29 February, 2016

I'm Not Entirely Here, Half of Me Has Disappeared

heart-shaped bruise

On a February night, in a darkened parking lot, Dani slaps my thigh with a rubber knife.  We're learning to deflect knife wounds.  This one, in particular, stings.  I squeeze my eyes shut and make note to check what it looks like the next morning.  I wake up with a heart-shaped bruise.

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Tonight I talked to Amani. She was 2,763 miles away from me, huddled up in a student lounge in Manhattan, while I sat criss cross applesauce in my room, sporting a clay mask and a raggedy I ♡ NY t-shirt. We recounted what had happened to each other since the last time we spoke. I laughed and I laughed and I clutched at my stomach and I realized that Amani radiates the sun no matter what time of day it is.  At one point, she switches to a new topic and begins by saying, "You're an observant person, aren't you?" and my heart swells.  She makes me take a quiz to find out what kind of element bender I am, and one of the questions inquires whether I’m consistent with my emotions and moods, or whether I’m all over the place. I come to the harsh realization that I’m actually very emotionally unstable in the gentlest way possible, and then I laugh about that, as well.

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Somewhere during my freshman year of college, there was a shift in my spirit. That Manhattan winter of 2014 was one of the saddest Februarys I had ever been alive. I noticed there was something different when I walked from Union Square all the way down to Brooklyn Bridge / City Hall, crying at nothing in particular, while snow flurries frizzed up my hair, made my nose pink.

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friends
friends
friends

Cait and Lizzie visit me one Saturday night, which makes me giddy inside, because the space I live in is my favorite place in the world. L. tucks her legs under her and she bounces animatedly, telling us stories about her new relationship. We all begin to talk about what we think love is, and we all come to the consensus that not only are there different kinds of love, but it’s difficult for someone to come up with a correct definition of love if they haven’t been in it.

C. says that she thinks the city we live in is small-town mentality. This makes me frown, because I realize that she’s correct, and I begin to wish I hadn’t left New York and that life hadn’t happened to me and that I was a stronger person than I am now. The wheels in my head start turning, and I become resolute on the fact that I will not grow up and die here.

At some point in the night, C. and L. are curled up in different corners of my bed, busy on their own, a speaker plays chillwave music, and I’m dicking around with a camera. Sometimes they’ll look up and ask, “What song is this?” C. says, “This has been such a good Saturday. I love hang-outs like these. I love your room.” And I feel happiness bubble up inside me, at the thought that people that I love made themselves comfortable in my space.

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summer in februarysummer in february

My mother points at The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, printed onto a canvas and on sale at Goodwill for twelve dollars. Realizing what I’m looking at, I squeal and begin to jump up and down and I grab on to her arm and I’m bouncing and laughing maniacally. Trying to indulge my recent zodiac mania, she tells me that she read in my horoscope that morning that I’d be receiving a surprise from a family member today. She pays for one half, I the other, and I walk out of the store with a canvas that’s larger than half of my height, unable to control my cackling.

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summer in february

Cherry blossoms have started budding in San Diego. I decide that whenever I see one, it’ll be a reminder to stand upright and keep blooming.

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On a day like this one, where communication falls through with another person, I feel it deeply in my heart and it fills my boots, they're heavy for the rest of the day.

I go to sleep and I turn off the light in this room and I put my hands out and walk, in the dark, to my bed.  As my autopilot pulls me there, I remember how, when I was a child, I used be deeply afraid of the dark and its hidden, paranormal unknowns.  Inevitably, I think about M. again.  Twice in one month.  I find that whenever I feel spooked, I think of him, and I wonder whether he'd take care of me and protect me today.

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S. calls me as I'm painting my nails brick red.  "Jess!  Look out your window!"  I tiptoe in my bare feet to the other side of my room and peer into the bushes outside.  In my ear, she says: "Can you let me in?"  I swing the door open and she says she was this close to throwing pebbles to get my attention.  I wish she would have.

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my beautiful yellow tree
trees


A man much larger than I is on the ground, sparring with me, and at one point, he presses my head down on the mat.  He slides his arm around my neck and tries to choke me, and my starfish earring gets stuck to his sleeve.  As his arm keeps pulling, so does my earring.  I tap; he releases.  I reach my hand up to my ear and I feel sticky blood.  I put my fingers to my face.  They're red. I grin at him with satisfaction.

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He says I love you and that's enough for now.

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Traditionally, my brain shuts down emotionally after I've had a good day.  This was no exception.  My boots get heavy while I'm sleeping.  I wake up and my mind is cloudy, my eyes don't want to open.  Where sweet words are lacking, my joy is found in chocolate pastries and the bubbles that form at the bottom of a glass as you're filling it with water from the tap.

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I sit still for the first time all day and I continue to think about my life.  I realize that I'm daydreaming about sabotaging my future.  I wistfully imagine what it'd be like to fall apart and crumble every single damn day, have it reset at night, and begin again the next.

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I listen to 'That I Would be Good" on repeat at noon, and I wonder whether I'm going through an Alanis Morissette phase at twenty, in the year 2016.

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journaling around boys

Dani drives through the long back road at night, exiting the ranch-and-equestrian community she lives in.  I told her before I hate driving through here; it reminds me of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The road merges and we're in a deserted, winding road.  Over the music she yells:  "Is this the place you're scared of?"

I smile sheepishly and nod,  "Yeah, dude!"

Dani turns her face back to the road, and before I realize, she switches off her headlights and she lets out a long, high-pitch scream.  She begins to cackle as I smack her shoulder.  She rolls down her window and turns down the music and she screams again as I alternate between looking bewildered at her, and watching the road.  It seems like the sound of the engine has gotten louder, my knees feel weak, but I still throw my head back and laugh while shaking.  My teeth begin to chatter and I still chuckle here and there.  Dani lets out a Whooo! and she turns the headlights back on.