i can feel the
the skin of my legs
at the thought
of you walking
through the door
loved the part
where we fell asleep
and the part where
we never woke up
how does the ocean sway
through tangled hair
let it drift
let it take you
we keep demanding control
perpetuating the problem
buckling at every chance to
hold the reigns
we live with white knuckles
and hot cheeks
picked up by the gust and
thrown into the current
of the world
how does the ocean sway
let it drift
let it take you
I have too much stuff. I've been taught—by both individual people and American society in whole—that life is just an abundance of things. Objects. Every day, a new one's invented, and the already existing one's "improve". But, rather than things, I want a life abundant with 'theres' and 'hows'. A nine-to-five and a degree (or what everyone's ill idea of a degree is: a piece of paper) has become to distasteful. It's all stuff. Stuff to keep the dollar bill coming in, so our things can continue to pile up higher. That's when days become more and more like one another and, to be frank, those days are what I fear most. My days weren't intended to blend together, alike in every way. I imagine my life to be like the wild. A place without things; just life inside of me, and the Earth around me, and that all being plenty. I refuse to grow wary of the four walls of an office, or a home.
The fact that I've known, but denied for some time, is that "real life" is relative, and like religion, isn't the same for everyone. On a late night, I, half-asleep, jotted down in my notepad: "Of course it's a way one-way ticket. Who said Machu Picchu isn't real life?"
In essence, I've decided to be alive. And I've decided not to worry about it all that much.
I wish everyone would live. I hope everyone chooses to one day.
9/11 struck me harder than anything ever has in my entire life. But you must know that I was an extremely fragile child. My youth was truly just a cocktail of sensitivity and delicacy. I was like a porcelain doll, both inside and out. Small frame and pale skin—people physically handled me like I was made of pure china. Every one's touch was soft, and slow, and gentle, and sweet, like I'd break if they handled me any other way. I don't know if that resulted because of my frail character, or if that's what made me so feeble on the inside. Either way, I was delicate emotionally even at such a young age.
Along with so many people, "I remember the day like it was yesterday." I really do. I can feel my third grade heart breaking all over again on my classroom floor, trying to muster the words of the Pledge of Allegiance alongside my classmates. They didn't have an ounce of knowledge, it seemed. But I, on the other hand, understood exactly what had happened that morning. My young mind was pulled into the television just hours before I was weeping before the American Flag and it's been stringing me along ever since. For whatever reason, I have a very particular hurt tied to that morning. It almost feels like I was personally attacked on that day, it hurts that bad. I still suffer from pain, and fear, and nightmares, and grief from that dreadful morning and it hasn't lessened as the (many) years have passed.
My father travels immense amounts for work and it was no different when I was growing up. He'd be gone just over night here, and ten days there, and then a weekend here. I remember sitting on the living room floor, resting my head in my arms on the foot stool and begging him not to go as he'd roll his bags out to the garage. Tears would spew from my mouth as I pleaded and my nose would run all over the fabric. It was tragic every single time he'd leave—no matter how short or long the duration. There was a very deep-rooted intuition I held as a small girl. I knew that bad things happened in the world. I was as aware as my teenage siblings—maybe even more so, to be honest. I knew that my father leaving left him, and only him, in danger. Maybe that's what made me so anxious when he would leave. Maybe that's where my life-long anxiety all began. And this was all before the 11th of September.
As painful as it was for me to watch my father travel before the attack, my parents thought it'd be best to stop telling me when he was traveling after the fact, because traveling for my dad meant flying 100% of the time. My country had been terrorized, and in result it had also been paralyzed. Planes were, for a time, the number one source of fear in the hearts of Americans. For me, it still is and maybe always will be. So, to add to the horror the country was frozen in, my father began boarding all those flights despite my knowledge of it. My parents were intentionally lying to me, which I somehow was able to maturely resent them for. Again, I understood it all more than I maybe should've.I remember screeching, and wailing, and sobbing, and throwing my body onto the floor when I realized my dad wasn't coming home for the night. I remember the scene replaying every night until he returned back home. The entire situation became a recurring catastrophe that pained me down to the middle of each and every bone in my small body.
My first flight after the tragic day was three years later. I was in the sixth grade and we—my mom, dad, and best friend at the time—were going to Disney World. With a perfect knowledge of my apprehension about the plane ride, my parents did their best to make the idea of it sound as appealing as possible. Aren't you so excited? Isn't this going to be so fun? We're going to have a blast! It was like I was being brainwashed; I was fully aware of their intentions, though. As much as I appreciated them trying, none of it could've ever changed the pit in my gut that was aching the night before our 6 hour flight from Las Vegas to Orlando. I woke up at nearly 2 a.m., only a few hours after going to bed, running as fast as I could to the restroom with my hand pressed intensely to my mouth.
