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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.

He thinks he is a rabbit. Small, young, jovial. Walking through fields, past lakes, hiding in caves. He thinks he will never die. He wants to look for something but doesn’t quite know what it is.

It is a big world. A huge, beautiful place. And even more, the universe, but one planet is more than enough for most of us, for a lifetime of adventures or of hiding in caves.

I have been old for many years. Since I was 10, knowing I was no longer singular. And now, 26, four or five gray hairs on my head, a candle flickering beside me, burning away.

I see you sitting there and growing old. I see your armchair is comfortable with you.

I know there are many different types of stories. What I don’t know is what kind mine is. How can it plot out a path if I keep moving? What if it never forms to anything? I’m not running away, just searching, running towards.

I had a dream last night that I was in school. I got good grades. I showed my grandfather. He said something like, “good, you can be a teacher.” And I replied with, “maybe when I’m older.” And he laughed, implying I’m there now.

When does youth leave you? What day? When do you become old and no longer young?

Count the days. Count the lines on your face. Count the moments of happiness. When does it happen?

So far it has been mostly the same. Wonderful days and days we wait out. Bunker down to hide from them. Seek the weekends. The two of seven days that belong just to us. The freedom.

I hear a door shut. I can hear my neighbors upstairs. I don’t know them. I never will. I am leaving and I will never have said hello.

I sit at the traffic light often, waiting, almost home, or almost to work, or almost to somewhere. I watch people drive by, alone, their turn to move. No more waiting. Still ignoring everyone except those who might cross their path.

We made this world. It has grown up with us. We raised it, taught it how to behave, how to drive, how to wait. We showed it what to care about, what not to. Together we ignore the man standing in the middle of the road with a sign. We tell ourselves he doesn’t need us. He’s a trick. He’s a lie. We can’t love him like we love our mother, we’d never get home to her. Maybe it’s human. Maybe it’s not.

I am not done searching. I haven’t found anything yet. All I can do is keep going and hope the world doesn’t ruin me. It hasn’t so far.

I love you.

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It is dark and 1 am and the cat is sneezing somewhere in the kitchen. The blinds are slightly open and I keep seeing this ghost of light fly from the top of the doorframe to the ceiling. At first I thought it was the cat but then I realized there’s nothing there to jump on.

It’s 1 am and there’s still traffic outside; there are too many people here so they never sleep and always drive their cars. People are always busy but I never see them get anything done. Everyone says they’re creative or musical but I don’t see it. What the hell are people doing here? I look out the window to see my car parked on the road, taking up whatever piece of cement it can.

I don’t know what people are doing out there, but the blinds are closed now and the cat is sleeping on my pillow. It’s so expensive to live here I don’t think people have time to do anything but work to make money and then use the rest of their time spending their money on things that are easy to buy: fancy cars and expensive clothes and whatever health or food thing is popular. Do people even talk to each other? I don’t know. I’m remembering this one time a grown woman from here recorded herself crying on her laptop and sent it out. I don’t think that’s the way to deal with sadness but maybe it’s the easiest way. If you send picture proof you don’t have to talk about it or think about it after you push a button.

It is not worse or better here than elsewhere, not yet. It is almost December and the tourists still come to take pictures of the palm trees. The palm trees are still lovely. And now they are covered with lights and giant decorative snowflakes hang down from them in a place where it never snows.

I am almost in tears standing in the cereal aisle staring at the price tags on the granola bars. Three dollars. Three fucking dollars. I grab a box and tuck it into my basket, because everyone needs snacks. Even me, even for three dollars.

Wandering around the store, and out of it, I wonder what everyone does for a living. I want to ask them, I want to walk up to them and say, ‘excuse me, I see you’re looking very well put together, how do you manage to make money in this city?’

I don’t do it, but I keep thinking it, keep wondering. On my walk home I pass a cardboard sign that someone has taped to a streetlight. It is large and written with black marker. It says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Some homeless man took the time, and the ink from his marker, to write this and post it up for all of us people walking by to see. 

