never been a loss like, “Fuck off, I don’t give a shit.” It had never been a loss like, “I don’t care if I’m hurting you, I’m not going to change.” It had never been hurtful, it had never been heartbreaking, not in that way.

“You have dimples!” I said, laughing at him. “I do,” and he sent me a picture later to prove it.

There are so many wonderful moments from wonderful people. But memories are from the past. People change. You’ll get over it. Yadda yadda.

I won’t. I haven’t. I’m trying, but not too hard. I keep thinking about his dimples, and the person he was when he took that picture. In a way, it is death. That person is gone, at least for me. Will they come back? I don’t know. It’s not the same as death. That’s why it’s hard. There could be changes, there could be resurrections. There could not be. I’m not going to keep checking the body, though. You can if you want.

Looking back, I should have ended it all sooner. I should have taken their word for it that they didn’t love me anymore, didn’t care, could be a person who could say such things to me. I loved them too much. I love them too much. I’m not going to change that. The world doesn’t need less love. It doesn’t need more silence in the grocery store. It doesn’t need more people dropping each other as easily as I drop bags of potato chips into my basket.

It is terrible and it is ok.  They are terrible and they are ok. I love them and it is terrible and I love them and it is ok. I don’t know how to be anything else, or how to do anything else, and it is terrible and it is ok. They are still the people they were but they are also the people they are now. They no longer exist but they still do. They are dead and alive. I still love them and I don’t love them anymore.

 

 

What the hell is his middle name? I thought, suddenly panic-stricken, elbow-deep in a filing cabinet at work. I stared blankly at the air in front of my face but couldn’t remember a thing. What does that mean? Shit! I don’t forget middle names. Middle names are my thing. That can’t be a good sign. He hates me already and now I’ve forgotten his middle name, this is not going to end well.

But later, at home, I remembered. The J name that he was embarrassed to tell me because it’s from the bible and his mom was really religious and it shouldn’t be anyone’s middle name but it is his.

Driving home I thought about brains and how it’s ridiculous for me to be upset at him because people are just lumps with electricity and heartbeats and it’s amazing we can get along at all any of the time, really.

I think about how I sent another person a song earlier this week, and he replied back that the piano player was lovely, and I think about how that made me want to be an epic piano player. I wanted to go learn the damn song by heart so I could play it just as good. And I didn’t want to learn it to make this person like me more, but because if he thinks something is wonderful then it must be. And if I want to be a wonderful person, I should try to be better. He makes me want to be a better person; whether or not he knows about it doesn’t matter. Which is a strange feeling and thought to have, and it may have made me cry in the middle of an LA traffic jam one night because it was beautiful, and I always cry, and sometimes I cry because things are beautiful.

What is there to say? Not much, the same questions tumbling over one another. There is even less to do. You are standing at the edge. Here we are the end. Here we are in the middle. Here we are at the beginning.

We understood each other, perhaps that is a simple enough thing to be happy about. But people fade and become only time stamps in your past, sections of years labeled and crossed out.

The words that were meant to be meaningful were the last straw. The last complaint. The last sentence. People die and words die. Understanding dies.

It has never been good. It has always been wonderful. It may have been true or it may not have. Maybe that is not the thing to focus on. What do you focus on now?

That lake is still there, full of water. I have a picture of it from the past. The trees I saw are still living. And you and your smile, all of these things without me.

Here we are at the beginning. There is a new understanding, or a lack of one. There is another new language I don’t speak, one that is unlearnable.

Here we are at the end. Some things you can’t fix. Some things you shouldn’t. Sometimes you just need new trees and new lakes. And we go on, and we stop, and we begin.

 

 

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The lady from the GPS on my phone suggests I turn right onto Verde Vista, in a tone that reminds me of my grandfather: slightly southern, and with no knowledge of Spanish. verdeee vista.

The road is not very green but it is still beautiful. I appreciate it no matter how poorly named it was. But still, I drive on it to get somewhere else. This is not my final destination. This green road, this city. I’m not really sure where I’m going, my life doesn’t have a GPS lady telling me what to do. Other than myself. But we all seem to be going somewhere. And it’s best to keep moving, to keep driving down the green views. If you stop you might not ever make it to all the other beautiful places. If you wait, you might not be around for the next season, no matter how old or young you are. You might not ever get there, if your phone loses service somewhere in the middle of a roundabout and you keep circling until you run out of gas.

I’ll see you next time, he says, as you drive toward and then past. But there might not be a next time. The GPS lady in my head cannot be trusted, just like most other GPS ladies.

The boy at the mexican restaurant sets down chips and guacamole on the table, yells in Spanish to his coworker, grins at us and asks if we’d like water. He is beautiful. We leave and the air is warm, perfect, green, new, lovely.

“You are lovely,” he tells me, in another language I don’t understand.  There is no time to waste on people who aren’t wonderful.

My car is not green but I can imagine that it is. I have no idea where it and I will take me. The road is terrifying and beautiful and long and if you want to come with me, you can, but I’m not turning around for you.

He is slightly wilting.

I am walking down the hall and it is bright and there are students. They are clean and carry many, many bottles of water. I have been here before, but not for a long time. I look out across the city, it is the same but some things have changed while I was not there.

He is wilting slightly. He was different before, when I used to look at him. He was sunny. But he hides away from the sun, and now I see it. I cannot see him; I know nothing. All I know is that this room was not in this building before, they built up the walls and made a new space for all of the shiny, growing students.

There are pictures of me here. Proof that I existed in this space. My footsteps fell on these same stairs I climb with the same lack of breath. They are still celebrating their existence here, still living, still crossing the streets.

I do not know him. The picture of him is slightly wilting. I should not be so quick to judge anyone. Especially someone I love. The girl holds the door open for me and I smile at her for something she always does. I am a foreigner with people now. I am relearning how to be with them.

I am waiting here. How many hours have I spent in this building, in this city? Too many. Too many still. I am waiting, and still waiting even when I leave.

He was good because he was what I was. I must be changing, growing, crossing these streets. He is different to me, but the same to himself. Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t know him anymore than the girl who held the door for me.

It is cold here, early Spring. Yesterday’s snow is clumped on the ground. They say the buds on the trees might die because of it, who knows. It usually happens. They might or they might not. He might or he might not. I might or I might not.

He is sitting at the table raking his bonsai tree. I am standing in front of him, watching. This is what he does now. It is all that he does. He grooms this little tree. He sits at this table, small, white, boring. It’s fun, he says. He does not look up at me.

Sometimes music blares in the room. It’s good music. It makes him happy, as he sits very still and stares at the bonsai tree. I listen to his music. I search for some kind of meaning in it, because he is silent. Slowly the music is becoming more interesting than he is. I watch him; he does not look up at me.

The tree is alive but he is dying. I want to dump the thing on the floor, pull him away, throw a clock at him, kiss his face, make him stare into a sunset. Wake up. Stop this. It is such a little thing, it is not as big as you think it is. He stops listening to me.

It is getting worse and worse. The music is still playing, it still sounds nice, but it’s starting to make my head hurt. Too much of a good thing. Too much of this one thing. Not enough of the man behind the tree. He is lost in it. Somehow he is gone.

Finally, finally, finally, I am tired. I sing softly along with his song as I leave the room. He does not look at me, he does not look for me. Somehow he has died. The door shuts. Maybe I will see him again in the sunshine.