yesterday i was microwaving my coffee and while i was waiting for it, i got distracted by my thoughts and didnít notice that the coffee had bubbled to the top of the cup and spilled all over the inside. i mopped it up before anyone in the student center could smell the mess i made but iíve been making those kinds of messes ever since being back from nyc. i donít mean to be melodramatic when i say that iím still trying to process everything, but thatís what it is and iím having difficulty processing much else. every time i go to quote shakespeare, i hear cities in my head.
it wasnít until the bus started rolling through harlem when it hit me that i hopped a bus to new york city and thatís where i was and holy shit i was in new york city. i had a few hours to kill before the show so i walked around chelsea. i kept thinking about all the worthwhile things i could be missing that were under my nose somewhere if i stopped looking up at the sky trying to swallow everyone that was already stuck between the cityís teeth.
(we erect shiny buildings only to stick to them like plaque)
so i just looked at people instead and took streets aimlessly and sat on a few stoops and looked at street art and i stopped letting my thoughts be saturated with expectations of what i should be looking for because it was getting in the way of what i could just find. this was no cambridge but it was kind of like cambridge and thatís what i do in cambridge, i just walk.
i went to get pizza because apparently in new york thatís what you have to do: pizza and bagels and fuck the boston red sox and etc. but it tasted like regular pizza and it smelled like my uncle does when i hug him long enough (he is a pizza man, he makes pizza) and it was just pizza but it went down easier than what did between the two men sitting a few tables away from me.
ďYouíre a creep! Youíve never done anything for me! YOUíRE MY BROTHER. YOU NEVER WROTE ME THAT LETTER.Ē
chairs fell down and one brother ran after the other, leaving behind nothing but a ďsorryĒ left hanging in the air for everyone in the room and i sat there staring at the crumbs littering my lap, unable to look up because the voice sliced the air so hard, i half-expected to see a miniature abyss poking out of the torn atmosphere over where they were sitting, dust particles falling out onto where their laps would have been. but it was fine. the chair was picked up and itís like they were never there. the woman behind the counter seemed unfazed and i almost wondered if they even were there.
it was colder when i stepped out and there were a lot more people. itís like all our body heat was dissipating into the air but itís not like anyone was going to go out of their way to warm anyone else anyway.
new york is different than boston but not so much in that way.
it got warmer when i found the show, though. i was standing toward the front on the right, leaning against some part of the stage. i was near a group with wrist bands - years older than me. Itís weird to think that Iíll join them in a year, iíll wear a wristband in a year but iíll still have ink getting under my skin.
They were talking about the Miracle of 86 days and how they hoped Kevin would play a few of those songs. They called him the best songwriter of our generation and that made me smile. They called him the nicest dude ever and recalled memories of conversations with him and then they lamented this day and age when electro-pop-funk-dubstep-heavy metal-polka-what the-fuck-ever music could dominate airwaves but Kevin ďFuckingĒ Devine couldnít sell a thousand tickets. What was wrong with people, they wondered. They had a point, but looking around the room at all the people that traveled from all over the country to celebrate something so special, I couldnít deny these fans any credit that the group I was eavesdropping on could. Then they started making fun of some kids that didnít appreciate Thursday.
(I decided that the scene was still alive in the disgruntled Thursday fans.)
I was hoping to find my friend before the middle of the show when I looked over to see him grooviní the hell out but I realized that being alone during the show was important for me in the same way that coming to nyc alone was important: being a satellite and having a satellite can be two different things but they both leave you feeling too comfortable to work on what needs to be worked on. I was too unsettled to focus on anything but the music contained in this small room but stretching for miles within all the people around me that were singing along or staring in awe. It was so nice to see KD so happy, and as much as he wanted to make it about everyone else in the room, it was his night and he deserved it.
(And the Goddamn Band, of course.)
ďHereís to ten more years.Ē
It feels really nice to have been a part of something as special as that.
I walked around the city after with that friend I couldnít find before the show, and his friend whom I didnít really know - and maybe I still donít know them as well as Iíd like to, but I walked away from them at 4:30 in the morning with these feelings for them that Iím not sure how to articulate without inducing any cavities - I just really appreciate their existences and I want to keep knowing them. Iím not sure I would have known what to do or how to feel if they hadnít invited me along. They asked me what my plans were and all I saw was the yellow wallpapered room in the hostel and I didnít have to recall the mirroring piece of literature to the forefront of my mind to know that it was a bad idea for me to head back there.
we walked through brooklyn and over bridges and down wall street and into manhattan and i donít remember the names of anywhere else because of the conversation but our final destination was the staten island ferry and at some points i wondered if weíd turn back and at others i wondered why they kept trudging on if they were so tired. mostly i felt that even though we were walking together, i was out of step with them and a lot of what i said was met with what i feared was cordial enthusiasm, because sometimes i just donít know how to talk to people.
and then it wasnít, and then we were on the ferry and something changed and thatís when my heart swelled even more for these people and god, iím going to be embarrassed if they ever find this because i donít think they know how okay they made me feel for the first time in a while.
i got back to my room around five-thirty and i just stared at the yellow on the wall and it looked duller than the nauseating shade it had been in the daylight. it was a small relief. my heart was was still running from the image stuck in my head of the creep on the train that made me feel scared and self conscious and the creeps following me down the street and i couldnít shake the existential loneliness i felt at 4 am in the subway by myself.
