Tuesday, June 23, 2015

She Moves in Mysterious Ways pt.I


When I was at my poorest I felt the most free.  It was a time of dancing, singing, yelling, and one strange and powerful encounter.  And even years later, after all the trouble and heartbreak it would cause I still would gallivant forward towards her and that uncertainty I felt.

I was unemployed and running off of the credit I had built up from my days working at the photo lab. I quit my job because I didn't believe in who I was, let alone the work I was doing.  I knew my ambition too well for that stable life to continue.  I wanted to wander and record the stories and the people I came across.  I wanted to fill my empty heart with the only love I knew.  And so in the Spring I stopped paying rent, I sold all my things, and lived out of a backpack.  I said to myself, "You have to work harder to get where you want to be".  And everyday since has been harder and harder.

My sister invited me to live with her in Albuquerque.  She was growing through a hard break up and needed some family.  I needed family as well, and a roof above my head until I figure out my next step.

In the days leading up to the end of my lease I grew terribly sad.  I knew this sadness very well, and since I had been living in Buffalo for the past decade, I named this sadness, Buff a lo (buff a lo, you'll never know how low I go...).  I was saying my goodbyes one by one, trying my hardest to be present, to feel that person beside me.  I never know if people can tell if I am distant from the part of me I call human.  If they can see through my disguise: my calming voice or my kind eyes that smile for my shy mouth.  There would be Alex, and Alex, and then Terry, and Pepper, and then the whole damn crew. We would go out into the night, drunk or high, yelling loudly through quiet neighborhoods.  We threw around stories of some of funniest moments together.  Remember that time we were in Delaware Park yelling like wild animals?  Between all of us there was a wolf, a gorilla, a crow, and a dog.  Pepper was there too, that guy can run through the woods in the dark like a bat on fire!
As we walked through the city I saw many memories stacked one on top of the other flash by.  It made me sick and so I just pictured being gone and hopefully never seeing any of it again.

It was when I was saying goodbye to one of the Alexs I ran into her, literally.  I had just left for the bathroom, I was holding a pee for thirty minutes, I was stuck in a conversation and I couldn't pause it, and so I was holding a pee for thirty minutes.  I broke the conversation with an abrupt, "I gotta go...to the john!" I jetted for the bathroom, hit the stairs and stumbled out of sight.  And as I fell forwards she came running up the stairs.  For a fraction of a second I saw her face, she was looking down at her shoes and then looked up at me and calmly smiled.  I could only imagine the disgruntlement on my face as I flew towards her.  She took a step back and had left the steps for the foundation of floor.  She reached her arms out and grabbed me in mid air.  My eyes must've been closed at that point, because all I imagined was my dumb body hitting her, how bad I felt, would if I break something of hers, she seemed so nice and there I was, ruining her evening.  When I opened my eyes I wasn't on the ground with someone partly bruised, maybe concussed underneath me.  When I opened my eyes I wasn't on the floor, I was being held in a deep embrace safely on my feet, and in that moment I felt lighter than ever.  And before an exchange could occur, a thank you, or a My God, you are a savior! she had let me go, slipped passed me and disappeared somewhere upstairs.  I stood there for a good long minute without a thought in my head.  My hands still felt warm flesh on them.  I had completely forgot that I had to pee.

...

"Want to come dancing with us tomorrow?", her and our friend said.
"Of course, that sounds fun.  Where?"
"The Alt Theater"
"What kind of music?"
"ahh, it's like world and dubby stuff."
"Alright, I'll call you tomorrow."
"Great, great, we can't wait!"
"...me neither"

Her and our friend left the bar, I wanted to go run after them, I had just seen the two of them together and got high from their company and now they were leaving...leaving for something fun I felt.  I returned my eyes to the person in front of me and the person I was saying goodbye to.  That sit felt like a hundred fire ants biting my ass.  I felt an impulse screaming through my soul.  Go!  Go run after them, you can do that, it's rude but you have to go to that.  There is no other way.  I shallowed the rest of my "juice" and picked up where I last left off with Alex.  Eventually the stings went away, the voice silenced and I was back in the room.

The next day I called up our friend and we spoke for about the day, what our first thought was that morning, and I got carried by how it felt strange looking at the ceiling this morning; not because it was being seen through the No-See-Um mesh of a tent but because I was finally, actually, leaving this place (apartment, neighborhood, city, this life).  We agreed to meet at six, I was stressed about giving all my things away and cleaning the apartment.  My sister was coming soon, I was going out dancing and I knew the responsible thing was to stay home and get on with this move.  I called again and made plans to meet our friend at her house.  We hugged asked our each other's days went and I threw a few questions about our friend.  I wanted to know more about her without it my curiosity being too noticeable.  I asked and she answered.  We took off after her and she was running late.  We laughed and I was sucking in as much comfort I had with our friend until she came out.  I wanted to be relaxed, myself, the self that doesn't feel nervous or shy, lost, sticking his nose where it didn't belong.
She came out and we all went down the street on our bikes.  Between stopped I would ask questions about what we were going to and what to expect?  "Should I be high for this?"  "No, please don't."  "Alright, alright, I'll stop asking questions".  We arrive at the Alt Theater, I have to sign a waiver.  I moved towards the dancehall and I am told to take off my shoes and to not talk while in the dancehall.  I do as I was told and dump my things in a giant pile of other people's things.  In the dancehall there are people dancing: one guy is looking up to the ceiling moving his arms towards the overhead lights while a lady and a grey-bearded man with long hair roll around on the ground.  A couple hugging each other hard and move in a circle, a bald man dances like a tribesman around an invisible fire.  I don't feel like I am in a room full of young adults that look too cool, the music isn't noise, there aren't any drunks, no freshly-broken up men and women yelling, "I'M FREE!".  I feel like I am arriving to the first day of kindergarten and I smile.

To Be Continued...




Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tripod

A Story.

A strange boy sits at the edge of a hill.  The sand has painted his trousers red and chalky, his face graced with fine dust.  He is no older than twelve maybe thirteen.  He is a boy with a big heart, but judging by looks he looks awfully shy.  He sits and stares off.  His friends are just below, they are touching each other in a shed.  One the friends is his best friend and the other is a girl he, the boy at the edge of the hill, admires but hasn't told her so because his best friend, the boy who is touching her likes her.
The sun is ready to set, the boy who sits at the edge of the hill recalls of a time when he was smashing bottles in this same hill.  There must've been thousands of glass bottles, so many that the boy and his best friend had to invent new ways to smash them.  One of the boys started smashing two bottles together and this very much satisfied him.  He kept doing it, two after two, and by the end he hadn't noticed the cuts on his hands from the broken glass.  He worried about getting sick from some infection but nothing ever came of it.
The boy and girl touching each other are now calling the boy, the boy replies calmly and says he is fine, that he is quite content up on that hill and being by himself.  The boy and girl resume touching.
That same hill they threw bottles down into the pit that lied at the bottom of the hill.  Sometimes homeless drunks would sleep there and when they threw their bottles high up above the pit the boy suddenly realized what if someone gets smashed in the face with glass?  There was a terrible feeling that came over the boy as that bottle flew in the air.  What have I done.  This is the sort of thing that could ruin someone's life.  How careless.  How thoughtless.  The bottles smashes and when they smashes they shattered into a million pieces.
Kissing and touching but something is wrong.  The girl, which the boy on the hill likes, is talking to the boy's best friend, she asks the best friend if his friend could come down, she wants all three to be together.  The boy on the hill responds calmly as before saying that he is fine, that they should have fun on his behalf and that he is quite content.  They continue where they left off.
What was her name again, was it Kelly?  She was older, she drove a white SUV, a Jeep Cherokee or something similar, and she was one of the few white teenagers in town.  She wrote the boy on the hill a love letter one day.  The boy hadn't taken much notice to her but suddenly with this new interest he wanted to know more about her.  The boy's best friend filled his mind with all sorts of fantasies, spilling his desires into his friend's.  The boy on the hill responded to the girl's request.  And there was no response back.  Till this day white SUVs, especially Jeep Cherokees from the early 90s with white teenage drivers haunt him.  There goes Kelly, I believe that was her name.
The sun is setting.  The two in the shed have disappeared but the boy on the hill sits at his cliff.  He is admiring this moment.  There is a sadness growing deep into his heart but he chooses not to let that sadness distract him from how beautiful the sun looks when its rays of light are slowed down by hitting the Earth's atmosphere at a steeper angle.  White light is slowed down to a yellow, then orange, a red, and finally a deep purple emerges.  The wind gently moves through the boy's hair and hits his eyes enough to make them teary.  The boy holds himself and feels content.  Alone it feels good, it is quiet, and I am in good company.    

