[crochet baby blanket, yarn, 07.26.14]
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
An open letter to everyone I've ever known:
Sometimes I catch myself doing the things my mother used to do that would make me wince at 10 and here I am. I'm 22 and wincing at myself after a minute. Sometimes it takes that long to realize. The yelling through the wall. The dirty look. I didn't even mind that much. Not the act - I minded. What caused the act - I didn't. I mimic her actions but the emotion isn't there. The true upset. And I want to hide it under scarves and behind the collars of my shirts, so I button to the top and look at the floor. Sometimes I force a smile but why can't I be happy and show it my way.
I don't use question marks because they invite conversation. I can participate in small talk near the elevator on the first day of school. I made a girl laugh today. I can talk openly about my nasal passages but I won't ask you what your major is or why you pronounced "robot" so weird - where are you from. I'll ride the elevator silently and make a nervous smile when you get off on the fifth floor. I'll follow you home in a sense but really you were on my way. I saw you look. We shared a class and then a train car and you recognized me but I hid my face in my scarf. I didn't want to sneer, like the women sitting next to me in fur. She sneered at the woman speaking loudly on her cell phone. I didn't want to sneer. It didn't bother me. But the women in fur bothered me. Her attitude bothered me. Her impatience. She wouldn't sit still long enough to appreciate the lack of silence. Because sometimes the silence in public cuts through me. The spaces full of strangers who will stay that way indefinitely. Sometimes the noise is necessary. Whether it's understandable or not.
He steadied himself with his hand and I almost touched it, just to see. People jerk so quickly at accidental touch. It's not as if I wanted to talk, to have any sort of deep connection. I just had the urge. I think about the taboo and wish there was another word for it. I don't like that word and I don't like the idea behind it. Why do we have to keep things hidden. Why do I find myself not doing the things I want to do or saying the things I want to say. Everything has it's limits but I don't find I push them in the wrong direction. Acting completely on impulse can drive people away but I've only found it drives away the ones I never wanted there in the first place. I say what I want to say and it keeps the good ones close. Pushes them closer.
I sat next to you in the dark and thought about how I'd feel if you never talked to me again. Not in the way I would have as a teenager though. I sat and thought about standing up and wading through the crowd and leaving through the emergency exit - the one without the alarm. I wondered what you'd think and then I almost didn't care. It settled me down to think about. I watched the door instead of watching the people filing in. The feeling of being in control, completely in control of the situation, was freeing. I rarely felt that. It started when I moved and it's been growing. It started with the tiniest things.
I remember my sense of security coming from zipping my coat up with yours. The teeth of our coats interlocked perfectly - that thick plastic. We laughed and ate crackers and I remember the smell of your hair. Your dreadlocks. You were so different and your honest kindness hurt me in a good way. It was the first time I felt that. The first time I was able to compare honesty with the other. I felt my first real pain that year and the way the sun shone through the worn spots in our coats made me safe.
I've always been better at empathy than what I'd like to be. Sometimes I feel another person's emotions for them. I feel it for days. I felt your pain for days, for years. I feel it now even though it's been eight. I still see you fuming on the staircase. You weren't like me, you asked questions. You asked questions that made people squirm a little. Something about you repelled everyone on Calhoun and I felt it. All the kids who repelled, I felt their pain. The quick movements in the hallway, the seat across the room, the silence after presentations, the tension at lunch. It overwhelms me more now than it did at 16. When I think of how I've adjusted since and I worry about you now. I wonder what you're like at 22. If you sit next to people in dark theaters and simultaneously want to touch their hand and wade through the crowd towards the exit. The one without the alarm.
I crocheted a scarf and sent a picture to my mom. She said I looked like her and I don't see it. God, I don't see it. I try. But her green eyes and blond hair don't fit in. My wide face. I don't see it. I joked about being adopted. I've seen the contradictory pictures and heard the stories but I don't see myself in my family. My brothers look the same but where did I come from. Sometimes I see my dad in my face when I'm angry. When I catch myself in a mirror while the neighbor does her jumping jacks. I see it in my face for a second and it scares me. Not because I'm ashamed but because I've felt outside of it for so many years. Apart. My brothers are so skinny and I thought I stuck out in family pictures. I remember all my friends looking so much like their moms, like their brothers. I remember the food stuck in your braces. I remember the family pictures on your mantel - your faces all so fleshy. I've watched your sister grow up, looking just like you did at each stage. But when my little brother smiles all I see is his brother.
