Salt

July 22, 2016

karen postA Guest Writers’ Week post by Karen Devigili

I still remember the way two of his lower eyelashes clung together as I saw the first palpable sign of sadness drop from them after hopelessly clinging on for a few seconds. The tear drop fell so violently, gravid with teeming despair. It fell past his remarkably high cheekbones and landed on his quivering chin, bending the rules of physics along with it. I watched it try to escape, unsuccessful, and ashamed of its existence as it lingered aside the corners of his lips.

His lips, his lips, his lips, the ones that used to carry the happiness I fell in love with, were now so rich with heart-breaking futility. And his eyes, pointed in my direction, still could not see me. They looked through me like a torn veil, standing between him and the world he used to recognize, obscuring his view of that sense of independence he craved so strongly. The one I took away. I used to think it so beautiful when he covered himself in me, self-sacrificial, and euphoric in my scent. The utter elation between the molecules that composed our stories, as we lay in my bed, “three hours feeling like 5 minutes”, he used to say. But he sat there, eyes glossy, looking at me like a misguided memory, concealing the truths he wished he could have chased.

I could suddenly see the places he would have gone, the nights he would have had to himself, establishing his organic youth further, as opposed to letting his restless wanderlust accumulate into frantic boredom like a pestering insect. He tried to ignore it for so long, and I watched him do it. He let it land on his sighs, as he swallowed the frustration of not knowing how to rid himself of it. He couldn’t kill it; he loved it too much. That tiny pest was the last reminder of who he used to be. And he slowly began to realize it used to be a part of him, he shouldn’t need to swat it away. Those were the days when he looked at me less, understood me very little, and became increasingly absent. I would have done the same had I not sacrificed every part of me that didn’t find a place in our relationship.

He didn’t just wipe his tears, he sunk his face into his hands, the kind of tragic image that called for a soundtrack. Indulgence on top of indulgence. I took a serious moment to try to describe to myself the kind of pain that I was feeling. “I need to remember this,” I thought, “This is important.” After abandoning my obnoxiously ruthless and habitual tendency to objectify the situation by imagining what my dopamine levels probably looked like, I took a deep breath.

I suddenly saw myself floating, naked, out somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, between continents, surrounded by a black sky: I am freezing cold, floating on my back and the waves, indifferent to my existence, continue to thrash me underwater every now and then, whenever they please. I can feel the sharp, dreadful sting of the salt water on dozens of cuts, scrapes, and wounds on my bruised pale skin, and yet the only thing I seem preoccupied with is the vastness of everything. As I stare at the black sky full of stars-so deceitfully miniscule- like specks of dust deliberately sprinkled above humanity for purely aesthetic reasons, I am only reminded of how unfathomable the size of what’s under me is. The ocean, the creatures, the wholeness of their interactions as they create this vapid kingdom.

And I float there, slightly amused by how paralyzing the searing pain of the salt on all of my wounds is. I can feel it on my beat-up blue lips, my mouth half open, inviting the pain. I begin to see what might look like some sign of life on my peripheral, but by the time my eyes shift, I realize I’m chasing a hallucination of a life boat that moves accordingly, mocking me. It is only then that I suddenly realize, like a striking shock to my system, the reality of my situation. I can see myself, lifelessly floating in the crux of it all-so far from everything. My body, thousands of miles away from civilization, between the distant stars and the vast ocean. And this realization, awakens my long-lost ability to have a visceral, painful, human experience.

I start to feel a tear streaming down my face as I find myself floating back to significance. Although they loyally drift through my skin and into their salty, boundless, counterpart that is the sea, my tears feel bigger than anything I could imagine. And the stars, oh the stars. The stars that looked like simple decorations moments before now shone with their glimmering, incandescent light, enchanting me with their effortless beauty. The blackness of their surroundings, the vigor with which they shone, so far and resilient, as they covered the sky, made me feel a special kind of painful joy.

That’s when I felt the warm trickle of reality roll down my own cheek, on that painfully sunny day as I looked at him, now sobbing. Fully aware that he was just as lost as I was, I knew he was at least on dry land. I always resented him for that, but I suddenly felt a warm sense of acceptance. I reached out and took his hands away from his face. I kissed his salty tears, knowing that although the salty water on my wounds in the ample monster of the sea would be thought much less favorable than his despair on land by most, I disagreed. Even through the blistering pain, there’s nothing like that black sky, nothing like the sea, and I’m sure he’s never seen as many stars as I have.

