Riley Ferver is Going to Save the World. (or, it isn’t going to be a bedroom time machine)
For Ellie. You will find it. You will, you will, you will.
It has come to my attention that every young person in a certain stage of life must experience some capacity of willing displacement in order to keep themselves alive. Children join scouts and go camping; it satisfies them. My mother incessantly quotes Eat, Pray, Love while laughing at the idea of her friends on Disney Cruises. We paint our lives in such a way that they look open, whether that be to adventure or hope or beauty, or maybe all of it, and then we hold off from the act of experiencing it for as long as we can. After all, how many garishly memoir experiences can one life hold? Don’t we want to do it right? If you’re going to find your “it,” after all, wouldn’t you want a perfectly timed sunset in the distance and every word of a prewritten New Yorker Arts and Culture piece flowing from it? We practice calculated restraint until it nearly kills us.
When I first saw the city I was nineteen years old. It was May and it was muggy and thick. I took my ultimate joy from the idea that I was running away and even if somebody had half the mind to care, they couldn’t stop me. I wore a lacey top and shorts I’d altered from a pair of my father’s old jeans. I’d begun taking a liking to the way my body treated clothes like a swimming pool. Through lack of choice, my nineteenth summer had determined itself to be the sort of period in a young person’s life very suited for baselessness, and in that I wanted every part of me to match. My internship had fallen through. The reasons were well enough beyond my control that I could blame God, so I did. Prayer was never a concept I could fully grasp–the act of speaking to an enclosed space felt mocking towards the mortality I hadn’t asked for–and despite my best effort to muster up my courage and do the damn thing, I didn’t seem to have it in me to approach God face to face. A bus ticket cost six dollars, though; I had a friend who had an empty apartment and a couch. If nothing else I figured my nihilism and I might enjoy the Smithsonians.
The question of why we leave, why we must, is one I have asked rather persistently, one I’ve attempted and failed repeatedly to loosen my grapple on. Ellie was leaving, this I knew with certainty, that when I moved back into school her apartment would not be her apartment, rather one overtaken by characters foreign to me. I knew she was not coming back, never fully, but it was also never my plan to stay either, so how could I of all people be a hypocrite? I’d read Aristotle, about motion and animals. I thought maybe I could be one of the smarter girls in my class, set apart, taking a small chair at a table that seats one, lecturing to a wall painted with faces. I knew my family would love me, but I knew they didn’t know what to do with me. School would start again eventually. Ideally, Ellie would call, but I wasn’t too naive to know there was a likelihood that she wouldn’t. She left because the city got lonely. I leave because I want that. Better, I assume, to shed singularity among the masses, where there may be some sliver of hope for connection. I figure cities walk a tightrope of humanity: it’s one thing to be independent and another thing entirely different to be truly and thoroughly alone, but worse even to be alone enough in the way I was, thinking that you must be the first person in the universe to experience an emptiness quite this vast…after all, I thought, if I wasn’t, how is anyone still here? All this to say I’m writing about summer and loss in the same way that I always do. I’m also feeling rather wordy, so this is the time to dig out the cheap wine. Drown yourself. It’s chalky at the bottom.
Contextually speaking, I did not come into the summer dreaming of a grand exit. Despite personal denial surrounding my return to the hometown I swore I would, in fact, never be returning to, there were attempts made to aestheticize the experience. I took my leftover pills from school by the water at night and wrote bad poetry once they hit. I hid alcohol under my mattress only to promptly dig it out and drink it all, rapidly. There were halfassed job interviews, forty thousand step days, antique stores, whathaveyou. People talk about regression, but coming back is more of an Eden: a sudden, unprompted nudity. No matter who you are, who you may have turned into, if you were a lonely child, still you will be a lonely adult. So, as it was with most lonely children, I decided the crown jewel and singular redeemable trait of my town to be the library, and my sole task for the summer was to read the physics section in its entirety. It was one shelf. Singular.
Youth is plagued with the notion that they can be the one to save the world, each one individually. Most people can medicate themselves out of that. I could not, though I have tried rather copiously. I say this so you will know that never did I actually think I could build a time machine. I said I’d try, but I’m not even sure that was the goal. I’d like to sleep through summer, yes, but my answer to that wasn’t forward motion. I wanted to go back. I’d read enough memoirs to know that devastation, utter isolation can be aided but never cured. Why move forward, save for the fact that there was nothing else to do? Why go forth into the wreck willingly? Why not relive it again, and this time do it right?
Theoretical physicists have for years debated the possibility of moving backwards. Particle accelerators make it so, in theory, we should be able to move forward (with recognition that we’d be stuck in whatever future we travel to) but there seems to be no scientific, logical way to move to a set past. I had a lack of dedication to the cause. I discovered the same thing that every scientist in the past hundred years has: there is a missing link. We don’t know what it is. I read the books and returned them and slept for three days, waking up to sob over the phone to Ellie. “I am grieving so much.” I couldn’t enunciate the extent at which she was a part of that. The next day, I printed the time machine equations and put them in the chest under my bed. I packed a bag of clothes and a book about space travel. It wasn’t going to be a bedroom time machine, it could be Mars or a city of similar volume. I left.