The vomiting went on until about 6 a.m., which was when we needed to go to the airport. I lied on the bathroom floor, still nauseous, weak, and completely exhausted, while my mother dressed me. I couldn't even attempt at helping I was so worn out. My father carried me to the car while I tirelessly dry-heaved into a grocery bag. My poor best friend, Morgan, looked out the window the entire car ride to the airport trying to tune out the ghastly noises I was making beside her. I had nothing left to eject, but I was still so tense about the flight that all was left was sore stomach muscles, thrusts forward in my seat, and the most horrendous noises.
I was wheel-chaired around both airports—too weak to walk—and I'm sure I disturbed every single person on that airplane with the ruckus I was making into the airline's complementary 'barf bag'.
Luckily, I was so busy concentrating on myself and the embarrassment I felt while dry-heaving for 6 hours on the plane that I didn't even think about it crashing into an unseen mountain, or the engine failing, or the wing snapping off, or both the pilot and the co-pilot falling asleep. Had my fear done me some good?
The moment we landed in Orlando, the motion of throwing up stopped immediately. We enjoyed a week long vacation in Walt Disney World, eating the world's most unhealthy food, buying the most necessary unnecessary objects you could think of, and enjoying a different climate. Granted, we did have to go to the ER in Florida for medicine to boost my appetite and energy levels, there was an extra two inches of jeans around my waist, and I was still slightly shaken up for a few days, but I was happy and content nonetheless. The flight was behind me—well, the departure flight was anyway.
The night before our return flight home, it all happened again. History repeated itself exactly.
A full night of vomiting, being assisted wherever I went, and making the lives of other travelers a living hell on the airplane. Fortunately, I can fly now without feeling the tiniest bit of nausea and I can even sometimes catch some shut-eye, but the anxiety still lies within me somewhere dark and unnoticed. My father still sometimes hides his travel plans with me—even since I've moved out. Hell, just earlier this year, I found out he was a block away from the Boston Marathon bombings from the outcry on his Facebook page for him to announce he was safe. "I just didn't want you to worry," he said.
The beach was wide and flat, glistening from the previously high tides. The waves were now low and tame as the moon began to pull them shorter into the night, but if you listened hard enough you could hear them kiss the beach. The water was as silky as glass. The sky was streaked and colorful, changing every so often—from warm to cool effortlessly—almost like it was putting on its best show for us. The world’s massive volume made sense standing on that cliff. I’d forgotten how small the sea makes me feel—it’d been so long since I was near it.
It's almost been a year since we've been back from China. Tonight, I felt like putting what little footage we had of it together. My love for this country grows more every day I'm away from it. I truly can't wait to go back.
The smell of incense is overwhelming in this room. I lit it just minutes before I sat down to begin this. There’s something liberating about striking a match. I grew up using lighters. I thought that was the case for everyone. Matches were an icon of the eighties in my young, naïve little mind. They used them to light each other’s cigarettes in all of the movies. They always did it so cool, too. I never knew people used them for household purposes. I didn’t think they belonged in kitchen drawers; I sincerely thought they only belonged in leather jackets in the eighties. The first time I used a match to light a candle was my second year in college living in Hawai’i. My roommates had obviously different fire-upbringings than I. So, I went along as naturally as I could. For the first hundred times, I had to hold in all of the overwhelming feelings of empowerment I felt when I’d strike one. It was dangerous—and I have a knack for tiny dangers in life. How something could be so destructive is what really fascinated me for those first few times. I sometimes still find myself staring at one, hating it for all it’s done in the past. Like when it burnt my mother’s beautiful Rhode Island home down when she was in kindergarten. Despite all of it, I find it so appealing that I, on occasion, light one just to watch it burn away. The way it appears is just as riveting as it getting closer to your secretly frightened fingers. And that is just as riveting as the flame quietly disappearing somewhere we can’t see. A match is like a gun. We are only somewhat in control of the catastrophe held within it. Fully aware of this, in my last minutes of living on the island of O’ahu, I stood in my kitchen surrounded by friends, holding a box of matches. They were circled around me, sitting on various couches and chairs. I took every remaining match from the box in my right hand and stroke one with the edge of the box that was in my left. That one stroke the next, and that the next, and that the next, until they were all ignited. This wasn’t a ritual, nor was it anything sentimental. Some of my friends even made comments expressing how strange they thought it was that I was lighting matches all day in my kitchen rather than spending my morning in the ocean just across the street since it would never be so convenient again. Internally disagreeing, I watched the matches burn out, feeling every bit of joy in my heart, and that was the last thing I did in Hawai’i before leaving it permanently. After I lit my incense today, I watched it smoke for a few minutes. I normally would just walk away after blowing out the flame and later on appreciate the scent billowing in the room. But, today, I watched. My burner is on the window sill and catches an enormous amount of light mid-day. Smoke isn’t always easy to catch, but in front of today’s rare sun, it was perfectly visible. Every swirl and curve was outstanding. It rose directly upward, whirling around like the ribbon of a rhythmic gymnast just before getting pulled outside through the screen.