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?
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.
1. Call someone on the phone and have a conversation.
2. Take a picture of something and don’t share it on Instagram.
3. Take a picture of yourself and don’t show it to anyone.
4. Find a quote you find meaningful and keep it to yourself.
5. Write a letter using your hand and a pencil and send it by mail.
6. Plant a garden from seeds.
7. Spend time with your friends, no technology allowed.
8. Go for a walk.
9. Watch the sunrise/sunset. Don’t take pictures.
10. Speak to someone you don’t know.
11. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers and put it in your house. Don’t take pictures, just smell it every time you walk by.
12. Ride your bike to a bookstore, buy a thick novel (in paper form), read it.
1. Holy sheeshing fudge crap! You must watch “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix! It’s really good. Which is weird, because it’s a t.v. show. But it is! It just came out this month, and every episode of the first season is available to watch. Thank gosh and his son jeepers we live in 2015 where no one has any patience and we all just want to binge watch 8 month’s worth of work in one sitting!
2. It’s almost spring. I went outside the other day and I wasn’t cold! I heard this weird noise and then I realized that it was a bird chirping! Wow. Spring.
3. This year I paid attention on St. Patrick’s day and I was terrified and embarrassed. Why are all these Americans pretending they like beer?! Also, no, you’re not Irish. Calm down. Also also, good job pulling out the iron to get the wrinkles out of that green shirt you keep in your closet to wear once a year. You yanks!!
4. Once an Irish person (like, a real one) called me a yank and I was like, “Uh-uh! Only my people get to use that word!”
5. Ok, we get it, you read Hemingway and Vonnegut! But like, really, what do you read?
6. Bukowski hated Shakespeare, too.
7. Did people share pictures of themselves in their bathroom mirrors before the internet? How did we all communicate before Facebook?! Remember telephone conversations? Yeah, me too! Weird.
8. It’s almost sidewalk chalk season. Also hopscotch. Also jump rope. Wait, we’re all still 8, right? Just kidding, these activities are ageless. For-all-ages. Let’s get chalky.
9. It’s so hard to motivate yourself when you have no motivation to motivate yourself.
10. Find a goal.
I’m not really sure he works. Artists are always like that. Flighty, fluttery. You’re never really sure where they are or what they’re doing. It probably involves paint. Or they have paint on their hands for some reason unknown. There’s no transparent artist. Or anyway, we don’t want there to be. It’s supposed to be dreamy, not, “Yeah guys, actually, so, I work at Pizza Hut most days but then on the weekends I make stuff, or at night, or at 5 AM.”
I picture him with a tiny sketchbook in his hand. I don’t know if this is accurate. But he’s gotta write down these crazy ideas sometime, right? Whatever it is. Some crazy contraption or some terrible poem or some horrific self portrait. I mean, that’s the kind of art I do, so it’s easier to imagine.
Art is really hard. I know it is. Unless you somehow land some cozy job where they pay you to do it because you’re some kind of brilliant mind, and you can prove you are. That’s the hard part. Being loud enough, yelling it where someone important will hear you. Otherwise it’s you in your garage or bedroom or basement grinding, cutting, lazering, gluing, whatever. And then painting, of course. Or you’re on a guitar or piano or saxophone. And your art is music; sketching it in pencil on paper. Bringing it to life not with paint but sound. That’s good stuff. Important. Necessary.
“I don’t care if you’re happy,” he says, wringing his hands in the air. “You shouldn’t be.”
He’s standing in the middle of the busy sidewalk preaching to his date and anyone else who’s listening. I’ve known he exists for less than three minutes and already I’m mesmerized by this weird boy with weird hair who’s wearing a purple polka dot shirt and leather pants.
Fucking art kids, I think, and he continues.
“You’re sitting there on your couch, fat and happy, watching television. You’re with another human who you tolerate enough to spend the rest of your life with. You both have well-paying middle-class jobs that pay your rent bill and your cable. You’re a great, contributing member of society. A well-oiled cog in the machine. You have your purpose. You have your paycheck. You have most of your life mapped out.”
He stops talking and later I find myself in a large room filled completely with fog. There are bright lights in the corners of the room, and everything is white and thick and the room doesn’t feel like a room, and I don’t feel like a person — only a floating, dizzy set of eyes in a world of white and black and flashes of color. And there is no purpose in that room, no ultimate goal; no deep thoughts, and no shallow ones. There is the smell of the fake fog, and the sensation of floating, and two dozen people watching the lights strobe on and off and on. It is simple and beautiful and more compelling than anything I’ve ever seen on T.V. It is strange and wonderful and someone dreamt it up and made it real.
