“I’m just interested in people on the edges. I feel an affinity for people who haven’t had the best breaks in society. What I want to do more than anything is acknowledge their existence.” -Mary Ellen Mark
I woke at 4 AM, my body aching and light under a peak of heavy mountains. The fog rolled quietly over the wooden deck just beyond my window, panting with soft, gray eyes and the wane of distant sirens. My head adjusting to synthetic light as I moved methodically in a strange hotel room.
The air felt damp, soothing. We drove a half mile to the entrance of the smallest national park in the United States and pulled our polka dotted rain boots on over our thick socks.
At 4:53, the sun rose over Cadillac mountain, and I remembered all the ways I loved you three years ago. How fragile my heart was from years of abuse; how frosted as sea glass my eyes were. And now, there is a higher calling, a universe begging me to come home like I am a wild horse and your arms are my stables. There are layers and levels of us that twist like a handmade spiral staircase, and we are always climbing to the top. Constantly dreaming, wandering.
Waiting for first light amongst the roots of our spines so we can say I do as beautifully as Neruda once did. Be still, my cherry mouth. The words will show themselves again.
I found a language other than my own in which I wrote you a painful letter. Because we were drowning, circling the drain like lost pieces of split hairs and okay, maybe I was splitting hairs, but you wore me down like sweater elbows.
In a silent cafe, you swore at me telepathically and I was sipping hot tea with burnt tongue persistance. You were only a metaphor for the sum of my parts; for some of my parts.
Late nights, cigarette breaks, the soft let down of breaking it off. Sunday like a carnival ride where the thrill felt more like a quick decline and along the hem of my skirt I found another lover. I found myself sewn into my clothes.
A lonely night on the outskirts of New York City and there is a quiet hum to the passing planes. My cigarette drags like the hours do as I pass minute by minute through the month of May. Waiting patiently for two more weeks. Hoping for positives and mornings drenched in macaroons.
Five days from now, I’ll watch the sun rise over Cadillac mountain, the first peak in the United States exposed like my ashes to the wonder or scientific glow. Six days, and the cool wash of a minty moon will cover my bruises with sympathetic hands. Seven and he will remember all the reasons why he fell in love. I will capture it with a camera shaped like a butterfly net.
The delicate parts of me tangled in the rough edges of her. The way our eyes meet and discuss all the existential aspects of life lived underwater. Interconnected always, and yet years passed without our terror talks. I’m floating now.
Banana split elbows and the chocolaty lull of marshmallows over a fire pit. I’m finally here, in the wild, licking the shore with an overused tongue.
My father told me that cabbage pancakes are the only ties he has to the celestial world. No corn fritters or eggs with a side of bacon and orange juice. Japanese style cabbage pancakes with sesame oil and two tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce. Like the initial hints of summer weather and shoes without socks for the first time in six long months.
We ate jumbo prawns with sirracha and took big gulps of dark beer as the sun set over Sunday’s shadowy silhouette. Our home was a dollhouse, our dinner table a breeding ground for stifled insults and the soft chew of browned goodness. I sent my belly good vibes.
There’s something to be said about the stress of living up to parental expectations that far exceed what reality actually is. I’ve sewn my artistic nature into the linings of all my shirts so I can share secret, intimate moments with my own skin. I can use my hands to scoop up seaweed coated in creamy Greek yogurt and still be the same tattooed person I’ve always been. I’ve never had corn fritters but I think I might like them.
Because when it comes down to it, I am just as free as my father was. He stole hubcaps from old muscle cars in the 50’s but he was still chained to cigarettes like I am. He wrote his name in red paint under the 59th street bridge, and even spelled it differently, like I do.
With his mouth full of cabbage, he turned to me and he said, “you’re the spitting image of Farrah Faucet sometimes, you know that? You have the same kind eyes.”
Blinded by the neon lights of a new city, rubbing the film from my aperture eyes. I felt filthy, dusty, egg-headed in this place. Awkward and browned by a sun much closer to the equator than I’d ever been. A dessert of strangers dried out by the weeks.
In March, I wrote myself a love letter while my skin cried all over New Jersey pillows. The fertility drugs I took wrapped their hands around my throat and stuffed me in a duffle bag. Left at the hospital to die. I had breathing treatments for twelve hours.
May and I’ve reconnected with her over galaxies of black night specked with heavy cream. I’m so much more awake, immersed in her tattoos and fem theory like I’ve been starved for six years.
Like a life with no limits. Snorkeling through the sky.