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That bite of orange tasted like donut and she glanced down. Nothing really makes sense this year. Her luggage is off on an all-expense paid, unplanned and unwanted vacation, somewhere out in the big old world. Your breakfast is getting cold. She doesn’t understand the ratio of coffee grounds to water in a french press but she keeps trying anyway. Maybe one day she will have whatever it is she is still looking for. I should buy potatoes. Someone ate all of my cheese while I was gone. What a year it is already. We are killing all of the butterflies and everything else that doesn’t give them money. He is still no good, a quiet broken yellow man. We keep making new things and ruining our ancient planet. I’m not as sad as I thought I would be to lose objects from the past. It isn’t the things that matter but the memories of them, and you and I continuing on afterwards. My computer remembers all of my passwords for me. The mail system in the country of Germany sent back 4 of my Christmas cards because I didn’t put enough stamps on. Sorry, you’re not getting a card this year. Last year. It’s over now. She adds butter to her shopping list. That’s all we do is wash the same dishes over and over and over. They liked my poem that took me 10 minutes to write. Even my teacher had nothing bad to say. I smiled at them and grinned at them and said, “thank you.” If I lose everything I think I will still be myself. I’m not that attached to anything but anyone and everyone. You need to make a list of what you want to do still with your life. To-do. The fish walked out of the sea. I walked out of the airport. The moon had a target on it and now nothing and everything does. Beautiful baby. Dead flower. Frozen, half-eaten, garden leek. A rabbit snack. The status of our childhood tree. Can I please have my luggage?

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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.

There is a boy. He is seventeen. He is young. He sits in his mother’s house. Don’t we all? His world is small. He is looking out the window at it. He is slowly driving onto the expressway of it. He calls it a freeway, I tell him it’s not called that where I’m from, he still calls it a freeway. He is a little bit afraid. He is excited. He is brave. He is me when I was seventeen. We are sitting in my mother’s house. We are all here together, talking. At night, when no one else is with us, he tell me stories of him. His cat is laying on the rug in his room. His cat looks like my cat. He likes pizza. Of course he does. He likes pizza with meat, like most Americans, I tell him he’s got it all wrong, that he needs more veggies. When the pizza is gone, he tells me more. He lives with his mother in a small city in a small apartment. His world is small. He goes to school online, somehow, isn’t it amazing how children use to go to school in tiny rooms holding chalkboards, that’s what the books all say, but he goes to school online. In my almost old age I can almost understand it. His parents are divorced, and that seems to matter. My parents never divorced, but that doesn’t mean they were together. He sits with his cat and his dog and he tells me. Some clock goes off again and again at the start of every hour. It sounds like the grandfather clock that lived in my grandmother’s house, but his runs on batteries, not the swing of the pendulum. The story isn’t straightforward. He is his own narrator. There are questions I have that are not asked or answered. Listening, it is a mystery that never plans to reveal the answer, that never knows where it is trying to go. He might be getting a job soon. He’s so excited, he tells everyone. He is kind. He is silly. I notice we all start to sound the same, make the same jokes, our accents merge into one, we all say freeway when we mean expressway, we all turn a little southern though we were born elsewhere. His mother is not kind to him. We only hear the story that he tells. He might not be kind to his mother. She might be ruining his life. She might be saving it. There might not be anything to save. What damage will we do to other people? We are all laughing together at midnight. My jaw is sore from grinning. It was not like this before. There was no happiness in sitting alone, not this much. We sit together. We tell our story so far. There are questions we do not answer, things we don’t include. There is a expressway that runs from me to you. It might become a freeway before it gets there, or something else. The police came to his mother’s house one night, weeks ago. They put handcuffs on him, or so I imagine, it was one of those unasked questions. When he sat there in his mother’s house, he was still the boy who loved pizza, who was afraid of driving on the freeway, who took silly pictures of his cat that looks like mine. I imagine the clock chiming in the background, the cat winding around the officers’ legs, his mother sitting sternly, trying to teach her son some lesson of life. It is some story I don’t know. I am looking through the window at it, wondering. We might hear about it, someday, but the story is not straightforward. There are many blank pages that will never be written, that might be left alone, that might be filled in later. Imagine an empty pizza box. There is a circle of grease on the bottom of it, where some restaurant worker put the steaming, cheesy, meaty thing. They closed the lid, pressing down on the cardboard. He might be that person someday. His mother might have been. The policeman might have been. You might never know.

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1. Who do you think you are?! No, really, who are you? Putting on different fake faces for different people isn’t a good way to live life.

2. Here’s the thing you forgot, the thing you’ve been searching for: it isn’t that you want to do it, it’s that you must do it.

