blog, poem

August

I’m writing this in the back of a caravan as it scuttles across the empty plains of West Texas. August comes around and always feels like a Sunday. Three years ago, I was hungover and in love and drinking iced coffee from the garden level of a north Denver apartment. Now, after spending another week back home in Colorado, I feel the same: pining for love, hungover from a lazy summer in the sun, sipping from a mug.

I know my writing always reads something romantic. Truthfully, though, it’s rare anymore that I feel any sort of desire to pursue romance. I’ve become too self-serving over the years, too busy pursuing a myriad of goals that benefit only me, too interested in spending time alone. I enjoy my quiet time. I know many folks my age that have also given up on the cinderella story, on the boomer lifestyle of 1950’s jello adverts.

Sometimes, though, the heart will flutter and seek flight. Now is one of those times.

I was back home this week with a group of running friends on a road trip. We hiked up mountains and slept on the floor and cooked and cleaned together. A week straight with these folks and it only felt like family, like symbiosis. Guiding them through my old haunts brought back an expected nostalgia, certainly, but it also helped me see these spots anew. I ordered different meals, different drinks, walked into new buildings, snapped out of the plastic shape of old routines.

On my mind throughout the week were the relationships I left here. Understanding that I took that love for granted while it was abundant and present leaves me feeling foolish. Walking along the same avenues where first kisses were planted on unassuming heads opens a monologue with your younger self, one that ends without resolve. I can’t rewind time, even though the junctures still look so familiar, as if it never passed. Standing at one of these, a corner near a science building on campus, I feel the pulse of old heartbreak. I also feel a sort of heightened awareness to recognize the love when it’s around. The type of cognizance that comes with learning a very physically painful lesson.

And so this affirms this lingering thought I’ve had in my mind for a while, one that has been absent for half a decade, one that I’ve feared and barricaded and ignored in favor of nurturing the self: that I am ready to give it away. I would like it real and good and poetic and pure, and it feels something like escaping a cocoon.

It must be immaterial and private and between only us. I hope to leave it unnoticed and mute; my favorite relationships are those that I know least about. Keep it secret and intimate. Sex is as good as the sum of its parts, but making love is transcendent. Making love feels like leaving earth. It feels like one of the only few ways we have left of being entirely present. The muse of art and war is born in the dark sheets between two bodies unraveling into one another. I want this. I want the mundane and the annoyance and the discomfort of merging two lives together, and I also want to make love.

I’m tall and lanky and funnily shaped and have a childish face. I don’t wear great clothes and make little money. I’m shy around the girls that smitten me. I observe more than I participate. I think too much. My confidence is fickle and often frustrated. I assumed, by now, I would have ironed out these insecurities, but they tend to solidify when I’m most lonely. And that feeling waxes and wanes with the moon. But these things go away when I have someone to call.

When I have the love, I’m nicer to my mother. My grandpa stops worrying. I have perspective and a reason to stop in the gift shop. I write more, I sleep well, I learn new tricks. I see new places and shake new hands and live a life more spontaneous. I begin to share. And that’s the kicker, really: I want to share. We are calmer when we can split the bread.

It’s now quite dark in East Texas. The clouds have become a silky sheet of deep purple in the sky above. Soon this life will become overwhelmingly busy with the duties of a career in progress and I will return to having very little time to myself. I will doubt and dismiss the idea of pursuing a partner. But for this moment, out in the middle of nowhere, on the tail end of another setting summer, I will imagine myself in love, quietly, and rest my head to the thought. The rolling fields of windmills swim by, and I think about her.

She lets quartz hang from her ears. She buys things from old women. She drinks cucumber water. She makes love on top. She leaves a thunderous wake, a pinkish swirl, a scent. She wants me around.

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A Collective Encumbrance

Earth.  Northwestern Hemisphere.  America.  United States.  Colorado.  Boulder.  30th Street.  House.  First room on the left.  Computer chair.  Fingers.  Keyboard.
The current hour is 22:34, Mountain Standard Time.

To my left lies a half-full carton of King Soopers brand almond milk nestled close to a tower of Kroger Crispy Rice.  On my right sits a curvy white bowl where these two simple ingredients couple in a whispering orchestra of snaps, crackles and pops.  The residue reveals a dozen stranded grains, those fortunate survivors of my mouth-attack; (wait, can anybody actually eat every single krispie?  In a cereal apocalypse, these fuckers would be the first to survive and the fittest to repopulate.  Good luck Cocoa Puffs).  I swivel in a fancy computer chair sporting only boxers, winding down after a three mile uphill run. And for the record, I stink like hell, so don’t start thinking all sexy.

