Twenties

I thought my 20s

would be when everything 

made sense – 

I don’t know what I was expecting, though,

since my 20s began with the death

of my mother

and ended with the death 

of my limitations.

My 20s held funerary services 

of who I thought I was –

who I thought was worthy of me.

It was the death of ignoring myself;

My 20s ended with me coming to life.

Trunk space

I’ve lived with anxiety and depression for the majority of my adult life. Rather than say, “I’ve struggled” with either, I’ll take away any controlling factor and simply state, “I have lived.” They are like annoying roommates who mostly keep to themselves and then one of them clogs the toilet and doesn’t say anything, so it just overflows until I find it and then I’m stuck with the mess. I use the analogy of the toilet because a clogged toilet both makes me anxious and also a little sad. Feel free to insert whatever analogy works for you.

When my anxiety creeps up, I want to impulse eat. I want to yell. I want to run away. When I feel depressed, I want to hug my dog and live in my bed under the covers until dark and never come out. Luckily for my dog, I have extreme issues with guilt and an overwhelmingly responsibility to take care of others so it never lasts long and he inspires me to go outside, or for a trail walk, or to play fetch.

Tonight was a little different, though. I just really wanted to take a nap. I really wanted to drift off for a couple of hours and wake up a little less drowned in my own thoughts. This didn’t happen, though. The universe – and nature – decided a flash flood would be scheduled for 7 PM and I was woken with what sounded like a tornado running down my street. My dog and I both shot up and I heard my phone going off to the emergency alert system. I looked out the window and saw my neighbor Joan’s car parked with the trunk wide open.

Joan is elderly. She’s sweet, the right amount of nosy that any old woman should be, and my dog is her number one fan. She always forgets to close her trunk. Her husband had major surgery recently and she’s been inundated with helping him. There have been nurses and family members in and out of the condo next to mine in order to make sure Joan’s husband has the proper care. It makes me think of my grandpa and how rough the medical care was on the family and him for the last few months of his life. Her husband has improved, though, which makes me happy to hear.

So back to Joan’s damn trunk. I don’t even think about it, just say, “Dammit, Joan!” I throw on some pants and a tee and run outside like a mad woman and slam the trunk before the rain gets too bad. I don’t tell her. I don’t make a scene; just prevent a soggy trunk and run back into the house. When I closed the door it hit me – no matter how stuck I feel, regardless of how fucked up things may seem, I (or you) always have a purpose. There is always a purpose to do even the smallest thing for an unwitting person. I (you) always have a place in this world, even if it’s just closing some old lady’s trunk in a flash flood.

Sacrifice

We stand shorebound and watch

fishermen hold tight to rocks,

their faces smooth like beach glass 

from years of meeting with the sea.

A wave will crash 

and more and more – 

Applause for the morning’s bounty.

Even icy dawns

when we saw the sunrise 

over wild spraying sea –

And biting winds threw birds 

towards the end of the earth 

and the horizon lay as if it were under the tide

ignoring the seabirds fights and cries,

she still accords with fishermen

trading patience for salt.

Their steady, tired feet and tired eyes

meet the wind and take its bites 

and respect where the horizon lies. 

A Question

Is there one single, all-encompassing truth and we are all too small to see it, or are we all floating freely living truths strictly based off our own realms of perception?
I often have wondered if there is a rhyme or reason to human interaction, if we are moving around like atoms who sometimes collide and sometimes work together. I wondered why my ex-partner saw logic in his infidelity, believing he was protecting me by hiding a relationship while maintaining a life with me, as if that false sense of security was better than me being alone. It’s alarming, as people, that we see others as we want them to seem, and that we see situations based on the depth of our own personal perceptions. It’s a hard truth for some that we are only capable of loving another based on the capacity of what we believe we deserve. No matter how hard we want to believe we can give more than we are able, we cannot. So is there a truth, larger than all of us, that we are too small to see? Or are all of our truths, hitting into each other, what the big picture is?

Up and Over

I never got the urge

to cry

when looking at someone

I loved unless

they were moments

from death.

I never felt such overwhelming

joy

until that September afternoon –

Your eyes.

Those eyes like mine

made me feel

such joy

I almost wept.

I could not contain

just how much

I loved you.

French press mornings

that gifted us our futures in the bottom

of our cups –

I cannot read our future.

Why did you fall in love with me?

You smiled and said nothing.

I asked again –

I took your hand –

You’re easy to love, I said.

You smiled and said,

because you’re kind.

Kind to heart and kind in patience

rose-colored and divine –

Too rosy to see your eyes that hid

what you couldn’t tell me until

many months past.

To leave me devoured and spit out

spit up resentments where love once was

our cups empty

my –

My cup empty.

You touched her –

and her –

and probably her as well.

Black coffee grind hand on my heart

too divine to stay elevated

fell again

at your feet.

And I wept and wept

to look at your face

to see the death of us –

dead to me.

When I Dream of my Mother

I often wonder what moment

for you was the pistol

and what moment

was the decision to pull

the trigger.

