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When I woke up this morning, I remembered how we used to decorate our friends’ lockers on their birthday. I saw the wrapping paper and curled ribbon tacked to top locker near the room where I took History with Mr. Wilson vividly, and last night’s dream came back to me.

I was in a somberly lit hall, not unlike a museum, with doors to different lecture theaters, and I was reunited with two men I had loved in high school. I say men, because it was the boys I knew then as I imagine them to be now. I was reminded how innocent those feelings were then. How common it was to pine over someone for months, even years, with a passion fueled by the most innocuous interactions. Those years, where all you needed was the feeling of an arm brushing against yours.

How simple it is now, with physical affection exchanged frequently, easily, and thoughtlessly. In the rare cases when I’m forced to wait, I turn to the nearest willing participant and pull them on top of me in order to suffocate those feelings

I don’t know quite how I managed to retain my sanity as I floated down the hallway behind these boys all those years ago, hoping for moments in dark corners backstage, scheming a hundred scenarios that could lead to just one kiss. None of my silly plots ever manifested that kiss, alcohol did. Drunkenness allowed us all to shed our reservations and fears, and swap saliva in an unflattering and ultimately destructive way. The things we wanted to do had consequences.

I’ll never regret those kisses. But, it occurs to me now that ultimately, both resented me for it. And now, I can only think of the times where a victory in love for me was a failure for him, a moment of weakness, a lesson to be learned, about what I couldn’t say.

I recognize the hunger I woke up with. It wasn’t for apples and peanut butter. It was to be back in that lecture hall with those boys from high school who I loved, and who I never questioned, and it sits in me.

It’s my birthday soon, and there is no locker to decorate… I have my own house. I guess I could fill it with balloons if I wanted to.

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The Whimsy

There’s more I want you to know. It’s not just the last thing, the sad thing, where I’m melancholy. There’s also the joyful thing, the whimsy. Let me tell you about the whimsy. 

The whimsy is when dry leaves spiral upwards with the wind and swirl across the pavement in fall. The whimsy is when your hand brushes up against his knee and you lock pinkies. Just pinkies. Oh, but then your hand creeps into his. That’s the whimsy too. And the whimsy is checkered skirts, mangoes, weathered journals, typewriters, rusted keys, hidden doors in walls by the bay, heart beats, and quarters. It’s the flutters. 

And I’m consumed by the whimsy. It laughs at the melancholy in a warm-hearted way, it invites it to play, to see the sad things as beautiful, and the beautiful things as whimsical, and the whimsical things as ordinary, because ordinary is wonderfully constant. 

So don’t feel sorry when you see me melancholy. I’m just gathering toys for the whimsy. It’s a delightful creature. We’re such good friends. No, I’m not lonely. I’ve got mangoes and checkered skirts and sometimes I listen for your heartbeats. Sneakily. I can’t help it. It soothes me. 

Yesterday I was melancholy. But I’m better now. I’ve got the whimsy.

If you were me this is what you’d see

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Welcome to the world I live in.

It’s like walking into a little studio with huge bay windows. The light streaming through is so soft that it makes the concrete floor seem romantic. In one corner of this studio are heaps of pretty fabric with a hundred textures and colors. Mounds of moist clay are piled in another comer. Deep buckets of paint sit in the third. Everything is so bright and alluring that you don’t know where to turn. The walls are clean and bare and you think “I could make this mine.” You want to paint the walls and turn the fabric into dresses and pillows and quilts, and make tea cups and vases out of the clay. You want to dip your whole arm in the bucket of paint because you love the heavy sinking feeling as it clings to your arm and drips off in heavy splotches, not all of which make it back into the paint can.

You are overwhelmed and excited by everything you’ve been given to work with, and start to run around to feel each piece. You jumps into the pile of fabric and pick out the white lace and cotton for curtains, the heavy teal for a couch cover, and then run over to your paint because maybe the colors won’t match. But then you remember the mushy an squishy clay and drop everything to run an grab a handful. You squish it in your hand and savor the cool, dark, smooth potential just sitting there. You want to make a vase but you don’t have a wheel to spin the clay. It starts to dry in your hand as you endlessly rework it, trying to reproduce the piece in your mind. You begin to hate the unforgiving lopsided lump in front of you. So you throw the clay down and go to make curtains because the light streaming in has gotten to bright. But you find you have no sewing machine, not even a needle, or thread, let alone a pair of scissors. So you rip into the beautiful fabric with your hands and teeth, and  you stuff it into the cracks in the bay window frame because, go figure, there’s not even a curtain rod. There is no paint brush, no easel, just the four walls around you. So you dip your hand into paint just to feel it, and you splash the walls just to find joy in color, just to have something to show for your time there, so that something seems to have been done with intention.

But then you look around,  it’s not the clean and calm room you saw when you first stepped into it. It’s not the beautiful and quaint room you envisioned when you saw all your beautiful materials laying in front of you. And now, because you were so hopeful and excited to make something, the room is a mess of paint splattered walls and floors. The pretty fabrics are caked with clay and flecked with paint. Everything is dirtied and you can’t bear to look at it. You can’t seem to reverse it. You flip from anger to frustration because you knew the potential and didn’t have the tools you needed to realize that dream. And then, all you can do is walk out the door and leave the mess behind you because the sight is so unbearably disappointing that if you look at it another minute you’ll go mad.
And then, after some time, you pass another little studio with pretty things on a concrete floor. You’ll tiptoe in cautiously, and convince yourself that this time it’ll be different. As you walk in, you’re so enthralled with the cotton and lace that you’ve entirely forgotten what happened before… and that you still don’t have any tools.