I had my third genuine conversation with you today, and it felt natural; I liked it. I wondered why it couldn’t be that way before and why I had to lose all feeling for you before I could be comfortable in casual confrontations.
It’s so easy to get addicted to certain things like sadness, the smell of ginger, the sound of chirping crickets when everything else is silent… The color beige—especially the color beige. The worst addictions are people, the way you start memorizing the sound of their footsteps against the floor, the way they tap their thigh with their index finger when they’re bored, the way they write, the way they brush their hands through their hair, how they resemble the sun when a laugh slips out, and how quick they are to hold the door open for others. These addictions make your mind race like cars on a track, and even when you’re tired, you can’t stop or you’ll crash. You might crash anyway because these types of addictions sometimes leave on their own when their engine decides to stop. It happened similarly, just last year, when I was stuck in a snowstorm with frostbitten fingers, twisting like roots in pursuit of someplace warm but too rigid to move. He came along for a few months, acting as an apparatus. He held my hands in his and whispered my name—over and over until, eventually, my name lost any meaning it might have once had: I heard it before I fell asleep and in the middle of sentences consisting of short, to-the-point messages, and though his hands were still loose around my waist, even while embracing me, he, too, started to question the four syllabic term he kept reiterating. We were running with the check engine light on, before Love even made its way through our air vents. My name became gibberish and soon enough was unworthy to be said aloud. He stayed a little while longer, maybe because, against my criticism, he still had a heart, but no matter how small it was, my meaningless name had been imprinted where it supposedly hummed. I was a tattoo he was too young to comprehend, wanted to remove, but couldn’t, and it took me a while to rid myself of my addiction to him and the way his bare skin felt against mine. I knew he’d remember me. After all, I was his first blank stare, and I hope I was strong enough to weaken his nomadic legs and attenuate his bitter gait, so that my first teasing dose of purity would stay for his next and use words he could actually understand.
12:08am and I missed your birthday yesterday.
All I feel is my burnt tongue and bitter sorry pressing against my taste buds.
They told me to keep writing, even when I had nothing to write about, and even when my fingers began to grow numb, my palm began to cramp, and my back began to arch in ways deemed crippling. It started off simple, a few sentences about how much I loved my mom, how she bloomed over the hydrangeas and lilac trees in her garden—the very garden she’d force me to dig up with her even though I feared the creepy crawlers hiding beneath the soil—and how she’d juggle pots and pans as she fabricated the night’s meal while my melancholic father sat on the sidelines, a water boy with dormant potential. As time went on, I began noticing how little she gardened, and when she did, she’d complain about the rocks my father kept throwing back with the unwatered vegetables, even when she told him not to, or she’d decide to garden right before a rainstorm so she was forced back inside where she could sit in her chair and read her favorite book while dinner was burning in the kitchen. They told me to keep writing and writing, even when the story ended. That is where the story ends, and I continue to write. When my mom stopped gardening, her story and my father’s became static, and upon happening, I became static, too. The only thing I could rely on were my trembling fingers, the way they felt for answers as they brushed against cold walls at night, how they were always searching for a writing utensil to scribble selfish nonsense in toilet stalls and crumpled up loose leaf, and how they searched for answers in history but still remained guiltless and unaffected. More time passed and I began to experience new foods, new people, new cultures, new textbooks, and I began to thrive for knowledge while my parents continued to eat away at the sorrow between their toes. I was introduced to boys, the smell of the beach at midnight, the cold wind against my face as I ran around the streets in the dark, musing over endless possibilities, finding solace in people, books, and places I’d never been before. I found a world beyond overpopulated front yards, chipped white picket fences, and burnt food, and I was thankful for the consistency of the old creaking house for it birthed a venturesome spirit: I found new ways to get dirty, to build up the calluses on my palms, to create a story that ever changed—a new kind of gardening with different soil and different flowers—and I realized history alone won’t fulfill you, I had tried before, but the combination of the past and present will. I continue to write, and I still consider this old exterior, with its mourning interiors, as my home, but I have fashioned other homes—pieces of then and now—where I go sometimes when the static isn’t so welcoming.