IMG_6904Karen is a communications professional with a passion for words. On her time off she likes to overthink how to spend her time off while watching YouTube videos with her dog. She currently lives in the DC metro area. Connect with her on Twitter @Silvana_Dev.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Pregnancy

July 21, 2016

dana postA Guest Writers’ Week post by Dana Sukonatarak 

Two months ago today, I had emergency surgery to remove my left Fallopian tube. My baby started growing there. She never made it down the water slide and into the wave pool. The slide had unreported structural damage from a long-past chlamydia infection, and was full of hostile fluid and debris. My reproductive infrastructure was a dilapidated ghetto where my poor baby was stuck, lonely and sad and quickly outgrowing her ectopic home.

At six centimeters, my lime-sized baby threatened my already fucked up tube, my future fertility, and my life. She would never make it into the world. And if she grew any bigger, I could’ve been on my way out of this world.

I had the clap seven years ago, courtesy of a promiscuous boyfriend and a naïve disposition on sexual health and liberation. It’s my body, I’ll do what I want. I wish I knew back then that what I really wanted, what was most important, was a healthy, fully functional body from head to toe. I treated the infection, but it wasn’t cleared entirely. Nothing was ever amiss until this year, when I began to have a sharp pain in my left side and a very light period that lasted for weeks. A first doctor suggested it was a cyst, and to see a specialist. By the time I saw the second doctor and found out it was an ectopic pregnancy, I had to immediately check into the hospital for a salpingectomy.

I remember when my period was like a special surprise, a greeting card from a stork carrying an empty baby blanket. No kid for you this month. Yay! Periods were a relief. I did not want to be pregnant, especially by some 19-year-old that worked at Jerry’s Sub Shop part-time. Even after Mr. Claptastic, when I’d been with my then-boyfriend for years, I did not want to be pregnant. I wanted to enjoy my youth and unstretched belly, with reckless abandon and the knowledge that babies could come whenever I wanted them, on my terms and at the “right” age, after marriage, whatever.

Now, I am 27, and armed with just one Fallopian tube, whose end is scarred and hardened and blocking the entrance to baby’s first crib. Doctors say that in-vitro fertilization is my only choice if I want to bear a child. That’s no death sentence, of course, but hearing it has robbed me of a distinct degree of humanity. My newly discovered reproductive disability made me feel like less of a woman and more of a science experiment. Left to my own devices, I would only be able to produce more tube-trapped babies.

The sudden transition from avoiding pregnancy like the plague to praying that it happens one day is a sobering one. We sometimes live carelessly with the assumption that everything will be okay. Everything will be okay. But it will be hard, harder than it would’ve been if I’d been more forward-thinking in my self-care.

Health is something people tend not to take seriously until they are forced to. Think of your future self – they are your present self. If I could go back to my early twenties, I would eat salad instead of Baconators and drink water instead of soda. I would use condoms even though it obviously feels worse than raw dog. I would do everything I could to reduce the chances of realizing too late that there is something wrong. I am doing all I can now to make it right, which is a host of things including vitamins and oils and raw vegetables and yoga and acupuncture—and a belief that the body has the power to heal itself. There are no units of measurement for my progress, but I’m feeling better these days than I ever have before, and that’s a success entirely of its own.

danaDana is a writer and editor based in the DC metro area. She’s the author of Men, a collection of personal essays about love and relationships. Connect with Dana on Twitter @peachesjordan.

A Stupid Flick

July 20, 2016

donovan post

A Guest Writers’ Week post by Donovan Smith

We were locked in an argument coming down the steps of your front porch. I don’t even remember the topic, I just remember you being mad that I didn’t open your door after. Childish of me.

The ride there was like so many others we took that summer. I hated giving you the cord. The thought of jocquees squealing through my speakers made me nauseous, though I knew the harsh sounds of Nirvana b-sides, odd future, or satanic metal would do the same for you. I jumped track to track through Because the Internet in search of middle ground. No complaints, but no conversation either.

You were dressed for passion. Short shorts and a loose fitting shirt that cut off right at the belly button. I didn’t know you neglected a bra until we were already seated and it pissed me off. I was possessive that summer.

Jealousy couldn’t beat out my lust though. I copped a generous feel during a makeout session that was probably discourteous to the other moviegoers. It was an R rated movie; they’ll get over it. We had done much worse in the same theater.

You didn’t know I had already seen the movie with another girl the week before. We were “broken up”. You didn’t know that girl was my ex either.