...

The boy grows up and he is an adult now.  He lives in a city, he meets a nice girl, they start to hang out, this is the story:

She was under a pile of people when she meets the boy that takes a picture of her under the pile of people.  They meet because they have a mutual friend and this mutual friend introduces them.  Their mouths say hello and my name is this and my name is that but nothing is heard because when their eyes lock they exchange a secret message that seems to go beyond formal introductions.  An understanding is established and the girl under a pile of people jumps away and under a pile of people because there is an art performance and she feels up to it.  The boy concludes in that moment that she is driven by passion and is also impulsive.  And though this girl he just met is absolutely beautiful and has a dancer's figure what he finds most attractive about her is her energy; charismatic and honesty.  He stands in front of the pile of humans laughing with her as she is smiles in absolute delight as more and more people stack on top of her.  She is stunning in this moment, her lips painted ruby red, her whole face smiles and it is a look true joy.
The performance ends, she puts her leather jacket back on and few words are exchanged amongst the three.  More and more people arrive at the venue until the place is overcrowded, the three eventually lose each other and are absorbed into new groups of people.  The boy walks home alone that night and looks up to the sky.  There in the winter sky is the moon.  It is alone as it has been since there was a moon and yet it shines so brightly if it being alone does not affect it.  That sight has guided him home many nights before, replacing a lonely moment with a good champion.  The boy looks to the moon like it has always been there for him.  He recalls his high school years where his bed rested underneath a large window and every so often the moon would hover just above.  He would play mellow music and sleep deeply knowing he was not alone.
Things were getting boozy, and in winter that seems to bring people closer.  In a small clothing shop the windows fogged up hiding the cold night outside.  Strangers become friends and friends hold each other and talk in great depth about their lives: what interested them, what love is –a popular topic on Valentine's Day.  The boy that takes pictures of the girl under the pile of people always feels distant on Valentine's Day.  He recalls of Valentine's Day Cards themed with the popular cartoons of the time with safe messages inside: Be mine, I heart You, You are sweet.  Once he received flowers from a girl who made it a point he knew she liked him.  The boy didn't know what to do with those yellow tulips and so he hid them in his locker.  He never got to thank her, hold her hand, or apologize for why he was shy, he simply just moved away.  But that was then and this was now.  The girl that was under a pile of people is here, she is hidden in the back and boy has forgotten where he has met this girl.  She looks awfully familiar and it isn't until the girl tells him where they met that his oblivion turns to enlightenment.  He is happy to see her again, a sort of glad that is unfamiliar to him, and it is perhaps because she is also happy to see him again.  This moment seems to imply they are connected in one way or another.  Both hold no expectations about each other, they are too busy enjoying the moment.
The friend that introduced them becomes closer to the boy, and along with the girl that was under the pile of people a trio is formed.  Together they watch movies, make dinners, go to concerts, talk and talk, and occasionally meet up separately making the three two.  They often would talk about the one that made them three.  With each moment, together as three or together as two, they always enjoyed each other's company having realized they had found each other and that their connection meant they understood something instrumental about each of them.  Without words, without a story about how each grew up and what experiences they had that they believed define their behavior and values, there is this connection that exclaims that all those stories are only written or spoken because one hopes to make a connection to another human being, so as not to feel alone and to either share in their sadness or happiness, or even their wonderment.  Isn't that the entire point of it all?
Eventually that warm and cozy winter ends, the trees start to bloom, and layers of clothing become less in number.  The girl that was under a pile of people decides to move.  She is torn between her friends here and her love elsewhere.  She is moving to be with love, a different type of love that she had for those friends she was about to leave.  She also wanted to move to move and to be somewhere else, to experience something new.  Her long and tone legs were itching to run and so in late Spring she left.  The two that remained stayed friends but even during times of laughter or good conversation they felt something missing.  It is an awful mentality to have when you are in good company but the thought and feeling was there.  Years pass and eventually the friend that introduced the boy that takes pictures of the girl that was under a pile of humans to the girl leaves.
In the city and over time one meets people, gets to know them, shares experiences with them, and eventually they say goodbye.  And though goodbyes are hard, the word goodbye is an awful word to say to put to an end of a period in one's life.  When you are young goodbyes are never definitive and they hold no weight.  You can say goodbye but it should be followed by an ellipsis because you never know where you will be in the next few years nor where they will be and paths always meet when you are connected with someone.
In the wise words of Mark Wahlberg, "It's over when I say it's over", which makes me think perhaps he is a god.  Some form of higher power that either wound the clockwork of the universe or simply a being that is able to observe it from a distance where it starts to make sense.  For us down on Earth, living in our microcosm, life or the clockwork of it is too full of variables that provoke and cloud our clarity with emotions.  That and perhaps we lack the capacity to understand and any understanding we believe we have established is a mirroring of our ego (further from the truth).  Eventually all this has to end, and so instead of goodbye let's adopt the Hawaiian phrase for departures, "A hui hou", until we meet again.

S.Y.L.

BUT it is not over.  The boy and the two girls did meet up again.  It was a fluke.  The girl that was under the pile of people was getting married.  The boy was invited.  The boy never enjoyed weddings much, all but one of the weddings he had been to were full of tradition that seemed to obscure what really mattered, the love of two people, maybe two families coming together, but do they really come together the boy wondered?  He had no tormented upbringing that made him doubt marriage, his parents are still together after all.  It was the image he was against, that Hollywood reenforces, this happily ever after, and these elaborate money-sucking ceremonies.  But he didn't think of any of that when it came to the girl's wedding.  Holding that hand-drawn invite made him supremely happy.  More happy he had been in a long time.  And for some reason he hadn't responded to the invite and for some reason months go by until the girl checked in.  The boy said yes, he had to, he could be held hostage, imprisoned, shipwrecked and deserted on an island and yet he would be there no matter what.  He knew he probably wouldn't know anyone there.  The only friend the boy and the girl shared was their mutual friend that introduced them and became an instrumental part of the group's dynamic.  But she was living far away.  She even expressed her regret of not being able to make it to the boy.  He was going either way but he could see himself awkwardly sitting down and reading a book or something to make his awkward eyes fixed to something other than people he didn't know, that knew everyone else there and were overwhelmed by the gathering of old friends and family they have known for a very long time.

Months pass and the wedding nears, the boy waits at the train station.  The train he is waiting for is late.  Strangers are talking about the train around him and instead of asking he just listens to their conversation as he pretends to read his self-help book.  One stranger says he is going to leave in ten minutes.  Others motion to leave.  A representative comes over and a group gather around him.  Asking him the same question in many different forms: where is the train and when will it be here?  The train is derailed.  Lives are lost.  The train was going 80kmh 3km outside of Kingston when a weaken weld on the rail failed under the pressure and velocity of the train.  Although there was minimal damage to the train and to most of the passengers and crew, three passengers, all brothers, lost their lives.  The reports details that at the moment the train derailed the three brothers (which are unnamed) were out of their seats and were gathered in one of the bathroom stalls.  The report leaves out further detail to an explanation to why all three brothers were in the same bathroom stall together but forensics prove that their bodies were found in the bathroom together in their final moments.

