(4567)

  These last four installments of the series told me they’d prefer to be presented together. 

(4)

You were the fourth reason I went to Emerson. The first three were purely academic, and I honestly didn’t know you would be there until after I already got in. Plus they say college is where you find yourself, and part of finding myself was finding you.

(5)

You were the fifth student of mine that reminded me of a woman I met while backpacking in Southeast Asia years ago. But you reminded me of her the most. It wasn’t just your appearance, I think it was also the way you answered my questions the same way she would-with her own question at the end. You also seemed to have the same pattern of freckles on your chin. But the way you pulled at your ear when you were taking notes? That reminded me of me.

(6)

Your class was the sixth one I took on Eastern philosophy. I think you figured out who I could be when I used the phrase “carpe noctem” to explain the importance of balance in whatever culture we were discussing that day. It is because you are the one that taught it to my mother outside a hostel in Phuket. She describes that night as the night Latin was resurrected from the dead. She always tells this story when she’s making chai tea with bourbon, and it is always deep into the night.

(7)

One day, I found you in the seventh row of the classroom wearing my t-shirt.

And I instantly returned to a night with who I now knew was your mother. We had met at the ice machine on the second floor of a dirty little hostel in Phuket. She needed ice for her bourbon and I needed ice for my tongue from burning it on a gulp of chai tea. She had noticed the cup in my hand and motioned to it with her eyes before saying, “I’ll share if you do, looks like you need some of this…and I definitely need some of that.”

For 31 days straight we drank chai tea and bourbon through three countries together, until the night she went to the bathroom and never came back. The note she taped to the bathroom mirror only said, “Oliver-part of you will always be with me (I wasn’t kidding about stealing your high school baseball tee). Carpe noctem.”

I stopped you on your way out, “Olivia…that shirt-”

“It was my father’s,” you said.

 

 

 

 

 

(3)

For my Uncle Vinny

You never let us get away with not laughing for more than a few minutes at a time. Even if it was at the expense of you making an ass out of yourself. “Somebody has to,” you would say. You are why we are funny-the reason we learned how to make each other laugh is because of the strange language you taught our family. I just realized I know how each of our faces change and contort when we are cackling with wild abandon because of something you said, or did, or walked into the room wearing. I can see our nostrils flaring uncontrollably, our eyebrows reaching our hairlines, and our cheeks bunching up like swollen tomatoes.

When I think of you, you’re making that same face you make when you know you’re going to laugh before you can make it to the punchline. I see you squeezing your eyes and lips shut, holding up your index finger to tell us, “just give me a minute, it’ll be worth it.”

 

 

 

 

(2)

If we ever found a way to travel back to our earliest thoughts-do you know what yours would look like?

I remember seeing a picture of you at your mum’s house, you were probably only two, on the kitchen counter in the middle of five or so six packs of Budweiser. I wonder what you were thinking then. Were you thinking you were getting away with something big?

Because, in that picture, you’re making that same face you make when you drink the last beer in the fridge.

And you think I don’t notice. But, I do-and that’s why I hide an extra one behind the cashew milk.

 

Stories in the second person:a micro post series (1)

Everyday, for the next week, I’ll be posting a new micro post in the second person. I guess I just really like you. 

 

 

You never have a problem with trying the strange things I always want to try. Like hot yoga, which you knew I wouldn’t like, and I didn’t, or the time I switched to cashew milk. You didn’t even flinch when I wanted to try flax milk . But, that’s the thing about you, you let me figure out all by myself how stupid I am.

Is it stupid that this is why I like you so much?

Things I’ve been meaning to tell you:

  1. Paul and I got high on my stoop the other night and he told me this story about when he used to fly in helicopters with no doors on them. He said he stuck out as much of his body as he could when they flew threw a cloud. He said, “The cloud washed…cleansed, and moisturized me all at the same time.” I think that’s the answer to our question of why he’s always looking up at the sky.
  2. I haven’t thrown out your toothbrush yet. Not because I see it as “a symbol of our time together” or intend to use it or anything; I think I just like the way the colors on yours look good next to the colors on mine.
  3. I think about if you think about me
  4. ^And really wish I didn’t
  5. The other day I had this thought about how squirrels must view the world around them. Do you think some trees are more aesthetically pleasing to them than others? Like are one of the trees in the park the Taj Mahal of trees that make all the other trees look like a Super 8 motel?
  6. I realized I only like watching certain shows with you. I started watching them alone, but I kept turning to my left too much.
  7. You’ll never believe what Lena told me about Kreuler.
  8. Well, wait wait wait I should probably tell you about what we did last Saturday first.
  9. We went paint balling and Lena said she caught Kreuler making out with some chick behind the second set of tires near the middle of the arena. Remember when I was some chick who you made out with behind the second set of tires near the middle of the arena?
  10. I like myself a lot more since knowing you.
  11. I think about that one joke you made up and try and create similar ones because, maybe, one day I’ll share one with you and you’ll laugh just as hard as I did.
  12. I don’t think I got around to telling you (because I was probably scared) how smart and beautiful you made me feel. Thanks for that. You’ll always be the one that gave me that gift.
  13. I wonder if I made you feel smart and handsome. Did I?
  14. How’s basketball season going? I’ve been meaning to ask if you won your game last week.
  15. My room is still a mess. Are you surprised?
  16. I used your orange scented dandruff shampoo and I’m totally hooked.
  17. I’m not going to tell you any of this. I mean, I will…but I’ll probably hide behind fiction to do it.