I've been exercising giving others the benefit of the doubt. No matter how much a persons' behavior annoys me initially, I try to empathize. It's not hard once you start. It's hardest with those who seek attention in such a hungry way. I find that hardest to empathize with. I don't understand the want to be looked at or listened to. I put myself out there but if people don't bite, I don't worry. I don't dress to be complimented. I don't write to be praised. I don't wear the scarves I make to be asked how much I charge. I wonder about the hunger and for a moment I can put myself there but I don't like to stay long.
You never kept up and when I left your sight you threatened so I held my speed and rounded the corner. I can still hear your breath as you slept on Saturday mornings, after sleepovers dominated by your favorite activities. I always hated the way erasers felt on that writing paper and you liked the way the paper looked without the edges on but compromises weren't made in that house. Your freckles sunk into your skin. Your skin looked like yogurt, mine got tan in the summer while you turned red, beet red and I can still hear your complaints. I can smell your swim suit hanging in the basement and I remember what it felt like to hide in your closet when you didn't know I was there. When I wished I were home. But my mom worked and yours watched me for money. Did she watch me. I spent a lot of time thinking about why you didn't brush your teeth as often as me and why you weren't bashful when the girl from across the street undressed on the top bunk without covering herself. I smell the face powder in the bathroom drawer and I remember the scrubbing it took to get the mascara from my eyebrows. We laughed and you chose all the games we played. The theme music to daytime game shows still makes me think of you. Makes me think of your smile. Your teeth. Are you brushing?
Your dad played all the wrong Beach Boys songs and smoked his pipe in the garage and as I grew older I saw his sadness. You were like a third brother to me somehow and we found things in dumpsters like lighters and pretended to know what they were before we claimed we'd spotted something cooler under the insulation packaging, soaked in rain water and stinking of piss. I remember you covered in mud with your brother and I remember being refused a hose. Were we scolded in private from our separate streets? I only knew homesickness until I slept on your brother's bedroom floor in front of the fan. I only knew terror until the day I petted your cocker spaniel and came out unscathed. I remember our feet. Callused. We were like characters in a book and now I pass your house, that house, when I'm home for holidays but I forget what your face looks like, what your voice sounds like. I'll always remember the smell of concrete mixture and all the times I offered to clean your room on summer afternoons.
Before I knew it as mine, I bussed to a natatorium and swam. You were there. I remember the smell and I remember a chaperone pulling tangles from your hair with a comb and her fingers. I remember her tongue out, concentrating. Your hair felt like my doll's hair. The doll I never played with. Your hair felt like tangled yarn and my mom cut my hair right below my ears. You had geodes and I envied them. We bonded over mispronounced names and we dressed all in yellow and posed for pictures that day. I remember the name of your street but I can't find your house when I drive past now. Pasadena isn't the same and neither are you.
You, on the stairs. You, with the bag full of canteens and raccoon tail hats. You, eating cakes on the rug in the kitchen. I smell the mud room. I smell your house. I hear your voice. You and your siblings have a bubble in your throats my brothers and I don't have and sometimes I forget we share the same blood. We have the same name. All our eyes look the same but they see different things. Ben and I sat on a car seat in the garage, watching a movie. The bubble in your voice told us we were too young so I thought you were 27 last week when you were only 26. There's still a distance. Our eyes are still the same but you see Eddie like that and I see Eddie like this and I got drunk a little to forget my dad in jeans and yours in khakis. To forget my dad's thick glasses and yours' bare face. To forget the stories I heard that made me wish our eyes were different. I wish you'd share your canteens but I'm forgetting what the mud room smells like.
I had a rash on my scalp last week. I called it my "lesion" and convinced myself I was dying. I've been in the weirdest funk lately. And I'll be fine sometimes but the timing is so strange. And I'm always alone. Not a testament to how I feel around certain people, but I can't help how I feel.