The boy waits, an hour goes by.  He talks to a stranger and the stranger says something that the boy listens to with neither belief nor denial.  His sister calls and he tells her what is going on.  A train representative comes and announces the accident.  The train is definitely not coming.  People ask if everyone on the train is alright.  The representative does not disclose any further information, nor does the train's website nor twitter or Facebook.  With that information the boy decides to leave the train station.  All tomorrow's trains are booked.  He is lost in this moment.  He takes the subway back home defeated with an overstuffed backpack.  The next day the boy finds a rideshare.  He takes the subway and goes to the completely wrong way.  The rideshare company calls but the boy is in the subway and the call is forwarded to his voicemail.  The driver is going to be late the voicemail plays back.  The boy gets this message as he realizes he is at the wrong station and is trying to figure out how long it will take to get to the correct station.  Backtracking the boy looks down at his wristwatch.  He determines he is going to be 10 minutes late.  No wait, he is making good time it will be only 5 minutes, that is alright.  The subway is delayed as the train waits at the station with its doors open.  Close the fucking doors.  Just go, there's no reason for this!  A chime followed by the doors closing.  Thank God.  15 minutes late now. The boy thinks of a good reason give being late.  The driver calls the boy, the driver says he was late, it was his bad the boy thinks.  He knew he could never play off of the driver's guilt, that the boy was too honest but this is rideshare, the driver's a professional, and there were others waiting too.  Do rideshare drivers even wait for late comers?  The boy reaches the station.  Books it up the stairs and into the mall.  He really needs a coffee and to pee.  The rideshare company calls and connects the boy to the driver.  The driver apologizes, wonders if the boy is still coming, the boy says of course he is but he wasn't sure if the rideshare was still on and so he left but then came back once he heard the message that the driver was late.  It is a lie but the boy could live with it, after all the truth would create an awful tension in a small car full of strangers traveling for five hours.

...

The girl that introduced the boy to the girl shows up at the wedding out of nowhere and without warning.  She has a look to her that is locked in another time, like the flower child that grew up and but hasn't completely let go of a liberty of a specific moment in history.  She arrives at the wedding moments before the bride.  The boy is lost in emotions.  It has been a long time since all three of them had been together.  It is a beautiful day in a part of summer where the warmth had settled and the nights are hot.  The girl and the boy disappear from the wedding scene for a moment.  They find a hidden spot by the train tracks and smoke a joint together.  The girl is nervous about her speech.  She reads it to the boy.  It is witty without trying to be witty, it is sweet without trying to be sweet, and where it begins it also ends.
Strangers become friends, friends become better friends, babies sleep under the shade of her mother's arms, and the wind brushes through tree branches as the clouds move silently above.  Everyone is smiling, laughing, and some are crying with tears of joy.  The bride, the girl, she is the most beautiful bride there ever was, stated without cliché but as a matter-of-fact.  Her hair is braided and put into a halo on the back of her head.  She dawns a vintage dress that illumines even the deepest of shadows.  Her face radiants with a joy that comes from the love she has for everyone around her.
Couples dance, cake is eaten, and much alcohol is consumed.  Photos are taken and summer games proceed the ceremony.  The park that marks the end of the wedding soon falls to the shadow of night. People start weeding out and dress shoes are taken off or replaced with sneakers.  Eventually the completeness of night takes over and so ends a day in the sun and hiding in the shade, the last rays of sunlight being filtered through the cover of trees.  Goodbyes are said and hugs are given.  Holding each other we never know when we are going to see each other again. 

...

Underground two friends look at each other from across a trench.  They are both waiting for their train to arrive, going in opposite directions.  Without realizing it they are going in the wrong direction and that the person they are looking at and see them with eyes that know this is goodbye, they are also looking at the path they need to take to get to their destination.  One gives a wave while the other smiles.  Until we meet again is said without words or a thought in the mind.  Perhaps it is in the wind that says those words as it is turned up as the train leaves the station, until we meet again.  The train goes and one is left behind carrying a warmth of a connection that will always be with him.  The train that took the other away could go on for miles, moving at great speeds over even greater distances and that connection is just as strong as it was when they were face to face.  One of them could be in London, no in Egypt of all places, and yet that connection is just as strong as face to face.  So when they are away from each other, which is most of the time, they could be worlds apart but they are always close to each other.  Face to face.

Monday, November 17, 2014

YOU NEED NOT

Strike one, strike two.  Strike three.

-You can't seem to figure it out.  Now can't ya?  I understand.  I understand completely.

-Yes, I know that.  But really you should stop that.

-Well, I don't think thinking that way will amount to anything.

-I remember hearing someone repeating this mantra once.  Here, try it out:

ALL
THE LOVE
I NEED
IS

IN ME, 
NOW


-Now how does that feel?

-Well, maybe you should listen to your breathing while you do it.

-No, breathing slowly.  Relax.  Yeah, that's it.  Now repeat the words.

-No, you don't have to say them out loud.

-Well, if it makes you feel more comfortable then fine, say them out loud.

-No, no, keep doing it.

-No, you're doing a good job, keep doing it.

-Now feel the warmth growing inside of you.  It glows in-tandem with your breath.  In and out.

-Yes, you're doing a fantastic job.  Keep at it.

There was these eyes that came into the room I had been sitting in.  At first they were down the hall.  Then they came inside the room.  They even sat down across from me.  They looked at my eyes and I wanted to know more about those eyes.  They were haunting, they spoke to me saying, "You'll get trapped if you look too closely, now look away!"  I would look away only to return for more.  I wanted to know everything about those eyes.  Where did they come from?  Who were the people they got to know?  What do they look like when they are laughing very hard?  What do they look like when they are crying?  When they are lost and when they are looking very far away.  I had many questions, I wanted answers.  Please tell me I stared into those eyes.  They spoke few words back.  They said they come from the sea.  That they don't like being landlocked.  That any sort of water will do.  But they really wanted an ocean.  They wanted to know that there isn't land anywhere near to where they looked when they looked to the water.  And though the lakes those eyes have looked upon have been unbroken by land on their horizon that still wasn't good enough.  They wanted to feel humble knowing that what they were looking at was far too vast to understand.  That they were as close to infinite as they were ever going to experience beyond the sky and the deep reaches of the cosmos.  

-Do you feel better now?

-Yeah, I do it myself.

-Well, I'm not always so chipper.

-Yeah, I feel down too.

-Well, some days are better than others.

-And sometimes I am reminded of something that has been plaguing me for a while.  But these are feelings, don't take them so seriously.

-No, they are important but don't read into them as if they are personally attacking you.  IN FACT, they are not attacking you at all.  They are just telling you.

-They are telling you that you are in a moment that makes you feel sad.  They are saying, when this sort of thing happens it triggers off some chemical in the brain that says this is sad, it really is.  But that is fine, let your brain say, this is really sad.  That is ok.  It is sad.  That's it.  Does that make you feel better?

-Well, that is true.  But still, our bodies are constantly reacting to the world around us.  We need this feedback.  You know there is this great quote by Jack Kornfield, it goes something like,

Love in the past is just a memory.
Love in the future is a fantasy.
Love could only exist in the now.

-I think you can take any emotion and put that spin to it.

-Yeah, I know.  But think about this, there is nothing sad about our past, only once in a while, it is sad in the present.  But it won't last long.

-Me too.  I think you'd do great.  Just don't forget this.

-And don't forget those words.

-Yeah, exactly.

-Ok, and you too.  Take care!

-Love, you.  


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Part. Apart. Ah Part.

Dear Loved One,


I just got back from walking a darling dog.  She kept on telling me, “She’s gone.”  “She’s gone!”  She usually doesn't act like this, she is usually fine with all of this (looks around a dark corner of the city where a tower looks down on everything).  The usual countdown alarm for her allowance to investigate: OOOOOOOOOOne, TWWWOOOOOOO, THRRREEEEEEEE, FFFOOUUUURRRRRRRR, FFFFFFIIIIIVVVEE, (we don't usually get to this number, this doesn't sound right.) SSSSSSIIIIXXXX (no, definitely not this far), SEEEEEEEEEEAAAAVVVEEEEEEENNNN, (this is really strange, really strange) NNNIIIIIINNNNEEE, (no, wait.), [stop]...didn't work, she needed ten, then eleven, and when I stopped counting with my mouth the silence counted for us.  (whispers as loud as a thought) twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen.  There.  The shit.  

There.

The shit.

Washing the dishes.  These dishes K. and I made.  K. and I.  I realized right then and there - that - we (you and I) - moved - apart.  That K. wasn't F. and that F. wasn't K.  It was the spirit of the companion.  F. help me find that spirit, but the spirit existed before F..

I wanted to forget you once.  Because I was losing too much sleep.  That each person after you didn't remind me of you, they just reminded me that they weren't you.  What delusion.  

