all, prose & poetry

Past the pieces

He was a blur of faces, shapes and identities, familiar and half forgotten. His hair, dirty blonde and long, like the shy drummer she met online years ago, whose friendship she lost when they tried to become something more. His eyes and nose like the older all-american boy she knew in college, who flushed his drugs down the dorm drain one day and found Jesus in Connecticut.

His way with words and music, driven but scattered, like the teacher she had an affair with, who threw himself into every creative pursuit, as if desperately trying to draw or compose or write or fuck something out of his soul, always failing to connect that art to other people.

The way he glided out of conversations and spaces, so solid and present one moment, then gone the next, like an old roommate she had a short-lived crush on, who left a tangible, painful void when he disappeared, suddenly feeling so necessary, as though gravity itself no longer worked without his presence.

His voice, calm and thoughtful, with a touch of amusement, a bit like her former boss whom she had always aspired to sound like, and saw through the facade it was for a deeper storm of playfulness and fire within.

She thought about the endless permutations of people crossing each others’ paths, their layers of familiarity and strangeness intersecting to connect for one brief moment or a lifetime. She’d met him before, or pieces of him, liking and loving and hating them, losing them, only to come across them again on another body, in another space and another time. Their kinship happened before and would happen again.

She didn’t know what the universe wanted, throwing her past back at her in this human shape of roads taken and lessons not learned. She tried to see past the pieces she knew but never fully understood, into this abstract of a man, a stranger with a life lived and his own stories to tell of women who came and went, leaving traces of themselves in everyone he would encounter since. But the pieces of others wouldn’t part, his soul hidden safely beneath and out of reach.

“Good,” she thought. “Good.”

This was for the best. She wasn’t one to romanticize the past, painting over anger and regrets with sentimental lies and a varnish of what-ifs.

She closed her eyes and shook it off, all of it, the recognition and the memories he’d brought, the magnetism and the temptation to fall in. She centered on the now, this moment of music and fog and 2 A.M. beers and friends nearby. She let the melody take her over and danced, laughing and spinning. And when she opened her eyes again, there he was, dancing like no man she’d ever met before.

all, thoughts

Memories of Earth

An exercise I revisit every few years when all the practical indicators get darker and perspective needs to come from intangible things. It’s simultaneously freeing and focusing, and I highly recommend finding that memory of being alive all of your very own.

“I want you to tell me something: after you’re dead and floating around whatever place we go to, what’s going to be your best memory of earth? What one moment for you defines what it’s like to be alive on this planet. Fake yuppie experiences that you had to spend money on, like whitewater rafting or elephant rides in Thailand don’t count. I want to hear some small moment from your life that proves you’re really alive.”

Douglas Coupland

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2002. It snowed the night before, a long windy storm. I was in a supermarket parking lot, in a car, staring at the passenger-side window. The glass seemed fluid, it slowly vibrated and almost bubbled, the snow on it shifting like pebbles on the bottom of a flowing river. Everything else disappeared, everything but that liquefied glass. I thought of how everything must be that fluid and vibrant when you’re a plant – a leaf, a blade of grass, a mushroom. I imagined myself as one, looking up into the world, and noticing how everything moves, everything fluctuates. I wanted to think like a mushroom. I looked at the concrete and the buildings, and saw them for what they were – a temporary, insignificant part of the universe. I saw cityscapes slowly eroding, while trees were quietly raining seeds that would sprout out of the ground to grow just as tall and just as eternal as those that grew before them. We, like everything else in nature, are born with this truth given to us. But mushrooms know, and we forgot. I sat in that car, tired and at peace, being slowly snowed in, and for a little while, I remembered. About the universe, about eternity, and about thinking like a mushroom. Wishing it was easier to remember how to be one every day.

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Ayu Dag, Bear Mountain . Swallow's Nest . Crimean Plains
all, thoughts

This was/is Crimea

With an invasion, manufactured pro-Russia protest photos, and the grainy shots of armies marching against each other, it’s becoming very hard to reconcile Crimea, the strategically important piece of southern Ukraine’s rocky shore real estate on the media, with the Crimea of my childhood memories. We spent several summers in Crimea when I was growing up, on the sea by Ayu Dag, Bear Mountain.

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