It’s a very good thing to be young and in a city, I think especially when you’re poor. I suppose everyone does it once, whether they mean to or not, but I held my consciousness of the whole grand scheme in a very high regard simply because I knew exactly what I was doing and I was doing it with a very calculated purpose. I thought of what I’d tell my father, if he ever chose to call: I figured it must be making me smarter or more interesting or prettier, because every girl here had the kind of look to her where you know that if her degree falls through, modeling may have been the more viable option anyway. I texted my friend, “everyone is so kind here,” and she called me, confused. “The men in the street call me differently than the ones at home.” I’m not stupid, but I am gentle enough to be mistaken as such. Anyway, it’s all a novel kind of lostness until you look down from the apartment balcony and watch, as your vape clears, two people fistfight in the alley below. The neighbors downstairs are fighting. Somebody’s screaming and you can’t place any odds.
I have yet to find a home. It’s been a theme and it will be one. But what I can find are places. This is to announce that I spent thirty minutes entranced on the second floor of the Air and Space museum. Yes, I cried at the planets, because everyone does, but the space suit made me numb. Thirty minutes I stared. What was it–something about the way an empty fabric body bag had seen more of the world than anyone gaping at it ever could? I couldn’t help but ogle, let my mind linger at what Neil Armstrong must have thought coming back to earth. How can you come back after seeing so much? Is there a way to come back or forever will I be stuck feeling as though I grew out of something? Can a person grow out of their world, the whole world? I went back to the apartment late and applied to a space camp on a whim, hoping they didn’t see timestamps on applications. Alabama. I’d been a camp counselor before, it wasn’t too far a cry. I’m not the kind of person who could stay in the South forever, I know this. But I’m not the kind of person who can stay anywhere. I figured I’d never left the east coast–it wasn’t going to be a bedroom time machine or a trip to mars or the sheets I’ve had since I was eight and I couldn’t couchsurf forever either–for two months, it could be Alabama. It wasn’t not a space suit. It could be Alabama.
You know how this is going to resolve itself. If you are reading this essay, you know I’m not going to get it and you want to see how that plays out, even if that may be a bit morbid. Instead I’m going to do that thing writers do–you’ll curse at me–but I’ll tell you that when I was eleven, I decided it was my destiny to be a singer. I couldn’t yet play guitar, but I figured out how to arrange my fingers so they mirrored a melody, wrote five songs and a letter to my parents and church leaders apologizing for leaving, but I really had to go. I put my dolls in a box at the top of my closet, sat on my bed, and sobbed. I took the box down. I brushed my hair. I still have the letter and it’s probably best that I never went ahead with my plan. I can’t really sing.
One summer ago, fresh into adulthood, I bullshitted my way into a ticket to Alaska with a church choir. The idea of seeing the world and saving it seems synonymous to me, likewise seeing the world and it in some way saving me. I think there is something unexplainable so intrinsically wrong with me, and if there is no God, if there is nothing, there is still the world; if I am still here I can still be saved. I thought Alaska would take that place. The vision was something along the lines of me lonely on a mountain, screaming my problems into the open air as I hiked up, coming down empty and free. I guess I should have prayed more, or not used the words bullshitted and church in the same sentence: the point is I got covid seven hours before the plane took off. I cried until I slept, and I slept three days until I woke back up to mourning. It’s a party story now until I’m drunk. If I’m drunk I’ll still swear it would have fixed me. So no, I wasn't shocked when I didn’t get space camp, if not only because summers and I seem to have a sort of track record. I did not grieve. I stole the keys and some hair dye, stained the shower and cleaned it, and then I went outside and thought about killing myself again. I called Ellie. I read myself poems and smoked and gagged down the side of the balcony. I went inside. The red around my eyes settled before my friend even woke up and I waited another day to tell her.
But I was in the city. I could not grieve inside. I smoked every square corner of the wharf, waiting twenty minutes for a swing chair and proceeding to not move an inch from it all day. I caught my reflection in a boat mirror and was shocked by my brightly dyed hair, my face losing its childlike puff. Adulthood had gotten up and shaken my hand and stricken me across the face with the other arm. I looked away from the water, in fear. I looked just like anyone else. A parent pulled their child away from my secondhand smoke, a man attempted to seat himself next to me. He may have been kind but I was no longer safe, not to or from anything. Later that night on the phone I whispered to Ellie, “I’m not going to save the world.” It was the first time I’d ever told the truth on the matter and it tasted like vomit on my tongue.