I realized one of my biggest fears is having people realize my disabilities.  And then for them to either act nice towards it as to entertain it.  Somewhere down the line, many years ago, I must've shut the flow to that thought and that notion.  That look on my teacher's face, she knows what kids she's taking care of, she's giving us extra care, she is loving, but she knows something we do not, and perhaps will never really know.  And over the years we forget about this membrane that is smoggy, that we are looking through but barely, that we are able to observe with squinting eyes a world that very much resembles what it is but not quite.

I didn't choose art, its terms choose me.  That because I can't step over that line, through the membrane.  I learned to read and I learned to write.  When I was child I used to end all my first written complete sentences with "...".  Teachers would laugh.  I did something good.  They laughed.  I haven't stopped.  Laughter is my award.  That's what says I am approved.  All I want is a laugh.  Art allowed my rearrangement of the world to be approved.  Artists could be jesters.  That they could freely criticize the king and royalty, the poor, and the self.  They were all equal, there for a laugh.  So there was the rearrangement and there was the approval.  Do well at this because those are the two things you have to get done today.  

...

We work well with together because we're both in this.  I don't run into those moments often.  That perhaps it is the only moment I don't feel alone.  When I am with you.  Because we're both in this.

I could see it in K.'s eyes.  That she's in it, too.  In different ways than you and I.  She thinks abstract, because she is abstract.  I don't want to say I'm there for her because I understand what she is going through.  I want to say I'm there for K. because I wish someone would do the same for me.  I don't expect.  I learned to not expect anything.  Without the bitter taste, that nihilist gaze to a future without hope.  No, darling, I'm far from that.

...

We had our arguments.  There were times I thought I was wronged and I didn't say anything.  I know when an argument will go nowhere, that words come off as attacks.  I hate that.  I just want to share my point of view, as neutral as possible.  We had our arguments, I held things back, and we would have our arguments.  But in all that aggression, all those times I felt I wronged or I did wrong, or I felt like I asked you for too much, I knew we were stuck with each other.  That made any argument feel like a bump in the road, we still keep going, always.  Into infinity.

K., forgive me.  


F., forgive me.

Please.

Sincerely,

C.

Monday, October 20, 2014

You Still Know How To Howl

Hi Milo,

We've known each other for a very long time but we have never met in the flesh, that our eyes never looked deep within each other's eyes.  I was the warmth when you felt alone.  I was the strength that helped you back up when you fell and felt lost.  On lonely nights I was the rest and tranquility you found.  And when you dreamed I dreamed the same dream and saw the same things as you.  You don't know what I look like but I know in my heart you know I am here, I am always here.

Milo when you were in the hospital and your parents sat by your bed for hours with worried eyes I was laying beside you.  When you would hide after those nasty boys would tease you I was the relief that each teardrop gave you.  I cry when you cry, I am hurt when you are hurt.  But what separates us is that you feel the physical of each cut, of each fall, each time you feel reject.  I am conflicted without being able to take that physical pain away, to steal that experience and experience it for myself.  I look to you as my conduit to the physical world as I was your conduit to the spirit realm.  And perhaps you can say I am lost without you as these feelings are would be without an author.

I was born many generations ago.  My ancestors were wilder than I am and that they began to trust humans more and more.  As humans went from visiting our wild lands to living and farming them my ancestors were given two choices: leave everything they knew in search of a new home or adapt to coexistence.  In adaptation my ancestors saw the land as no one's, it was plenty and boundless and enough to share.  And so they shared.  They began to see changes and these changes forced them to adapt and adapt some more.  They made sacrifices, they saw traditions no longer viable and lost to the dawn of a new age.  They were ready for all of this when they made their decision but I can imagine their surprise at how endless this change, this adaptation would be for them (I wonder if it has ever stopped).

Part of their adaptation was letting the humans know they were there.  At first they started to leave their scat around the trees the humans had cut down.  They'd howl just before the dawn.  Then they would even allow the humans to see them from time to time.  Over generations they moved closer and closer to the humans until one day my mother looked one into the eyes.  Both were locked in a gaze deep within the darkness of the iris and were lost.  This was when I became I.  When the howl became the bark and the fur was brushed with the hands of a human.  In that moment, both of our hearts lowering a few beats less as we moved a few step slower.

A lot has happened since.  Humans have moved further away from the wild and from our mother.  They live in rocky cities where life struggles to exist.  They make escapes whenever they can to the forest, to the ocean, and in the valley where animals run free.  They come to these places not as friends but as strangers.  They are lost without their ties to the rocky cities and so they return only after a few days.  Like the whale surfacing for air, they come on the rare occasion only to return to another world.  But humans are not whales, they need air for more often, they need to breathe deeper and move slower.

We found each other in just the right place.  I am here as your guide but you also guide me.  I have grown curious of the world you live in, how it has changed over generations.  I even see how you struggle to exist here and I often feel guilty for this.  For we share the same spirit, you and I.  We are both wild and belong where nature is free to grow and to move at its pace.  We are also wanderers and find our place in roaming.  We enjoy good company wherever it is.  We live by our hearts and are honest to it.  And I believe you know how to howl.  So howl for the both of us.  Cry out into the early morning sky.  Wake even the sun into its day.  For we are dawning and it is time that we embrace.

I have always been here with you.  In our many forms in our many lives.  We've gone through a lot together, and there is still so much more.  Together, yes, together, we'll get through it all.  Now howl with me.

- C.L.



Friday, August 22, 2014

One Big Joke

And then they shall see me.  And then they shall laugh.  And what makes me smile, laugh in delight, scream with joy from the top of my lungs down to the soles of my feet is that very sound I hear.  Thank you.

There is this feeling, it comes and it goes (but never leaves).  It has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Before it I could not really say, for its coming and its staying has shaped me into who I am today.  It has taught me many things.  It has showed me many places.  Carried me to this person and that, and I have always felt the opposite of empty because of it.  Because of it.

For years I have listened to it, let it scream out within my soul.  I let it inspire me, make my lips make words, my hands of gestures.  It would sit in my step and together we carried each other one by one and step by step.  It has led me to many faces.  It has help me say many things.  And though all was spoken and though those words were received.  For a while I had expected, wanted and desired a return.  That it would rid me of a loneliness that came from knowing such fervid words were mine and mine alone.  Such fire that burn and burn brightly thirsts for companion.  For what fire wants to burn alone, like the crumbling wax from a single candle.  It longs to burn its captors house, consume their walls, not to be lost but to bathe in the company of others.  To dance with a fire in the heart.

What are failures when there is nothing to be expected?  When intend is intended and where honesty is spoken freely.  From this plateau I learned not to be afraid but to believe.  And it is here where I did not find other but found myself.  Over time I learned that there is no shame in my thoughts and in my feelings, nor was the act of speaking and sharing ill of me.  For each day is a leap faith.  That for what I believe in is tested to see if it holds and if I am true to its revelation.   For words to become actions and beyond.  To change sight, mind, approach, and outcome.  No longer question where I stand and what I believe in.  For my feelings to be felt, and not to feel alone but to bathe in the greatness of the self.  Only to allow it to dissolve to the world surrounds it.  To allow the self to be other and to be given no form.  To fall between hope and doubt, I and you, and light and dark.

If we can't laugh at ourselves we can't laugh at each other.  And if we can't laugh at each other we cannot laugh together.  Momma used to say, you can do two things: cry and feel sad or laugh and feel free.  I don't think there was ever an option.
Sometimes we dance with strangers.  That we can be taken away for a moment.  The room grows dark and all there is is you, that stranger, and rhythm.  The act of dancing feels like a part of us that stems from our tribal days, how we used to be introduced to the opposite sex.  Rather than words the body did all the talking.  There is no lying when it comes to dancing.

And so we may follow a stranger home, no words spoken, just creeping into the night.  And so we may walk some lonely streets and climb some empty stairs to their living room or bedroom in a house where everyone is asleep.  And so we may act on the heat that still swells within.  That dancing keeps us warm and warm through the night.  

...