It’s usually a split

decision that moves like

an indiscernible

brush stroke, uniform –

An obvious beginning

and end but no sign

of the climax.

I often wonder what life

you would have led

if you didn’t stay –

If you didn’t say yes

to a rock that was below

your worth –

If you didn’t measure

your life in poorly

assembled dominoes –

A uniformity doomed from the moment

you began self-medicating.

You were never meant to fall straight.

Would you have

remained

in the Native Land

with red clay to call

home and ground yourself

to ancient beings who never fell from the sky?

Who would you have become

if you stopped

holding on so hard?

I may have never been

but I speculate the sacrifice

would have been worth you knowing

old age.

Atom Bomb

You shot me point blank

with your smoking gun

semi-automatic

heart.

Charming spectacle

convincing sparkle

in your eyes –

An addicting, blinding,

white hot

like the sun in the summer

but carrying the effect

of an atomic blast.

I soaked it in

and was dust before

the boom.

The Wrong Questions

If I hadn’t met

you,

I wouldn’t have fallen

in love

(although you weren’t

in love with me – incapable,

you said)

for the first time.

Said it out loud to those

eyes

beautiful eyes, like

mine

(but mirrored to mine

because you are

the opposite of me).

Am I Narcissus,

then? Am I

self-indulgent

or do I love

the darkness more than I like

to admit?

(to admit to you I loved your shadows,

fiery red)

Monsters

You told me you liked

the Call of Cthulhu

because you couldn’t see it –

because you had to imagine how bad it was.

Lovecraft was smart that way,

you said,

to make us imagine our monster.

In our end I realized

by no wanting of my own –

the connections of you and the faceless beast,

a thing I never fully saw.

I Hope you Find Peace

I spent over a year in a world of unimaginable love, where I looked into your eyes and saw beauty and a deeper, brooding darkness that lured me in like a well. We had an undeniable connection and our love grew gradually. Nothing we did was conventional, but none of it mattered, because you weren’t conventional and neither am I.

All of the family loss, grief, and heartache I encountered – as well as your own – was met with support and understanding. We were our own people, living independently beside each other. I thought you got me; I thought you understood who I was and accepted me as I am. When the time came to tell you I loved you, you said it back without skipping a beat and I waited until I got into my car to cry because I was so overcome with joy, because I felt the realness of your words and felt warmth in the way you looked at me. It was the day before my mother’s anniversary of her death, and the day before your cousin’s funeral in Boston. You played the guitar for me the week before and sang. You maneuvered the frets and let me strum and we made a song together that was beautiful and slow and I knew I loved you the week before I said it. You and I were so sad that month, but I couldn’t help but smile when I looked at you.

You can imagine, then, how surprised and shocked I was when you arrived at my house that warm February afternoon, looking sicker than anything I’d ever seen, to tell me that you’d been cheating on me for the last three months. You told me the whole week before that you felt ill and I urged you to go to the doctor, I brought you tea, I brought you breakfast at home – unaware that she and I were living in each other’s shadow for three months. Your housemates knew, your mother knew, and no one said anything, no one warned me of your manipulation – they all trusted in you to come clean. The Friday before, you introduced me as your girlfriend, only for me to discover you asked her that same evening to be yours. It was pure luck that she found out about me, because you calculated every movement, every interaction, to ensure we would never cross paths. I gave you the emotional intimacy, and she gave you sexual. You had to separate us like a true sociopath.

And when you told me you’d been cheating on me, when you sobbed and heaved and writhed in my arms, saying you loved me, saying you were sorry, I couldn’t help but feel bad for you. I knew I had done nothing wrong over this past year besides challenge you to communicate more, to open up, to express your feelings. You are the one who has to live knowing you lied about my grandfather’s death to her, and you are the one who has to live knowing he died believing you wouldn’t hurt me. I will have to live knowing I was wrong about you, but at least I will live with a clean conscience.

As I talked to your other girl, and as the conversation went on hour after hour, I became more and more dismayed learning of the lengths you went to in order to deny my existence. I am unable to comprehend on any level how you could tell me – to my face – over and over that you loved me. I can’t understand how you could lay with her and then only hours later crawl up beside me and kiss me, tell me how proud of me you were, tell me how pretty I looked, and fall asleep holding me tighter than I ever knew I wanted.

Yet through all of this, my love, I only want you to find peace. I cannot hate you, because I feel you have the deepest loathing of yourself. I believe you hurt everyone around you who challenges you to face a part of yourself that you have denied for years, because you fear the truth. And I agree, the truth is scary – dying is scary – the unknown is scary. You are facing your own unknown, and that could be the death of a part of you that you aren’t ready to release from. But honestly, you need to kill the demon by facing it, and by admitting you need to help yourself. I know that everything I felt for you was real, the love I still and will always have for you is real; I believe – or want to believe – that you do love me, that you did love me at some point, but I also know that we as people are incapable of loving another beyond the capacity which we are able to love ourselves. I can still love you because I grew to love myself – I killed my demons. I hope you find peace. I truly do.