Walking home with my granola bars stuffed into my backpack, I nervously spin my phone in circles in my hand. I need a job. I need a job. I need a job. There are so many stories of people who went to a city almost penniless and made it. But how did they make it? How do I make it? There are so many people here. There are so many people walking with me, crossing streets, running, biking, rolling along on their skateboards. Driving. They all have a place. There must be a place for me. I have to be able to contribute to this. It’s been a week of looking. A week. I can’t tell if a week is forever or no time at all. It feels like both. My phone spins in my hand as I turn the corner.

The street I’m staying on is nice. Somehow there is always parking, even in the middle of Los Angeles, and there are trees and plants along the sidewalk. A lovely place to walk, and a lovely place to be. There’s this huge, leafy palm plant that catches my eye as I walk toward it. It’s very green and calming somehow, just sitting there, growing. The trees are pushing up the sidewalks as we walk on them, going wherever it is we’re going.

I feel a little bad for being afraid or being worried, because I’m fine, really. I have friends to help me, and a family who cares about me, even if they are across the country. I have plenty of access to cardboard and markers. I have a roof to sleep under. I have time. I have some kind of place already. I have granola bars. But I no longer have that three dollars.

 

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 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.

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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1. Don’t let them go just because you’re too tired/lazy/unmotivated to hold on. If they’re worth it, try. But, at the same time, they have to try, too.

2. I recommend recording the people you love talking. Anyone. Your friends, your family, your cat, yourself! These things are wonderful possessions to have. They’re like memories, only they don’t fade, and you get to take a little piece of those people/cats with you wherever you go for however long you’re going.

3. My friend has never been on an airplane. He’s never been in the sky. He’s never seen the clouds from above, never experienced that sensation that happens when the plane turns at a crazy angle and is no longer parallel to the Earth and you look out the window to discover (for the first time, or again) that there is no such thing as “level”.

4. What happened to Twitter? Is it dying? Did everyone leave? Hello?

5. Don’t forget about what’s truly important to you.

6. Watch ‘Soul Mates’ from ABC2 in Australia. It’s amazing. Plus it has my favorite guy, this guy.

7. Fuck you Whatsapp! No, I will not pay 99 cents for a year!! Peace out! Who do you think you are? Don’t you know about Kakao Talk??

8. Stop thinking about how great they are. If you’re worth anything, you’re great, too. Or can be. Don’t spiral down into mediocrity (if you don’t want to!)

9. Maybe it’s just time to move (on).

10. You can talk about having adventures, year after year: oh, the places I’ll go! But if you have the ability to go, and all you do is talk about it… not so adventurous, eh?

Gold Digging

I have a craving. Sort of like when you’re all, “I really want pancakes for dinner! Someone make me pancakes!” in a really whiny voice, and you say it over and over again until someone serves you a plate of hot pancakes or hits you in the face so you stop using that really annoying voice. Sorry. I like pancakes.

Actually this is not about pancakes at all (although isn’t it really always about pancakes??). It’s about art. (Aren’t pancakes an art? Ok, I’ll stop.) It’s about weird art. How do you classify art as weird? I don’t know, you tell me. What does weird really mean, anyway?

You know. I’m not talking about lovely printed photographs, or museum art, or the odd-looking statues you can find in every large public park. Weird art. You know, like, I want to buy seven pairs of old shoes from Goodwill and spray-paint them gold and then cover them in gold flake and hang them up around town.

I want to paint a mural in the inside of an 19th-century abandoned funeral home. I want to watch people in costumes made out of car parts pretend to be sea monsters and battle each other while dancing around a stage made of recycled pallets and old tires. I want to have an indoor picnic in a room filled with a huge tree made out of cardboard. I want to hammer a pencil onto a wall. I want to throw an all-silver Andy Warhol party and eat food out of aluminum pans covered in aluminum foil while dancing under disco balls and bubble machines. I want to sit in a cafe sipping a latte and watch a man in a pig costume read me terrible poetry. This is all weird art shit that I’ve done with my friends.

Ok, so, now that I’ve moved halfway across the Earth, now that I’ve settled in, I’m ready! For weird art. (For pancakes.) For making things. For creating. I can’t stop! It’s a thing I do. It’s a craving I have.

Now, who’s in Seoul and wants to go on an adventure to find some spray paint?