There was once a boy that sat on a cliff and watched the horizon.  Below him was a girl he liked dearly, and she liked him too.  But he wasn't there with her, he was up above sitting there in the red sand and looking off.  She was with another boy and that boy was the boy on the cliff's best friend.  They were in a shack kissing and touching.  She would stop every once in a while and yell up at that boy who sat on the cliff made of red sand.  She would say things like, "What are you doing up there?  Why don't you come join us?  You look so lonely up there, come down."  The boy would sometimes look down and give a smile.  He felt very strong when he did muster the strength to look down and just smile.  He knew his heart gained a sharp pain as soon as the thought of her, what she was doing, and how alone he felt, but he tried very hard to keep that pain away.  He was always lost in his thoughts and perhaps it was because in his thoughts he was able to escape that moment, that feeling of being alone, and believe that he was no longer in some small and forgotten town in the middle of nowhere in a state that some people didn't even know exist.  And in his thoughts he was able to gain in something else, something that he felt made him make up for the fact that he wasn't down there with that girl, kissing her, maybe even touching her.  

This isn't supposed to be a sad story.  That boy who sat at the cliff does not grow to be a sad person who has to lose himself in his thoughts in order to cope with the reality of his life.  That boy eventually grows older and though he can never escape that company of loneliness he stops pushing it away as if it was a stranger, as if it wasn't a part of him.  And over the years he grows peaceful and eventually even content.  There is heartbreak and many sad stories that come and then go.  Some linger for longer and some even define him.  But to spite all of this he learns what true love is.  

It has been months.  It is now a new year.  He and this girl have been through many beautiful moments and have felt many wonderful things.  There has been a lot of sleepless nights, lot of frustration, and cracks at sanity as well.  There was something he realized in an eureka moment.  His heart has been speaking so loudly to him lately and he has been a good listener.  What his heart said stopped him in his tracks like hitting a brick wall at full pace.  He needed to see her, he needed to tell her.  But it would be days before he can.  And so his mind was in one place.  Thinking about one thing.  There are many feelings and even more words he needed to say.  He decided there was no way to say it right and so he wrote it down in a letter.  He typed away and beat at those keys of an old typewriter.  His fingers weren't unable to keep up with his heart.  Words almost fell off the page until it felt done.  And so he finished and finished with the line, "...and now it is time to put this paper down and for me to say the rest."
There was a pause, he knew it was time, but that boy on the cliff, that red sand, that nowhere place, were suddenly in the room with him.  

When he said those words he wished he was suddenly alone.  That she was not there in front of him.  And that there wasn't that look on her face that was neither confused, frustrated, mad, happy, relaxed, but somewhere between not-sure-of-what-to-say and sad without being sad.  That something stirred within her, something that felt wonderful at that the same time made her feel guilty.  One tear fell, eyes were locked and what felt like hours went by.  Those were the hardest words said.  Those were the hardest words said.  But they were said.

It didn't matter what happened next.  What she said or didn't say in response, it wasn't important.  He just needed to say how he felt.  That he was no longer sitting at that cliff, looking off, lost in his thoughts, looking down, and seeing love, seeing something he couldn't have.  That wasn't him, he was down in the valley, looking straight at her, and told her exactly how he felt.  That was enough for him.  

This is where you come into this story.  Perhaps I'm not the best with words, that sometimes what I want to say I can't figure out how to say it without it sounding wrong, without it asking for a response, or asking for too much.  It may seem like only a few weeks have gone by, that we have learned about each other, and have had a few first steps into friendship.  But I have learned so much about myself in such a short period of time.  That you woke something up in me.  You have inspired me more than I allow you to realize.  That your presence is and has been one of the most refreshing and rewarding experiences I've had with someone in a long time.  That your acceptance, your kindness, and what you share, and learning of how hard you work for what you believe in has touched me.  I am working harder, I am learning how to accept others better as well as myself.  I have a fire within me.  

There have been many things that I have kept to myself, that I thought I had forgotten but have always been there that you have helped me realize.  And not only did I realize they were there I was able to accept them, share them, and that you were there to listen.  I am never content with just saying thank you, that I come from a house where if someone does something for you you do it back and you give them no choice.  That I need to return the favor, that I want you to realize that I am here as well.  

...

Now the sun is setting and the girl and the boy below take off.  The boy sitting on the cliff looks off and sees something that never gets old, that is always beautiful, that no words can dear describe, that is absolutely everything, and that can calm the saddest of hearts, the loneliest of loneliest, and take it all away in its presence...

(Again, this time with more enthusiasm) Shine on.





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Push

There is an edge that we are racing towards.  Perhaps not racing, but moving, at whichever speed your attitude wishes to provide its velocity and whatever edge that is, good or bad, or neither and just neutral.  And perhaps we don't know where we are going.  We only believe we are going somewhere in order to fulfill goals and in order to feel like we have accomplished something.  Accomplished something because we believe in ourselves, in the path we create, what we say (whether it be self-expression, an art form, and our thoughts and feelings we wish to share) and what we stand for.

Sometimes our goals are met and when they are met, those of us who have more ambition than others already have future goals when present goals are met.  And so work is never really done and so we are constantly working.  Those of us who have more ambition than others.

We do what we do because we can't do anything else.  Not because we have no choice, that we lack talent or inspiration nor drive towards reaching another life and other goals.  We do this because we have a choice and this is what we must do.  We believe in it with all of our hearts.  We will struggle to keep doing what we are doing.  We will go against the flow, whichever flow that is, whether it be acceptance, popularity, what is the norm, and how people look and feel towards us.  We do it because we believe in it, even when people don't believe in what we are doing, or there are very few of which believe in what we are doing.  And to spite the resistance, the struggle, we keep doing it.  And there might be times of doubt, where we step out of our vision and our drive and look at our lives subjectively and see it how those who doubt us see it.  We might think to ourselves, maybe this isn't right, maybe all this resistance is there for a reason, and that it is trying to tell us we are going the wrong way.  And in those moments of subjective thinking where we see ourselves through the eyes of those who doubt us we lose some of the people like us when we start believing in that doubt.  They stop in their tracks and pursue another path.  They might end up happier and realize they found what they were looking for all along.  But for the rest of us, that isn't the case, that we stride to push forward.  Through the seasons, through the years, move after move, this success, and this failure, this step in personal evolution, and this attack at our very souls.  We keep going to spite it all.

We might feel absolutely alone in our vision.  In our ambition.  In our beliefs.  But that is when we must work harder.  We must push through.  And we must be reminded that we are never alone.  That there are those of us that care, that understand, and are in the exact same boat as us, doing their thing, and struggling the same way we do.  We may have never met, we may never meet, but we should always know we are never alone.  That the lives we lead send out vibrations into the world and those vibrations are hitting us all the time and that our mind and bodies are in tune with those vibrations, whether we know it or not, that we are part of that stream, that wavelength.  We are doing this, together, alone, all at once, and throughout history.

This will never end.  We will never stop.  We will keep going.  Until there is nothing left.

Because we believe in what we are doing.  What it means to do what we do.  And why it is so important that there is no other way for us.  Some may look at us as if we were lost but baby, we know exactly where we are, at all times, we are doing what we need to do, what our calling tells us.  And each day this calling cries louder, it's just sometimes on some days it is harder to hear, harder to move in the direction we are going, and that only gives us more and more strength to keep on doing this.

Never stop.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

22 Lines To Make Them Yours

You're the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I'd be lost without you.

There would be no reason to live.

There isn't a day I don't think of you.

And...

There isn't a night I don't lose sleep thinking of you.

All I want to do is make you happy.

Your smile is all I need.

You are the world.


You make me crazy.  

Your company is all I want.  


The world around fades away when you are here.

You set a fire in me.

There isn't a thing I cannot do now.

You make me feel like I haven't felt in a long time.

I fall apart only to come back together when I hear you calling.

You make me crazy.

You really do.

The world ends as soon as you leave from here.

For everything, my everything.

There is no longer a past nor a future.

Just now.

Time stops with you.  

Did I say I was crazy.

For you.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For Just One Moment

Just one.  Just one moment.

Months had passed, he was right there, working, carrying something that was too heavy and too much to bare.  The house was full of flowers and there was a sadness that seemed to ignore how wonderful the light was that filled each room.  There were words spoken then that were also very sad and were met with tears.  I remember those times and I remember my silence.