ďYouíre up pretty early, eh?Ē
ďI suppose soÖ I was walking with some friends.Ē
ďWell. Be safe. Remember, take the 1 to 18th. Good luck.Ē
It was like one of those dreams youíd have as a kid, where youíve lost your mom and you canít find her and someone is after you and they have her. only, this time i had words and images and insight into what that monster is
and even though Iím back in cambridge now, feeling like iím hugging it back for the first time in a long time,
I canít shake the feeling that itís somewhere around here because itís that feeling you get at night when everyone is quiet and sleeping but youíre not and youíre thinking about the Someday when nights like these are going to extend into the day and then into weeks and then into always, as you move away from everyone you love - first with distance, and then with age and then with death
that feeling that manifests itself in subway stations in the city that ďnever sleepsĒ so you know that everything is just lurking.
that was the kind of night embedded with words I havenít found yet and for the first time since turning 18, 19, 20, i feel like i actually did something i needed to do.
this kind of wordplay gets you ostracized, but i feel more alone without it.
one of the best feelings to get happens after going in to hug someone only to feel them squeeze you so much tighter than you thought they would
which is to say, tight at all
like ďhey i want you here the way you want me here and we canít be here at the same time anymore but we can for a few more moments so come hereĒ
this brief elimination of space almost makes up for the empty space to follow
(but that has to be close enough.)
can you be nostalgic for memories that arenít yours? because this is certainly more than what it is to connect to a song
this is like iím walking down the street at 2:35 am and conor oberst is walking next to me, but both of our hands are in our pockets as the fog from our breaths mingle together in the space between us on the sidewalk
and heís quietly singing under his breath and to him itís like iím not even there, even though heís singing the awakened thoughts that are trying to squeeze out of the furrow of my brow in a frenzy because iíve finally realized that they are there
and they settle down as they are comforted by the fact that he is singing to me, helping me understand the muffled humming in my head and the blurred colors when i close my eyes
helping me understand that there is a way to face them, and that is by letting them take me, and starting again.
this is a nostalgia of the loneliness of another sleepless night.
so tonight iíll close my eyes and let my thoughts mingle in the space between now and tomorrow
One time, I met this guy on an airplane who had a really friendly smile. The kind of smile that isnít big enough to be creepy and isnít small enough to be fake. It made his cheeks reach his eyes and indented his face in all the right places. As we spoke, he laughed with me, at me, for me, and sheepishly when I tried to return the favor. And when the smile disappeared, I knew I wouldnít be anxious over whether or not it would returnó it would. It did.
And I donít know how else to explain it. But it was a secure, cared for sort of feeling when I saw his smile. And I know it was most likely all in my mind at the time because I was tired, alone, overwhelmed, wrinkled and nervous so I probably unconsciously looked for what I needed in the only stranger that stepped out of the blur of stoic faces moving past me in whichever directions the pressure in their lives willed them to go, and smiled at me. But. When the cynic living in the back of my head isnít listening, I like to think that maybe it was genuine, the smile.
I donít know why itís so hard to believe anymore. When did we start questioning sincerity? When did we start questioning kindness? Are we that scarred and self centered to believe that everyone is pulling something over on us? That thereís always a catch?
When did I begin switching tenses to bring all of us down with me when I am no better?
Sometimes I like to close my eyes and call his smile back to float among the popping lights and colors behind my eyelids that come from squeezing my eyes tight enough to keep the rest of the world from seeping in through the cracks like the flirtatious rays of the sun waking me up from a good dream that I can never finish even if I try closing my eyes again.
If seeing is believing, then maybe I can unsee what I want to unbelieve. I wouldnít need to sit here succumbing to the cynical voice in my head that snickers at me when I look around and around and around and feel too much and want to feel a little less.
And I wouldnít need to close my eyes and call back a friendly smile.
I think Iíd do it because I wanted to, and because I cared more for the person it belonged to that I do for what their smile gives to me.
But I would never really want to feel a little less. Itís just one of those things I over-dramatize in my head.
Kind of like a strangerís smile.
Iíve noticed that on the better days when I let the rays of sun coax my eyelids open, I find myself thinking about the friend behind the smile. And not because I need to.
His name was Andrew and we were soulmates and we were going to get married and adopt a puppy-sized elephant named Albert and live in a purple house with a sunny-yellow wishing well in our front yard and a Sunflower field in the backyard and we would drive our ice cream truck to Hogwarts everyday.
