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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.

He is sitting at the table raking his bonsai tree. I am standing in front of him, watching. This is what he does now. It is all that he does. He grooms this little tree. He sits at this table, small, white, boring. It’s fun, he says. He does not look up at me.

Sometimes music blares in the room. It’s good music. It makes him happy, as he sits very still and stares at the bonsai tree. I listen to his music. I search for some kind of meaning in it, because he is silent. Slowly the music is becoming more interesting than he is. I watch him; he does not look up at me.

The tree is alive but he is dying. I want to dump the thing on the floor, pull him away, throw a clock at him, kiss his face, make him stare into a sunset. Wake up. Stop this. It is such a little thing, it is not as big as you think it is. He stops listening to me.

It is getting worse and worse. The music is still playing, it still sounds nice, but it’s starting to make my head hurt. Too much of a good thing. Too much of this one thing. Not enough of the man behind the tree. He is lost in it. Somehow he is gone.

Finally, finally, finally, I am tired. I sing softly along with his song as I leave the room. He does not look at me, he does not look for me. Somehow he has died. The door shuts. Maybe I will see him again in the sunshine.

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. How dare you flirt with my fake boyfriend!

2. It’s super reassuring/terrifying when cool successful people also admit that they have no idea what they’re doing with their lives. Wait, what?! Nooo! Help!

3. When was the last time you used sidewalk chalk? Not recently enough!

4. Maybe you’ve known someone for a really long time and you think you know all about them. But I’m sure there’s a lot you still don’t know. And people change. Keep getting to know them.

5. Compliment someone today.

6. Winter is coming! Halloween is coming! Tomorrow is coming!

7. Why are pen pals not that much of a thing anymore?! Getting mail/letters is awesome. Come on, people. Get with it.

8. You’re not going to get Ebola. I mean, probably. OMG WHY did I read that one book that one time about exploding Ebola-monkeys?! But really, what’s worse: staying in your house all the time and avoiding all contact with people/the outside world or getting Ebola? Exactly. Also, on a totally separate note, who wants to play Pandemic?? It’s a classic!

9. Listen to what it is you’re saying, especially if you expect others to. Pay attention to yourself.

10. Why are we paying so much attention/money to people with so little talent?! Because they’re on the radio?! That doesn’t mean they deserve your time! Because they’re on T.V?? Because whatever it is they create is everywhere and so easy to see?? That does not mean it’s good, or useful, or interesting, or worthwhile. It’s all self-perpetuating and gross. Turn it off. Find something better. It’s not that hard.

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1. How to not make friends: refer to someone as “ethically flexible”. Oops.

2. There are a lot of terrible things happening in the world. People are allowed to talk about/mention/feel sad about different things, even if you feel like those things are not as important/tragic/terrible as the things you think are terrible/tragic/important. Just like people are allowed to be happy, even though there are terrible things happening. No one has to wallow in all of the misery at once. You are not the director of the world’s actions. You don’t get to proclaim what’s important and what’s not. Basically, shut up! 

3. sometimes it is forever; other times it is nothing at all.

4. Do some people just enjoy being cynical? I can’t understand it. How can you even have the energy to be so mean-spirited, hateful, angry, blunt, wrong, foolish? Does it give you some kind of pride? Does it make you happy? Does it feel like you’re doing the right thing? Are you lashing out at some unknown attacker? What are you doing?! What. Are. You. Doing. Just stop! Good grief. Do you need a hug?

5. At some point, no matter how nice/funny/smart/good-looking someone is, the little things they’ve done or said that you’ve disliked in a deep-down sort of way add up. And it’s sad, heart-breaking, whatever. But it happens. And they just aren’t the person you thought they were/you didn’t know who they were to begin with.

6. good things from the past month of my life: sparklers in the middle of the road at midnight, polite strangers, tiny presents of tiny stickers from tiny children, mail from Panama and America, learning possessives in French (but please don’t ask me to actually prove it!).

7. You can do it all differently tomorrow.

8. Orange Is the New Black is a great show! I never believe it. It’s always true.

9. It’s real fun living in the middle of a giant city, especially at night, when you hear murderous screams/manic laughter from outside your window and you’re never sure if it’s either or both or just a crazy alley cat.

10. We’re more than halfway through the year, World, and I’m not really sure if we’re being any kinder to each other. Let’s try harder. Let’s all keep going.

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1. Musical festivals are not your friend.

2. “I accidentally read a wiki page on it today.”

3. Oh, god, is it Summer already?! I forgot what hot, humid weather felt like! WHY did we want this?!

4. “If not now, when? If not now, never.” was something I told myself/fought with myself about last week. I was so so so scared to do something, something simple, even though I really wanted to! So then I did it. And it was great! SO JUST DO IT, OK, SHEESH. Whatever it is. Do it. You’ll be afraid but you’ll also be ok.