It wasn't until I left I was able to find the words.  But most importantly, it was the distance that I needed to separate myself from a response.  When the words came they were all familiar and had been with me for months.  It wasn't until I was away that they were able to become words, to take on form, and be given a structure that formed meaning through reflection.  I had lost sleep for many nights.  I had dreams of writing that letter.  And finally one night, with the silence that surrounded my parents' small house on a small island I left my bed, went into the study, and closed myself off.  I wrote by hand and carefully wrote, knowing that he had consideration for good penmanship, and so I tried very very hard. One page turned into two and where I began was where I ended.  Careful folds were made, a perfect fit in an envelop, and finally address and stamp.

With the moon just above and in the company of many stars I walked with a faint shadow to the mailbox. The sound of the screech of the mailbox door being opened then closed travelled down that silent street. It was done I told myself.  But that red flag on the mailbox was still up as I went to sleep and was still up by the time I woke up.  It would be hours in the day until finally I heard that mailbox door be opened then closed.  And even then that letter had to travel thousands of miles as I hoped it arrived well before I returned.  It was important then that that letter arrive without my presence there, that my face and my access was removed.  That the words written can just be read and need no response to their author.  They were words that needed to be said, simply just said.  No immediate response, no thank you, no exchange, but an understanding that words like that exists.

For no expectations, no need for a response, and to be listened to because there is something I needed to say.  These words, though I have to say them, aren't for me, but are for you.  They are my observations and my feelings that come as a response to you.  I need no more than what I have. Anything else is the unexpected but is always welcomed like a surprise.

Let the words exists.  Let them find a place somewhere out there.  Let them be free of their author.  Free from any one person.  Let them be shared.  Let them be heard.  This is what I have learned.  To tell stories, to speak from a position that is from my personal but is accessible, exchangeable with you and your own experience.  Let us share feelings, the places we've been, and recall of the people we have met.  And so and so.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunshine Angel

It started with her smile.  Then her voice.  The way she spoke: animated but soft, words broken by laughter.  Her smile that was full and not just for those she knew, but also for complete strangers and all.  

There is that point where you have everything to gain from someone, that you know nothing about them and so all there is left to do is ask questions.  Ask questions and try to steal as much time from them so you can ask all your questions.  And to ask questions to learn as much as you can to get to know them.  If you get that time.  If you get to know them.  The more special they become, the closer you get, step by step, until it is too late.  You have fallen. 

Then it was her eyes: delicate and deep, able to draw your absolute attention when she stared into yours.  It made me feel naked, that all my tricks were worthless and that my charm could only be in being honest.  That was her stare: an honest look that bared down on the soul only to hold it and know that is nothing between each soul.  

That day it was warm, we all knew it was going to gradually get cooler and cooler, transforming shirts to sweaters and shorts to pants.  We found our spot on the beach and listened to the waves crash.  There was a sloping tree that stood over the water.  It was narrow and steep but called to us.  It wanted to be climbed and at the end of that climb there was a perfect spot to rest, right above the water.  Hours went by and a few of us made our attempts at that tree.  Only a few steps taken.  Each time I watched on, eager to try myself, and eventually I would only to fail.  More time passed and the sun moved further in the sky.  My gut came calling.  The tree beckoned.  When was the last time my legs had my trust.  Lefty still wasn't the same, still couldn't run, and tired after a full day of walking.  Righty dumbed down, keeping its pace to balance the two.  They haven't felt the same since the crash.

For a moment I stopped thinking.  I need not think for my legs and for my feet to find their way.  They work alone, knowing the ground more than my thoughts and more my feelings.  I swear they move on their own and so I let them do exactly that.  I got up and started to walk towards that tree.  The sandy surface turned to smooth tree bark, the slope grew steeper and my legs climbed.  Step by step.  Not a doubt to their thinking, straight narrow path.  I could hear the others call on, hoping to see one of us make it.  I wanted to say we were going to make it but there wasn't a thought in my mind.  Nothing to say.  We reached the top, we were in the leaves and perfectly right over the water.  The sunshine shimmered over the water's ripples and as I continued to stare at those ripples I could see a purple glow with touches of orange and deep blue.  I had never seen such colors from shimmering ripples but neither have I been able to stare at them from just above on a low-hanging tree.  I sat at the end and cleared my mind of thought so more.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.   Not a thing.  A speed boat in the distance raced by and then came heavy waves.  The surface below my feet changed rapidly, the waves crashed with intensity, and the tree and I stood still.  Nothing could touch us here, in this moment.

Not the smile, nor the eyes, and not even how beautiful she is, breath-taking, yes, and like no other, of course, it was beyond that and the origin of those qualities.  What drew me in, what caught me from the start, what I wanted to learn more about, where all my questions and query stemmed from: was the love at the center of her being.  I had been listening to the phrase, Love everyone, speak the truth*, for the past few months.  That phrase has been deepened, See beyond the face, the behavior, the personality, the dress, past, and beliefs, and there is love at the center of everyone**.  But it takes me time to see through all those layers and it takes them time if at all, to welcome me to that warmth at the center of it all.  She was different: it was right there with nothing to hide and it was shining.  

I'm not the person that can get away with calling others angels.  Nor am I the person that could I tell them to shine on.  But I was taken by the radiance of someone.  Someone that is kind and caring, that accepts you, that needs no story, no explanation, that is there to be honest, and there to be there.  And that each moment with, that ticking of time stops, and all I want is for this or that day to become endless, letting the scenery change but not the company.  I have much to learn and far too many questions, but I hope I have more and more of your time.

*The instructions given to Ram Dass by his guru, Neem Karoli Baba.
**Paraphrased from Duncan Trussell interpretting Neem Karoli Baba's instructions to Ram Dass during a conversation with Dr. Chris Ryan and Joe Rogan, http://duncantrussell.com/joe-rogan-and-chris-ryan-2/#/vanilla/discussion/embed/?vanilla_discussion_id=0
Second photograph by Helene Goderis taken on June 15th, 2014.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

(Currently Untitled, from And Cheese, 2014)

There is no where safe and so I just stay up late.  I've been meeting strangers in my dreams, beautiful strangers.  I can't remember their faces exactly, only fragments, here and there, but nothing whole.  And if I think deep enough I can even remember their smell.
They came to be out of some well that rest somewhere far and forgotten in my mind.  They are the ghosts of beings not buried well, that haven't found rest.  They haunt me, even when it is day and the sun shines into my window making it too hot to sleep.  I don't give them names, just feelings, and those feelings are something I haven't felt in a long time.

L is in my arms, close enough that we exchange heat with our bodies.  Her neck rubs my cheek and I start nibbling her there.  She is silent, she doesn't stop me, to say what has gotten over me.  I know it is a dream but my body doesn't wake.  This is our first intimate moment and perhaps the last.

I think it is how chance seems to be too intentional.  How the planets seem to align themselves and part of Earth where this particular moment, this "chance" encounter happens suddenly goes into the shadow of a total solar eclipse.  Like lightning striking twice, like the secession of two miracles makes it a saint, and how you just feel connected to someone before you know what it is that makes that someone that someone.  Like the eye before blink, before the I is I, there are just two beings, souls if I may, that haven't arrived at one point with their ego but rather with thing that comes before.  That self meets that self and in that moment there isn't an I nor a her, but one.  Ideas, thoughts, and feelings all just flow as we become breathless.  And so we just dance.  And we leave our friends behind.





Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Believe in Miracles


(When Harry Met Sally, 2013)

Too young.  Too old.  Something that seems repetitive.  But it might not be.  Finding a hole with a rope sticking out of it.  You look into the hole and it is dark, you can't tell how deep it goes.  You throw the smallest denomination of change you have in your pocket into the hole.  There is no sound. You look at the rope and grab it with one hand (which ever you use most).  You start to reel in the rope.  After a minute you start to realize how strange it is that the rope hasn't come to an end, either by the end of the rope or that it stops giving abruptly.  None of that happens, it just keeps on giving and never ends.  You start getting really into it, using two hands now, and on your forehead beads of sweat appear.

My mother looks back at me from the passenger seat and tells me about how we are going pass this place where aliens run about.  We shouldn't stop there, they might come running after us.  There's some secret laboratory somewhere out there in the desert.  My mind wandered and all I can see was this yellowish white sand everywhere.  The shimmer of hot air to anything in the distance.  This shrub and this cactus, some yuccas, and endless desert.  At the time aliens were the thing I most feared, and at the same time was most curious about.  I lived in the epicentre of alien activity as well as myth.  From that backseat I wrote poems.  One, two, three, four to the hundred I wrote already in that notebook.  I remember them all being sad, about heartbreak, about the reality that was then.