He just never realized that. Such is the woe of a first crushó like the oreos he packed into his Pokemon lunch box for snack-time everyday, I suppose that is how the cookie crumbles! But, who can blame a girl? At seven years old, he was what every girl liked to call ďa major catch,Ē what ever that meant. I thought he was pretty neat.
Everyday he sat next to me after recess and Iíd watch him draw monkeys on the math worksheet instead of minding his addition tables, telling me to go away or paying attention to Mrs. Johnsonó Oh, the fates! Perhaps the root of my mathematical struggles could be found in the margins of his worksheet or the dimple in his cheek when he laughed at me oró Heck, I never did grasp roots anyway. On Halloween he gave me his Pokemon crayons. I drew him pictures of Pikachu with them.
I hate when a band seems like they're going to be interesting
and then you go to stream their album
and it sounds like the bastard child of a lusty affair gone wrong in an abandoned, echoey cave off the coast of This and Sucks,
between a synthesizer on steroids and a coked out hipster with tangled vocal chords.
Graduated the other day. It feels really weird to be finished. Our valedictorian said something about how weíve all never really been scared because we could always envision what was going to happen tomorrow because it was the same as all our yesterdays, and now weíve got a whole bunch of tomorrows to figure out because theyíre going to be different than all the yesterdays weíve had.
Yeah, pretty much. I always knew that I wouldnít see a bunch of people after graduation or this summer and I thought Iíd be okay with that. I showed up to graduation at five and if the sun could have a personality, it wouldíve been beaming like it does in cartoons, or on the teletubbies or whatever. We all looked goofy in our robes, but not one person wasnít smiling. It didnít occur to me as I was calling my mom to bring me the tassles Iíd forgotten at home. It didnít occur to me as I goofed off with the classmates Iíd know for the four years that felt like much longer. It didnít occur to me as our queue was entering the stadium to sit down. But it kind of dawned on me as they started calling our names to get our diplomas. And then we got our diplomas and we threw our caps in the air as we recorded yet another milestone to record on our facebooks.
I walked and I talked and I took pictures with my family and some of my friends, but it was impossible to see all of them. And I walked away from some of them that Iíve even sat next to in kindergarten, with a lighthearted goodbye that probably should have been more because things arenít really going to be the same. It wasnít until the stadium started really clearing out that it hit me: I was probably not going to see a lot of these people ever again after this summer. And I mean, weíll have those awkward encounters at the supermarket, the gas station, the mall, and probably during holiday breaks. But itís not the same as walking side by side in the hallways and having anything in the world to talk about, if we wanted to.
I felt really stupid for not realizing all that as we filed out of the stadium. Maybe it was an unconscious defense mechanism to keep my eyes from peeing all over my face because last time I did that in front of people, no one let me forget it. But despite how melodramatic I appear to be, Iím okay with how bittersweet it all was. Because what happened at graduation is a microcosm of what continues to happen in life so youíre prepared for when happens again, and again. And maybe again: Youíre not going to realize that people are gone until they actually are.
Itís been a pretty good four years, and I know Iím ready to go out and do what I want to do, if only because when I think about even one more week in high school, my soul gets all achey and tired because Iím already so prepared to go out and do what I want, instead of being held back for more preparation.
You ever have those nights when you canít sleep so you stare a hole through the ceiling while all you can think about is how colossally and unfathomably huge our universe is and how weíre merely specks within a speck within a speck within a speck within a speck in the grand scheme of things? And then you think about how everything that mankind has ever striven for could merely be a distraction from that omniscient buzz from the unknown that is only just below the absolute threshold in the unconscious and just on par with it during the nights when we canít sleep.
Öwell, on a smaller scale: if I keep living how I want to live and striving for what I want out of life and how I can pay that back in the future, maybe Iíll be able to overcome that overwhelming but not all-knowing buzz from the present that canít fathom how Iíll make things happen for myself. Because if I let it, it will cripple me.
Iíll try to keep that in mind on the first night at college when Iím curled in the fetal position under my blankets in a new dorm room with a complete stranger across the room while Iím missing mum and daddy and high school and the figuratively kinesthetic pleasure of knowing exactly where I was because I didnít have to think about moving on.
ďWhy would I want to stay in one place forever? Oh, right. I donít. Suck it up and go to sleep.Ē
just kidding, i am inspired. i just don't know how to use all that inspiration right now.
I feel like that pen you have at the bottom of your bag underneath all the books and junk. The pen that cracks and breaks one day so that all the ink has formed a sticky pool and the pen's just wallowing there. In that sticky mess. Unable to create anything that would Bring Mountains To The Hills Out There.
I feel the inspiration everywhere. In all the emotions I'm feeling. But there's so much of it that I'm kind of just wallowing in it, unsure of how I'm going to channel it all so as to create anything, because something in me has cracked.
So, I guess I'll wait until I clean the detritus out of my way before trying to swim through the ink.