Ellie cleared her throat. “I know. But I think there should be something that means more to you–for you–than that.” And I couldn’t tell you every word after even if I wanted to, but I remember how her voice got, subtly quieter and steadying. I will tell you the world cupped me in its cracked hands and the city lights were dim and flickering, car horns blared, people screamed. It was a place. Anywhere was just a place. It wasn’t going to be here, and maybe it wouldn’t be anywhere at all. The only thing acting as a savior had ever been me, constantly, unknowingly moving myself forward. A body is the only time machine, and constantly I am putting myself in drive and considering slamming the brakes. I am not a Christ. I am a nineteen year old girl who is losing the ability to play pretend.
Ellie asked me where I was. I told her I wouldn’t do anything rash. I still don’t know exactly how she meant the question–I find my travels so frequent and unsurprising that I forget to give updates. I’d been in the city for nearly a week, and time had moved so strangely it could have been a month. I remembered but an hour.
My sadness is senseless, quite honestly. I may be the only person I know who runs away with this frequency. I also know that when you’re running, things get blurry. It isn’t fair to wish the world would slow so I could see it but I’m going to wish it anyway. I’m going to wish that when I’d moved out a summer ago I packed my room in full so there was nothing to feel bad that I couldn’t go back to. I wish I could sit. I wish I’d said better goodbyes to people, right now to Ellie. She’s pensive, very thoughtful. I know she’ll be fine and likely happier. I know this wouldn’t have mattered any more or less but I wish I could have said goodbye sober, looked at her and told her to be safe. Cities can be dangerous. I know she’ll be safe. I still wanted to tell her to be safe.
In a lot of ways I grieved, I grieve, myself. There is a lot I could have been, or at least I imagined so. I spent the earlier part of my teen years feeling caged and now the latter part rebelling. I feel like somewhere there is a middle ground and if I find it, there I'd find me too, much older. I haven’t met myself in a while. I don’t look in the mirror much. I’m a size small and I don’t like what I weigh. I wonder constantly how unattractive I must look, nicotine in some form dangling off my lips like a pacifier. Nineteen is a giant toddler, so selfish, so aware.
I spent most of what I think deep down I knew were my last couple days in the city in that same spot on the wharf. Retrospectively I’d like to be the kind of person that thinks it’s sweet that even in the busyness of the area surrounding me that spot was always open, but I think it was probably just the fact that nobody else had any desire to sit in the direct sun. I walked around, realizing I’d picked up lyrics and street signs and I grow into things fast. I could get around the city with relative ease. It wasn’t shiny, it wasn’t anything. It was a city, and I wouldn’t see it for the first time again in many years. Neil Armstrong and Ellie and the city and me–every story is the same, every aftermath unspoken.
There is so much I’m going to experience, so many people I’ll meet and so much I’ll lose, and maybe that’s all life really is. Maybe that is the culmination of youth, why it hurts so bad. I am watching all of these lanes converge into one, but the loss and the gain don’t ever fully cancel each other. I’ll get back to school and meet people and miss Ellie. I will love my family but live with the inability to live with them, refuse affection from my mother but want to plead with her to give me a chance, people think I’m nice. I will not eat dinner but my friend will make two servings in case, call me and tell me she’s waiting. I’ll try not to forget my cigarette butts. I’ll try to move quickly so her food doesn’t get cold. This place and all of its tourists–slow goddamn walkers.
Every city is a small city if you’re expecting something to stay vast, and the anticipatory nervousness surrounding it is not a friend that lingers. You will get lonely. You will want humanity again. Likewise, every man is just a man and I am just a girl without a frontal lobe. The city didn’t bore me but as July approached with its vapidity, I began to experience the nostalgia that comes with comfortability in a place: I missed the smell of cheap detergent. I applied for positions in the town where my parents lived. It was time. There was a desire to see the space suit again once more before I left, but I never got to it. Knowing how novel emotion is, though, that may be for the better. I never said I was going home. The whole point is that there is none. But in the way that I can catch a cheap train and sell all my clothes, the ways in which I am young and summers will stay long and dire, if it kills me, I will find it. I will, I will, I will.
So in this, there isn’t a conclusion, no definitive answer so long as I’m alive. This isn’t another essay about killing myself, but it isn’t exactly not. I’ll keep on going if I can, for as long as I can, growing as old as I can bear to. Maybe someday I’ll sit somewhere and realize I’ve grown up from nineteen: my “photos” and “baby photos” folders all convoluted and all the things I’ve seen will have montaged themselves into a sort of unreadable humid mist, every kitchen the same unreflecting stainless steel. I might not remember it, but I hope I see a lot. I hope the beauty, the knowledge of it, doesn’t fade too quickly. That will be enough. Now it’s enough. Maybe it’s all that ever has been enough.
Um. Hi. It's been a minute.
I don't really come here anymore, at this point I feel like I'm a bit old and it's all a bygone from an era that I've successfully lived, loved, and love still, but don't feel the need to re-enter. Something I've found about writing is that there is no poet like a sixteen year old girl and I've mourned that fact heavily. Every so often though, I'll write a piece (like this one) and remember how at sixteen or seventeen I would have anticipated comments and critiques for it. So please comment. Critique.
