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Dusk and early morning look the same, share the same gray light. I am a mourning dove, cooing and crying. I replace the hot tears with a cool shower. When my hair is wet it swings in clumps of curls, dries straight. There is nothing to see out my window, doesn’t cure the loneliness of a gray and empty room.

I can’t think of his name. I drew his picture four times. We’ve spoken less. There is such great disquiet in my quiet soul it freezes in anger at any chance to free itself. I don’t know if I’ve always been like this, or if I’ve lost or gained something. My body learned how to feel anxiety as a pressure in my chest this year. Not all knowledge is useful or positive.

She is beautiful – she looks like someone I could love. Their laughter is silent, encapsulated in other. The person I am is in some other storybook, and I cannot read, and there is nothing to add.

 

 

 

 

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1.They can come back. It won’t be the same, but it will be better than emptiness

2. I know you love your new human and all, but everyone else really doesn’t need to see each picture you take of it. Thanks.

3. Look further out.

4.Floss your teeth, god dammit!

5. We are all family.

6. Are we getting better and worse at being nice to each other at the same time? Do we need to police each other’s niceness? Do we need to rate all of the social interactions that ever occur?

7. Dropping your cell phone is the same as dropping your baby, change my mind.

8. It doesn’t matter. We’re all going to die. It does matter. This is your life.

9. We are all still here. You’re still here. Hello. Thank you.

10. Do kids still build tree houses?

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?

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

“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.