It should be noted that I hate the word “toboggan.” I don’t care for “undulate, “cherubic,” or “pedantic” either. I like “mellifluous,” though, and “didactic.” I like “effusive” because I am and so I have to.
Well, I can’t start with something dramatic. Okay, okay, I will.
I will sit in the sun wearing leggings and a sweatshirt. I will solve differential equations, and I will also read Rilke and Lewis and Plath. I will reteach myself Spanish and remember many words. Apparently, this makes me too four-dimensional, makes it too hard to love me more than platonically for any decent amount of time.
When the hurricane came, they told us to get in the bathtub, cover our heads, close our eyes, and wait, maybe pray, if we were so inclined. Silly me—I wanted to stand on the porch and watch.
I didn’t see the church where you planned to marry me until the month before you proposed to someone else. But as soon as I ran past it, I knew, and there were pink rose petals everywhere. I told myself you wouldn’t marry her there. Even still, I didn’t walk down that street on your wedding day. I was proud of myself for that.
Your experiences have been intense and atypical. Are there any other kind? Tell me, what’s typical? Give me a reason to want it, one you earnestly believe in and don’t just spout because you have to.
I have no trouble understanding why the Greeks thought the gods made sport of their lives. I understand how something can be too much, and at the same time, nowhere near enough.
Months later, I’m still walking on my knees, repenting through hundreds of miles of desert, even though Mary Oliver told me not to. I can’t help it. Someone has to atone for your paper-thin soul.
I am always the one shedding life the way a deer sheds its antlers in winter, leaving them behind for someone else to pick up. No, of course, I’m not. I’m the one scavenging for bones while the muscle slips off into the woods.
We would’ve been fine if you would’ve loved me the way I had wanted. Even so, I’m glad that you didn’t. There has to be someone out there who will try.
The thunder woke me up at two a.m. Angels bowling, I thought, like my grandma used to tell me. Thunder, but no lightning, which is the only thing that makes thunder worth it—the flash that, for a split-second, shocks the world awake in silver.
I can’t name all the trees outside my window, but I love them just the same. Understanding doesn’t always make it easier.
That day, I let you drive, and I don’t know how to get to the mountain. But it’s okay—I found a cliff and flung myself, back first, over the edge. I’m still floating. Funny thing, all that nonsense you told me about not having wings.
In Portland, there are drinking fountains that have no buttons, just a perpetual jutting up of water. My Northwest-born roommate calls them “bubblers,” and they’re peppered throughout our neighborhood. Today, for the first time in all the times I’ve gone past it, I realized there’s one in front of the church. I stopped and drank, and then, I drank again. And then, I kept walking.
I dreamt someone pierced my lip against my will, and next, I was showering in front of hundreds of strangers. Strangers who kept stuffing towels in the tub at my feet, impatient for their turn. When the water died, I stepped out to see what the trouble was, looked at the crowd, and said, “I have my own shower. At home. What am I doing here?” And every one of them smiled, like they’d been waiting for me to remember that very thing.
That’s the difference between you and me: you’re always looking for reasons not to believe.
This afternoon, I watched the wind blow back the clouds and rip open the blue beneath. All day, it hurried those white plumes along, hurried back the gray to take their place. I remember vacationing on the Oregon Coast, standing on the peaks of the dunes, seeing no one but my family for miles. It wasn’t the sea or the sand, the trees, the empty space I fell in fearful love with. It was the wind.
Wind that carried me up and down Comm. Ave. the years I lived in Boston. Wind that inverted my umbrella and whipped ice into my eyes. Wind I missed when I moved to Portland. No more coastal breezes, I thought the air was absent. But I hadn’t yet grown still enough to feel it.