Maybe we’ll work it out when we’re ghosts. (How it hurts to outgrow.)

I had the dream again last night. Similar variation to the one I have been having on and off for five long years now.

My life’s greatest heartbreak and I. Someplace warm and safe. We forget just how fucking mad we were at each other. We forget all the petty bullshit. We remember the love we shared, and let go. We don’t try and start over. We don’t try and repeat toxic patterns. We just lovingly let go.

The other night Relic and I were talking about our belief in ghosts, how maybe the places that were significant for us hold our imprints and this is what ghosts are. My first thought was “Holy fuck, my sprit better not go back to Grail Street.” Because Grail Street was significant, but goddamn was it miserable. Nothing says “healthy life choices” like destroying one another and then continuing to be neighbors, too stubborn to give up cheap rent; coughing up black mold and haunted by strangers with familiar faces for a full year. I hope they don’t go back there when they’re gone either. I used to sit in my room, beneath the sound of furtive footsteps I knew too well and write stories that I never had the nerve to publish about what I hoped our specters would say to one another if they were to linger on the steps or behind the walls of Grail Street too long. When I was finally done being mad, I’d tell myself:

“Maybe we’ll work it out next time around.”

Gods, I’ve been fucked up and sagging under the weight of depression for days but I love being alive right now. I love it harder than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone in the world, because it’s the one thing I can count on. I thank every heartbreak for never breaking me, but giving me the opportunity to reconstitute myself into a different form. I thank the heartbreak for bringing out the absolute worst in me so I can learn to never be that person again.

Once upon a time we were fucked up kids who saw the best in one another. We were the loving reflections offered to haunted and straining eyes when the mirror was too painful to behold. I’ll never not be thankful for that. There are nights where I wish we could just see the best of what we’ve become. I never quite know how to reconcile that feeling. The knowing outgrowing connections is okay, and sometimes painfully (agonizingly) necessary, but you still wish you could visit every now and then. Just because whatever, five years on you are so over whatever the fuck it was you were pissed about and you can see how thoroughly someone coming up at the right place and right time fundamentally changes you forever. You want people to know that they had a profound effect on you, even when they’re gone and you’re reflecting on a dead connection.

So if we meet when we’re ghosts:

I’d say in all the years that went by, I never forgot:
How much I love your awkward teeth.
And the sound of your laugh.
I still can’t refrain from breaking into a grin when I tell the story of your icy stare freezing a confused nurse while I pathetically laid on the waiting room floor.
I’d say I finally learned how to stop hating myself.
I’d say how sorry I was for my lack of patience; for not letting you grow.
Seeing the best in you was never an excuse.
I’d say whisper how sorry I am for letting you down.
For not knowing how to let my anger calm.
For holding on so tight that it stifled us both.
I hope you are warm and well, and that your demons finally laid down to rest.
I hope your body and spirit are hale and whole.
Always.

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Maybe we’ll work it out when we’re ghosts. (How it hurts to outgrow.)

Homecomings (Dear Lover)

Work in progress from a larger piece written about a trip this summer.

Dear Lover,
It’s somewhere near one AM. Sam and I are driving through the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. We are speeding along route 30 between the small town I grew up in, and Philadelphia. We should be arriving in Philadelphia just past one AM. We left North Carolina at nine this morning, stopping a total of three times between our departure and now.

We just left a diner in the heart of York County. The same diner where my friends and I used to spend hours rotting with nothing else to do; smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee after punk and goth shows in the 90’s. Sam was kind enough to indulge our stopping for two hours so I could have a reunion of sorts with some old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in close to twenty years. We are talking the kids who formed the crux of the formative years and the person I’d grow into. I’ve practically written novels about these people, and here we were; all together again, and all grown up. Our reunion was brief, and joyous. Outside the diner I promised my childhood best friend and first love I wouldn’t wait seventeen years between to see her next time. I told her I’d come meet her partner and her baby.

I meant it too. I fucking miss the east coast. I miss the oldness of it. I miss my roots. If nothing else, I miss how compact everything is. I miss how trips like this aren’t so seemingly impossible out here. Sam and I had to coordinate for a solid six months to make our cross-country meeting happen.