I turn twenty this year (crazy.) I'm getting a degree. After that I'll probably get another one. I'm trying to be a professor, for whatever that life update's worth, and I focus most of my time on mathematical philosophy. If I knew you, I love you. If I have yet to know you, hi. I'll probably take this down in a few days. I don't know if anyone will see it, I don't know if anyone's still here but I'll use my old tags and be curious. Maybe there'll be something else posted like this someday, maybe not, but everything else will stay here. A relic. It's a pleasure to be young.
flowerpower learns about the origin of the universe
everyone always thinks i’m talking about god.
i’m starting to think his image is just too similar to flower’s,
form too invigoratingly passionate and
i just don’t know what i believe in sometimes so
i’m screaming about hands gripping
plasma membrane screens like toddlers trying to keep safe,
the phantom press of her body leaning into mine.
whispers “this is what i’m here for.”
watching hair fall staticy onto the back of her
abyss colored sweater and how her high top
laces have to wrap around her ankles to keep her in her shoes.
i ask flowerpower if she believes in anything external
and she says yes, love, but she doesn’t say what it is.
we’re digging through storage bins at her dad’s place
looking for posterboards. thirty-one out and icy.
we don’t want to walk to the store.
i ask flowerpower what the bloody hell she’s even doing,
what science project is worth this much trouble,
not just accepting a fail and moving on and
you already got into college; i ask flowerpower
what she’ll even report on this late.
her perfume smells like frustration and the density of hollister
polos, how you wait for them to cut off blood flow to your chest like
seeing your best friend in a jessica rabbit costume on halloween, but
everything around us is science, she says.
she points to a spider on the wall and i back up.
it is science. i am science. you and me and the spider and the ocean
and that’s pretty encapsulating too. if that’s all there was i’d believe in
things so much easier, wouldn’t you?
flowerpower does her project on the lid of a
rubbermaid and says that’s the grittiness of being nowhere…
the way we’d walk for miles in summer and be in the same town, the way we’re
trying on each others clothes and the vulnerable practice of
cinching and swallowing and disagreeing on who’s who in it.
letting her tags brand me with each letter
spelling out on my flesh: i am your best
friend. this is my memoir of loving things deeply and leaving them,
prying pasts like leeches.
flowerpower comes home three weeks later with a c+ and
cusses loudly like a god that no teacher would care that the project filled her.
she grabs me and swings us around on the breaking wooden porch
letting it dig into my feet. ground me, i want to plead.
let me be grounded. let me stay.
she points to the ocean. you see that?
you see it?
you know it’s all there is?
On Ms. B and Aching for Love
It snowed, heavy. The kind of snow that covers the earth and leaves roads slick and me wondering if summer has ever actually happened and if it will ever happen again. I am a summer person. I tell this to my friends and family; I live by the beach, I am a summer person. Cause and effect. I wasn’t born here but the water, it’s so encompassing. Despite my attempts to meander into fall or spring, this life, this town, that godforsaken warm weather season has seeped into my veins.
My beach is a dirty beach. Last summer the sand was covered in cicadas, littered like clothes on a bedroom floor. When they all washed away, it was still dirty. The scents of sex and day-old perfume linger in the air all seasons. The water is filled with sewage and assorted waste from the nuclear plant down the street. Warnings are posted on every tree to "swim at your own risk" and I always swear I’ll never go in but still somehow I find myself wading up to my shoulders on a rare July day when it’s too hot to do anything else. I like to go so far out that I’m only a little blip of light, that the water soaks through the cutoff patterns of my jean shorts, curling them up and tattooing them onto my skin. I always have a farmer's tan in summer, no matter how consciously I try not to. That water is frozen over now and the path is unshoveled. I feel oppressed. I feel safe. I want to go back and keep inching toward the sun.
I had a teacher once who said I burned like a Southern girl’s first winter North. I think about her constantly, about those words and how my state won’t get claimed by the North or the South, how nobody wants the middle. Because of this, I have spent the eighteen years of my life trying to sway to one side of things, trying to corral myself. I am a summer person. I walk towards the big star. I wonder if when my old teacher looks up, she remembers me. My family listens to my findings and they tell me to go outside, clear my head for a while. The snow is fun, they say. I remember I am three in a family of five. A perfect middle. Passion, my teacher told me, is a burning that takes the shape of ice.
