Bumps and Creases

Remember when we were little, when we were fresh out of third grade, we would M.A.S.H and map out our husbands and careers by drawing spirals with pencils in our green soft covered marble notebooks? (Pens were for older kids, and even if we had a pen we would never use it because if we messed up or didn’t like our futures, we couldn’t change the results; we would have to waste another page. But with a pencil, you just erase it and start all over.) Remember the times when we would check the bumps when we bent our wrists forward like Spiderman and the creases on the sides of our writing hand to see how many kids we’d have in the future. Or the times, when we would trace the lines on our palms to see if we had an M for money and a long, continuous life line.

When we would dream about prince charmings, and mansions, and two kids – one boy and one girl, and flying to the moon on a big bad starship, and we would tell our parents. And our parents would tell us that we could be whatever we wanted, instead of telling us that NASA has no funding and no job availabilities. Instead of telling us that our dreams aren’t practical for this economy. That girls can’t hide away in forests or towers with their animal friends and wait to be rescued. That the first guy or the second guy or the third guy they meet isn’t going to be the one. That even after 8 years of grade school, and 4 years of high school, and 4 years of college (if you’re lucky) and dozens of meaningless standardized exams, and millions of As and gold stars, your 5 year plan can still turn out to be nothing regardless of whether you were sticking to your dream or financial stability.

I spoke to my uncle this past Christmas and he told me that I was born in a selfish generation… and I think he’s right. I feel the pain of no free wifi and 12% battery life while my uncle lived less than luxuriously through World War II. It’s not a fair comparison, but it speaks a truth. They had no choice. I do. And I’m choosing the stars over financial book keeping. My dream and my uncle’s dream come from two separate realities, but it has been said that parents try to live vicariously through their children, giving them all the things they didn’t have themselves. I’d like to think the right to choose is one of them.

I’m only 19 and if this choice is a mistake I know God put me on this planet not with a pencil to map out my future, but an endless supply of ink and a fountain pen so that all I can do is turn pages, keeping every cross out, every MASH, every plan that didn’t work out with futile attempts at improvement squeezed in between the margins. This isn’t third grade I can’t erase my mistakes and pretend they never happened.

And that’s okay, because after a while pencils go dull.

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The things we admire in others are often the things we want for ourselves. Or our social media.

She is delicate with her characters. Uses capital letters sparingly, and her hashtags are never trending. Acronyms are accentuated somehow with a tone so sophisticated you would have thought she was French the way her words fell so concisely. That doesn’t even make any sense.

She checks in at the bodega on the corner of her east Hudson studio, every afternoon around 2 or 3, taking a siesta like she’s from Spain or something, but she’s not a snob because she curses sometimes and quotes Kanye and Miguel and plenty of old school hiphop godfathers, just as much as she quotes “Eat Pray Love” and Audrey Hepburn.

She’s got a sultry sexuality, her icon is her side profile in sepia, and her wallpaper is in black and white. It is a tasteful photograph of a topless woman with long hair, resting her back on the headboard of a bed as she smokes a cigarette, the wall behind it lined with rifles.

She is cool. She doesn’t tweet often. Her feed is mostly horoscopes and you can hardly believe that a woman like her needs guidance at all. She is congratulatory and conciliatory and humorously sarcastic to her friends when they need her to be, which is not too often. Her followers are few, her following fewer, but she can tell you the birthday of all 152 of them.

She is kind. She is real, though its obvious that she is very selective with her thoughts, and for that very reason you want to be just like her. She is quiet in a world full of noise, in a world growing louder and louder. She is quiet not because she is shy or secretive.

She is quiet because she has control over herself. And you want that control for yourself more than anything.

3 Months

I still wear pieces of you;
your red flannel, stolen by
or left to me long before you were even mine.

I drink my morning coffee and ice water
from a mug you got me for
an occasion I can’t even remember.

Every out-of-state license plate teases my heart with a playful punch,
And sometimes I look for the time and see you there,
Ticking away on my wrist,
Counting up every staircase I climb
Every step I take
Every mile I walk or hike
Or run away from you.

This is the first time after a broken connection that I didn’t resent the things I was left with.

In fact, this is the first time I am grateful for them, to a boy for leaving a piece of himself with me. We built so much together over the course of two years, it is amazing and beautiful how even after it crumbled, I can see the rubble and just smile. I don’t need to turn back and rebuild it-not just yet.

I hope I was not too selfish with you. I hope I left you with something happy, too. I hope if you see pieces of me that you remember us fondly, because by god it is a miracle we were able to love each other this damn much.

Thank you for teaching me how to love.

To understand what it looks like when things go right in love.

To let go with grace and gratitude and hope, when things don’t work out.

To fight for what you want, without shame. Without pride.

Will we love like this again?
I know you will.
Will I?
I hope so.

But if not,
If differently,
That would be good too.

Hotel Metaphors

People have told me
that my choice to be emotionally unavailable
is commendable
and understandable
and safe.
Like hanging a DO NOT DISTURB sign over the knob on my heart
as I clean up.

But I would like to think of this interlude
of personality weed whacking and self-rediscovery
as just another form of getting dirty,
another form of not being safe.

I am tossing in pillows and tangling bedsheets
in the process of getting cozy with myself.
I am flipping through beliefs like pay-per view.
I am filling the champagne bottles
leftover from the last time there was a reason to celebrate
with hopeful scribbles on hotel paper.

Maybe next time I can better anticipate when life will explode in my face.
Maybe I can be stronger in the face of the next fallout.

Upon contentment, or upon the persistence of housekeeping,
which ever presses me more ardently,
I will flip the sign hanging on my door,
and tell the world: I am sorry for the mess, but please come on in.

But until then,
I kindly ask that you please, do not disturb.

The Power of Goodbye

There is stark quiet in the house where once there was screaming,


Fists smooching cheeks,


Knees keeling ribs,


Toes thrusting foreheads,


Angry red palms holding back a howling river of tears.


Now there is silence.


I have never heard anything more terrifying.