Take Another Look











{March 24, 2010}   more honesty

Mike tells me I’m going to break his heart because I expected the best of people and that it was true love and that nobody else did that. He says I don’t have any defenses against other people.  I’m not a hard person to break. Maybe a long time ago, when I felt I was treated carefully and preciously I would have kept things to myself, or respected Downey’s wishes not to write about him. But he can’t respect a single wish of mine. Not that he would ask what I wish for, or care. Now I am treated like tobacco that needed to be spit out of somebody’s mouth already. I can’t find words for the rush of pain. It is much worse than what happened with B, and I didn’t think it could get worse. I don’t understand this. I try not to understand, and I try to understand, and nothing dampens. I tell Mike that Downey told me he didn’t want to be the guy that hurt me, that he wanted to me my friend, that it was really important. I said Downey respected me, so he said, so it was. Mike sighed and told me that everybody lies like that. I told him it wasn’t true, that it couldn’t be true. I emphasized this and emphasized this. I told him that we slept together afterwords yet Downey told me it was my fault we had sex. I keep thinking that I am more patient because of what i went through with B, but perhaps I am less patient. I was willing to wait for three months of silence and ambiguity from B. But there is no way to wait for that with all of the “fluid” lies piled on by Downey. I thought I knew him. I think I do know him. I think that is what he hates the most. Is it possible some people don’t want other people to know how incredible they could be? Maybe they need to lock it away in a closet so that they can not feel bad when they don’t try to do anything good. That sounds extreme, never trying to do any good. But all I know is I followed what he said. I tried, and I tried. And he failed me more times I thought was possible. And I forgave. And forgiving seemed to be a bad thing. I don’t want to be a doormat. But when I got angry, he responded as if I had become the devil. I believed him when he said he wanted to be friends, how desperately important it was, how deep his respect for me was. I believed him….. I always believed him even when he didn’t come through. I even know I could go up there and show up and he would pretend… you can never know what is happening, but I told christina that I felt like a stalker. She laughed in my face and said how could you be a stalker? He told you that he wanted to stay close with you. He is acting the same way he did in the relationship, which is ignoring all calls. I told B in a text, “thanks for being my friend. I hate how I love. I hate how I love. ” I slept with B because the vortex inside me grew and grew. it was tender and right, but could I handle it?  I love B, he is a perfect friend to me in his own way, which is so different from what I thought a friend was, that our evolution has taken on some kind of supernatural mystery. But B has his own life, and there is no pushing for more. That is part of the built in friendship. I do know that I have stopped fearing that B will kick me out of his life because I will send him an overwhelming email. I might still have a slight fear that I’ve crossed the line, but every single time, he reminds me that it is okay, it is alright, it is “all good.” The problem? I still wanted Downey, who treats me like dogshit. I told him so long ago love meant sacrifice and I meant it, and I would have and did sacrifice so much for our relationship. Am I really such a masochist? I just keep believing that he can be who he was the first three months. I saw something, and everybody says I need to let it go. But friends believe in each other… I think this is getting overboard. I am trying to move on to the next phase of my life. But not receiving a word from him even when I am talking about his birthday present is such a slap in the phase i forget how to breath. Downey said I did nothing wrong. Why can’t we be together again? I don’t know why it is so hard for me to understand, or why I want somebody back that everybody says is so selfish. and I know he acts selfishly. So very selfishly. But I still miss something and I hate myself for that. For caring at all about somebody who dares to treat me like this. Without respect, without dignity, with total and utter silence as if I do not exist. So I keep apologizing to him for my existence. I don’t know what else to do. It is horrible. And he is doing exactly what he said he didn’t want to do. He is causing me more pain than anybody has ever caused me in my life. More than my mom. More than my sister. More than B did in 2003. Much, much more. But can pain be measured? I don’t know. All I know is that the pain only stops for short recesses. Perhaps I am exaggerating. James said I was stronger than him and Martin put together, and james is really strong. But Mike had a point. When mike got off the phone, we sat in silence for thirty seconds and the electricity pulled me. I cried out to Mike that I didn’t believe I would ever be made love to again in the same way. I didn’t use sappy words like “make love” because that isn’t me. I just said I didn’t think I could be physical with anybody again ever because I just didn’t see how it could happen anymore, no more, I couldn’t be touched because it wouldn’t be. It wouldn’t be who I had loved. I had been with many people and I had never felt that way- as if somebody was made to fit inside my body- and so it could never happen again, the rules of physics denied it. But something about the silence gave me hope. There was chemistry in the silence, and for a little while, the thought of Mike drowned out the pain. Even though I would welcome a life of solitude. I don’t care if I never have sex again. I never cared much for sex- (with exceptions like B and Mike.) I know I am biased but I wonder if the only person I really, really cared, more than cared, wanted, needed, and loved sex was with Downey, and he wants me to be dead. Or worse… he wishes I never existed. I feel like the only person who knows the real him… and accepts that he is a total hypocrite to the world. It’s okay.. and it’s not okay. I had something else to add, what was it? I haven’t been doing so well these last eight months, so I think that might be part of it. A lack of structure isn’t good for me. And I told him a million times that being ignored hurts me unreasonably so. I told Mike that me and Downey seemed to leave things at a point where we might get back together someday. Mike doesn’t say things like “Nicole you are breaking my heart.” He told me he was getting more cynical every single day. (Um…He also mentioned meditating.) But he said it the other day. I think somebody understood. It is compensation. Somebody understood. One person. But that is all that mattes. One person understood something. Oh, darling Mike, thankyou for understanding, even if it was for a second.



