Five Years

“Four years and still pain. Is this normal? To think about it all and sometimes, more often than not?”

“I don’t think normal is really measurable in these instances.”

This is from a year ago, which now makes it five years.

Five years. Five years I’ve been saying “it takes time.” Five years of crying out of nowhere. Of crying somewhere and nowhere at the same time. Five years of reasons and no reasons at all. Five years of causes. Of questions, concerns, worries. Five years of dragging. Five years of no answers. Five years of understanding. Five years of running. Five years of fighting. Five years of guilt. Years of letting go. Five years of grasping. Of holding on. Collecting pieces. Discoveries. Five years of seeing you more and more in my brother. Five years of hearing “we were close” from my grandmother. Five years of “I wish I could have met him.” Years of “I wish you could meet him.” Years more of “He’s there with you.” Five years of him not being there with me. Five years of ashes. Five years of “Dad” existing still, and only, in my phone contacts. Five years homesick.

Five years lost.

Five years of repair. Five years of taking time. Five years of progress. Five years of lifting. Five years of pushing. Five years of trying. Five years of crying and laughing and crying. Five years of homes.

Five years, weight is lifting.

Five years, I notice something.

Five years, and counting.

February 3rd, 2014

Have you ever walked straight through a subway train? Walked it like it was a hallway? Like everyone’s faces and bodies were portraits? I did that today. I walked and walked from the front almost to the end and heard the weight of my feet, the tapping of my boots. I felt the air brush past my face and blow my hair. I saw each person as I walked by and one by one they went in and out of my vision, as if I were viewing them on opposing conveyor belts. Have you ever noticed the symmetry of buildings? The bricks, stones, cement, concrete, windows, doors, and entrances in different positions and arranged in patterns; arranged carefully for us to weave in and out of. The symmetry of an entrance served as a way for us to go into and out of. Serving that mere purpose. I walk through the city sometimes and I am amazed by architecture and design and symmetry. The symmetry of specific structures and patterns designed purposely. Sometimes I have days where I appreciate the simple navigation of my day. Other times, I dread pulling myself out of bed, let alone into the city. I don’t notice the people on the subway, the entrances and exits, the castle-like architecture. I don’t notice the simplicity or the complexity of my surroundings.

I feel weight.

I am trying to have more days like today; enjoying the air and trees and buildings and my own company. Sometimes, it can’t be done. Not every day will be like today. Maybe, not even a full day. Maybe not even half. I just wish there was less weight. Less heaviness. I just wish for more lightness in my being. But even something as beautiful as a castle is heavy. Its construction is made up to be heavy in order to hold itself. But it’s still beautiful. It’s still strong and still standing.

Flower Child

I remember my mother in phases, like the moon. My fondest and hardest memory is of her gardening.

I see her bent over into the flowerbeds; a scrunched up face tanned and freckled, she is planting tulips, perennials, and pansies. She is wearing white shorts and a blue tank top, a bit tattered and worn. These are her gardening clothes. Her sandals are comfy but still dainty with a floral texture and practical with velcro to keep her toes in. She is in the front yard with the big bay window, next to our umbrella tree that is shading parts of her back but not enough to keep the sun from burning and freckling her shoulders even more for the summer.

I’m on the lawn, sprawled out with a twig in my mouth  and watching, as an ant crawls across my knee, down my leg, and onto the grass. I look up and see her wiping her forehead, collecting sweat from underneath her white, visor sun hat. She turns around to see me and asks what I’m doing.

“Just watching,” I say, smiling and rolling over onto my stomach.

“Want to come help me plant some marigolds?”

I shrug my shoulders and giggle, rolling over onto my back now and then, sitting up. I brush grass off myself and walk over to her. Kneeling down beside her, she hands me a small shovel and I dig into where the next flowers will go. She continues tending to the others, trimming carefully the nearby bushes and perfecting her annually prized garden. As we chat a little from time to time, she perfects my planting and twirls my hair in between her fingers. This soft texture was the same reason she always played with the silky, faded pink bow on my doll that I carried around. Both textures were calming and acted as reminders from her childhood.

I am a little older now, after that time next to the umbrella tree, when I see her outside gardening.

I see her sprawled out on the front lawn at night in front of our much smaller bay window. We live on a court and oftentimes it felt like we’re on a stage outside. Mother passed out and intoxicated on the front yard is a weekly show. If we came to collect her, she’d get mad and say she was just gardening. One time we dragged her in. Dad dragged her in and I would watch or lend my arm here and there. Usually she’d get up on her own, climb back through the laundry window as if nothing had happened.

Once in a while, she’d retreat to her old self. Midnight would roll around and the sun, already gone in but she’d go out there, sunglasses and a sunhat, barefoot. She’d walk around the side of the house and find the hose, turn it on, and water the plants.

“What are you doing?” Dad would ask, leaning his head out the front door.

“What does it look like?”

“It’s night time. Get inside.”

This would go on for a little while. Maybe she’d pick up the shovel and dig a little, move things around. But I remember her clearly holding the hose, watching the water through her sunglasses as it hit the plants; the moon’s phase reflecting off the puddles of water forming around the plants and bushes.