Yes, I cried when I wrote this, and yes-it’s about you Sean.

People always find it strange how I remember certain things. Like how I remember the first time I saw you, and knew you were special and going to be important to me, and how I was right. You remember it differently, but I don’t mind, not at all, not even a little bit, because not everyone thinks the way I do. Most of all not you. We are the same in all the ways you claim, but there’s no denying we’re also the opposite. People have looked at us, noting our physical differences first, our opinions and politics second, and carefully cocked their head to the side as they asked the question, “How are you two even friends?”

The truth is, even I’m not entirely sure why. But, I know it has something to do with what we’ve learned from each other. You are always surprised by me and my stories, but I’m always continually surprised by you too. We feed each other that way. Through each others stories. Through the experiences we share with each other and the experiences we’ve had together.

I could bring up many of the nights I held your feet as you drunkenly squirmed into bed, or I could mention how many of my nights you lit up with fancy cocktails and dancing in dive bars. I could also say how proud I am of you, how lucky I am that you decided, somewhere along the line, that I was special and important too. I could even say that our very public arguments over business and politics didn’t make me mad but made me feel the most me I ever felt, or how our talks about the sad and the hard parts of our lives always made me happy. Because you always knew what to say-even if I yelled at you, and even if I pretended you were wrong.

I could, but I won’t because I’ll get too emotional and cry. You always bring up how much I cry. You tell everyone about the time I cried when I saw a small child embracing a small dinosaur, and still to this day don’t understand it. But you understand the part of me that brought me to those tears, and that’s all that really matters.

You won’t be able to call me to pick you up from a suspicious location anymore and then ask me get you chicken. But, you can still call me, and I will pick up, because I will miss you and will want to hear your voice. Because yours is the voice that brings me comfort and anger simultaneously, laughter and tears, and everything in between.

So, I’ll tell you again. You are special and important to me. I still don’t know all the reasons why, but that’s why you have to stick around, so we can figure it out-even if it takes the rest of our lives. Or, at least until you learn how to hem your own pants.

 

Tough Stuff

The patriarch is made up of motorcycle parts,

old and new batteries, black jeans and black t-shirts

He is where the echo of the family starts,

sewing each of our voices together in concert

***

Made up of the tough stuff of a turtle’s shell,

a fedora shaped crown, tomato’s blood, and radio wavelengths,

He is the magic one that rises from the ashes atop the citadel-

a reminder: where there is love there is strength

***

Our patriarch is made up of the worlds ancestors-

both plant and animal, both alien and human

He is our King, but wears the clothes of a Jester

He is the reason we hear the melody of life’s music

and dance to the rhythm of a family blooming

new to the neighborhood

At the corner of my new street was a stop sign with a sticker that read, “and smell the roses.” And you really could, because on that corner was the rose bush you pulled me out of.

You started laughing at me, but when you noticed I seem embarrassed, you reached down to your ankles and yanked up your jeans until they reached your knees.

“It got me too.”

We both started laughing, and you asked me if you could buy me a beer. I said no. Because I wanted to buy you a beer. I felt like I owed it to you anyway, and when you agreed, you said, “but if we end up having a good time, I get to buy you one too-you’re new to the neighborhood anyway right?”

Three doors down was a bar we would one day become regulars at, and I bought you that beer. And then you bought me one. We played pool and you did that horribly cliche thing where you stood behind me to teach me how to hold the stick properly, even after I sank three balls in a row. Then I taught you about how extra innings in a baseball game worked, because the Twins were playing on the TV by the bathrooms. Even though I’m sure you already knew,  you let me tell you anyway, and you asked questions, and let me rant all the way to the bottom of my pint.

Later that night we walked down the street that led us back to the rose bush. You stopped in front of it, hands in your pocket as you said, “I’m glad you fell in there.”

I was glad too but I couldn’t let you know it, so I pushed you in instead. Just so the score was even.