{March 15, 2010}   Seattle

“You want a sleeve, dahling?” the barista says in his metro sexual tone of voice. I show him the tip of my brown sweatshirt. “Sleeve,” I repeat harmlessly. He reacts with a quaint mixture of how cute with it’s Seattle so it’s romantic and cool. Seattle is like Paris but instead of being about young love and young promise, it is about youth, illusion, and hardship. The promises broken, the naiveté shed, the days that repeat endlessly because you want your love to be more than a song. The hard edges come out, but the metal is the color of a hundred rainbows folded over on top of one another. Too many visions for it to come together. Graffiti too dense to wash over. The mixture is complete. Nodding Off Guy sits in a corner with his creepy stare, his jaundiced skin, and his battled veins. I’ve seen his face around these streets since I was twelve. Two asian girls sit with their calculators dedicated on solving a problem. A man with glasses and shorts and a big mug sits, wearing cache shorts that seem age inapropirate with his thin grey hair as he eyes a magazine, his square glasses stating “I must be an editor of something unimportant but recognized by a small number of people.” A woman of mixed descent wears a scarf and listens to music, her head going up and down. A girl sits on a couch surface, her toes curled up, reading The Stranger and cuddling up inside herself. Just another sunday night, the end to a start of a week. An old man with a hat sits down next to Nodding Off Guy and makes it his night to stare around observing everybody. The baristas do a quick sweep of the room. I remember the last time I was here, my friend saying “what a mix, oh, what a mix.” The music sings in a honey tone, edging everybody on with the lyrics “I feel good,” the song “I Got you” by James Brown.  I can almost feel Janis Joplin in this song but this music is celebration, and there isn’t enough edge for there to be a Janis song. Instead of “can’t do you no harm” she’d be singing “Oh you do me harm, and it feels good, what should I do?” This whole city is beating, it is a heart, it has veins all over the place, veins it doesn’t know what to do with. Veins that are blocked by cholesterol, veins that are blissed out by needle pricks filled with speed or heroin or both. Anything to speed up the mixture of colors. The city says, do it, do it now before you lose the chance. It is the place to lose everything because the next morning you won’t know what hit you or what you lost. The chances, they build up on you like drops on a flower until the flower falls over and the water hits the ground, splattering onto the sidewalk. There is too much color, not enough production. Too much possibility, not enough opportunity. Too much talent, not enough agents. Too much risk, not enough safety. There is a big divide. There is no stealth here, and everybody pretends to be a star. Everybody is young, and everybody can dress how they want. Everybody is immune to judgement, and nobody speaks to each other unless that person is giving you your coffee jolt. Only when you work as a barista do you learn about the people around you. And then you find that they need your inane small talk more than they need their java. You ask them how they are and they erupt. But ask the same person how they are when they are alone, cornered in their space, reading the paper or eyeing the room, and they will guffaw and find another chair. It’s just the way of the city. Don’t approach unless you are below 21 or can pass for 21, or are in the company of somebody who floats like an It-Girl butterfly, attracting party flavor energy everywhere you go. Putting everything into 3-d if need be, or giving everybody orange glasses to see the world from. People need limits, you hear? Just tell them to see it from one shade and you will be the babysitter that helps them as they travel within this acid trip, trying to make something of themself.