It is Wednesday, the 7th of March 2012, and I’m halfway through another suicide semester.

During this time, my life tends to go a little something like this:

7:30, wake up.  Shower, shave, brush teeth.  Hobble towards fridge for food.  Turn on computer.  Facebook.  Check e-mail.  Eat food.  Read.  Drink water.  Take vitamins.  Pull out homework.  Do homework.  Read.  Facebook.  Figure out wardrobe.  Think about who I see today in order to further decide on wardrobe.  Put on cologne.  Go back to bathroom, check face, check hair, check teeth.  Finish homework.  Pack up backpack. Walk to bus.  Wait for bus.  Think about the world.  Look at the mountains.  Bus comes. Flash bus pass.  Strut my shit while searching for a seat.  Sit down.  Peoplewatch.  Get off bus.  Walk to first class.  Strut my shit.  Take out notes.  Drink water.  Leave first class.  Strut shit.  Second class.  Talk.  Take notes.  Eat an apple.  Leave.  Strut my shit. Third class.  Eat a Snickers.  Take notes.  Leave.  Strut shit towards bus stop. Peoplewatch.  Bus pass, walkway, seat.  Walk home.  Think about my day.  Make lunch. Play Gears of War.  Play guitar.  Get on computer.  Leave house.  Get in car.  Drive to work. Work. Think about kids.  Think about the world.  Play. Leave work.  Come home. Order food, make food, or skip dinner.  Relax.  Pull out homework.  Read.  Write.  Take notes.  Go to gym.  Do gym.  Listen to music.  Peoplewatch.  Come home.  Shower. Facebook.  Eat cereal.  Go to bed.  Think about life.  Think about sleeping by myself. Think about my pillow.  Roll over.  Sleep.  Repeat.

Damn, thanks for reading all that.  Sure, it sounds monotonous, but it’s a routine, and at the core of every repeated day lies some sort of established pattern.  And of course all the oddities that freckle the day keep it worthwhile, but for the most part I have just sketched my every Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday.  Hell, at the rate at which these weeks fly by, I would be more inclined to use that routine to describe one extremely long day opposed to the length of a week.  And with each new week that passes, the workload grows.  I can’t say what will happen come the end of April, but I imagine it being just like my run earlier this evening: a constant uphill struggle.  The weekend is an entirely different monster, though, and thankfully so.  It keeps people sane.  We need our release.  We need a checkpoint, even if it just means we’re now closer to returning to the race.  But you know what I’ve noticed lately?

Nowhere in my day-to-day do I leave space for anybody else.

Oh Sam.  You selfish prick!

Hey now.  Before the gavel can proclaim death to my social world, I’d like to call upon myself to testify.

It’s no doubt that my life, like most of the lives of everybody I know, is a swirling goliath of obligations and motivations that consume body and psyche.  Between work and school, I hardly have time to satisfy my craving for something creative, and even when I do it is at the sacrifice of at least three other interests.  I haven’t painted since Italy because I started writing again, which severely cut into time to watch films.  I just began reading Life of Pi, which means two other endeavors are about to exit my schedule of recreation. And I haven’t drawn since January, which is when I picked up where I left off in the gym. Something always tends to balance another.  So what happens when we add people to the mix?

I recall a diagram of a triangle labeled “College”.  On each corner of the triangle are three simple phrases: “Social Life, Good Grades, Enough Sleep”.  And underneath the title there is a key to interpret the drawing, labeled with only one direction: “Pick two”.  In an ideal world, this diagram would have no guidelines, it would be drawn in the shape of a square, and the fourth corner would say “Lots of sex”, but god damnit this isn’t American Pie.  So we’ll stick to the realistic triangle model for now.  At this point, it’s clear which corner suffers the most in my life, and I’ve made my decision based on what I value least: sleep.  (P.S., after 784 words, the time is currently 12:10am, 8 March 2012).  Onwards.

If I have no room in my schedule for people, then technically shouldn’t I be constantly alone?  Surprisingly, I find myself always in the company of another and almost never finish a day without spending time with friends.  The kicker: my company always exists inside of the routine.  That is to say that I tend to make space for people only if we’re spending time over a mutual productive interest.  I’ll invite somebody to the gym with me: productive and social.  I’ll ask people to coffee to study: productive and social.  I’ll grab a quick dinner between work and homework to discuss classes: productive and social.  Almost all of my daily interactions revolve around the personal motive of spending time well, and as terrible as it sounds, I can hardly afford to do something completely unrelated to this model.  It goes back to the perfectionist mindset.

