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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.

 

 

 

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It is a small thing. It is not as big as you think it is.

Imagine a wedding-type ceremony, with two people standing next to each other in front of a room full of people. Imagine them promising not to spend their lives together, but to never speak to each other again. Imagine them walking back down the aisle, all the people watching, and from that moment never interacting again.

This happens all the time, in some way. It is a small thing. It is not as big as you think it is.

There are more fish in the sea, says some mother figure in my mind. I agree with her, staring off into the darkness of my bedroom at midnight on a work night..

The years have only taught me that the people you love now will become shitty and/or get tired of you or start to hate you.

I can hear my upstairs neighbors watching Friends. The theme song gives it away. It reminds me of childhood and family and sitting on a big green lumpy couch in a tiny living room.

I am beginning to understand why people get married. After some amount of failures and sadness and shitty people, they find someone to watch Friends with at midnight on a work night. And they think, not this one, I won’t lose this one. Not this time. And they involve a ring and a room full of people and a nice cake. And if they promise in front of those people and with that cake while wearing the rings, it means something. It means they can never leave each other to watch Friends alone.

I can now name the feeling in my stomach. It was apprehension. Knowing that not much good could come from anything, that sometimes it’s too hard for people to understand each other, that they won’t listen and can’t comprehend. That they have to protect themselves and always believe they are right. That it is so easy, now, to push a button and make it all go away. To not have to face anything difficult, to not have to fight for it, so easy to be apathetic. To be angry and stubborn and foolish and stupid and young even though we are all getting older.

It is too much and it is nothing. Another person gone, another death. More time to meet more people to eventually grow sick of, or love, or both.

It is some ending that needs a mark. Some little death that needs a tombstone. To be remembered. In memoriam.

We are all young and old and stupid and foolish, and we will always keep walking away and walking toward something else.

 

 

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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.

 

 

Can you hear yourself talking? Sometimes all I hear is the loud noise that comes from your lips. The whining empty words that don’t mean anything, the drift-less thoughts, the sentences just filling up time and space.

I wish I could sing like him. I wish I would take the time to learn how to make music, how to make more beautiful things. I can’t hear myself; I only listen closely to other people. I can hear when you’re not hearing me.

His hair is shorter now and his face is long. I remember the sounds in the room, the stillness of standing alone. My stomach grumbles and she asks me how to make soup. I will dream of it all tonight, music and carving potatoes and sharpening knives in the tiny, dirty kitchen.

When I wake up she is still here. A lot of people have disappeared, somehow. I am grinning and my jaw hurts. He tells me stories about the bay and people who ride bicycles. I imagine all of the roads I will have to drive on between here and there. Where will all of my books go, all of my stories?

I have so much to say, but he is not the one to say it to; I know, I’ve read the list of approved questions and answers. I have met him before over the years, I can see him and hear him well. My guitar is leaning against the wall; it’s ready to go, it’s waiting, too. Beautiful and terrible things and people just want more of everything even if you don’t have any to share.

The conversation goes on without me. He is singing in the background of my head and I’m not paying attention. Are you always this quiet? They ask, they are the same people, I have met them all before, I will meet them all again, I will love them until they don’t say enough.

She is eating a cheese sandwich somewhere on the other side of the world. She finally found a girl who will laugh at her jokes. She speaks softly and wants more for you than what you have. I want to be strong like her someday, I want my strumming hand to be strong, I want him to smile in photographs.

He is a straight boy with dyed black hair and thin lips. He looks like a mass murderer, really, but he’s wonderful. She swears to me she won’t talk to him today, but she does, she does, she does. I send her pictures of flowers and we talk about things that are important and I don’t feel guilty afterward like I’ve done something bad.

It seems like everyone good will end up there with me. You know how to tell the difference by now, don’t you? What good is growing older if we can’t shake their hand and see the outcome? But that is why you and I are not the same, that is why I love the people that I do, that is why you’re staying there and we’re leaving here.

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“You should go to the moon,” he says. “I’d go to the moon. And Mars. Did you know it takes two months to get there? Or it takes four years if you don’t leave at the right time. So you’d have to leave at the right time.”

He is sitting on top of a table swinging his legs. He needs a haircut. He is excited and scared and smart and I love him.

“We’ve done all the tests,” he says. “We tried the needle one with the string and it swung and it said it will be a girl. My wife is doing good, she’s happy, she’s healthy, we’re all doing good.”

