When I am overcome with a frantic sadness, this is when I fight.

I fold the world inside-out with the smooth ease of wrist-flicking, I climb out of this hole with cuts and bruises but I get out and that’s all that matters. I set fire to the world and walk just fast enough to keep it nipping at my heels, tarring my skin, scarring me a little if I bothered to look. I skate over thin ice as if I slowed down I could walk on water, but there is no grace to it, because I am focused only on the goal, which is to get myself out of here.  In moments of desperation, when grief builds up, when panic rings through my whole body and I am forced to listen, when I am forced to hear soprano voice nastily ringing the need for self-realization and how little self-preservation I have left, I am set in motion and I can’t stop.

Idleness does me good even if I think it does my body bad. My mind will race into every corner, flick at all specks in the dust, try to find solutions with only sticks, stones, and other weapons that are meant to break me.  Idleness sets me into a run, a sprint towards an only goal of getting away from Here.  Getting away from the Idleness, from what I find too difficult to look at, to escape the grief, to spin around enough times that I’ll be different when I examine myself once again.

It has been a year and this still hurts.  It’s futile in so many ways.  I have gone on walks, gone on bike rides, hiked mountains and fallen down valleys of emotions to try to come to some closure that I can’t seem to zip up completely.  I have come to terms with the fact that I equated my happiness, my self-worth, my everything to his approval of me, to his decision to stay.  That this was not my fault and yet I can’t swallow this statement no matter how many times I knock it back like a shot.  It just comes back up and I’m retching, and I am a mess, and I don’t know whether or not I simply cannot accept this truth or I will not accept it. That there is someone better, just like what happened with J, that there is someone that I am absolutely not, and that is the reason.  That is the reason I am here on my bed, writing what is basically a paragraph designed for some love letter whose recipient cannot be found, whose address always bounces back. But maybe once you lick the stamp one too many times, it will stop sticking and you’ll stop trying to send it.  Is that even a good thing in the end?

I am in a search for excellence. I am exhausted. I am always exhausted, but now I am very physically exhausted. I have large, tall goals in the stratosphere that are shielded by the clouds and I’m not sure what to make of it.  I’m not sure what to make of this big dream, I am not sure how I will handle failure. I am not even sure how I will handle attaining the goal, of getting past one goal post in an enduring and long road to success.  I want to leave, I have ten million paths I want to pursue, and I find it difficult to choose because they all get me to the same goal of escaping Here, even though they all lead to different destinations. I cannot stay, I have said it for so long, but when is the right time to leave? Is it Now?  Is it because I am in fight-or-flight and I will fight anything and anyone to get the hell out of this town.  It’s not that I think I’m too good for this town even though I may have thought this when I was younger. I realize now that I must get away to preserve whatever sanity is left in my body, that I am slowly going insane and haven’t noticed it because it has been a slow degeneration, it has been the slowest dying.

I have read so many books, randomly selected and recommended, and boiled down to it, they are all about moving on with your life, going forward, exploring the world or another part of you.  And what is keeping me in this city? Just my ambition, just my willingness to leave.  But my feet are pounding pavement right now, and I can’t stop, I dare not stop, I cannot stop if I want to survive, if I want to move on from this grief, if I want to go somewhere else.  I am lost, but at least running will get me somewhere. I will not run in circles, and with that, I will compromise by allowing myself to fall. I am not shaking but my body knows, it knows that I cannot stay here, it knows that I need to get on the highway and gun 80 out of this town.  I know it too. I know it too.

I’ve been frustrated by the success of others, only because I don’t see any of that in myself. I have big goals, but have had such difficult in getting there.  I’m not sure where I’m going wrong, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. So I go back to my old pony tricks and hope one of them sticks, and they never stick for long.

I hope that the next time I write, I won’t be so anxious, my muscles won’t be so tense, I won’t have this need to escape. Maybe the next time I write, I will have some news to assuage you.

xx

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the creeping panic

lately, i’ve been silently panicking and i really need to write this. so many things have been bothering me and i want to address them, but i need to write in order to think clearly, to figure out my course of action.