I don’t know when it started, or why, or any of that psychoanalytical bullshit.  All I know is my obligations will linger like a raincloud until I see their full completion.  I can’t enjoy myself fully knowing that there are things that must be done.  Yeah, it’s a beautiful trait when homework is split by days, but as you can imagine those long projects can be the death of me.  Some see this as exhausting, unbalanced, somewhat psychotic way to live (because after all, everything you finish will only bring something bigger to be chiseled way.  See the Myth of Sisyphus).   But I see no other way to live a complete life.  After all, productivity only inspires more productivity.  In response, we often think of ideal situations in which time is abundant.  Man, I’ll have so much time to do everything I want this summer.  If I didn’t have school today, I would clean the house.  If work gets canceled, I’ll finally be able to catch up on homework.  The fantasies keep going.  The irony?  After the second week of May, I can’t seem to find the inspiration to shave my face, let alone mow the lawn.  Without something to do, we’re swallowed in the whirlpool of boredom, and there’s nothing more unproductive than an idle mind.

The real issue then exists in doing something outside of that routine.  Since time has become a commodity, I’m always thinking about the best way to spend it productively. And I won’t enjoy myself if I feel it being wasted.  So to be offered an experience outside of that skeleton is the same as driving North to go East: not entirely the wrong way, but still not the right one either.  Here’s my finality:

Sometimes I want to be alone.  Sometimes I want to do my own thing, in my own space, at my own time, without having to respond or react to anybody.  In a healthy and respectful relationship (of which I have many), this basic human desire is awarded without question.  The burden of all of our friendships together, however, can be overwhelming at times.  We feel the need to reward appropriate time to everybody, to keep up with everyone’s lives, to fight the natural tendency that drifts people apart. Think about the last time you ran into somebody with whom you haven’t spoken in a while.  A normal semi catch-up conversation, a couple of awkward silences, and more often than not an ending that lands somewhere along the lines of “Hey, let’s get together soon!  We definitely should hang out!”  If there’s one thing I hate, it’s that kinda phony shit.  More often than not, neither of you truly mean it, and if you do, you wouldn’t have to say it. And besides, there’s always a reason for not seeing somebody for a long time. It’s an upstream swim to try and force a relationship.  People’s lives are in constant motion. Since my first trip to Europe in 2007, I’ve accepted the fact that most of the people in your life will be around for a short while.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  And next time, a “It was really nice to see you again” works just as well.  You may even surprise yourself with your own honesty.

I can’t say I’ve had another epiphany about friendships throughout this writing.  If anything, I’ve only affirmed that I want to live my life according to the urges that dictate it, not by the people that demand it.  It’s selfish, but I have no time to be living somebody else’s journey, and I don’t imagine anybody wants to take on mine.  So let’s give each other a break, shall we?  We’ve all got half the world on our shoulders as it is.  I don’t want to add to the burden.  Instead, I want to remind people how much I love them without needing them to be near.  Drop a comment on Facebook.  Send a text.  Hell, write a letter.  But don’t expect anything back, or you’re doing it wrong.  If your friendships are worthy, I’m sure understanding will be mutual.  And something like that could just make somebody’s day.

Anyway, since the beginning of this wordtrek, I’ve moved from room to shower to room to bed, leaving me in the quiet dark, guided by the backlight of my computer screen.  I left my almond milk on my desk, and I’m too cozy in between my sheets to creak along the hardwood floors and return it to it’s frigid homeland.  If tomorrow I wake as an optimist, I’ll be happy to not have to walk to the kitchen to make my breakfast.  If I play the pessimist, I’ll complain that the milk is warm.  And if the actual reason that I don’t want to take the milk back is because I sleep commando, then I suppose that makes me an honest realist.  But I prefer “imaginationist”.  Time to roll over.  Sleep is near.

The current hour is 1:15am, Mountain Standard Time, somewhere along the Milky Way.

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The Troubled Dissembler

define: past

Gone by in time and no longer existing.

define: nostalgia

 A sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

define: grudge

A persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.

It’s that time of year again.  The peak of my loneliness.  The most self-reflective stretch of sixteen weeks out of my 365 day year.  Shit’s crazy right now between work and school and little life errands that eat away the extra minutes, and before I know it I’m asleep and awake again just in time to start over until Friday, which blurs right into Monday and then without a moment’s rest I find myself off to race the marathon of another work week. You know the feeling.  Momma would say ‘swamped’.  I like that.  Granted, I do all this to myself.  It’s the mess of interests I have the keep me from ever standing still.  Yet, at the same time, I wonder what it would be like to have some breathing room.  Anyway, I can promise I’ll elaborate on my middle-man workaholic complex soon.  Until then, it’s time to let go of some demons.