The rope forms piles and you stop a passerby and ask for help.  "Will you help me pile this rope?"  The stranger helps, looking curious herself into what lies at the end of this comically long rope.  Hours go by, a routine has been formed, there is a system of organizing the rope, how much you take before you need to rest your hands.  The sun sets, night rolls on, you and the stranger both take shifts of pulling the rope.  The sun rises.  The rope turns black and at first you are startled.  It suddenly feels heavier, you look down into the hole and for one brief moment you see a flicker of light.

I often wonder if my mother ever found those poems, if she ever read them, and if so how did she see her son after that.  Did she decide to give me more attention, to bring herself closer to me?  Without her I'm not sure how I would've gotten through those years.  How she would devise a road trip to here and to there, to see The Array, to go to White Sands, Roswell, Joshua Tree National Park, this ancient city and this, to an alien abductee meeting downtown, to some many countless things that were the best things a child like me could witness, to experience.  Without that I wouldn't be here.  I would not be I, it would be different, something with all the creativity in the world I couldn't imagine who was.  All I know is who is I that has seen those things, felt those things, and lived to tell those things.

Eventually the rope reaches infinity in your mind.  You ask the stranger if they have anything sharp in their bag.  The stranger strangely enough has a pair of scissors.  You ask the stranger for them, they hand them over, and you hold them open with the black rope in-between the blades.  Both you and the stranger look closely at that rope.  Your eyes say a farewell speech, that it was good knowing you, rope, that I have learned a lot from you, rope, that I am ready to leave you, rope.  The rope doesn't look back, it doesn't look at all, it just sits there, without judgement and waits, waits for whatever to come of it.  You press the scissors closed and one by one the strands that make the rope break free of each other.  The last strand breaks and a miniature cloud of dust forms.  You lay the rope to rest by the hole as you and the stranger hold another passerby's truck with rope.  You sell the rope for $1 a yard and soon sell out.  You soon forget where the hole and the rope was, and years later you try to hunt them down but find no success.  Even the stranger who helped you is no where to be found.  You wonder what her name was, what they did for a living, if they had kids.  You saved every cent you made from that rope in a series of jars.  They grow dusty and the same with you.  You forget all about that rope, that hope, that stranger, but never those jars.  They too eventually lose their memory and your grandchildren ask, "Dear Grand(ma or pa), why do you have all that old paper and metal money in jars?"  You can't remember and so you give them the jars, telling your rosy-faced grandson that has an appetite for trouble to smash them.  He looks worried, wanting to smash them to pieces but knows he might get an earful from Momma and Papa bear.  You assure them it will be a secret.

SMASH!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

HERE I AM

(Lava Tube, from And Cheese, 2013)

I go to the small places, if the party scene is too loud for me I find spaces underneath furniture, behind the fridge, under the covers of some one's bed and make myself as small as possible and wait.

During the time I was most afraid of Satan and demons possessing my soul I was out in this field stretched between my friend Ben's house and the Episcopalian church my mother would take me four times a year.  It was dark and a few of us were playing hide and seek.  It was my turn and I was determined to stay hidden for far longer than the others.  I found a nice hole in the ground that was surrounded by scrubs and yuccas and curled into a ball.  Time passed slowly in that hole and I could hear their voices holler in the distance, "Did you find him yet?""Where the hell is he?".  I kept at it, that human ball.  Their voices came closer and I grew excited, I didn't want to be found but at the same time I wanted to get out of that hole and join my friends again.  I kept quiet, someone even jumped over me.  What felt like half an hour passed by and I was sure I now held the record for longest hide-n-go-seek time ever.  When the second person jumped over me I immediately got up and yelled, "HERE I AM!"  Sean nearly tripped when he landed, they were all surprised to see me there, covered in dirt with thorns and all.

I had to run away that one night, my friend was leaving in the morning, all my things were there.  That was my bed for the weekend, the doors all locked behind him.  In some alternative universe I would've gotten to know someone better, create more inside jokes with a stranger, and let a moment carry on into the next.  The door closed and drunkenly I returned to the norm.  Over time those moments are all acknowledged and perhaps I grew too used to the saying, What happens happens: everything has meaning but most of it is meaningless to us, especially in the moment.

That saying came out of this one encounter and has haunted me since.  I was living in Chinatown at the time and I was going to art school.  I was across the street of the school where this religious paraphilia shop was (that doesn't exist anymore) when all of a sudden this stranger approached me, looked me in the eyes, and gave me the most beautiful smile.  I was catch off guard, and almost frozen in the scene as she carried on wherever she was going.  I could've ran after her, made something up in one or two seconds that declares that I'm not a weirdo, nor creep, just curious, curious like a boy but man enough to do something.  I couldn't think of anything and so I let it pass me.  Deep down I knew something, that that moment was too significant, that that person wasn't just a passerby, and that I will end up seeing them again and again.  I also told myself I won't let her slip away.  Damnit, I won't.
Months passed by and as I was walking with a group of friends there she was again, at the same school I was going to, and that eye contact, that smile, and this time I mustered a smile and she smiled harder.  She is playing a game I imagine.  Months passed and spring was on its way.  One day, I went to meet a friend and there she is, trapped in a room and that would be the last time we saw each other as strangers.  And that would be the last time we saw each other as strangers, as strangers, as strangers.

A letter was written years later.  I said everything I had to say on one US Letter standard, typed on a typewriter, then corrected by pen by hand and given in a moment that was carefully orchestrated, a trap was set, a scheme schemed, and I made things happen.

And that was the last time we saw each other as strangers.

Then another letter was written (there were several in fact but this one was very particular).  It said a lot of stuff in it and it summed up everything from the first letter to that particular moment.  It was also handwritten, corrected by pen by hand but this time it had instructions.  Like the first letter it was read with my presence in the room and like that first one I wanted to run away, never more awkward of a moment.

And that was the last time we saw each other as strangers.

Under some pile of winter coats, scarves, and beanies is a blanket and under that blanket is a full-grown man that appears to be sleeping but is completely awake with eyes open.  He doesn't look you in the eyes but just stares off, perhaps in shock that he was discovered.  He is still in the dirt, curled up in a human ball, surrounded by scrubs and yuccas in a dark night somewhere in New Mexico fearing the devil and wanting to be with friends again.  At the same time he wants to disappear.  He is neither and eventually he looks you in the eyes and the movie ends with a suggestion that the two hook up.

And that was the very last time we saw each other as strangers.





Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Y'Knot

(Yu Sum and Denn, at their house, 2013)

I've lost count at the amount of times I have been asked why my parents moved to Hawai'i.  The most common answer I reply with is, spoken cooly: Why not?.

I have never tried to properly articulate the answer, nor had I really proposed the question to myself.  It just made sense that they moved there, or rather my mother's desire to be there.  There is no way to properly answer that question, at least not without saying, "Long story short...".  But there is no long story short, just long story.

The ocean has always been a significant place in my life.  From as far as I can remember I always found comfort in its presence.  I always wanted to live by it, it was always something that I had been reaching for.  Retracing my past it was always a destination.  When my family lived in Toronto, we would venture down south to Florida to stay by the Atlantic, when we lived in New Mexico it was California and the Pacific, in Texas it was either Galveston, South Padre, or Penescola for the Gulf.  The end of a journey was always marked by the arrival to the ocean and for my parents now they have finally arrived.

If one were seeking out the presence of the ocean their entire life what better place than a remote island.  There are few places in Hawai'i, especially Maui one can not know of the ocean's presence, let alone its sight.  It is so ubiquitous that there is a reversed proportioning of land to sea: where as on the mainland there is the ocean as a shoreline and opposite is a land that continues far greater than one can see to the horizon over the ocean.  In Hawai'i, the land rarely forms a horizon.  And when land does it is often a neighboring island in the horizon, to which one can always see how dwarfed it is by its scale in a vast infinite sea which surrounds its edges.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God B'wy

(Sisters, 2013)

I can't say I lost you, at least not to your face.  I can write it here and I know there won't be any objections.  A distance has been growing between us for a while now and for the first time ever I feel like an adult, especially when I say goodbye.  

