Street snow

It’s a day where I’m ready to be at home

Move, move, I say, but my bright bright open shutters

and snowflakes say stay, stay

It’s a day where you’re obliged to listen to

whatever 1-2 1-2 1-2-3-4 guitar strings and sad voice

makes you feel a little bit more like the slow deer

that you want to be but are not.

And the tears of a fellow crane

match the powder falling down onto branches

so they look like they are covered in frosting.

It’s another day

And the thoughts that ate your inside and dripped into your veins

along with the sharp pang of whiskey

or just coke

Because sometimes it’s not the Hemingway alcohol that will do anything

for your sad soul.

It’s anything

like a soda, a smile, a bartending friend, a friend needing help

You want anything

You grasp at everything in the hopes that eventually one of those things

will show you why you wake up

roll your sleeves twice

why you laugh

why you smile

why you apologize

why you still have a heart.

But the thoughts do not do that anymore.

The snow is your eyes and the storm means nothing bad.

It’s a day where the light and the bright says yes to your mind

yes you can think.

You can think and no longer fear

the veil and the drip of the dark deep.

A dozen caged canaries

In the afternoon I become sad.

It’s always happened, ever since I can remember. Something unsettles inside me when the heavy light of 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. slashes through the windows or wrestles on my face like oil with water.

I come back from two places with special people who I adore. I come back to Columbia. I come back to Columbia where I’ve laughed and cried and met some wonderful people and some less wonderful. I come back to Columbia where I have both lost myself and found myself. I say, “Wow, everything is so different from a year ago.”

I’m a little bit more jaded, a little bit more sad, a little bit more quiet. Sometimes. Other times, when I see the afternoon light for what it is — light — and not the harsh x-ray I perceive it to be, I find my core, my “happy core” as my mother describes. I laugh and I make fun of how emotional I get about things. I cried in front of a receptionist at the dentist the other day — “she was being mean,” I told myself and my mother. She was. And I cried in the car afterward.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to cry.

And then it’s okay for everything. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to lie down on your bed. It’s okay to wear something a little less put together. It’s okay to be secluded. It’s okay to be quiet, to be shy.

It’s also okay to pull yourself out of the sheets you’ve wrangled with over the night because your body can’t quite get used to being alone now, even though you slept alone perfectly fine for twenty-two years before you met him. It’s okay to go to the bathroom and take your birth control, wash your face and tell yourself to buck up.

It’s okay to be strong instead of being weak. It’s okay to contact everyone you love because you want to fill yourself up with the happiness you know they’ll give you. You are an individual and a light and a body who has mingled with hundreds of other little brilliants lights and you need to see that.

You get sad easily and you like to both be alone and with people and you can’t figure out which is more comfortable. You listen to yourself and stay alone sometimes. But you also push and pull with yourself and spend time with others who care about you. Sometimes you are not completely satisfied with the interactions. Sometimes you disappoint your good friends by thinking you need to be alone when you really should be with them.

Sometimes you disappoint yourself. Sometimes you cry in front of a receptionist. Sometimes you have good mornings, sometimes you have bad ones. Sometimes you will be utterly happy and other times you will be more blue. It is human and real and raw to feel.

The light in my room flickers when it has been on for a long time. A bird chirps brightly and constantly one morning, and the next morning you will not hear it.

The snow falls one day and the sad clouds inch across the sky, invisible to the eye, hardening the blue winter. The snow is slowly packed on the sidewalk. The snow will fall and it will melt. The sun will rise and it will fall.

The bright, harsh afternoon light will perhaps never change. But the snow on the ground fights it; it will melt, but at night, it will re-pack again. The clouds will hide the light as best they can. The dead of the summer afternoons even whispers in the winter afternoon light. The middle of the day. The peak of the mountain.

You are standing on the mountain and a rope falls behind you, twisted and strengthened every inch by each friendship and laugh and tear and moment of love and loss and hate. Your rope does not recede and snap and break and fray like others. It is impossible to have a rope that only grows stronger. But I have found it.