So: it snowed, heavy, and will snow again in a day, but while the roofs on my street melt into the first drops of this season’s baywater, I will at least try. I go out, letting the shoveled piles swallow me up. Farther, farther into the distance and suddenly I am nothing but a tiny blip. The snow melts through my leggings, freezing them onto my legs, and I think about what it might take to crawl out of this perfect dragging rhythm I have. Would anyone really notice? Would anyone really care?
moon song by phoebe bridgers // senior picture weekend
I've built my whole life around constructs. I know this because on Saturday, I wore my first crop top for senior pictures and told myself this is momentous. I paired it with black jeans and a blazer and waited for someone in my immediate family to call me the w word but they didn't. All I got was a tense and silent ride to a beach I could have walked to anyway. My aunt does call me a republican though, and I think about that a lot. I am not that. I am not a republican. Sometimes, however, I am that word, the w one. I’ve given up trying to reclaim that word, so it sticks to me like a scarlet letter, the reason I can’t babysit the board members’ kids. Blame it on my blatant disregard of the fingertip rule that started when I was twelve, blame it on my love of beautiful things, but I think it’s just that fundamental wrongness people seem to find in me and my mind and my age. Sometimes, by the way, I am that. Sometimes I am my age, I am eighteen. Sometimes I wear beautiful clothes and look sophisticated, sometimes I do normal things like get senior pictures taken and wonder if I’m beautiful. I eat soft serve ice cream with my best friend and her mother who is an almost famous photographer and talk about my town and the weird names I give to places. I have a magic fridge store. I have a stab station. I have a crop top.
My second outfit was a short plaid skirt and a t-shirt and tights. I got home and was looked at like an alien. Sometimes I am fourteen again, looking into windows that I can afford but not buy from in a shop in a city that’s been “shrouded in sin” since before my conception. I was taken to the city when I turned fourteen. My mom thought I’d hate it but I didn’t. So sometimes I am that, sometimes I’m generally disappointing as a person. It is so hard to live in my body, in my world. You didn’t hear that from me, but oh my God, please believe it. It’s so hard.
And my senior pictures are probably amazing, they are probably masterfully taken and edited and I am so lucky that I know someone who is so good at capturing things. I can’t help but ask myself though--when I see them will I know who she captured? I never recognize myself in pictures. I’ve always seemed to go missing. I am not myself trying to be the person my parents want me to be. I don’t know how to be myself in the things I do alone. When I get home, I get yelled at for spending money on photographs of myself and I am a narcissist because I can look at myself preserved like that for a period of time and two hours later, someone slips a brownie under my door but I don’t eat it and I don’t come outside. I know it isn’t the killer, it’s just the one who left and came back. They always come back, don’t they? I go for a walk around midnight and don’t take my phone.
On Sunday I’m not eighteen or beautiful. I wake up in the clothes I went out in and don’t change out of them and my mother is still back but she’s hiding and my father is working to afford something that won’t complete him and I begin to wonder if Saturday even happened. But it did. My friend is back at college and I know this because she texts differently at college then she does when she’s home. My brother says he is starving to death and there’s no food in the house. God damn it!, I want to shout and I want to leave but I don’t because he’s a kid and my sister’s a kid and I’m not, so I fish a flannel out of my closet and send them to friends’ houses to beg for snacks while I walk to the store. It is the only moment I will ever get to be alone. I buy bread and apples and fill out the FAFSA on my phone in the frozen dinners aisle. Sometimes I am thirty-six and doing this, most days I am thirty-six and I have a twelve and ten year old and I am dying of some unknown disease that turns out your insides and wrinkles up your face prematurely. I have done absolutely nothing productive since the summer and I will probably never be selfish like that again.
The cashier flirts with me and makes obscure references to my shirt. I say “how are you?” and he says “it’s another day in paradise.” And he says this to probably everyone who asks, but I want him to know I’m in love with him because he said it to me. I want to ask him how he got over not being the person he wanted. I want to ask him if maybe we can hang out. But he is eighteen and I don’t remember that I’m not actually thirty-six. I wonder if he has only ever been one age or if he doesn’t believe in constructs. I want to scream ARE YOU LIKE ME but I don’t want to scare people so I leave. A boy scout walks up to me and begs me to buy popcorn so he can go camping. He is freezing and alone and four and I am freezing and alone and aging rapidly and I’m so damn done so I overdraft for him. I wonder if this is how it is, if I will always be this terrible product of what I’ve come from. I wonder if my skin will fall off before I stop giving myself up for people. I get home and the kids aren’t back yet so I let myself stand in the shower for fifteen minutes and I pull on my crop top again and run my hands through my hair, wishing I’d preserved the curls I had earlier for just a little extra time. I wonder if it’s okay to miss so much you’ve never had. I wonder if it ever goes away.
but if jesus is still
awake i wonder if he'd tell me
at what age
he disconnected his
gmail from his dad's
and if it came out of a place of
anger or if he just turned eighteen
one day and decided to
change his password.
but if he stays up late like i do, i'm
already feeling this sense
probably not the latter.
when i was nine years old i
crashed my grandmother's laptop.
do you think she remembers this
she searches for youtube?
probably not, but i do.
i've written the same ghost
story book over and over again, it's
i'd steal from the scholastic
book fair and hide; it's
the childhood bible
that i never picked up.
have my parents ever thought that maybe
their child is mad at them?
is everyone's heavenly daddy
immune to this, am i
the system error? is my father's
hallowed name restored?
i have been thinking this
in every different brain in this body
for months, i cannot
close my eyes to sleep
without seeing a hand coming to pluck me from this
hell and drop me into another one.
