Archive

Tag Archives: people

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

“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.

 

 

 

She sits a little too close to me on the couch because she is drunk and happy and she shows me all of the pictures on her phone. Her fake nails are too long and she swipes hard at the screen. “Here’s where I grew up,” she says, “back here along the coast.” She is from Hawaii and she tells me the names of the islands and I have never even heard of them before but I nod along as she points them out in the picture she took from her airplane window seat. It’s raining outside, it’s that sort of drizzle that hangs in the air while at the same time falling and making unavoidable puddles on the ground. Everything is wet and everyone’s hair is turning into frizz and the man with the large beer belly passes out beers and pours strong drinks into tiny plastic cups. I cut lime slices for him and stand behind the rickety table that was never meant to hold so many bottles of alcohol. Everyone adds ice to their cups and the ice melts and their cups stay full and strong and no one ever needs to leave the couch for a refill. People sit closer and closer together and talk louder and louder over each other. “More ice!” Says the beer belly man’s father, bringing a fresh bucketful and sliding it onto the table in front of all the bottles. The table is littered with half-squeezed lime slices and half-moon rings of water and empty cups and full cups and beer bottles and pieces of ice slowly melting. Outside the workers from Jamaica pass back and forth with their maid carts and luggage carts and garbage cans and wagons full of grass clippings and hedge clippings and gardening tools. Everyone is interested in the people who are so clearly from somewhere else but are so friendly and hardworking and kind. I think about the boy I knew in college who was from Jamaica, and knowing someone from there makes me all-knowing. “I knew a boy from Jamaica,” I say to the people on the couch. “He was happy, too.” I watch the people as they pull their wagons and carts and cans and I wonder if they are happy or if they hate all of us for being loud and fleeting and cheap, for not tipping when they bring our bags to our hotel rooms, if they want to go home, if they are excited for this adventure, if this is just an easy way to make money, if they hate this island like I do sometimes, if they love it like I do most of the time. It is raining and my bike is outside rusting even more. The man with the beer belly is loud and he thinks he is very important. He is happy pouring drinks and talking to everyone about sports and hurricanes and the one time he was in a tornado and his father’s lack of hair and the city he is currently living in. He tells us all about the earthquake last week and the flooding in Texas and the tornadoes in Missouri. My drink is finally gone, the one tiny drink that became an endless, watery drink. I walk outside into the other watery drink, my hair curls more, people ride by on bikes and others pull wagons and carts and cans. I walk and I wonder if the man I pass hates me, if he cares at all, probably not, he’s fine, he’s happy, I’m sure, I’m not sure. They go on walking and I go on walking and the drizzle hangs in the air and the woman pushes hard on the screen of her cell phone and shows everyone who will listen and the beer belly man scoops more ice cubes into cups and tells everyone about floods and earthquakes and Ann Arbor and how he shaves his head because he’s bald now just like his dad.