Spurn: or, November blues

“I slept with someone else.”

And the tears than come, warm and wet and separated from my otherwise-happiness, two years later, related to something unrelated. Sometimes when I cry, my face puffs. Other times, the tears come and go as gracefully as the tears of a movie star’s. At a summer camp, a boy once told me that I cried beautifully because my face didn’t look all weird afterward.

But I do have those puffy-face crying times. Rarely. In my room. In the shower. Over the oatmeal I make in the morning. It’ll come back like a slap in the face or the cold front that sweeps through the three-street town of Columbia. 

“It’s okay.”

A disdainful admissions office worker. A university official who won’t budge on an unfair rule. A surprising and unsettling text. A fight. A happy moment. Being around friends and being internally floored by the fact that they simply showed up and that they care.

Like trying to navigate a lake on ice skates as the ice on the lake is melting. A small crack somewhere and my stride is thrown off. The imminent water rushing under the ice weighs me down and pulls me to the ice, to the dark water that I can’t see but I can feel.

The sun is shining but I’m so close to the ice that even though I know there’s sunlight on my body I can only feel the cold. 

Maybe it’s the winter. Seasonal moodiness. November blues. 

It’s been close to two years and for a while I thought I was okay. I was okay. I had everything I wanted. Everything.

And yet it still came. The lightning bolt. The slap in the face. A cold winter wind on a warm fall day. 

Disliking the afternoon hours. Sleeping too much. Being riled up too easily. Belabored breathing. They are all signs of the inner beast that I have fought off with the flimsy cardboard sword and shield of academic credits, a regular workout routine and a penchant for denying my problems.

“Your problems are not actually problems.”

They are not problems. It’s hard to tell yourself to get over it. Some people may say it’s unhealthy. Some may say the suck-it-up mentality is the only way to do it.

I don’t know what I think. I think I know what it’s like, maybe with a mouse’s portion, to be a soldier living in society again. To feel disconnected. To not care about anything. And to not know why — and being frustrated most of all by that.

Maybe it’s sucking it up and maybe it’s doing something about it. Wake up at 6 and read. Anything. A book. A newspaper. Write a blog post about the depression you’ve had that seemed to start after the break-up with a boy who cheated on you but really transformed into something more than post-traumatic relationship blues. Self-doubt. Hate. Negativity. 

Becoming blue-blooded instead of red-blooded.

I am exhausted and I am tired and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. But I’m mainly exhausted with being blue-blooded and being internally negative because it’s just a method I’ve created as a defense mechanism. It’s time to read and write and stand up from the ice that being splashed and slammed underneath by the black water. Stand up from the ice and feel the light and skate around the cracks.

No more guilt and criticism and hate and only realization of the good things. Find the red blood and feel it course through my veins. Stick in the needle of adulthood and tough skin and drain out the toxic blue blood. Read for half an hour. Cry, but cry and then write. Or cry and then eat that whatever thing you want to be and don’t feel bad. Take the 95% essay and pin it on your wall. Succumb to your will and admit when you are too overwhelmed. Do something for yourself.

Forget the bright day when you were sitting in the coffee shop, looking at a father and son drink coffee (for what was probably the son’s first time), and hearing those words. “I slept with someone else.” Five words that changed a course. Changed a person. Made a person better. Different and maybe a little bit more sad, real and scarred, but alive.

Accept the love that you have found in the last two months somewhere else and in the last six months in your own town. Actually play the harmonica. Listen to the radio. Make your bed. Every morning. Keep making oatmeal.

Realize that life is made of cracks and so are you but cracks are the only way that light can come in and go out. Accept the light and the cracks and the scars and the broken branches that are scattered among your intestines and your throbbing heart and your brain and your bones, jump into the cracks and add window panes (no shutters) to help guide the light a little more, and live.