The air was cold, but it felt like home somehow. He looked at me like I was autumn, golden hair shining against a rust red sweater. His hands were crisp like the air and his hair mussed like the leaves drifting across the ground outside, but he reminded me of winter. We were toasty inside, seated on a brown leather couch worn by years of moments like this. He was cold, distant despite the millimeters of space between us, and I was hesitant to close the gap, afraid of rejection because he reminded me so much of my father. It’s only when I’m cold, shaking from fear and anxiety so deep it burns a hole right through my insides, that I feel most alive. So I crossed the bridge that separated us and reached for his hand.
There must be something in the water. I woke up today feeling drained, unable to stumble five minutes to the gym. Instead I lay in bed, hidden under covers that often feel like a haven from the rest of the world. If my dad died today, I would regret the relationship we had, that he wasn’t what he likely wishes he could be. But I don’t think there’s any more to be done about it, not really. Evidently, he talks to his mother more than he speaks to me, and I know he doesn’t reach out to that side often. It amazes me: the condescension and brazenness they possess. Tell me, would you speak to my mother the way you speak to me? We may share a bit of blood and the occasional holiday, but that’s the extent of it. It’s always felt a bit like a cult to me and I am far too much like the rain to drown in it.
Hold on to the memories; they will hold on to you.
Late night drives down a dark country road, the trees whipping by, their leaves finally starting to turn as the heat dies down to an ember. The wind rustling my hair as we roll the windows down and belt out lyrics about love and heartbreak and not giving a shit about any of it. We thought we were free, running wild beneath an inky black sky lit up by stars. But we didn’t know that we were racing toward the end, to a world full of greed and every-man-for-himself and no fucks to give about our passions or dreams. We had so much hope; we thought we were to going to change the world, walk our own path, sit in the driver’s seat of our futures. But then they popped the bubble and we spilled out into the night, hitting the unforgiving pavement and scraping our souls along the way. And when we emerged, bits of gravel still stuck to our hands where we’d braced against the impact, we had changed. The bruises faded, but we were hardened – steeled to face the world’s ugliness and utterly ignorant of all the beauty we once saw in it. Had chosen to see. It’s all about perspective, after all. And the tragedy is that so many of the searchers, the dreamers, the idealists with starlight in their eyes – those who actually wanted to better this sometimes miserable place we call planet Earth, the only ones who actually could – allow the world to change them. We hold on to the wheel for as long as we can, but they hold out longer, waiting for us to crash and burn and rise again, remade in their image. After all, wars aren’t won on battlefields, but rather in the chambers of hearts and darkest corners of our minds.
So we’ll let things take their course, the road to sudden death winding before us as our lives flash before our eyes, the best moments taking grip before the free fall. And we’ll never be sorry.
Tell me. Why is it so hard for you to respect the word no? Are you really so thick that you don’t understand? Or, as I suspect, are you so pigheaded that you simply don’t care?
I’m so tired of being touched, weary of the repeated violations. Sometimes I lie awake at night, tormented by the sensation of stubby fingers slithering over my skin like snakes, callused hands groping for love or lust or whatever they think they’ll find while hunting across the surface of me. How is it fair that I lie here sleepless while you warm someone else’s bed, oblivious to the invisible hurt you’ve inflicted with your wandering limbs? Some nights I dream about crawling out of my body, leaving behind my shame in its empty shell. I bet you don’t feel ashamed of what you’ve done. I bet you don’t even know. You’re a predator hiding in a clown costume, but I never found the circus funny.
It’s all about the moments.
Flames flickering and crackling across logs freshly chopped by a boy inept with an axe, the burning moss creating a smoky fog that stung our eyes and souls. I drove down 34th street to meet him; we ate sushi rolls too big for our mouths as we spoke of rhythm and words and the crazy sides of our families. It was a pleasant change from being abandoned at a fast food chain on a chilly night, clutching a bag of animal cruelty as I stumbled home along an empty road. Thanksgiving rolled around and she didn’t say hello, the one who has, time and time again, claimed to be older and wiser. I guess age doesn’t necessarily come with wisdom, or maturity. Then the matriarch, holding court like a benevolent queen, spat false niceties through smiling teeth and I bore it but didn’t grin at the spiders crawling between the crooked cracks in her facade. I may be young, but I am strong and just because she grew up to be neglectful of change doesn’t mean I will ever follow in her footsteps. I felt white hot anger towards the man who robbed my hero of her innocence. She doesn’t feel violated but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t. One number and another and they don’t add up; it’s all too much. I was nineteen and the first time was painful but I trusted him, the second a regret I still haven’t scraped clean from my insides. I didn’t mean to but I did and what’s done is done. There will be no further explanation, there will only be reputation. I wonder what mine is.
They’re burning all the witches, lighting us on fire with torches made of letters. Prudes and sluts and all the other names they come up with for us. To put us into boxes, tie us to beds, rope us into something we aren’t or never wanted to be. The power of words has never ceased to astound me. I’m struggling with touch right now, memories of Barcelona creeping up and laying siege to my mind despite the fact that I don’t know what happened, will never know. Even today, I still think about the girl from St. Louis who put me in a cab to go home; what happened before that? It’s been a tumultuous year and I don’t know what the rules are anymore, where to draw the line. Men are the ones who bring me closest to God, and when I pray at night sometimes I reach out and bite God in the wrist, hoping for a taste of the blood and pain his creations have wreaked upon this earth. For a moment of control, and understanding. For a father who knows how to show what he feels, how he cares. The Bible says I have two fathers, but it feels like I have none; my mother is my idol and I don’t care what the commandments say because she’s loved me better than anyone.
When I turn my chin upward and tilt my head back, I see death in the stars. Nothing is more mysterious than the empty night sky, devoid of light and reason and totally unfeeling toward those crawling beneath it. Maybe someday I’ll end up there, looking down on this mess of a planet, this beautiful world, watching. Waiting for the end. It turns out that it’s not about the moments, it’s about their collectivity. It’s about a lifetime.