The art kid appears beside me in the white fog in my mind, later. He’s several years older and still stacking things on top of each other, hanging weird things from ceilings, banging things onto and into walls, building robots and talking machines that fly when you whistle “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in their direction. He struggles to find jobs for himself and doesn’t own a couch or a cat but he’s happy in his own way. People look at him and wonder how he’s done it, wish they could too, whatever it is. They snap pictures with their new iphones and wander back out of the fog to make babies and nest eggs.
“I want you to be happy,” he says, waving the fog out of his face. “You should be.”
It’s different now, a year later, at least for him. He’s taken up watercolor painting and poetry, mixed them together like two paint colors and formed some type of art that’s popular with all people. He’s selling his work online and making enough money to buy extra pairs of weird shoes. He’s thinking about going back to school but he doesn’t know what for yet, doesn’t feel the time has come yet, not yet, not yet. He’s still wearing that same old polka dot shirt, hasn’t found another like it or better. He doesn’t consider himself to be like those people he talked about. He thinks he’s different, he tries to be, although he’s still fighting the pull of “normality” everyday like gravity. It’s hard. But the more he builds and paints and rhymes, the more times he shaves his own hair, the more people who call him “interesting”, the further away from that life he gets. The more foggy it all is. He can’t see those other people anymore, they don’t really exist to him. He lives in another place, another world. No more sidewalk preaching, only painting in cement with colored chalk to make people smile. He wants them to be happy, he says. You should be.
I pressed a fingertip to the condensation-covered window, watched as a droplet formed and fell, sliding down the glass, gathering more water as it went, leaving a streak of clarity in its path. And that’s typically what happens, isn’t it? Like salt water traveling on skin — it must happen to you, too — losing something, even that small, leaves you with something else.
I hadn’t heard from him in a few days. Didn’t know if he was alive or dead. That was me being dramatic, but it was also true. Somewhere out there between here and there was a postcard, full of cramped writing, the few sentences I could write when I wanted to say so much more. I was sitting there by the window thinking about that little card, flying somewhere over the ocean — or maybe it was on a boat, I don’t know, I didn’t know, what do I know about the global postal system? — It’s amazing how much we don’t know.
A few days later the “January Meltdown” stopped and the water turned back into ice and it snowed again, covering the tracks in my front yard almost entirely, leaving only tiny impressions in the snowy expanse. And that’s typically what happens, isn’t it, memories almost completely wiped away by some deciding neurons in our brains that don’t ask us permission. And now I can barely remember her sitting across the table from me, and I have no idea what we talked about for so long so long ago. It’s amazing how much we can’t remember. Time doesn’t go by quickly, we forget it.
I’ve been listening to this one song a lot lately. It has this clicking sound in it, made by those wooden instruments, Google says that they’re called claves. That sound reminds me of you, reminds me of other songs we listened to together. I almost sent you the link, almost told you to listen, hey, listen, you might like this song, but I didn’t. I would have, four months ago, two months ago. Too much time has passed between us now. Too many changes of the seasons, too many new days, too many memories wiped away, filled in with something else.
Now we’re all different people who can’t remember what it was like before — it must happen to you, too. And it doesn’t matter that we all don’t have to wait day by day for a tiny postcard, doesn’t matter that we’re all at each others fingertips. There is still a silence, and it grows, time freezes it over like the water on my window.
1. Everyone needs that one friend who has excellent taste in movies/music. If you don’t know that person yet, go find them! They won’t come to you, they have too many movies to watch!
2. Kindles/other electronic readers are so not as handy as people claim. “Now I can read without carrying a book around!” Yeah, right. If you say that, you definitely never carry a book around anyway.
3. Sometimes it just seems like it’s always too late.
4. Don’t give yourself away so easily. Stick up for who you are. After all, that’s all this place is is people and other people who follow them around.
5. That awkward moment when someone introduces themselves and then you immediately forget their name.
6. Why are all the cool/successful people 32 or 35?! Does it take that long to become cool/successful?!
7. Words of the week: clarity. grandiose. honky. tragedy. expectations. tetanus.
8. Let him/her go, but not completely. Just enough.
9. Let’s be honest here, food pics are great. Don’t be ashamed! How are selfies ok but not food pics? No way. Let’s start a revolution.
10. I still think you’re beautiful.