  1. As i’m typing, my computer is flashing technicolor so i suppose one thing to add to this notorious and budding to-do list is to buy a new computer and perhaps a new phone. i’ve had my laptop since 2010 and it has been trusty, though numerous bugs have appeared where things always flash or my caps lock doesn’t work properly (you can’t undo caps lock unless you click shift).  my phone, i’ve had since 2013.  i don’t want programs with licenses to expire.  but that’s going to net me a good $2000 or something to get my laptop and phone replaced.
  2. I need to save money for something next year and I’ve got a pretty long way to go.  I need to eat out less, refrain from buying clothes as much (anyway, I don’t really need more dresses and I’ve got 13 already), refrain from buying more candles, etc.  It’s been so hard doing this.  I’ve got to try harder.
  3. I’ve done a decent job cleaning my closet in terms of trading my old clothes for other useful things, or trying to sell them online.  I don’t know how it will go.  I’ve also been trying to declutter by trying to use up .  I’m giving my extra pair of Hunter boots to one of my best friends, so it will be her going away to school present and will also free up some space in my house.
  4. I want to travel. I think I need to get out of here.  But what’s stopping me is this need to save money. so should i do more short trips? Do I go to europe anyway?

something made me search your name today

whatever provoked me probably laces its fingers with fate

and now i know you’ll be off doing great things abroad

strolling along the clean, kept path to become the person you’ve known forever that you’ll be

and maybe you’ll see my running haphazardly in the grass far away but close enough to be visible

and one day i’ll run farther than you

maybe it’ll take me a little longer

because my path is winding, messy, sand-ridden and uncharted

but i hope it’ll go past you to somewhere you haven’t dared venture

and only in hindsight will you wish you had.

a response

ten months ago, i would have cried, “how did you let him go?”

for he was kind, he was sincere, he was smart

armed with power and handsomeness.

 

and for that i, in the present, would answer

that he was like a bird in a house

a butterfly in my room

that i could not keep trapped

for he wanted to leave.

he would have left anyway

when he realized he couldn’t save me

and sweetheart, he tried to save me,

but i was not his to be saved.

 

that he took up the whole room

and you loved that.

until the day i realized that it made me feel so small.

that he was perfect, i really think so

but i stopped remembering to breathe

i just held it all in

hoping this moment wouldn’t pass too soon

hoping that i wouldn’t wake up

hoping that if nothing changed and time stood still,

then he surely had to stay,

right?

but alas, i let go even when i didn’t want to

my face was turning blue

all i wanted was to breathe again

even if it meant bursting the idea of him

even if it meant feeling lost again

even if it felt like i was unwanted again.

so here you will be,

wearing my shoes,

falling into my footsteps.

 

sweetheart,

the world is bigger than the glass globe,

the world is bigger than the stories that you write

the world is bigger than the one he walked through

the world is bigger than the one he has now adopted

the world is bigger than the one you thought was all you needed.

 

someday you will learn.

sweetheart.

someday the world will be yours for the taking even if it seems overwhelming.

someday you will seize all that you have given.

Fiction

Dear 21 year-old Me,

This summer in your life is the most rocky. You are in a perpetual state of panic and stress, you feel almost electric under your skin, you feel like you are two steps away from exploding. The world is against you, and you are walking this world alone with tortoise-shell glasses perched atop your pretty little nose and five inch Louboutins under your feet.  Damn, you are so strong in your mindset and confident in your public presentation yet so fragile in the art of understanding yourself that it almost constitutes an acute oblivion. But you don’t know it.  Because you’re always right, and the world is wrong.  And everything in your life is somehow wrong at this point.  Everything is broken. Absolutely everything.

You are young, you are reckless, and most of all, you have lost: you have lost your job and I hate to break it to you, but you are about to lose the relationship that you’ve been frantically trying to save in a few weeks.  You are in what you consider to be hell on Earth: you are a 21 year-old precocious banker in San Francisco who is simultaneously trying to mend your failing two-year relationship.  Let’s be frank, you fucking hate San Francisco.  The thought of those two words sour in your mouth.  You hate it so much you commission a shirt at the beginning of your San Fran stint that declares this antipathy against the land flanked by the notorious Golden Gate bridge.  And then at your end of your summer you commission another shirt, this time somehow even more acerbic, in loopy cursive in the form of rope that underlines that hate.  I fucking hate San Francisco.  Your anathema is swelling and alive; you might as well compose a diatribe against it and submit it to the Los Angeles Times, because the seething emotion on that subject would compel someone to publish it.