The other night I killed a lot of bugs on my walls. Little gnats or baby mosquitos or something. The babies are translucent. I looked at them for a minute before I just kind of lost it and killed each one with my Birkenstock. The next afternoon I made a baking soda solution and scrubbed the carnage from my walls. It rubbed some of the paint off and I thought about what it would feel like to jump out of my 7th floor window onto Pratt Blvd. Sometimes I pity simple people. I wonder what they worry about. But then I hear simple peoples' worries and my face twists and I remember why I like to be alone.
I'm sure my phone conversations to my mother would make smarter peoples' faces twist.
I've been having trouble falling asleep. I accidentally say goodnight to my boyfriend before I'm tired and then feel like I can't text anyone. I closed the door. So I'm on my island like I am so often. Tomorrow is one of three days a week I have obligations for the summer. If I didn't I'd set up my bed office and make things. Worry. Eventually kick off skeins of yarn and crochet hooks, worrying they'll wake the people in 601. I so fear annoying people. I don't do jumping jacks like the people in 801. I don't sweep at hours not within 10 am - 9 pm. These are rigid rules.
There are so many things I want to start doing but I've convinced myself there's no time for anything new and this isn't true because I waste a lot of time sitting around and thinking or commuting for no reason. Maybe I should start doing things on my commute. I miss writing about strangers. But then I worry so much that someone will read over my shoulder. I texted Dan about a man's skull on the train and when the person next to me moved, and I remembered that other human beings were capable of eavesdropping, I felt like I was shrinking. It's weird that I get the sensation of shrinking when I'm anxious. Because it's simultaneously coupled with feeling enormous and like everyone is staring at me. I guess I physically feel like I'm shrinking. But just like my skin is shrinking but all the bone and muscle and fat is staying put.
There's a bug on my screen but I won't kill it. Penance for the other night. Penance. I remember kneeling and saying Hail Marys. For some reason I always completed my penance post-confession. Even after I stopped believing in god.
I'm sitting on the toilet watching the little bugs in the grout. I don't know what they are. Neither does my roommate and I've stopped killing them. I've stopped wadding toilet paper and crushing their bodies. Instead I've started watching them scurry when I turn the bathroom light on and then I flush the toilet and I leave. I'm sitting on the toilet thinking about what I'd do if I saw a stranger in the kitchen when I sat down and focused my eyes in the dark. I pretend that I wouldn't care. I pretend I'd converse like nothing was amiss and that's a lie because I worry too much about everything.
I've been having a really hard time. A hard time doing much of anything. A hard time making much of anything. A hard time letting things go. Of staving off hunger and jealousy. Of being by myself. Today I walked to the hardware store and never once did my mind stray from thinking about the beads of sweat running down my back. Today I only spoke to a man at a hardware store. I asked where the nails were. I asked where the picture frame hangers were. I smiled and I walked back home, all the while thinking about the beads of sweat running down my back; between my boobs.
I thought about going to the beach today but the crowds have changed since last year. There are different people. I remember the family wading with me but not with me. I was alone in the city for the first time and waded, holding my shoes. Waiting for a text from someone familiar and worrying. I'm always worrying.
I heard the sound of knuckles against skin from a block away. And all I could think about were my sinuses. I hear people say this is a bad neighborhood but when I was walking home from the hardware store all I saw were trees and all I heard were birds. I'm afraid I won't be able to afford to live here when I graduate.
I hear people yelling from a block away. I don't know what kind of people get drunk on Thursday nights but I was drunk on Tuesday night. Drunk on the beach with my roommate and my boyfriend. I sat with my legs dangling and watched the city and tried my best to listen to what they were saying but sometimes it's so hard to listen to anything. The cops shone a light and then my birthday was over.
I feel isolated today. I feel annoying. I don't like the summer. I miss the piece of plastic that enabled me to go anywhere in the city without thinking about numbers. I don't leave my apartment much now.
It looks like all the lights in Evanston burnt out.
[a collection of bits of old writing, estimated between 01.14 and 06.14]