when i was nine years old i
let my friend run me over
on my new bike.
does she think of this when she
wins races now at college?
i still care.
it still lives in my mind,
a feeling of fire and tangling of
and if god didn't
leave his son i wonder if things
would have turned out different for every other
kid in the brown green earth,
because if you can't even get the attention of your
dad as some sub-human
then what the
living hell am i supposed to do
when all mine cares about is my
geometry grade and
and the search history i've
deleted hours ago?
i hope i can still find it
sometime after this, if it can't
seem to dig itself into a grave.
they say once you do something it will
always be out there so i've
grown up hoping
everything is forever.
that my best friend never dies. that
my grandmother never dies.
that my childhood bike can
decompose into the earth
and see me again someday. someday, maybe...
when i was nine i found a dead cat on the walkway near my house.
does god plan this when he makes the animals?
i'm sure he probably does.
maya’s gone off to wisconsin
i ask maya if she has to leave and she says that i should know by now: no matter where she goes she’ll be gone
and the whole thing flings me like a car careening off the key bridge.
today i miss her different than when she’s gone-home in ohio, i miss her more because of all the extra hours.
i calculated from my house to wisconsin and it’s a whole new distance than before.
i ask maya what does it feel like to miss me and she says that missing isn’t a feeling she can explain. i ask maya if maybe it just feels like lost but i don’t think she gets what i’m trying to say.
maya’s much smarter than i am though so i guess i should trust her, plus
i think i’m becoming a burden so if nothing i’m shushed now,
and i’m scared that my best friend’s sitting in wisconsin but i’m home thinking there might be something wrong in me
but i’ll never admit that because it might make her feel like leaving. i think more than anything
i want maya to see the world.
if it makes any difference, rather, i think i am getting sadder because i haven’t really left bed since that virgin margarita
and on the car ride home i told blake that was the first time i’d eaten all day and i asked if she’d sing at my burial.
she said if the need’s there she’ll try and show but singing at a birthday seems far more preferable.
blake has a beautiful singing voice, i think i’d love to hear it.
i’m holding out for that.
i ask maya when she’s getting back to ohio not that it matters but i happen to know that
her blue room makes me feel good because it’s lighter than mine and
i remember when i met her i googled everything about her because she was my first friend i’d ever made
from a different state and something about that made me feel scared that there is this great beyond,
that everything’s so so much bigger than my one tiny county. to ohio i look like a drop of water in the ocean off the key bridge.
to her family i am just one of her camp friends.
to her classmates back home, i do not exist. sometimes i wish i did, but right now it’s comforting to know that no matter what happens
there’s a group in ohio who simply won’t see everything i get wrong.
i ask maya when’s she’s getting back. i want to come see her. i want to take an amtrak and go far away from my home.
she sends me pictures of wisconsin so i think it might be a long time from now.
i ask maya what it feels like to be invisible and she says i’d probably know better than she would but
if she ever finds out she’ll be sure to clue me in.
i think that maya is not the type of girl to be invisible like i am.
and you can’t tell me i’m not because the car horns don’t count and the beach men don’t count
when they yell about my body and even that is an intense thing about me,
how my shape is, it rolls up and down like a seawave in a sandstorm,
like i’m enveloping a car that careened off the key bridge. (there’s someone screaming inside it if you care to hear them)
i am so loud that it makes it hard to look at but maya is the type of girl that is nice and calm and easy to notice.
maya is going to change the world and i can’t wait to see it.
my best friend is going to do so much and that is something i’m holding out to see, if only to prove for a moment i knew her.
i ask maya if she’s still awake in wisconsin and don’t get anything back.
now comes the quiet.
when your best friend goes to bed it feels like the world’s stopped just for you.
maya is the type of girl who goes to bed real early and then she wakes up real early
so she can wake up her friends who are sad.
maya sets alarms and i think about that a lot, how she’s got enough motivation for both of us.
i think about what her alarms might sound like, if they’re nice ones or if they’re that awful blaring iphone default.
i am trying to go to bed, i am trying, but i feel so bad that i might just wait until morning. in this moment
i can’t think of any one person who would be proud of that.
maya’s gone off to wisconsin and suddenly i feel a little like i’m trying to stay afloat after dropping from the key bridge.
but if i hold out till morning maybe i’ll get to see the sun before anyone in ohio or wisconsin,
maybe if i hold out i’ll hear the bells on the key bridge miles and miles from here.
maybe if i hold out just a little longer i can be the one to wake up maya. i wonder if that’d make her smile.
i wonder if she wouldn’t be worried because i’m so good at hiding.
i wonder if it’d help her see that the world is so big but there’s always me and ohio.
and when maya gets back i think i’ll try and drive out to see her,
i think it’s time i see the world too.
i think i’ll go through the night and make it by the time she’d wake me.
in ages when she gets back (cause maya’s gone to wisconsin),
that’s what i’m holding out for.
i’m holding out for that.