But this summer is a turning point for better times, believe it or not.  And I know you won’t.  Twenty-five year old me has little sway over these deep-set thoughts in your mind -you wouldn’t take this advice even if it floated in a bottle right to you with a silk ribbon on it as you sat along the Santa Monica beach wondering where you went wrong.  You are exhausted, you are overwhelmed, you are slowly spiralling and you think this is just a lull but everybody else can see that you’re plummeting to rock-bottom.  So I won’t give you advice, because you won’t take it, but I’ll recount the lessons that you soon learn, in case that will prod you to see things differently.

Love finds you again.   The months after San Francisco are tough even though you put on a smile and laugh through it; you will become lost, you will become defeated.  But I promise that in a year, love finds you.  It starts right as San Francisco wraps up, surprisingly, with a text to a house party from an individual whose invitations you frequently decline.  But for some odd reason (or no reason at all), you decide to go this time. And there at that house party, you strike up a conversation with a stranger who is so different from you and profoundly bewilders you, and who just so happens to own a Tesla X that you were considering buying.  So he offers to take you for a test drive around the block, and in the following weeks, you keep thinking about the conversation and how kind and brilliant he is.  And when love finds you again, you’ll barely recognize yourself.  And that’s a good thing -it’s the perennial vestiges of growing up as you learn that a relationship takes work together, to ponder your long-term ambitions and the person you want to become, and learn that the act of challenging each other can be rewarding.  Not everything is a fight, Kayla, and that will be a lesson that takes so so so long for you to learn: not everything becomes won or lost.  You can only build or stop building.

Oh, and as some valuable advice, disclose that you broke your arm in Vietnam instead of lying about all injuries for two weeks out of embarrassment.

You are not invincible. There are so many days when you want to save the world, but you fall into bed thinking that you haven’t done enough.  Yet you’re completely exhausted and the guilt weighs incredibly heavy on yourself.  It’s okay to disappoint people, you know, especially yourself.  It’s okay to take a break even when people consider you to be their source of strength, and you don’t have to try to please others or impress them.  When a reporter tells you that you need to set a better example for young girls who want to follow into your footsteps, you will tell her that women aren’t perfect and that this is the way that you have decided to champion women’s representation in professional sports.  And even when you occasionally ponder whether or not this was the best answer, please know that there is no better answer in this unchartered territory; you are at the forefront, this cause’s inherent and unwilling leader, and you will make mistakes, but that’s a good thing.  We can’t always be the heroic feminists that we wished had been there when we were growing up,  and know that this doesn’t make you mediocre, this doesn’t make you apathetic, this doesn’t make you lazy.  It most of all doesn’t make you incompetent.  It makes you human.  So get some rest, kid.  You’ve got your heart in the right place, and I’m proud of what you have achieved even if it’s not the moon and more.

Cherish your years in hockey. It goes by in a blink of an eye, even if it doesn’t feel like it on the days that all your friends are posting pictures of their New York escapades, you’re sitting on your balcony alone facing the CN Tower and missing home.  And even though you laugh at me now about this, you get to play sports for a living and so few people get to say the same thing!  The friends and support network that you build in Toronto are indispensable and you don’t appreciate it until after you leave.  So go out with the boys for drinks and dinner more often, and savour the white and blue veraciously. It’s a surreal experience with its own set of challenges.

how i know i will have made it

1. i fly first-class and don’t have to make budget compromises to do that

2. i get to swim in a bath house in budapest

3.  i experience cape town. i climb the tabletop mountains.

4. when people think of me, the first that comes to mind is kind

5. i show up in a magazine or newspaper in the society pages

6. if i get married, i plan a wedding that i’m proud of.

7. i sit in a sailboat and bask in the sunshine.

8. i read a book in martha’s vineyard.

9. i trespass on backyard beaches in the hamptons.

10. i master French.