3. If you leave the music on your iPod long enough, you’ll start to like at all again! (Might take several years.)

4. I’m pretty excited (geeked!) for the new Stars Wars movie. I didn’t even think I liked Star Wars that much! Where’s the VHS box set?! Dig it out of the basement, please. Yes, I did forget what VHS were called! I googled it.

5. I haven’t practiced French in 6 months. Oops! But really, when are they going to come up with an “upgrade” for my brain?! My computer has to update every once in awhile, why can’t some program add “French V.1.0” to my head while I sleep?! #questions

6. Being cruel in an attempt to be funny, isn’t. It just makes you an asshole.

7. “You found out what kind of person to be from your parents.” “But I’m nothing like my parents.” “You found out what kind of person to be from your parents.”

8. It’s all okay.

9. Where are we going? Why is it so confusing? Why is it so hard? Why is it so easy for some people? What’s wrong with them?! 

10. Where to now?

I updated my resume. “What does this space here say about me?” “Should I be risky and use italics?!”

It’s kind of a terrible thing in a sketchy system of filtering and shuffling, but I guess it works. Hopefully it works for me. If not, I’ll go back to regular, non-italic font. It’s cool.

Since I’ve been sitting here, staring at blank spaces on my screen, thinking about what they make me look like as a person, I’ve decided this is just pretty weird altogether. Me, sitting here staring at this light-box of technology. This blinking line that’s waiting for me to type something else. Blink. Blink. 100 years ago there was no blinking line! We’ve created it! What does it all mean?!

This is who I am now. My online persona. Self. (Selfies.) A new, third consciousness, built in and by the internet, this thing that exists that most of us don’t understand.

We exist in this new space. Where else will we find ourselves in the future? In 100 years? What other options will there be for my font besides bold, italic, and underline?!

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I wish I could filter out all the things I don’t care about. But that’s terrible, isn’t it? I should care. Shouldn’t I?

They make big posters and banners and they scream, “black lives matter!!” and I don’t care. “All lives matter,” I whisper. “Everyone matters,” I whisper.

He writes, “Je suis Charlie,” and he doesn’t know what he’s saying. He doesn’t understand anything. Neither do I, but I don’t care. “Je suis moi,’ I whisper. “Qui etes-vous?” I whisper. I’m trying to teach myself French. I’m trying to understand without listening.

She yells at me because I take a picture of my Italian dessert in Seoul. She teases me, asks if I’ll share it on Instagram. “Of course not,” I say. “Not anymore,” I whisper. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes I just want to share everything with you. Do you? Voulez-vous?

I was in love with a black boy when I was young. His skin was like chocolate. I don’t remember his name because he moved away, and I don’t remember anyone’s name. I wonder where he is now. I wonder if he speaks French. Who knows? Je ne sais pas.

They hate war, say it’s terrible. They hate bombs. They won’t talk about it, they filter it out. Everything is black and white. The gray color is too difficult. No one knows what gray matter is really about. I miss Psychology class. I learned a lot back then. I think I have forgotten everything. What good is a degree you don’t remember? But it still might get me a job somewhere. Peut etre.

I stay up too late. Too early. What timezone am I living in? My own, I guess. How do you say that in French? “Ma propre, je suppose.” That’s nice.

I want to write you a book. I remember this one time my friend said to me, “If you write a book, I’ll read it.” And that was a great thing to say. So maybe I’ll write a book for her, if I ever think of anything good. But maybe I should learn French first. It seems important. How do you say that? “Il semble important.” That’s nice.

I want to talk to all the people who I disagree with. I mean, it seems like I disagree with them. They march around upset and screaming, waving banners, blaming each other. They scare me. I don’t know if they would talk to me. I don’t know if we could get past our disagreements. Isn’t that sad? Tragic. Terrible. Lonely.

Je suis seul. I know that one. I like it because seul is a lot like Seoul and I’ve been to both places. Loneliness seems like a wonderful and terrible name for a place, doesn’t it? N’est-ce pas?

Hello. Who are you? Will you tell me? What do you look like when you’re all alone? Who are you? I don’t care about anything else. I won’t tell anyone your secrets, I promise. I miss you. I probably do, anyway. Even if I don’t know you. Isn’t that fucking stupid? Maybe you think it is. It’s not really true, because it’s impossible. Maybe I learned about this kind of logic in Philosophy classes, but I don’t remember any more. Merde.

I’m very bad at endings. I remember once I took an online Theater class, and I had to write a play. Just a short one. And it was about a family, and I don’t really remember what they said to each other. But students in my class commented on my play, and I remember they said it was too happy. There was no tension. It was too circular. Everything happened for a reason and the end was like the beginning. Do you think life is like that? Tell me. “Dîtes-moi!”

 

 

 

 

“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.