Gnossienne no. 4
Tell me a fun fact!"
"Well, what should I say?"
- I'll admit it right now: I'm not an artist.
- I'll tell you how my hand sculpture broke and since that day my eyes have sat glazed and fixated on the idea of a certain institution that won't accept me without unless I wear a costume made of latex and lies, and
- I'll tell you how I left acting because I realized I couldn't keep up with the character I'd adopted and that I quit music because I realized it's a rich kid's sport I'd never win without real training.
- I'll tell you I'm unintelligent. I'll tell you about the fundamentalism ingrained in me from knowing too many real-life Duggars and Plaths,
- going to church in a place where they told me the world was ending,
- and the folks who just like niceness are directed to burn under the devil's sheets.
Yes, I fight over misogyny that I've been the one to tell myself.
I have to remind her, "be decent!"
Yes, I try so hard to get better but I don't know if I can.
And it all makes her so ashamed, but aware, but if nothing else in about less than a year
it'll be a hell of a college essay.
"A ten paragraph statement."
"About anything I choose?"
I am sick of my world not being comfy with me. I am sick of being the outlier.
The higher education, go on get higher,
go on get higher and I still can't stray from their bodies
that sit on the sidewalk and wait for their next move to come in tongues
with a small side of fries, please.
They beg of Him and him and he.
And the way that one of the three texts makes me scream, the way that I have to
figure out what I'll say to the pastor, "your son is a creep,"
feels like a plea, am I crying for help or for him?
I can't even ask hushedly when
my friends condone a patriarchal society and embrace the males that I once loved
and once loved me enough to do regrettable things, but
"Boys Will Be Boys And He Will Be One Of Them!"
My head will stay down, I won't open my mouth again. I won't try to warn
my (ex?) very best friend of it and the way that he got in my head. His name even rhymes with a drug.
But the car that I drive out of this place in will run off of stories from women who survived
times in their life
when they weren't sure of anything but desire to up and get the hell comfortable
past the state lines.
(My car will be red. Red like a crucifix.
Red like a bloodied cross,
red like a car crash.
Red like how I imagine my voice sounds when I scream out
this next phrase. Headphone users afterwards might need hearing aids...)
"Let's review your extracurriculars."
"Can I leave the church without leaving religion?"
Am I going to Heaven or Hell?
I've been told I'm going to a socialist camp,
I've been told I'll be among the first taken to the barracks when martial law kicks in
but they don't ever answer my question.
God is clear, God is clear, God is clear.
So the fact of the matter is that I may or may not be burning as I stand here anyway,
I ask myself if a thousand years more could make any difference and shudder at the thought that it could.
I am not the change I wish to see in the world. My family is not proud of me.
My friends have all left me, they preferred when I wasn't a hypocrite.
God is clear, God is clear, God is clear.
I was fun when I condemned feminism and handed over my body to the old men in power.
I was fun when I paraded around in my homemade Donald Trump mask and talked about becoming king of the world.
Those tapes are deleted. Those friends have stopped calling.
And this is a program I don't want to get into, this is not an interview I wanted to have.
I've seen your people and they'd never accept me,
look at my history for yourself and don't try to put a triangular peg into any other hole than which it belongs in.
"Riddle me this now, what color is God?"
"Anything else you'd like us to know?"
"I don't think so."
- Do you ever wonder what I feel like?
People lay me out like it's biology class. They dissect my insecurities and take apart my brain just to see what's wrong with it.
They scour at the discrepancies and things I'm still trying to fix.
- Some dreams are best left as they are.
Yes, I've dreamed of this moment, of talking to you. I've dreamed of showing off this school's shirt at graduation, of saying "see, I could always fit in, you just wouldn't have me!"
I've dreamed of coming and finding out I was everything like you.
No matter what you might say to deceive me, I see that I'm not.
- This is not what I want for myself. I deserve something better where I can fall in
and I need somewhere where the people aren't screaming
and I am so sick and tired of being nearly near fake.
And everything I write makes me sound fourteen years old again.
I'm hesitant to use the words broke girl but is that what I am?
The first time it happened, I was thirteen and I watched the votes tally and the church leaders scream
and was the world ending? I don't think I knew
but as I fell asleep, listening to the folks on the phone, as they got quiet and calm and then much later, happy,
I said a simple prayer.
God, don't let the world end over something like this.
Don't let the world end when I still haven't seen it.
That's all it comes down to. This is the end. I need to go to a place where I can fit in.
Where the world feels intact, where I can quietly sit.
Where the world keeps on twirling. Where I too can spin.
I am too old to feel like this again.
The age old adages have come back to haunt me.
Knives are like words from my ex best friend’s throat.
And she lured me in, snakelike
until I couldn’t see
Did you see the lights flicker? Oh, but the stars shine
just for you.
It’s all an illusion, it’s a game. They feed me propaganda
and I spit it back for a grade
/in perfect unison/
I’m starting to agree I’m something punk rock
sorta vibe. I’m starting to hurt my ears just so I can’t hear what’s inside.