I eventually pulled you out, laughing madly until you said, “You’re a real thorn in my side.”

“You know, you’re jokes are just too thorny for me…”

Then you said something like, “Who are you anyway?”

“I’m just a girl standing in front of a bush, asking it to love her. Who are you?”

“The guy that planted it.”

Dear John

As a writer, there are few times it is hard for me to find the right words. I’m the family eulogy writer, the storyteller at Christmas dinner, the pretentious one that has memorized poetry. But, when confronted with the thought of writing something about John, I had a fear wash over that can only be described as nervousness. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to find the words to share with you, the reader, what this person means to me. So, here is my gallant attempt, my different kind of Dear John letter, my birthday gift to him:

There is a very memorable and significant moment I have when I meet someone I know I want in my life. With John, it was when he said hello to me in the main corridor of our high school. We had just spent a weekend together on a retreat, and this is where we first met. I called his name, he looked up and with undeniable swagger walked towards me. We hugged and I asked him for the 47th time since meeting him, “So how do you say your last name again?” He laughed and told me, “You’ll get it right someday.” Spelling it is a different story.

That’s when I knew he was special, a particular breed of human that has become rare. Such a small moment, but it’s one I often re-play when I miss him. Which is often.

***

I have always wanted a brother. A precocious only child, growing up I tried to be the son I knew my father wanted. I played baseball (not without a pink helmet-thanks mom). I worked in the garage. I tried to be the brother I wish I had. I never succeeded, but at fourteen I got something better-I got John. And my father finally got to meet his “son.”

John has done everything I dreamed a brother would do for me. He’s watched me fall in love with all the wrong people and shit talk them with me, get fat, listened to all my bullshit, and makes me dinner because I can’t cook for shit, and still, after all this “sisterly” annoyance, he’s still here. He gives me advice. He drives across the country with me and my parents to move me into a new house. He builds me a table for that house. This is the kind of person I’m talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t come without his quirks. Every time I go to his place, his bedroom is completely rearranged. He gets extremely excited by a nice filing cabinet. He over exaggerates words that end in “ch.” He really likes shirts with bicycles on them and always needs new shorts. But, when you realize all these things about a person, and they’re not annoying but endearing, you’ve found someone you love for who they are.

If you are lucky enough to have a John in your life, you’re doing pretty well. I have watched him become the man he is today-I’m so proud to call him a best friend, my future bridesman (because yes he will be on my side with me), and a brother. That’s a gift I’ll never be able to top.

So, that’s what John is to me, but I also need to share what John is to other people because it’s not just me that’s obsessed with him. In high school when he came out, I got to watch the lives he inspired. Because John loved and accepted himself, he gave others the inspiration to follow suit. He gave them a voice they didn’t know they could have. It was an honor to witness this. He also plans parties for milestone’s in his real sisters’ lives-right down to the tablecloths. John is known as a confidant which is why so many of his friends think to call him first when they need advice, a drink, compassion, a hand made sign (follow @foxhound_custom_builds to see what I’m talking about), a simple hug, etc. etc.  He is the definition of unconditional love, because, even when he tells me to “shut up and stop complaining,” he immediately bursts out in a crackly laugh and tells me he loves me. Everyone who has met him knows about the kind of love I’m talking about. And the people that don’t? They’re probably really shitty people.

***

Happy birthday to you John. I love you. I hope nobody around you ever takes you for granted because you’re the real deal. You care and give and give and give. I know, because you show me everyday how good you are. Thanks for sticking around.

226623_6327958156_2840_n This is the first picture we ever took together. We’re heinous.

The Anti-Muse

“My boyfriend sucks so bad, I don’t even want to marry him.” –one of my Uber drivers

The anti-muse is a character I’ve been playing around with. This is a person who does not, can not, and will not inspire you. But, you’re friends with them anyway. You date them anyway. You let them stick around, because, well, they are nice.

Nice is good. Nice isn’t enough though. We don’t need them in our lives, but that’s just the thing-we do need them. For comparison. When confronted with the juxtaposition of the muse and anti-muse things get a little clearer. You see the worth and value in the friend that made you laugh so hard at happy hour you snorted in front of the cute bartender. You remember how that girl in your Shakespeare seminar said the most curious things, and because of her, you actually read Hamlet all the way though. No sparknotes.

The anti-muse reminds us that we should always be searching for those particular individuals that inject us with splendor, because the alternative is pretty bland. And I’ve decided I don’t fucking do bland anymore. A good friend of mine recently said, “I’d rather you be annoying than do nothing.” What truth that statement holds. I would rather you be so wildly passionate about platypus breeding than not care about anything at all.