He is going to be a father, this man. I walk away and write poems about him on flashcards. I think about how he has changed me as a person. I think about him being a father.

“I wanted to be a guitarist,” he told me. “A musician. Now I’m sitting on this table.”

Years later I see him again, with a tiny pink sweater thrown over his shoulder. His baby girl is growing up. Is he still growing up?

“What do you think it would be like to leave? To never see your family again? What if I didn’t hug my father goodbye? Do you think I would regret it?”

“I wanted to go to the moon,” I said, “when I was younger. Now I just want to see as much of this planet as I can. I haven’t even seen much of this country, not yet. How much time do I have? Why is it always going by? Should I hurry?”

“Juxtaposition,” he said from the table. “Do you know what that means?”

The moon is far away now. He is far away now. Mars is farther. I still remember what juxtaposition means. The flashcards are duller and the pencil is smudged but the words are still there.

 

 

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1. Do the makers of “Jurassic World” expect us all to forget what happened at “Jurassic Park”? I’m just seeing a remake. How could we ever forget?! Never forget, y’all. So, do you want to go to the movies with me?

2. Keep talking, keep telling me all of your problems and your messed up perspective of the world, you’re giving me so much information for me to use in my future poems about you!

3. I love this song. It’s terrible! It’s amazing! It sounds like this guy has allergies/is crying/is super happy/doesn’t know how to speak English. ALSO, how do hip hop dudes decide on their hip hop names? Because it seems like they draw random words out of a hat. “Chedda Da Connect? It’s perfect!

4. How to win hearts: http://imgur.com/gallery/SDUYW

5. Remember pencil chewers? Me too. Remember borrowing a pencil and holding it in your hand and realizing not only was there no eraser (so therefore the pencil was useless!), but the metal part was all chewed so therefore had been in someone’s mouth!? Yeah.

6. I was sitting at a table full of strangers recently. A few years ago that would’ve terrified me, but these days I love meeting new people. Not, like, talking to them or anything, just meeting them. Which sometimes involves a bit of talking, but, whatever. So there I was, meeting these people, listening to them tell me about their really exciting lives (or their really not exciting lives). This one guy was really outgoing and funny and a great story teller, and this other guy sitting next to him was pretty quiet and mousy and shy. And I remember thinking about this quiet dude, and I compared him to the talkative funny dude, and, even though I am a quiet dude myself, I thought badly of him for not being interesting enough! Even though I was doing the exact same thing! Maybe he has a personality, just not at a table full of strangers? Anyway, what’s the point of all of this? I don’t know. Maybe that I’m a terrible person. Maybe I judged that guy harshly for being a quiet person because I am one. And/or because all of my friends have always been more boisterous than me/I’m usually the quiet person/I don’t know how to talk to quiet people.

7. You can sit still as much as you want, but the world keeps on spinning, with or without you.

8. Small screaming children and drunken old people are pretty much the same.

9. I can’t fix all of your problems/everything that’s wrong with you! You’ve got to do something!

10. You should really focus on yourself. I know it’s easy/feels better to focus on other stuff/less important things/other people/drama/netflix, whatever it is you’re distracting yourself with. (Bob’s Burgers?? No way! I would never.) But it’s really not better. ALSO, you should read this article on Vice; it’s really good and talks about some of the same sort of things. Because no one yells at you enough these days!

"I was always afraid that someone would find me, And was saddened when no one actually found me"

“I was always afraid that someone would find me,
And was saddened when no one actually found me”

He went to Japan on vacation and brought back this greeting card with a cat on it that sang when you pulled a tab on the side. He recorded a video of himself showing off the card, and his eyes followed the tab as he pulled it, left to right. The video looped automatically and I watched his eyes move: back and forth, back and forth. It looked like he was staring at me, but he was staring at himself, watching himself. His brown eyes are seared into my memory along with the little pink Japanese singing cat. We all had high hopes for that year of our lives. We thought it would go well; that there might be another year after if we were happy. And we tried to be. But the months slowed down as we went, the days stretched out, and the mornings came earlier. The smog in the sky stayed put, blocking out the blue, even in the summer. We were all left to ourselves, by ourselves, recording little moments of time, trying to share them with others. But when we left, there was nothing left of it in us to share. There was no moral to our story. No punch line to the bad joke. Just a sort of gray smog covering strange hangul memories.