May 22, 2016


You keep telling yourself that twenty-two is the time to make mistakes. You work really fucking hard just to stay alive and not cry in public. Be as wild as you want. 

In truth, you don't know if you were ever really wild, or if you've fooled everyone because you do it a certain way: Take two shots of something that somebody else paid for. Slide your finger distractedly through your hair/up your leg/down your arm/across your throat. Make eyes at an undesignated, unimportant person across the room/train/bar/lawn/etc. Go home with someone you didn't look at all night.

Be up before eight am. Finger whatever piercing, tattoo, kiss, cut, or scar you've accumulated, stepping over a stranger's shavings to get to the bathroom sink.

Your choices will start to feel like the children of a husband's first wife. Your choices will feel as if a stranger inflicted them upon you - something to endure. And then, you'll grow to love them as if they were your own.

You'll love them so quickly, they'll turn into your best stories by the time the next night slams the door.

That time Dan and I got drunk on St. Mark's and let some guy named Tino give us piercings. That time Bailey dragged me up five flights of stairs to get a tattoo she drew on a scrap of paper torn from the Gay Times. That time you laughingly shared a water-pillow with a boy named Mike, because he lived in Georgia, but still knew how to spell Dostoevsky at three am, three whiskey sours in. 

They're your best stories. But who were they about, again?

May 15, 2016

San Diego Saturday.

I never cease to wonder at the ease with which you can wake up into a new life, the old slipped off like a silk robe in a pile on the bathroom tile. I woke up in San Diego this morning on an almost-stranger's couch, face buried into the stale cushions, smiling. I keep reminding myself it's only for a week, and this is just some temporary dreamland I'll flit through, but it's hard when the new places feel more like home than the old. That's a leftover symptom of the traveling months: being alone and unfettered in a town I've never seen before makes me feel more like myself than anything else. And when I feel most like myself, I feel at home.

When I told my mom I was heading to California she said, "Take lots of pictures! And promise me you'll get on your return flight!" When I rolled a too-heavy-to-carry suitcase out the apartment door, Dan said the same thing. I smiled and said, "No promises." It was a joke, but I wonder what would happen if I rolled out my blankets on a San Francisco floor and let the fallout hit quick and quiet.

It won't happen. I'll get on the flight. I'll be in every place I've promised to be. But thinking it doesn't cost something steep is naive. It costs a lot. Some wild animal within curls tight and yelps. I do what I'm expected to do and wither, like a sunflower turned away from its source.

I lived without consequences for such a long time, it's hard to believe they exist. But I know they wait for me - licking their lips like all the girls in college who looked for every opportunity to say I told you so. I'm tired of suffering for my inability to play the long game, so I'm trying to stay tethered to my life for a little longer.

This morning we walked through the rain to the farmer's market and bought a crate of strawberries from Coronado. I wore the Celine sunglasses with a leather coat and got seeds stuck in my teeth. When we left, I dragged my feet, smiling at the farmer, wondering whether to cast in my lot with his or to wait for someone more like me.

April 21, 2016

Country Song.

We started running again when we realized
we'd forgotten the way our sweat smelled: grassy and
like the front yard and side field
on an August day.
90 degrees but your weather app might as well read
feels like fucking hell.

All of us stuck down here,
running our lawn mowers over dead animals,
pulling on our knee-highs to wade through the swamp,
timing it so our feet squash the cattails right when the sun splatters our faces.
like tics on a horse hide,
like honeysuckle on the highway.

February 13, 2016

February 14.

(Allessandro Lupi, Identity, 2013)

I ruined every pair of boots I had that winter, 
taking shortcuts through the snow. 
The night always fell and falling
medic, clear,
too low.

In the Holocaust Museum, I cried 
like you'd said I would. I'd been there before, 
at thirteen and again at twenty-two.
The same reaction:
throwing up when I saw their shoes.

January 2, 2016

Wind Changes.

It was a year of wind-changes. I woke like a bird at dawn every day, rustling my feathers, wondering where the light would fall.

I kept trying to catch and capture my identity even as it was stripped from me. Burrowed in. Burrowed out. Called myself new names.

I split each day between sleep and slough. I'd lost my sense of wonder, and it came back the more I craned my neck. It came back the more sweet things I ate, the more songs I tried to sing in languages I didn't know, the more narrow cobble I climbed.

The year ahead is already halved and quartered. Hard work, hustle, New York. Then on - maybe Alaska, New Hampshire, Iowa.

I flick my eyelids up and down. I tell myself to be better. I delete the numbers I shouldn't call. I pack away the poems I shouldn't read. I'll get small and strong, I'll get more honest. I'll get less selfish. 

If someone were to ask what I wanted, I'd tell them first about the dream I had that I knew was from God: the one where I woke up knowing where to go and how to get there.

Then I'd tell them after that! 

I'd tell them: Life's been pick-pocketing me, but I don't mind.

On the first day of January, we drove away from the mountains drunk on muscadine wine. I stretched my mouth and curled my fingers - hands to the wheel, eyes narrowed against the dark, moving forward with all the fear and courage of the present and the past.