5. I’m beginning to like K-Pop. …SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM KOREA!

6. He was beautiful but not kind. So, technically, not beautiful.

7. I’m getting very tired of having to tell you to GET THE FUCK OUT. Leave. GO. Do something! Go somewhere! Be someone you want to be! People like you fade from my heart. Please don’t.

8. Write a letter to yourself in the future. Say anything. Tell them what you want to be doing in a year. Tell your future self what you had for breakfast today. Anything. Put it in an envelope. Wait six months or more to read it.

9. It’s not gonna be easy but it will be okay. HASHTAGlife.

10. Wanna write something for heyinfinity.com?! Of COURSE you do! And we want to hear from you! Send an email with your idea to: heyinfinityjenni@gmail.com

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1. I hope you are happy.

2. People are still living their lives even when you can’t see them.

3. You are beautiful, you know that. Tell me why you need to keep posting poorly-lit pictures of yourself to prove it.

4. Our planet is both the largest and smallest thing that exists; the largest hunk of rock you’ll ever live on, a tiny speck in the universe. You can be thousands of miles (kilometers?) away from someone, and yet they’re just at your fingertips, on your computer screen, in your pocket. Big and small, near and far, finite and infinite.

5. Yes, Frozen is amazing. But think of all the other great Disney songs young kids are missing out on! Someone dig out the Lion King/Aladdin/Little Mermaid VHS!!

6. If you appear to other people to be what you dream of yet becoming, what are you? Who are we all trying to be, anyway? Are we even trying to be anything?

7. For the love of all that exists, please can we stop saying “literally“?!! Even if you actually truly really mean literally. Just don’t. Get a thesaurus. Stop. Stop. Stop.

8. Someone save me from my apparently über-Canadian fate. Irish? Italians? French? Is anyone out there?! It’s me, Margaret. Wait, what?

9. It makes me sad that when someone asks a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the only socially acceptable examples are, “A doctor? A lawyer? Scientist?” No one says artist, philosopher, barkeeper — whatever. It’s 2014 and we still can’t speak the truth.

10. You’re not alone. Even when it feels like it. Even when you physically are. You’re just not.

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Sometimes it seems all of life is a series of footsteps, a trail of footprints. A step onto an airplane. A step away; forward. A step in the same annual circle. A smile, a nod. A slowly darkening, wrinkling mirror.

What if one of the footprints you left on that beach years ago is still there? Somehow, somehow. Left alone by waves and wind and other sandy, stomping tourists. Anyway, it still exists there, somewhere, if only in your mind. Footprints like memories, memories like eternal footprints on places.

A face in the mirror. A different face, one that doesn’t belong to you; never did, though you lied to yourself, said it was yours. Happiness replaced by nothingness replaced by sadness. Memories like the trails of footprints left by kisses on your body. You still see them, still visible, they still exist there on your shoulder, on your cheek; you feel them, they live with you, walk with you.

A dull gray morning. Smog covers what surely once was something beautiful. The sun has risen somewhere but you can’t see it. Men drag their feet to work and you follow, the hand of some clock, the minute of some hour. You sit in your chair, gulping coffee, dreaming about the pajama pants left in a puddle at the foot of your bed. Hours later, you step back out into the world, back to those pants: more footsteps, more circles.

I am a calendar. I am a footbridge. I am the shoes I wore when I was four. I am your silly laugh. I am your nervous tic. I am that midnight tear-filled dinner. I am that bad joke. I am your harsh words. I am your silence. I am the warmth of the sun from that day on the beach years ago.

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1. Stop calling yourself an “unknown poet”, EVERYONE is an unknown poet!

2. Things you are not allowed to say: “I miss you”, “I had a dream about you”, “I think your baby is actually quite ugly”.

3. We’re all scared. That shouldn’t stop you.

4. Some girls speak poetry as their first language and don’t know how to stop. They wear dark eye makeup and thrift store sweaters and listen to music they choose to like. They take pictures day after day from the exact same angle of the exact same face until they’re convinced that they’re beautiful. Sometimes they all look the same.

5. It’s never going to be simple.

6. Horrible things just keep happening in the world, don’t they? And it seems so terrible and evil and sad. And it is. And then you talk to your friend or meet a nice lady at the grocery store who tells you about her daughter or someone does something nice for someone else. And at least there’s a balance of terrible and wonderful.

7. I’m currently growing daisies in a tiny pot in my room under my desk lamp. It’s a tiny rebellion against winter. Or something. Maybe it’s just tiny daisy plants.

8. You should read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. It’s a really simple and beautiful book.

9. Tell them, just tell them! UGH!

10. “When I save up lots of money, I just buy piggy banks.” – small girl with, apparently, lots of money, and, most likely, lots of piggy banks.