Sam is leaning back in the passenger seat with their eyes closed, resting. I have the new Chelsea Wolfe record playing quietly on the stereo for company. I thought about listening to Sisters Of Mercy or Cock Sparrer for old time’s sake; I have those two bands on my iPod, and they helped define my youth haunting this old highway, but this record is just so fucking good. I’m listening to it again, and composing this letter to you in my head to stay awake.

The houses that line route thirty all have their lights long off. They feel like home to me in this strange way. Oddly frozen in time, as if I could just pull off the highway and settle here, like it was still 1998, and I never left Southern York County. I imagine moving into an old house; trading bitter winter walks to the post office and writing by the fireplace for Pacific Northwest winters drenched in rain. I tell myself I could keep in touch with the outside world by buying records and zines at 3DCD (or whatever record store that opened to take its place, since I’m sure it has long since closed.) again like I was a teenager. At this present moment the idea appeals to me. Funny, because I spent the entirety of my youth scarcely being able to wait until I was old enough to escape this place. Seriously, Melanie and I would talk about it for hours. We planned that shit out. We’d dream about running away. We would hold each other close, reassuring the other one just another year or two until we were eighteen and could escape. We counted down the days until our grand departure from Southern York County, never ever to return.

Now I’m laughing at myself in the late night hours for (however unseriously) briefly entertaining the idea of moving back here.

There was just a storm. For the first time in several days it almost feels cool outside. We have the windows rolled down. The air is thick with humidity and lingering lighting. A flash will crack the sky in jagged streaks every now and then, leaving the clouds red in the afterglow. I love it. I don’t know if I’ve seen a thunderstorm since I left the south. I have missed them terribly. The storm was torrential and massive, nothing like the pervasive Pacific Northwest rain we complained about all winter. I fell in love with you in that constant drizzle and gray. The rain smells differently out here, but I smile at the thought of how that love deepened to where I smell rain, and feel that love even three thousand miles away, in a place that feels light years away from the small world we know.

I don’t know if I miss Olympia right now. I miss you. I miss the sanctuary of my bedroom on my dead end street. It feels weird and indulgent to go on a trip when it feels as if everything around me is crumbling down and the world is a goddamn dumpster fire. Who am I to go running off to meet up with some of my oldest friends on the other side of the country when there is so much work to be done at home?

Over the winter, Sam and I often reflected on the nature of impermanence; just how fleeting and fragile everything feels. The world feels a shade darker than it did a year ago. In that regard, two old friends on a road trip makes all the sense in the world. Tomorrow we will wake up in Philadelphia and wind our way through crowded city streets to meet up with one of our other oldest friends. The three of us shared the stroke of luck to meet in this city almost exactly twelve years ago. We managed to forge the kind of friendships that survive the pitfalls and anxieties of old age.

We will sit on a rooftop overlooking the city that brought us all together so long ago. We’ll laugh at the follies of youth and be thankful for having left them behind. We will give thanks to for resilience and adaptability. We will give thanks for everything we ever outran. We will give thanks for a future that may be fraught with incalculable fear, but is still yet to be written.

Homecomings (Dear Lover)

Proximities.

This is a blessing
For the bliss of
Breaking down
Breaking out
Letting go
Of love
(or closest proximities of)

Fond affections
Now disfigured
And distorted
Embers burn
Down to ashes scattered
Into the howling wind

What is a little bit of
Betrayal between friends anyway?
A glance over the shoulder, lamenting
How the worst enemies
Are always the ones
We know the most intimately

I propose a toast tonight
With a heart closed
And a raised fist clenched
Drink to your health
And the wealth
Of lessons learned
In blood sex
Promises half spoken
Unremembered and never meant

Viva love
(or closest proximities of)
And long live its death

Proximities.

Annual Talya post.  

Five years.

Five years feels like some sort of milestone in grief time. Five years is halfway to ten years, and maybe at a decade you feel like you’ve officially moved on. A decade, after all is a different measurement of time entirely. You’ve kept living and healed while the person you loved just stopped. The pain becomes less about their absence, because you have grown accustomed to it. The pain becomes more of an occasional dull ache where your friend was. You wonder what their life would be like now had they chosen to continue living it. What would they have accomplished? Who would they have grown into? I think about Talya whenever I’m back home in North Carolina.  In the delicious humidity, listening to the cicadas sing, out with friends in the places we loved, I wonder what that precious time would be like if she was there?  What quirky, weird jokes would she make?  How would she have brought extra love and light to our time together?  Lucky for us, the years have cycled through to where she is able to bring such joy to that time together, even in her absence.