11. i give a talk on any topic at a conference.

12. i forgive.

13. i fall in love at least once.

14. i learn from it at least once.

15. i read regularly.

16. i learn to be less bitter.

17. i become a source of strength for my friends.

18. i learn to dress well.

19. i remain healthy.

20. my family remains healthy to the best of my ability.

21. i am successful in my career, and become an icon in my field.

22.  i smile everyday about something that’s happening in my immediate life.

23. i take risks. i learn not to be so afraid of moving on, letting go.

24. my house is tastefully decorated

25. i help the environment.

26. i am confident in my decisions.

27. i am thoughtful in my direction.

28. and to be continued and to be refined….

what i wouldn’t give to tell you that this ends well,

to stuff some optimism in you in these trying times

to try your hand at something other than typing out heartbreak

arms across your chest preparing you for the blow.

what i wouldn’t give to tell you what i don’t know.

man, i don’t know.

god, i don’t know.

 

what i would give to not regret

what i would give to sleep soundly

to sleep early

to sleep with the promise of a new fresh day

to sleep without desperately hoping for a new fresh different day

to sleep knowing that you are out of my reach

but i won’t stop reaching for it anymore.

i’m sitting here with a warm fragrant candle beside me, the heater on, and a magazine huddle to my chest, and i am in the mood to write.

there was a strange boy in my dream, and i loved him. and maybe i have these dreams because of the book that i had just finished. maybe one day i will meet him. or maybe one day you’ll come back. and tell me where i went wrong and give me a second chance. it’s so much to ask, i know. but I’m trying to dream big.

sadness is aging me. and it’s difficult… i don’t know if this sadness is superficial. i just feel like i’m leading this ordinary life when i’m more than that. i feel like i could do better. i feel like i am invincible but haven’t dared to test that out.

there are so many words i have left unsaid, so how do i go collecting them now? they’ve fallen into the air, been carried away by breaths sucked in, and cries heard out loud. they are scattered and everywhere like the strands of hair that have left my head and now occupy these streets, these trees, this water, this world.

tell me how to find myself.

after olivia gatwood

I bought her book and absolutely loved it.  So I wanted to try my own fingers at crafting a poem, an ode. An ode for something about which I should feel ashamed.

This is an ode to falling in love too easily.

I want to write an ode to all the times
that my friends said I fall in love too easily.
Told me that love shouldn’t be held so loosely,
like a drunk New Years toast with a stranger,
like a genuine smile flashed at passerbys.

Michaela says that I am 24 and I should know better.
You are so young, she says,
why would you choose one so early
when you could browse so many more with the swipe of a finger?
Lynn says that I am a dreamer,
unrealistic in what boys this age want,
fantasising about a type of love that no longer exists.
And Rachel?
Well Rachel thinks I am pathetic,
because I try to find patterns in a world of entropy,
I want something to tell me this was meant to be.

But what Michaela, Lynn, and Rachel don’t get
is that some of us want to watch our own demise.
To ride bikes around the neighborhood in 2 km loops
thinking of everything and nothing at the same time.
To shed tears early to start the early onset
lines on our face that will undeniably appear with time.
We want to fall out of love
so that afterwards we understand what we have lost.

There is nothing quite like going on a walk alone
that never feels that lonely,
because every man in a plaid dress shirt reminds me of him,
the poster for that festival reminds me of his stories,
the cologne on the man in front of me reminds me of his scent,
the sound of playing frisbee at the park reminds me of his laugh,
and every loose shoelace is just another promise undone.

Halfway through this poem,
I realize this is no ode
to falling in love to easily.
Instead, this is an ode to falling in love with you.

And to tell my friends that they were right,
I was young,
I was a dreamer,
and you were everything I needed,
at the right time, at the right place,
to tell me that I had made a grave mistake.

Placing my heart in your palm
was a dangerous task
and I was a fool in flying colors.
And I was stupid, yes.
I could have saved myself months of grief.
I shouldn’t have ever fallen in love with you,
I didn’t have to be that naive.

But then where would this ode have been?
What’s a shoelace if it can’t be retied?
What’s a heart if it can’t keep beating?
What’s a memory if it never happened at all?