the older i get, the more i write, the more things i realize i can’t write about - the more i realize that some feelings can never be written out no matter how desperately your fingers start to itch, no matter how throbbingly vital it becomes to just dig your fingers right in that messed-up funk just so you can lay it out neat and tack it up with a few nails in a pretty frame, like some kind of trophy that says, ‘I felt this and I fucking conquered it’ because if that were to happen, it means you would never have to be afraid of that feeling again; it would never ever split you open ever again and expect you to grin and bear it; it would never make you feel so helpless and just like static, uncontainable and unbearably meaningless. it would never spin you out of your godforsaken orbit and leave you stranded and alone ever again.
there are just some feelings that rule you, they rule over you, that refuse to be named and withholds all the power. as a person, i get that i should learn to accept that. we have so few words for all of the crazy beauteous things in life. a spectrum that words groan under the weight of trying to encompass. but the part of me that needs words to let things go feels that she can’t. even when words fail me, even when they fall so spectacularly short of what i need them to be, i hold on. i can’t let things go and i’ll watch it bury me alive. i let the soil fill my mouth. maybe my mouth will feel the fullest it has ever been. maybe then it will be satisfied with no words at all.
no more scrambling. no more lighting matches that burn out too quickly. no more reaching for what’s not there. no more pedestals. no more feelings of suffocating inadequacy. no more self-loathing. no more shoulds. no more pretending.
no more me shouting stardust into the universe.
no more of them not answering back.
i took a child development class last semester (infancy and childhood) and it had never really occurred to me until that class how much responsibility parents carry. how much we look to them; how much we blame them. our parents are the first people we officially meet. they are our first introduction to the human race and the social universe. they teach us how to be good, how not to be bad, how to be kind, how to get what we want in life, how to be graceful losers, and how to grow a phantom twin that’ll pick us back up when we’ve fallen and the ground feels too comfortable, softened by defeat. they teach us so many things, often without even meaning to.
we take from them their genes, their wisdom, their tempers. we learn to hate the parts of them that inconvenience or hurt us, yet always live in some kind of fear knowing that those same despicable traits are in us somewhere, nestled in between genetic codes, lying dormant until it decides to wake up and presumably ruin our lives. at the same time, we hope we gain their strong, positive qualities. like their infectious laughter or compassion or youthful skin or fast metabolism. we want to emulate the parts of our parents we love; none of the parts that reminded us that they, too, are human. we forget our parents are made of the stuff we are - rejection, disappointments, good memories of people who are now gone - that they have histories that precede us - and often broken ones. my own parents’ histories are filled with poverty and fatherless upbringings. it is under the weight of this that i see my own father struggle; even now, he is trying to be both the father to us and himself, at the same time.
1. siphon the goodness out of me.
make it worth it. let me prove i was
good for something other than
2. i am still waiting to wake up
3. it is my six-year-old self who
trails behind me and picks up
the parts of myself that have fallen,
shaking her head, tucking them
into the pockets of her dress
4. i know now why i have never heard
a story about how a person loved so hard
it brought the dead back to life
5. and i would write it but
i would be too angry at
all the lies
to be here, at the
beginning of everything,
already saying my
1. it will never be okay that you’re gone. i read this in a book and i can’t even begin to explain how it felt to have someone say this, for someone not to sweep it under the rug under the general category of everyday tragedies. people die every day - this is what i brace myself up against, but these people have never felt your smile fill up a dark room, never heard your laugh against the backdrop of a hot summer night, never felt your words against their ears welcoming them back home.
how can i begin to talk about home? your absence felt like a gaping void left in my chest. felt in every heavy sigh, in every steadying mantra that life is a testament, it’s a will, it’s a struggle, it guts us alive and leaves us on the side of the road, gasping for breath. i want to live for you and me. i want to but my heart feels so heavy.
i still catch myself sometimes. i reach for my phone. i make mental notes to mention things in conversation. only these conversations are to be left pending, forever. and sometimes i still find myself in bed asking you to come back to us. praying this is all a twisted dream. praying we’ll wake up. and that you’ll wake up with us.
sometimes i think i’m the one being shaken awake, and all i do is resist.
2. you are my best friend, my second home. i don’t want to go but i’m weak. i’m weak and that’s my disease.
i wish i could tell you i love you so much trying to put it into words seems like an insult. you have heard my poetry, waited patiently as i struggled to put my pain and confusion into language, seen me when i’ve been defeated by silence. you were always there. with words or without them.
3. i would have been so good to you. i vowed never to be the waiting kind but i think that was a noble, hopeful lie.
i waited, anyway.
i wait, anyway.
4. i see you all in the lines in my hands, the weathered arches of my feet. the dust in my eyes. the spots of sunlight on concrete. i see you in the little everyday miracles of life. i find your laugh lines in the backbone of my sorrows. i find your beauty and grace in dew-laced spider webs. i see you and i love you all.
so many great and overwhelming things are happening (publication! first postgrad job! graduation in 2 weeks! other stuff!) that it’s sorta giving me ulcers and i walk around trying to dispel this confused haze floating around my head so i can get back to reality and go for that last push. the truth is i’m trying so hard to trust this process, this process that makes you spend almost your entire life in a crawl and suddenly you’re in a convertible speeding down the highway, watching the scenery blur by in just one breath.
while my friends talk about new homes
new routes into foreign places like ants
burrowing into new places in the soil
i feel my eyes glaze over as i watch
my future kill my own ambition
graying over and wilting and thinking
did i ever have a chance at it? was it all
some master joke? to have dreamed so hard
and to graduate with not a shout
but a slow dying whimper while i
bury my hands into the ground,
wishing someone could tell me,
you could still be something,
if only i remembered that.
