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Why do I always need to heal? Why do I keep being broken? Is it my fault, or is everyone the same?

Whatever spirit exists that keeps track of things like Karma and Luck will know I wasn’t wrong. The snow will pile up around you this winter and your home will be warm from the anger inside. There are so many people and so many of them are deaf to everything outside their own head.

His music booms and keeps his downstairs neighbors awake. We lie in the dark, listening, wishing they would go to sleep, too. Your words can’t always help them. Healing crystals are nothing but pretty bits of Earth. Move away.

Another foreign-tongued boy. They are some miracle, like me but not like me. I will never be as easily interesting as that bilingual brain.

“That is what has hurt me the most,” she says, “over and over again through the years. Loving people who don’t love me. But I won’t stop.”

Think of it like the size of the waves and not the tide itself. From on top of all that we can see much more clearly our chaos. There is some safety raft, or there will be. Some sweet, warm ride. Some life jacket from shark’s teeth and seagulls.

Let memories be behind you. There is much more to see.

She is not allowed to love anyone else but me. Even after two years. Even after months of awkward struggles for conversations. She is not allowed to move on. She is not allowed to get over me.

He sends me music like he did years ago like that will mean anything. It is falling on deaf ears. I will never hear you again.

I often wonder what part of humanity makes us like this. If it is biological or social. If she wants me to keep loving her because of ego or loneliness or mating possibilities, or all of the above. And I wonder why I wasn’t good enough in that moment, and if I would be now, or later, or never. And what makes that be so, is it biological or social?

At least it is all interesting, this life. Even the terrible parts. Even the boring parts. It has all been done before but never by you. It is old and new at the same time. And it is different and the same. Like the love she has for me. It is still there. It is still secretly, secretly waiting. But ends come. Ears stop listening. Another one is coming soon.

Music plays in my head. It is some classical song my brain has dredged up from somewhere.

I am thinking of that day. Classical stories and classical music and classic heartbreak. It will never be the same. That is good and that is bad.

I don’t know if all of this is boring and wasteful and pointless. Isn’t everything? It might be good. It might get better.

Maybe it is mortality. The end. The no going back. The finishing of some young story-line. The realization she doesn’t want you anymore, or ever again. The death of some thing, some chance, some hope.

“Sushi stop is good,” he said. But I don’t like sushi. And he doesn’t like me, I think, while my brain writes it’s own versions of classical music. Who’s to say it isn’t?

 

“The trees are too tall, they block the moon,” says my bosses’ son from the backseat as I drive him home from school. It is a short and poignant thing to say.  “They are pretty though, aren’t they?” I ask, and he agrees. It was a simple observation, one that led to a conversation about the moon and space and sunlight and how trees wouldn’t be very good to eat. It was a short and quiet moment in the busy, loud life of a three year old.

In some writing class in college, my professor told us about how his brother had been a forester in the pacific northwest, and how he had fallen from a tree and shattered all of the bones in his legs. I wonder if that guy thought trees were too tall or if they were beautiful or if he only did it for the money.

It is raining here in Los Angeles. It must be good for the trees. There are puddles on my balcony. The streets shine. I sit and listen to the rain and wonder if it all comes from the ocean, and how long it will take to get back there.

My job is terrible and dull and it makes the people who stay there for years terrible and dull. Sometimes we sit around a table and talk about other people’s money. Last time this happened I remembered sitting at a table in Seoul, staring at a tiny Korean girl refusing to eat her lunch. Those two situations were very different but very much the same. It is all some kind of strange humanity.

Someday there might be someone who loves me more than someone else’s money. Someday there might be someone who loves the trees because they are beautiful and not because they can be cut down and sold for lumber. We will grow tall and strong together in the rain.

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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.

 

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.

“He has kind eyes.”

“He’s high. He has high eyes.”

His eyes are so blue and so pink as you look at him standing there looking at you with his head tilted to the side. He’s wearing some weird hat and you assume he’s gay because he’s slim and neat and showed up with some other man who is slim and neat.

It is dark and the people are cold; the group closes in without noticing, huddles together unconsciously, forms small packs of humans, tiny false families.

“I’m a filmmaker.”

“I’m a writer.”

“What do you write?”

“I write about you. And I write about nothing. And I make things up that never happened. But it sounds better later, if I edit it, if I add in things. If I knew at the time what to say.”

The little families are not all false. These people love each other, I just don’t know them. I don’t know them as a family, who loves who, or who hates who occasionally, or what happened that one time on the beach last weekend.

Time goes by, it gets lighter and warmer, and different people sit on the same benches and form similar friendships. The man, who is not a boy, as he’s an eighties baby, and not a child, might have worn that hat again. The woman with curly fairy hair has sobered up but kept the light in her eyes. The little families separate and draw in again, accidentally and on purpose.

Every Friday my neighbors, on the other side of the fence, whom I have never seen, have a barbecue. They are loud and the air smells like smoke and they play good music. They are young, or so I imagine, and they clink their beer bottles, or so I imagine, and they grin into the fire and the light glints off of their eyes and off of their bottles, and they talk loudly about their jobs and their girlfriends and their rent, or so I imagine. It is dry and dusty here, and quiet, but at night you can hear more somehow, maybe because there is more noise. People have time to gather together and speak and make noises and drive their cars past my house and roar their engines and love each other.