{January 6, 2010}   No word for No, ever…



I looked around the place where he no longer lived. It was strange to see the things he had touched. Why was it so hard to remember his smell? Memories did not come when I chose them to come to me. They came randomly or listlessly. I often thought that I had brought them to me, that there was a kind of sense being played out. I tried to make sense of what could not make sense. There were messages where he said he hoped his mindset was not destroying our relationship. Was his self-awareness extended enough to later remember saying that? I’d never known somebody so intimately. Simultaneously I yet felt so lost. Every time I used to dial his digits, I didn’t know what kind of mood calling him would inspire. Before he got on the phone, I could be in one of a hundred of different moods. And there were so many shades of beauty he missed out on when he didn’t answer. Sometimes it seemed like he answered only when I was not in the right mood to talk. But I persisted to call even when the mood was bad, if only to connect. And still, I didn’t know what disconnection meant. All those things I did not know but could see and hear and feel pounded on my door and chased at my nights. It held me captive, the thing I could not know. The space that we did not share was where I kept trying to break in. I wasted time trying to pound that place open. I think he saw me there and pretended not to. I think he saw me and it’s what made him want me to go away. But he wanted me to stay, too.

Occasionally my heart would leap out of my throat as the phone kept ringing. This especially happened when I sent him emails I could not retract. My words were like bullets meeting their target, but I never thought I was a good marksman, and I always assumed I had not been heard, because nobody heard me in my youth. I thought I was wildly scattering fire because I needed an outlet, because he wouldn’t let me communicate in words anymore, and when I couldn’t communicate in words I tried touch, but he had long ago banished communication from entering any realm we inhabited. I loved him so much I could not breathe and I hated myself for a weakness that he seemed to hate. I let words be more decisive than I was but I did not know what words were doing. I could not see things the way he did. If he had changed, how much had I changed? I later was able to see things in a logical way, but unfortunately, I wanted to share that with him too. Was there ever going to be a time when I didn’t want to share things with him? All of my friends kept saying he didn’t give a shit about me, that he was not right, and they pointed at my checkered judgment to prove it. Their words either pushed me closer towards him or farther away. But I never knew where he was. The longing to know possessed me. It became more important than finding my way. The uncertainty came in waves. One week I was both irritated with myself for stirring up trouble and speaking what I thought was pure logic, but I was most irritated with him for not responding and causing more uncertainty, which in turn caused me to try to ignore what was going on too. I felt free, as if the bullets had freed me in some way. And yet there was only silence on his end. I tried to imagine a life without all the pain he’d caused, but that also meant a life without the pleasure. I cursed him in my mind for the parts of himself he hid from me over and over again, especially since it was getting worse. Or so it seemed. I tried trusting his judgment, but it cast me astray because I could not know the full picture. I tried trusting my judgment, but it was full of holes. I tried trusting the piercing howl of anguish that came over me like a shod of electric shocks. The shocks did not dissipate. And then they quietly left for a while, and I peeked around uneasily. Again, had I trusted my friends more than me?