Dinner

You were two figures
But now two seats
And all I see
Are empty seats

I made a meal
For us to eat
But all I see
Are empty seats

Instead of eating
I silently weep
Into the plate
It seeps and seeps

Seems I have
A recipe
A menu to complete
Preparing meals
for ghosts to eat

Soleil

A bright, burning beast of fire stretches across the sky, emanating from a vastly, cosmic arrangement of oranges, reds, and yellows that glow from a golden, spherical mass. My skin is starting to burn as it always does. I am pale, freckled, and vulnerable to the sun and its fiery ambitions. Nevertheless, though I am both a porcelain and fragile child, I love the sun during this hour—the searing sphere about to go down as the cold, ceramic moon radiates from the corner of the sky. But like a fire about to burn out, its ambers will still brightly erupt right at the very end; like a flash of its truest form, bursting until it disappears into the night sky.

Writing Anxieties

Sometimes I am frightened by what I love to do. Sometimes I am too afraid to pursue it. Too afraid to stop everything and listen to the goings-on of my thoughts, my mind—memories, emotions, stories, people, loss—and to see if any of it is writable. What I find out is that all of it is writable and I become paralyzed, overwhelmed, and unable to start at times. Where do I start? I’m trying every day to listen better to my thoughts and ideas and if I don’t make something of them instantly, I’ll at least write an idea, a sentence, a fragment, a mere moment. I don’t know if this is the right way to do it, but I’m doing it. I’m writing.

6am

I’m turning 24 tomorrow and I want nothing more than to be cradled like a baby. I woke up and felt an overwhelming sense of panic and fear and I didn’t know why.

Now, I suddenly feel this huge amount of sadness towards myself and ashamed for being this person. For being who I am. And god, I want nothing more than for someone to rip the chords out of my voice so that I can stop blubbering and blabbering and crying. I want to be silenced but want nothing more than to be heard and understood too.

Welled

I saw your face again, reflecting from the strike plate in the doorframe; a flat slate of shining gold with your face engraved and brighter than I’d ever seen before. I sat up and squinted to make sure what I saw was real, though it probably was contrived and molded from my mind. It’s very telling that in my weakest moments, my mind constructs you and places you into my reality, into objects surrounding me. You always come when I’m in tears and I can’t see straight. You come to me in these images and flashes—face, hair, glasses, ball cap, words, voice, tears. I see your face in picture frames and now, doorframes, and I ask myself if it was always like this or if there was a time when you weren’t just a figment or fabrication. You’re just framed so carefully in my mind, this collection of fragments, it feels as though maybe I made you up; maybe I collected these pieces over time. Sometimes I can’t be sure this person was once real. Sometimes I can’t be sure that we had that at all.

When I was much younger and living in our home on Overbank I’d cry and while squinting, I’d look at the light in the hallway and I’d see stars. I’d do this while hearing you shout with her, fighting for something. Sometimes I’d see you and hear you through the hallway banister and it looked like you were held captive, away from me. But when I cry now I see you if only for an instant, or, like this time, for minutes, maybe more if I sat there long enough, holding onto a fragmented version of you stuck in a lock and plate. Crying makes it more real, somehow. Crying brings you to life, like watering plants. It freshens the experiences, the memories. I feel like sometimes, I’m crying for both of us. I feel like I’m holding both of our sadness and pain. I’m crying for you because you can’t anymore and we both have a lot of crying to do. Maybe I need to cry so much still because I’m holding the well of both our tears. I’m bringing the bucket down for more but it feels endless. It’s going to take a long time to empty.

December

I’m not sure that I want to call it “December” but I’m having trouble with another title. It comes after “Stent” and “She, Dermaptera.”

December reminds me of you.

Your clothes didn’t fit anymore. We weren’t sure if buying you any was necessary. We bought you a lot of things that we weren’t sure about. I wasn’t sure what we weren’t sure about, sometimes. I felt indifferent towards Christmas. It felt wrong. It almost felt strange to be celebrating. I wanted it to end and I didn’t want the New Year to come.

I bought you two books and a movie. Both ideas were fairly religious but the card I wrote you had a father penguin and a daughter penguin. I always got you cards that were meant for fathers with young children. I can’t remember what I wrote in it but I know what I would write this year. I think I know where we would be at right now, in our lives. I think things would be better for us. Better for you.

I wasn’t sure if the books would get read, or the movie watched. The movie is still in its plastic wrapping, on my shelf where I keep books and films. It stares at me and I’m happy to have it now, safe. It stands for things I’m uncertain about. But it’s about everything you were interested in it. Everything that was helping you find yourself and save you from ways we couldn’t, or anyone. I think that’s why I still have it.

I have so many things I can’t let go of, like the movie. I have sheets you scribbled on with numbers and incoherent writing. I can make sense of certain pages though:

Asked again about dying. Said som some recover,
none after revival unless
brain dead.
Ask Dr. in any signs prior to—
if all vital is good is that
ok? Wherew Will there be n notice
If advance (e.g. kidney) etc

You were losing your ability to write but I kept anything you wrote down in the notepad, the one you wrote in because you couldn’t speak. I kept cards from your mother. I kept a teddy bear someone got you as a gift that sits in my room back at home. What am I going to do with it all?

I’ve kept material fragments to hold onto and collect because they won’t disappear and I am attached to them. I am attached to them because they aren’t a disappearing act. Because they are yours. Because they are what I have left, alongside memories and ashes.

December reminds me of you. The nights remind me of the nights at home that didn’t work out for you. The streetlights, traffic lights, snow on the ground, frosted and foggy windows, I picture all terribly well. I picture it and it feels like I have a welt on my heart. Sometimes I can’t even cry because I feel clogged up, heavy. It feels like hell sometimes.

Back

I haven’t posted anything in a long time but I have been writing a little more lately. I’ve decided I want to write daily and continue what I had been working on previously.

So, hi! I’m alive and doing better in many ways. This is a good thing.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

Sylvia Plath