I loved Talya’s voice. In the days after her death, we all talked about her singing, and huddled together around the few recordings of her singing we were lucky enough to find.  I loved her weird ass humor. Case in point:  The time I convinced everyone that we simply had to watch the awful disaster movie 2012, with John CusackAmidst the ridiculous CGI wrought explosions, and cities breaking apart for no other apparent reason than it being well, 2012; extras for the film, useless to the plot aside from suffering indignant deaths onscreen ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. I drunkenly pondered aloud: “What would you even do in this situation if it somehow happened in real life?”  Without missing a beat, Talya replied “I’d run around yelling ‘help help!  I don’t want to die a virgin!’ and just see what happened”.  The room burst into bellyaching laughter.

I loved the way she would try to translate the nonsense phrases I got stuck into my head into German and say them back to me. Like the time we got fixated on the phrase “Honey I shrunk the Führer”.  Where the fuck did that even come from?  Were we watching World War II movies and Disney movies in the same day?  Talya started saying it in broken German, and I could not stop laughing.  ADHD children all grown up that we were, I forgot about it shortly.  In the following days, Tuesday absolutely forbade Talya from repeating it back to me, despite my insistent asking.  He knew that he’d then be dealing with both of us glitching out and repeating it into forever, or at least until we got distracted.

I loved Talya’s kindness. I am not sure I ever heard her say an unkind thing about another person, a true rarity in the world. I also cannot recall anyone having anything unkind to say about her; even before she died, which is even rarer. Talya was unique and so adored by everyone around her. At the end of the day was still in so much pain, that she chose a permanent ending to that pain.

Maybe I’ve finally come to respect that choice.  I hate saying that aloud.

Five years ago today I couldn’t imagine a future where Talya’s death would ever hurt less. Heather Talley and I sat in the garden outside of Rosetta’s at the wake and she asked “Where is the threshold? When do our hearts just finally break?”.  I thought maybe this was it. I couldn’t envision a life where we’d all moved on to the degree that we have. All that was to be felt was a big, awful, empty now. Like trying to catch our collective breath and figure out what deal to make with the divine to get Talya back from beyond the veil, or stumbling home drunk and sobbing up Lexington Avenue was just what we do from now on.

And then five years passed in a flash. Night still followed day and the world kept spinning. Life moved on, albeit a little darker. I sometimes wonder if I used Talya’s death as an excuse to continue down a path of hardening my heart, but I don’t know if I would have survived that year if I hadn’t.  When we talk about Talya now, it’s with an air of fond remembrance instead of soul-crushing despair. Because goddamn, she was so, so funny, and so weird, and just so kind. It is an overused phrase, but I’ll use it anyway: There will never be another one like Talya.  I’ll talk about the life she lived bravely, and the qualities she embodied until the day I die.

Maybe some day I’ll finally be done writing about her every August 9th.

Keep breathing.
Keep moving.
Keep shining.
Keep living.

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Annual Talya post.  

Dream of apocalypse sex with apocalypse ex

A dream of you this morning
Three years on
Pressed against the wall
All filthy and tender
Open

We were never
Going to be anything like
The love of one another’s lives
Or grow old together
And that’s just fine

Because we both have known
That kind of love
Shakes you to your core
Pulls you out of your skin
To dance in your bones
The kind of love that
Will not let you settle for anything
Gets you fucking moving
And this, this just is.

An exercise in anything goes
An exercise in escaping emptiness
From one moment to the next
Running circular furrows in
All the same well tread paths
Until boots burn holes in our maps

In the afterglow
Beneath the flickering lights
Whisper your secret fears
Of the fire next time
Written into your genetic code
Whatever horror this world holds
You feel it coming for us
In your root of your soul

So here we are
All fucked up
Yet unbroken
Against the wall
In love and war
All at once now
For war
But never in love.