i wish i could mimic the hope
in the unseen supposedly flowering
opportunities of a world teetering on edge
truth is i smile frozenly all the while i
can already feel myself being
devoured alive, inch by inch. i can
already feel myself passing —
i clung so hard to my passion
i forgot how cruel the world can be
to people who love something the most.
some nights i go to bed
wishing not that i would wake
or more talented,
as if the courage
i never had
would solve it all
every now and then i find myself at odds with my own insignificance, at how i can feel so much within such fluid yet invisible seconds yet remain so small in the grand scheme of things. at how sometimes my own existence can pose so close to contradiction, at how i can sit for long periods and feel nothing, and at other times happen to catch the sun flitting through a canopy of leaves from a nearby tree and feel so much beauty in one accidental gesture that it almost hurts to witness, at the anger i sometimes feel at words for failing to save me, for failing to turn my confusion into some kind of fucking tragic poetry, for failing to turn my soul into something worth saving
i imagine myself standing in front of my 13 year old self sometimes and i try not to weep so hard and veil my lies not so blatantly
i imagine myself standing in front of my 6 year old self sometimes at LAX and stoop down to tell her one day her accent will be gone and she will never get it back and that it deserves a funeral, so she should give it one, with respect
that the tongue she will use to give it justice will be circumcised at the playground where she played hopscotch and blistered her fingers on monkey bars
my mother cut my hair short like a boy’s until i was old enough to hate her for it and i believed her when she never told me i would ever be beautiful enough for anybody, not even myself
i thought the cure for my own self-loathing was to love somebody else wholly and completely, even when they filled you with empty arsenic words, even when they left you stranded and your days became strung together by unreturned phone calls. you only love once purely and unconditionally, and it almost always lands against your face like an iron fist, as payback, as the inevitable lesson of the true nature of love
which is that it isn’t afraid to pick you up
to make sure you shatter completely
when it throws you back down
i was taught that Jesus Christ helps us through all things, but i heard nothing from him here, unless he changed his name to Judy Blume
words have failed me before; not sure whether it is because i invested too much in their imagined power or because i stopped believing in them altogether. i used them too often, talked too much, said words i didn’t mean, that sometimes when i spoke it was profane without having to be censored. they fluctuated from empty to bursting to meaningless to my only saving grace, and i wonder if and when i die i could find the gall to find a few words that still remained that deserved my last and only breath
but i will tell you now
it won’t be love
i won’t let it, for
love has a sordid history of
taking an innocent girl’s breath
and in my death
i intend not to waste another second
i intend to get it back.
tonight i learned
how i got to be so good
at waiting, at how peculiar
it can be that patience
has long decorated my
tonight, i know
i inherited it from
my mother, whose
patience has eaten
her bones brittle
and worn her heart
in an empty room.
yesterday was my friend’s wedding, and it was the first time in a very long time that I’d stepped into a Catholic church, which was an interesting experience. there was a brown Jesus statue that I very much approved of. so gone are my Catholic roots that I didn’t even remember how to do the sign of the cross (yet interestingly enough, that residual Catholic guilt still remains).
but what I wanted to talk about was my moment with Mary. let me preface this with a little known fact: i have always been intrigued by the Virgin Mary — who she is, her story, her significance within certain cultures, etc. granted, when i was younger, the term “virgin” was not as clear as it is now, but once it was it was like opening up a can of worms that would never ever be closed. especially as a female growing up in religious surroundings, the virgin mary gets to inhabit this sacred symbolism and even paradigm of what the perfect woman/girl should be. pure and feminine and as virgin as the day is long that she was “chosen” by God. which makes me wonder what the application process would’ve been like, if there had been one. but i digress.
I had my first meeting with my mentor last week about my projects and the two p-words (possibilities! publishing!) as part of my Independent Study with her. I have been trying all weekend to talk about this, to get it down in blog-form, but something about it keeps turning me off. It sort of feels like psychological indigestion. Writing about it makes me nervous and confused. Even talking about it to my roommates took me awhile.
do you ever just think, I wish I could bottle up this moment, and things could be exactly this way — at least in this bottle, even if nowhere else — forever? And nobody would get any older, or wiser, or sadder, or angrier. And that version of ourselves would always just be there, not just a memory, but a real physical relic of a time when you wanted nothing more than where you already were, at that moment, and who you were already with. And you realize how rare that is, to realize you are not only content with what you have, but are incredibly, amazingly full as if that one, puny moment has given you an entire feast’s satisfaction. And you just want to keep it that way, for as long as you can. You want to stop time, because if you did that, it meant nothing would change. Nobody’s hair would fall out, nobody’s laugh would end, nobody would have to say goodbye to that moment, because when people do that, they don’t know they’re doing it for forever. That’s the thing they don’t tell you. You don’t realize that when you leave, you’ll never get it back — at least, not in the exact same way. Everything will have changed. You will get different versions of that moment, but never the same moment twice. You will try to restage that moment, but you will always fail.
And that when you leave home, they never tell you everything will still be there the way you left it. That’s because they know better. The world turns and dust covers everything you love and every day you get older and farther away from that person that you loved, that person that you used to be. That person that you so desperately miss.
But it was so good the first time, you’d think. It was just perfect back then. For once, you could think of nothing about it you’d wanted to change. And it was like the best dream, because all of it was actually real.