A couple weeks ago in my Anthropology lecture my professor was discussing the relationship between sickle cell and malaria when he stumbled on his words and quite suddenly stopped talking completely.   As the room fell to a deadly silence his focus shifted to a girl near the front row.  Instead of following the presentation, she found it a better idea to sit inattentively and text.  The professor approached the girl with rage, staring through broken and wounded eyes.  The girl looked up, embarassed and terrified. He then said:

“Have you ever told somebody that you loved them, only to watch them respond with silence?”

A few seconds passed.  The girl understood.  The pain fell from his face, and he slowly returned to continue his teachings.

I held onto his words for the rest of the day, countlessly referring to the situation in my head. Yes, I’ve been there.  Yes, I know the kind of disappointment when worlds collide, when the fantasy has been shredded by the biting edge of reality.  Yes, sir, I have suffered this before.  And I continue to suffer this, not knowing if it will ever completely heal. Reciprocation is rare.  The feelings are hardly ever mutual.  The temptation lies in the gamble, even in the lowest of odds, but that glimmer of hope inside of you pushes you to throw the dice.  Yet, even after ten rolls, there’s always the chance that this could be snake eyes.  This could be jackpot.  This could be worth the suffering of all past losses.

So many of my rolls have left me without chips.

And how do I react?  Like a child of course!  In 2009, after single-handedly wrecking the potential of a girlfriend by playing the Hare instead of the Tortoise, I sent late-night novels full of blame and self-pity.  A year later, after resisting so many urges to hurry things up, I decided to ‘take things slow’.  Except I realized I wasn’t moving at all, and she falsely sensed a lack of interest.  So I blamed again.  I felt sorry for myself.  I was the 2 year old in the grocery store that wasn’t getting what he wants.  Temper.  Tantrums. Kicking & screaming.  All of these pity stories of being lead on are in the dozens.

Hell, it doesn’t apply solely to relationships.  Upon coming to college, I lost a really close friend in the transition.  We slowly became gossip, indirect insults, passive aggression. And of course, more blaming.  “But always their fault”, said I, the eternal victim.

What happens when kids call other kids ‘stupid’?  They go and tell, of course!  I’m on the playground at least three times a day.  Do you know how many little scuffles I’ve settled between a couple of young’ns that for the moment can’t seem to get along?  Shit, I wish I got my bonuses from swing-set counseling.  Here comes little Jimmy again.  I bet Roger shoved him too hard, and now he’s pushing tears.  Let’s have a talk.  So I do what any other adult does that can see the bigger picture:  I take little Jimmy and raging Roger off to the side, I kneel down (to always equalize the eye levels!) and I say these words:

“Now Jimmy, did you really mean what you said to Roger?”
“Well, no, but I just got mad!”
“That’s okay buddy, that happens a lot.  It’s normal!”
Yeah but he pushed me! ”
That’s normal too!  I bet he just got a little mad himself.  Now, are you still friends with Roger?”
I guess so.”
“And since you both didn’t mean what you did, let’s settle this right now.  Tell him you’re sorry, buddy. Okay, now your turn. Perfect. Shake hands, boys.  Now you’re alright, go back and play.”

Assuming we’re not on the goddamned Prarie anymore, little Jimmy and raging Roger will probably get in another scrim before the day’s out.  And another at the end of the week.  And they’ll both be crying again, because they’re boys and they get pissed off at each other.  But that’s not the point!  One of the most beautiful gifts that kids posses and somehow lose throughout their development is the ability to forgive (and I’m not going to sit here and glorify kids like everybody else does…that rant is also for another writing).  They fight, they cry, then it’s done.  Moving on.

Fuck, if my ego wasn’t so big, I’d probably be able to do the same!  After all, Sam, shouldn’t you practice what you preach?  If there’s anything I’ve learned from working with kids, it’s realizing how much of a hypocrite I can be.  Who am I to say “just let it go” when I’m still holding onto silly minimal things from freshman year of high school.  Who am I to say “don’t exclude anybody” when I purposely erase numbers from a mass text just because I refuse to blend two conflicting groups of friends.  And who do I think I am when I tell Matthew to apologize when I’ve never been the first to take the fault. These fucked up standards are pushed upon the little ones every day, and frankly, it’s time I take some accountability.