Dream of apocalypse sex with apocalypse ex

I fell in love and it scrambled my brain.

So I haven’t been writing as much. Still grinding away at this novel, but aside from that I mostly try and sit calmly with the present. For whatever reason, writing about the present has always proven difficult for me. It’s like I have a hard time articulating the significance of an event until after it’s time as has passed and I’ve had time to reflect. Maybe that’s why my first book is about a life lived two decades ago. I can tell you with absolute clarity what it was all for, and what it all meant.

The present… The Present feels jittery and electric, like I want to do a million things at once. Maybe that’s the strong cup of green tea and chronic lack of sleep talking though. Or maybe too much time researching bullshit on the internet is making me foggy before my years. I don’t know. I can’t think clearly right now. Maybe I should just be outside with my dog (The real love of my life.)

What I’m trying to articulate here, is what a joy it is to fall in love. I haven’t been in love in some years. Opening my heart to another has never been something I’ve done lightly, and rarely something I’ve given myself to fully. If we’re being real, I’ll one part blame on being socialized in a culture of toxic masculinity, one part mental illness and trauma, and the last part just kind of feeling like a whole lot of the people I encounter aren’t worth my vulnerability and authenticity anyway. People can be disingenuous and dishonorable shitbags. I see it on most of them, and keep my distance. People are also flawed and wounded and wonderful and most of us are doing the best we can. It’s the ones that use their hardships as an excuse to never grow or change that I can’t abide to share my time with.

Or people can’t handle my authenticity or vulnerability. That’s possible too. I think I encounter that one a lot. I don’t know. It’s difficult to be objective about yourself sometimes. I am more than aware of myself as a “difficult person”. I am painfully aware that I’m unlucky enough to experience the terrifying and joyous journey of life through a certain lens, and the world I see through that lens doesn’t always match with the world the people I love are seeing.

That is to say, trauma and mental illness done fucked up my perception of reality. I won’t make any apologies for how I experience the world, not like I wanna experience it in this way either. I’m real sorry for the vital connections it’s caused me to break over the years, most of them anyway.

Anyway… Love poem in progress. I think we’ll title it Janky Love Poem #1 because I’m feeling real sweet and vulnerable and clumsy right now. I don’t know if I’ve ever written something about a relationship while I was still in it.

Falling in
Falling away
From an idea of love cheapened
With plastic sentiment
Filled with impossible promises
Of a saccharine soaked forever
And sepia toned happily ever after
Accepting each imperfect
And impermanent moment

Making monuments from ruins
An idea of love
Falling like walls
Cracked open
Like precious stones
Once hidden in rubble

Falling in love like
Tearing lonely cynicism to shreds
For gentle whispers of
How the world is still worth fighting for
Four simple words to sink in
“Nihilism is so stupid”
It’s true.

That’s all. I’m going outside. Maybe I’ll work on this more later. Maybe I’ll leave it as it is, a clumsily sweet monument to the first tenuous steps of falling in love. Only time will tell. For now, I will enjoy this moment.

Thank you for reading. ❤

I fell in love and it scrambled my brain.

Punks is sharks.

Adrift and sinking, out where the horizon unfolds
Into rows of waves crashing down
Our lifeboats are full of holes
And someone threw away the oars
Our boats are taking on water now
As the lives and loves We forged sink below…

I just want a metaphor
For how we’re maybe out of our depth here
Where the water is deep and dark
Maybe we’re out of our depth here
And way out here there’s sharks.

Maps marked with blurred lines
and the last of a sky so blue
Just as summer gave way to fall
“You have to breathe. You have to breathe.”
Swallowing mouthfuls of air where the traffic snarls
Marveling at just how fucking ugly
Of a picture this world will paint you
Right as it runs you through

We’re out of our depth here
With blurred lines inked indelibly into skin
Too tender, too thin
Blurring the line again
Always between the intimate
And the violent
We’re out of our depth here
Because nothing prepared us for trespasses like this
Or taught us how to love without fear

The hour is now late
Ashore, annihilation comes home to call
With a knock knock knock at the door
Wolves hunger at the windows
Sharks circle the shallows
Murderers who murder each other
Set loose to stalk the halls

Punks is sharks.