I’m starting to agree my anger is justified,
my breath of fresh air, electrified; all the wrong reasons, intensified;
and they think me petrified but the level I’m on made the pastors cry.
I can’t see the surface. If I scream will my voice still be amplified?
I spit it into rough syllables, scream it in decibels
/past a thousand/
write it in legible chalk on the ground and let people look and look past it
cause it might make someone uncomfortable.
I haven’t been this way in ages
been angry in enough to spit words and fill pages and
say everything I been holding back for fear of the rage might make someone afraid
and not like what I have to say
but screw it.
I’d rather have no friends and get all my words out then a party of friends
and an ache in my mouth from keeping shut and quitting.
I ask my friends why I’m special to them and they chime back in eulogy,
list my awards in chronology like I am now their trophy wife.
Rather, the real life
Trophy Mistress, Best Friend Resistance Part II (to you)
I’ve lived the way they make me say hello at parties.
It makes me uncomfortable.
Man, I’m singing now too, join me in my debut and we’ll put skulls on the cover and call it
“Your writing is beautiful.”
“If it is then I haven’t done my job.”
I don’t recognize the ghostwriter I had last year
who occupied time trying for flowery language people’d call correct and only remember for a day.
I can’t say it that way, I can only make sounds My voice is garbled and unsure of itself.
(but here’s verse one.)
And now my hair’s all messed up and I’m thinking of shaving it
and my parents say I’m a train wreck just waiting to happen
but at least this image tattoos itself into y’all’s brains and it makes into a double.
(I really need braces--imagine if they were affordable.)
I question everything, the people on the street are in my head again,
the sun is a knife and it cuts through my skin again
and let’s let people see things I’ve tramp stamped to my skeleton,.
I long to make them understand but once you’ve past the age it’s not something you’ll
taste again. I’m glad for their sake, then.
I’d hate to make anyone uncomfortable.
Besides, seventeen tastes too much like bile.
I haiku you (9 months with a flat earther in class)
The earth is a sphere.
This class is, sadly, flat.
You find no contrast.
Her hair flips again,
your lips flap out of context.
To you: Birds are real.
Birds are real. Birds are real. Birds
are real. Birds are real.
"Trump won, idiots!"
But you are the idiot.
How the turn tables.
A Karen, a boy.
Asks for the teacher--frequent.
A Karen. A boy.
I'd be remiss if
I didn't point out the good:
"THE GOOD" TBA
If the world was flat,
would I push you off the side?
No body no crime.
Someone's spicy. Whatever,
more space for the rest.
If my business
isn't the government's,
then why is it yours?
I listen to Lorde.
My friend listens to Dodie.
You listen to Q.
*your brother passes*
Whoever's brother just passed,
your mom's a Karen.
You didn't say that.
I'll just pretend you didn't.
Wash my ears with soap.
Today's a good day.
It's Women's History Month.
I beg you sit down.
You like The Office
and giving fans a bad rep.
Pam wouldn't approve.
Aunt B and Tay Swift
are honorary gen z's.
You're the opposite.
I play four square with
a ball printed like the earth.
I see it, I laugh.
dssdsgfdssdsg what an odd year
ALSO (because there are a lot of new faces who I don't know and won't know my humor) this is all satire. Mostly fake. Some funny. All not serious. Do I have a crazy flat earther in my class? Yes. Would I push him off the side of the Earth if it was in fact flat? *pauses a certain song from the Evermore album* No. No I would not. Would I write him onto snl? Well...maybe. Yes. But that's a whole new ball game and we don't do "missed opportunities" in this house. Also I have his mom as a teacher and she doesn't seem like a Karen, that was a parody of,,,,,well, you know.
You may impeach me for this...
...but I had to make some bad jokes for the occasion.
Being first is not always the best. I mean, can you imagine having as many impeachments as you do ex wives? And just like the ex-wives once did, the majority of the country is longing for a divorce.
Hey, at least we figured it out faster than they did! (Hey, we don't get those hefty divorce stimulus checks?)
Ivana commented to People magazine on the presidential loss, saying, "I just want this whole thing to be over." Later, reporters debated whether or not that was the first time she's made that sort of remark about her ex-husband.
On January 16, 2020, U.S. president Donald J. Trump was impeached for the first time, for abuse of power and obstruction of justice. However, Trump continues to prove that one of anything is never enough for him. On January 13th of this year, just three days until the one year anniversary of his first...it happened again. This time it was as consequence to Trump egging on the domestic terrorists at the Capitol the week prior. His remarks, reminiscent of an over enthusiastic soccer parent's, told rioters that he loved them, and they were very special. The definition of "special" in this statement was never clarified, but it smelled like snowflakes, shiny pickup truck exhaust, and that one CVS in your area where nobody wears a mask.
I wonder if Melania's jealous--after all, that's one heck of a vow renewal.
I wonder if the kids are jealous--after all, their dad didn't care nearly as much during their custody battles!