Cliché alert: on top of a cloudy mountain, one wise monk once mentally communicated to another wise monk “We must forgive and we must forget, for that is how we grow as lovers” (and I bet you just read that in an ancient faux-asian voice.  haHA, I strike again! PS: that saying? I just made that shit up right now).  The idea’s there, though.  Forgive and forget, that’s what we’re told.  But I shouldn’t really forget, right?  I mean, wouldn’t it be naive to assume it won’t happen again?  And if it does, it would be wise to remember how you settled it the first time, right?

Yeah.  For the most part.

One of my closet friends once said to me “I know who you are, Sam.  I don’t know what you’re up to, I don’t know what you did last week, but I know you.”  And before this semester, Matt and I had only seen each other a total of six to eight times within the past 5 years.  It’s one of those genuine friendships that don’t need upkeep, something I am so lucky to have in more than one person.  Here’s the thing: we have a choice in what we ‘forget’ (or better said, ‘let go’).  If I continue to hold onto the ugly memories of arguing, deception and feeling abandoned, I can assure you that will only spoil my attempts to reconcile.  And guess what?  This is what I, for the past three years, have chosen to carry with me as memories of once beloved friendships.  I’ve cast away the smiles, the bonds, the happiness.  I’ve forgotten the way Matty saw me.

But it’s time I let it out.

Deep breath.

Okay, here we go:

To all the girls with whom I saw a future, yet for one reason or another it didn’t go as planned:  Thank you.  I have learned so many things from these failed relationships that have given me such a stronger grip on being a better ‘me’.  You know you’ve made progress when you look back and laugh at yourself; ‘did I actually say that?!”

To all the girls that saw a future with me, yet I chose otherwise: I’m infinitely sorry.  I was the one who sat in silence in your confession of love.  I crushed those dreams and chose to leave you behind.  I know that nothing I can really say will help the cause, for it’s me you want after all.  With that, my only hope is that I’ve been able to show you something that you never saw in yourself.

To the few friends that I’ve kept at bay:  I’ve missed you, sincerely.  If there’s anything that continually comes back to me, it’s the laughs.  It’s your company.  It’s your love.  I’d be damned if I said I don’t think about you all the time.  And to be honest, I’ve forgotten what pushed all of us away in the first place.  So this is my invitation to patch the seams. You mean more to me than you know.

Exhale.

I was jamming to Kanye on my way to work a few weeks ago.  Nostalgia seems to especially accompany that music, and upon arriving in the parking lot I sat and thought. And I was taken back to so many places.  Those five minutes of musical meditation will be a memory I’ll keep alongside those that flooded me.  It was time I said sorry.  I knew I needed those that were missing from my life.  It was time I get off my high horse, because you can’t give hugs from atop a saddle.  I killed the ignition and walked into school.

Since then, I’m happy to say that I’ve mended old scrapes that were bleeding for far too long.  A few days ago, an old friend of mine came out as bisexual.  I was so happy to have been apart of that moment, and to at least send my two cents of support in his direction. And a couple of weekends ago I was ‘Iced’ for the first time in my life.  I would have not wished that experience to have been with anybody else.  Then a brief moment of ‘catch-up’ happened later that night from a friend that always showed so much support in me. With the unpredictability of life and death always in mind (just look at the school shooting earlier this week), why would I choose to lose these people before I’m forced to? Regret lies in the things you’ve never done.  I don’t want to look back and think ‘it’s too late to save’.  I don’t want to look back at a premature end.  So I remembered who these people are.  I remembered all of the beauty that I once chose to forget.  I remembered the humility of being the first to say “I’m sorry”

and the joy of yelling “I’ve missed you!”

So what now?

Well, we’re back to the Tortoise.  After all, Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a night.  Time is again at play.  But damn, it feels good to be with my gangsters again.  If there’s anything I’m willing to work at, it’s this.  And despite the fact that I don’t have enough time these days to trim my own nosehairs, I’ll make time to trim yours.  I mean, that could be one hell of a re-bonding experience.  All shits aside, I feel I’m on the right path.

define: future

The time or a period of time following the moment of speaking or writing; time regarded as still to come.

Let’s make it count.  Cheers, my friends.

~

And with that, I conclude with my tacky-yet-honest catch-phrase.  But in all reality, I think it especially pertains to this topic, wouldn’t you say?  Even if you would say, I’m the damn writer here.  Go make your own blog and end it with some goofy shit like mine.  No seriously, do it.  I want to read it.

Oh man, here it comes…

Keep on loving,

Sam G

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