Every night the woman comes home from her job. She works hard five days a week, for too many hours each day. At home is her dog, who watches her leave every morning, lays on the rug in the afternoon, and plays fetch with her at night until they go to sleep after watching a few hours of television. Sometimes this little family gets larger, when the woman’s son comes to visit, and brings with him his son and his wife. But they leave again, and the woman and the dog stay.

The girl with curly fairy hair was humming to herself as she walked next to me. I listened but ignored her, in a way, as I didn’t turn my head to smile, or to acknowledge I had heard her. Eventually she stopped, and laughed, and she said to me, “I’m bored!” It was some attempt at friendship or fun. When I had just met her, before I even knew her name, I had told her her hair was beautiful, in a sort of blunt, honest way that happened too early on in the meeting-someone process. But it had worked out somehow, and so there she was, humming next to me, making something, at least for the length of a walk.

 

 

 

hi, want to be friends? i don’t have many here. we could get in n out together, if you’re down, even though it’s really not that good. yes, i said it. i should tell you, though, i’m not very good at being with you yet. especially driving. all these u-turns are confusing and sometimes i get distracted by the palm trees. also, i use too much of your water. i’m sorry! i’m from michigan, that one state literally surrounded by water, so forgive me, ok? you just keep having nice weather and i’ll keep trying to be a good resident. now, let’s go to the beach.

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I throw the books into the box to be donated and startle the bird outside the window. It has a piece of straw in it’s beak, looking at me. This is some kind of metaphor, I think, as I pack up my home and it’s building one. But I don’t have time to think of a metaphor, I don’t have time to think of much of anything.

She is gone again tonight. Everyone is gone. They ask me why I would move so far away, when I don’t know anyone, but I don’t know anyone here. Where are my people?

I’m going to the beach, he says, but he won’t go in the water. I understand this, somehow, a girl who grew up surrounded by water who can’t swim. I write about it, I sing about it. No one will read or hear the words.

Why are you going? Why? They can’t understand. I think of the mountains, I stare at the tree outside my window. It doesn’t really matter. One place is as good as another. Why stay anywhere? My tree is growing, moving, it doesn’t stay put either.

Nothing has changed, maybe something will change.

“My favorite book is Winnie The Pooh. I like the part where Pooh goes up in the balloon.” A picture of six year old me. Scraps of life stuffed in books tucked on shelves, throw it all into bags for someone else to keep in their house.

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.

There is a boy. He is seventeen. He is young. He sits in his mother’s house. Don’t we all? His world is small. He is looking out the window at it. He is slowly driving onto the expressway of it. He calls it a freeway, I tell him it’s not called that where I’m from, he still calls it a freeway. He is a little bit afraid. He is excited. He is brave. He is me when I was seventeen. We are sitting in my mother’s house. We are all here together, talking. At night, when no one else is with us, he tell me stories of him. His cat is laying on the rug in his room. His cat looks like my cat. He likes pizza. Of course he does. He likes pizza with meat, like most Americans, I tell him he’s got it all wrong, that he needs more veggies. When the pizza is gone, he tells me more. He lives with his mother in a small city in a small apartment. His world is small. He goes to school online, somehow, isn’t it amazing how children use to go to school in tiny rooms holding chalkboards, that’s what the books all say, but he goes to school online. In my almost old age I can almost understand it. His parents are divorced, and that seems to matter. My parents never divorced, but that doesn’t mean they were together. He sits with his cat and his dog and he tells me. Some clock goes off again and again at the start of every hour. It sounds like the grandfather clock that lived in my grandmother’s house, but his runs on batteries, not the swing of the pendulum. The story isn’t straightforward. He is his own narrator. There are questions I have that are not asked or answered. Listening, it is a mystery that never plans to reveal the answer, that never knows where it is trying to go. He might be getting a job soon. He’s so excited, he tells everyone. He is kind. He is silly. I notice we all start to sound the same, make the same jokes, our accents merge into one, we all say freeway when we mean expressway, we all turn a little southern though we were born elsewhere. His mother is not kind to him. We only hear the story that he tells. He might not be kind to his mother. She might be ruining his life. She might be saving it. There might not be anything to save. What damage will we do to other people? We are all laughing together at midnight. My jaw is sore from grinning. It was not like this before. There was no happiness in sitting alone, not this much. We sit together. We tell our story so far. There are questions we do not answer, things we don’t include. There is a expressway that runs from me to you. It might become a freeway before it gets there, or something else. The police came to his mother’s house one night, weeks ago. They put handcuffs on him, or so I imagine, it was one of those unasked questions. When he sat there in his mother’s house, he was still the boy who loved pizza, who was afraid of driving on the freeway, who took silly pictures of his cat that looks like mine. I imagine the clock chiming in the background, the cat winding around the officers’ legs, his mother sitting sternly, trying to teach her son some lesson of life. It is some story I don’t know. I am looking through the window at it, wondering. We might hear about it, someday, but the story is not straightforward. There are many blank pages that will never be written, that might be left alone, that might be filled in later. Imagine an empty pizza box. There is a circle of grease on the bottom of it, where some restaurant worker put the steaming, cheesy, meaty thing. They closed the lid, pressing down on the cardboard. He might be that person someday. His mother might have been. The policeman might have been. You might never know.