I looked in the mirror and held my gaze firmly. I was attractive. He didn’t tell me that much. Was that something I liked about him? All those things I attacked, they’d also drawn me to him and now I was blaming then forgiving him for qualities that he had always had but that I kept discovering anew. One time he said I was blaming myself, but when the tears came I was restless that he couldn’t turn over and face me, wipe the tears off my face, kiss me and assure me. I thought that was all I needed but what did I know about need, after all was said and done? I needed so much for that one gesture to be in there somewhere but I felt like an unwanted occupant taking up space next to him, neither mattering nor not mattering. Why didn’t he wake up in the night and randomly whisper things to me? Why was he so effusive, so cold, so habitual in all of his tendencies? Was this a particular tactic to get me to leave or to stay? I could not accept that he could not take on my love except in his own form. I had to see it in my own way. And my own way was so stripped and naked he seemed secretly at a loss. I was at a loss, too. I didn’t know what I could stand to lose. It was strange to believe somebody when they only spoke their thoughts once, then never repeated them. The most important things were unswayable and I latched on to what could not be said like a tiger and her prey. I knew my capacity to love was too large. I had to hide it. It was too much. I was too much. But he was confusing me again. I didn’t belong anywhere.

Maybe he wasn’t really dead. Maybe he had created this house for me as a place to think he had left. But no that was just hope talking. Did I hope I could forget? I think I was scared that I hoped that I would never have to stop breathing in his fumes, his embrace. But I also wanted to be unfettered. I would never trade freedom for security. Except in small items, one by one, the hook sunk into me as into a fish. I could not rely on any one belief, nor could I rely on what the whole picture said. No wonder I was so filled with yearning for him to take me to some cold place and quietly disembark my contradictions with the soft taste of spring water. So he could fill my thirst with something that was cleansing. I did not expect to feel my face burn in a flash of indignation, nor for my hope to give way to a shy but fierce awkwardness. And if it did he had to be there to make it better, and when he wasn’t, I wondered if I didn’t know who he was, and this thought despaired me the most of all. I had to assume everything was a lie if I was to try to follow the trail backwards, to know how far I had come and from where.

Good or bad. Had he been good or bad for me? Why was the house vacant? If he came home he might find me here, still standing and waiting for him to appear. Or he might find me tapping on the table, impatient and ready to coil with a wave of questions. Or still, I might be calm and still, simply wanting that lucidity I felt I deserved. I’d thrown too much and now could not wait. I was walking around in my own cage and feeling deserted all the time if only for my own issues with abandonment. But there was more to it than that, and it was what incensed me to not give up. I wanted to start from a blank slate, I had said, without realizing I was eroding the latest of floors that he had started working on. I kept breaking things and he kept trying to protect me until I was floored to discover that my hammer had a safety valve on it that I couldn’t undo. I used the safety valve as a hammer instead. All the while, my own sense of isolation drummed at me like a pulse. I knew I could live without him, but when he was there I felt like I could not live without him at all. I didn’t understand how things could be so different when he was there and when he was not. Was he the only one making an impact on things? It seemed nothing I did impacted him after a while. Which was why the house looked unaffected by my presence.

Damnit, I had desensitized him. With my words, I had made my moods too indistinguishable so that he was so used to a flourish of ten pages that it made no difference to him when I tried other tactics. I had already poured so many paint colors in there it made no difference when I used white-out. I feared nothing would make the difference. I would have called an “Inaction Hotline” to see if that would fix things but there wasn’t any Inaction Hotline for me to go to and I could not refrain from acting. Whether it was calling or forgetting or thinking or trying not to think, I had no finality. Even in asking for it, did I really expect to get it? I gave up on my ability to use words further. I was sending him two messages. I love you and I hate you or I don’t know, do you know, and I had sent it too many times. And we were tired, so tired. I was tired of doubt, and he, no doubt, was sick of reassurance. He had no more to offer me because in one click, I erased my own message but not the internet footprint it left behind.

I was furious when I found out that the messenger service was so flawed. Why couldn’t my love be greater than my hate? I suppose it was, but when the stain of blood entered the picture, the sense of timeline was lost. What did I know about endings anyway? There I was saying he was ending things all the while asking for a beginning or a new one anyway. The first one was good enough, but I wanted a repeat I guess. Please, I’d just wanted to make things better, that’s why this all started in the first place! I wanted it to be getting better and I was a self-improvement kit I felt he never used. He must have felt like everything he said went on deaf ears after the contradictions were sent out like nuclear warning strikes.

My heart felt like it was locked up inside, and my thoughts felt like they were crying against my skull to get out. I felt like if he could only hear me he would understand, he would understand. I had to believe that. Don’t you see why I had no choice but to believe that?



et cetera