I remember that last night we shared together, how I left early knowing that there was no proper way to say goodbye.  I held in my mind many ways to do it, I tried to make one or two of those happen but they didn't.  I told myself it wasn't your fault, that you had people to see, and goodbyes to say.  We had dinner one last time and in the amber glow of a street at night we hugged.  I whispered something I can't remember into your ear and we held each other for some time.  Michelle was there, looking at us.  I didn't see her with my eyes as they were closed but I could feel her presence.  I can't remember the last time we were alone.  I said it sincerely then I had to be a joker and say, as my final words to you, "Smell ya later."  

The truth is I'm not sure if we will ever see each other again.  See, as in see each other the same way.  Nor do I claim to know what the future holds, how we will feel, how we will see, and the matter of all of that.  All I know is now: that I stopped carrying Liam on my shoulders, speaking for his absence, and acting like he was still in the room with us.  The other day I came across an old recording I had made, one that I recorded right after a certain phone call with you.  I remember that moment very well as I didn't have the strength to talk to you, I was afraid your voice would break my heart and that my voice grew more burdensome to you.  Instead of talking I just played, I Need You by America.  Hearing your silence and the song playing felt like forever passing, eventually after the second chorus I hung up.
***

The phone rang, it wasn't the usual ring but a distinct ring tune I programmed just for you.  I answered and waited, I heard nothing on the other side; I would've preferred heavy breathing from some serial murder to the silence.  Eventually your voice broke the silence, it was that fragile side to your voice, the one that worked like a key to some deep crevice within me.   

I used to have this gut feeling about you.  I franticly been looking for it everywhere like a mother lost child.  For years, for a long time I kept piling up fuel for a fire that had long been extinct.  I used you as a reason why my heart wasn't in it with others.  It was easier that way, but perhaps easy is the wrong word here.  There is no other way of explaining it.  I had always been lost, as well as I have always been alone.  What I tried hard to forget in those Infinite Moments we shared was that fact, but the truth is I never felt like I belonged (to you, and who I was to you).  The heartbreak that followed our falling out wasn't losing you and that place you gave me in your life but realizing that fact was fact, proven by trial and rectified by failure.  

To say something that shimmers with the warmth of hope here: All the love I have ever known, which has been many, with many faces, was all my own.  To those I thought it was for, they may have helped that grow, may have helped me discover it, but it had always been there, within me, and it took me believing in it and in myself for it to have ever been realized.  It took me a while but I finally have it.  There aren't faces nor names to place with this love, no this one is uncomplicated, never runs away (here one day and not the other), this one stays, it has picked me up time after time, and it hasn't never done me wrong, no, never, ever, ever, FOREVER, EVER-EVER.

TILL THE BREAK OF DAWN, TILL THE BREAK OF DAWN.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Madness pt.3

(Something in the Works, 2013)

That feeling of missing becomes something without a shape. I can recall details: a smile, a face that holds that smile, scent, the shimmer in the eyes, and the feeling of being around this person and that person.  But something feels missing from the missing, that it is hard to imagine that person right now and here, that there are no caveats to the memory of that person around me in the scenery that is this place.  All there is is no lived experience of a place that only holds reference to Jackie Chan and kung-fu movies, a slight resemblance to Chinatown back home, and the few memories my father recalling of his homeland.  After that everything is new, and perhaps that is the excitement of being here.
Before arriving people would tell me about China, about how they knew someone that went and had changed.  Some of those people even returned to live there.  It is too earlier to point out what has changed in me, to acknowledge an alternative self, or if it was China that had the majority of the affect on me or if it was the experience of being with my entire family for the first time in over a decade.  Witnessing how we have changed, how we have grown apart, situated in a different circumstance from each other seemed to be an analogy to what China has become.  From my father's notion of the China, the China he had escaped, the Red China, the Mao China, the one that seemed too hard to speak of, the one that recalls memories of struggle and violent change.  That China was gone and in the void was a man in his late-60's seeing a new country from fifty years of being away.
Eventually the things I thought were strange, different, and even this notion of madness would subside to the everyday.  A child naked from the waist down is being held by his mother as he pees on to the street, the strong smell of urine in particular spots on the street, the cutest dogs ever, the massive crowds, the part of the street where cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycle, and people all struggle to move in each of their directions, the honking, the hawking, the spitting, the mixture of music, and the street sounds eventually fade to the opposite of white noise, a pattern from the chaos of everything happening all at once.  From how people looked here, communicating, selling, and buying, how it did not seem to phase them, that understanding of their everyday made it normal to me, or at least closer to understanding it.
Arriving in Shanghai was something else, I was still in mainland and yet I felt like I was somewhere far from the past ten days.  The same sense of order I knew from North America was here, walking was less challenged, the eyes need not pan and scan the surrounding in search of a steadily approaching vehicle, the sidewalks without vendors, the spitting down to a minimal, and the order of the buildings, of the overall was something I understood from the experience of living in a cosmopolitan city.  I had a good feeling about this place, as if I was searching for something, that something was just about to be found.  It was so close I could smell it.  And then I heard it, a whisper from the wind, "Are you ready?".

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Madness pt.2

(Michelle and Maya in Dundas, 2013)

Early morning and there was that light blue hue to everything around.  Just behind the tuk-tuk driver I watched his hair flap and dance in the wind as the street scene unfolded.  It looked like a place that hadn't changed in a long time, everything fixed, old advertisement covered second story walls, and plastic burned in designated spots.  This was the old my mind told me, comparing it to the modernized Beijing I had seen the day before.  There again, yesterday felt like a while ago.  So-so-so long ago that song went.

I looked like an idiot.  A complete fool.  The dogs were barking at me as I got closer with my camera.  All around me were locals watching me get closer and reading the signs of the dogs.  The dogs were wild and had their own place in Pingyao.  There were puppies there and I cannot resist the charm of puppies.  Dogs were barking by my legs and yet I stay there, even getting closer until one came real close, its fur touching my fur.  I started to run out of there and I felt being chased as what was directly behind was obscured by my imagination and fear of possibility getting rabies.  I must have outrun them or they just didn't care to keep chase as the sun set.
We rode tuk-tuks again, packing my entire family while the other carried all of our luggage.  Imagine two motorized rickshaws: one carrying five adult human beings while the other was devoted to carrying all their possessions.  This image seemed to carry with me the entire trip, and even before the journey started the notion of "mental weight" was dawning on me.  It came up on a hike after a friend of mine lost a precious bracelet, we were all high out of our minds in the middle of the woods and she lost that thing.  We spent time looking for it but no success, it had become part of the woods.  Eventually we had to push on as the sun was getting to that place in the sky.  Though the physical weight of the bracelet passed by day to day undetected its mental weight lingers; its significance, its sentimental value, its memory were all too important to keep on travels and yet she carried it with her, as a keepsake and a reminder.  We tend to leave things at home we wish not to lose but there are some special things we keep with us to represent something or someone as we are away.  There was a book buried deep in the backpack I was living out of for the trip.  It is sealed in a ziplock bag and it is very old.  I had no immediate plans to read it it just had to come along.  There is something in an object that has been places and has been owned by people, who also took it places as well.  It is usually objects that only find value to us and that they lack exchangeable value, such as used shoes (these are my magic shoes), an old camera that your father or mother shot with when they were your age, a book, a hat, and lucky jewelry.  When those things are lost there is a release of mental weight, but because it has been weighing down for so long the gravity is missed and so it is we can often forget we are lighter and no longer have to bare the weight of the past.  That bracelet was buried somewhere in Dundas, Ontario, where it will never get more lost than it is found in those woods.
A piece of luggage falls from the tuk-tuk ahead and our driver laughs and yells at his friend driving.  We carry on and make it to the train station late at night.  They're playing a Jackie Chan movie on an old television set and this is the first and only time I will see Jackie Chan on my trip.  The train arrives, first appearing as a distant light floating in the darkness of a small town, then it grows and creates silhouettes of guards on wait.  On board everyone appears to be asleep, occasional someone peeks over and then acts like they were sleeping.  I quickly climbed up to the third bunk and passed out.  No window to fall asleep to, no way to see if the moon was shining, just snores and coughs and the sound of a train rolling on tracks.  Sleep-sleep-sleep.