It was a funny, stupid romantic movie. I didn’t plan on enjoying the movie or the date to be honest. Whatever I was mad about had already eaten up all the reserved space for happiness in the thought region of my brain. While I recycled my laughs to meet yours, there were times we looked at each other and your eyes met mine, holding my gaze with an entirely different pull. Softness. I was wearing you down that summer. I was too inward to realize that.

On the ride back you pressed the issue of us getting back together. I wasn’t into it. An argument we had multiple times before the date played out again at a much higher volume. I screamed. You laughed at me screaming. That pissed me off even more. I remember going above 70 on the interstate yelling at you while you giggled like an amused child. The thought of hitting you crossed my mind. I wouldn’t do it. I hated you with all I could gather, but I loved you even more.

You knew how to be mean and how to emasculate. Chalk it up to girl power. I could never match wits with you when it came to being hurtful. I never wanted to. But my uneven, mostly mute attitude always lent me a darker element. I made a comment about wrecking and killing us both as the truck barreled across the pavement. The words were sarcastic, but wrapped tight in dry delivery. You didn’t think that was funny. Neither did I, and seeing you become visibly disgusted with me made made me feel like the biggest asshole ever.

You didn’t want to go home with me anymore. I realized my mistake too late. I tried to lighten the mood and talk sweet. You wouldn’t let me touch you. It was silent when I pulled into the gas station to let you out. Your cousin waited in a parking spot to collect you and bring you home. I remember wanting so, so badly to hug you and cry and tell you I was sorry, but I couldn’t. Anger and pride and so much more underlying shit kept me from breaking down. You gave me a sarcastic smile when you stepped out and I finally moved. I flipped you off and drove away. I made my way home with no music playing and hot water on my face.

I never should’ve took you to see that stupid fucking movie.

Donovan Smith is a twenty year old from Chaneyville, Louisiana. He’s a depression prone young dude who takes refuge in twisting words in artful ways. Connect with him on Twitter @Lame__O and on Instagram @ _lord.nasty. 

I Must Confess, You Broke My Heart.

July 19, 2016

I wonder how it's possible that you could have completely shattered my heart while I was still trying to protect it.

A Guest Writers’ Week post by Lauren Harbury

For weeks I have sat in front of this laptop trying to find the right set of words. Words that would expose just how deeply you have hurt me, while helping me get over you. Words that would make you realize how badly you have fucked up… at least that’s what I want you to think.

I sit here and feel ridiculous. There’s the knowledge that whatever it was that happened between us was merely a blip on the radar. A short two month stint. Yet in those weeks you managed to wind yourself so deeply into my life that the mere absence of your name on my cell phone seems innately wrong.

How you could have knowingly lead me to open up to you, to share stories, scars and facts that not many people are privy to. How you could have lied in my bed, weary from “making love” at night, knowing that soon you would pack up your ever present backpack, never to return. How you could have met my friends and parents and how you could have introduced me to your people when you knew I didn’t really have a place next to you.

I sit here and wonder how you fucking sleep at night, but in the same thought, I wonder if I cross your mind before you fall asleep. I wonder if, like me, you wake up during the night and think of me, or if it causes a weird pain when Lil Dickey comes on.

I sit here and wonder how I let my guard down for you. I knew better. The words on your lips as you left, “I think you’ll find that I have been hurting you,” were as true as anything I could ever write. The way you brought me into your life and convinced me to stay is staggering. You made me feel safe, wanted, treasured, while simultaneously making me feel unstable, jealous and needy. You lifted me up, telling me that I was ingrained into your mind, sharing pictures and videos of your time with your son, talking about a future where I was there with you. You tore me down, waffling, waiting, playing games and pretending to be innocent.

You told me you were “leaning toward me”–something I should have recognized as beyond fucked up from the moment it left your lips. Asking if it was really “bad” to be lying next to me and texting I love you guys to someone else. Wrapping your arms around me each time a piece of my heart broke off on the jagged corners of your life. Convincing me that I was something truly special, not only to you, but to the world. Something cherished.

You knew that you were going to break my heart, yet you kept coming back because it was easy. I was nothing more than a vacation from what had become a hard life for you to live. I was a fun pit stop on the highway of life, a layaway where you could find adoration and support. A layaway where you could find someone to fuck. Where you could find someone to love you. Where you could feel safe.

There are so many worst parts of what happened, but the sense of being used is overwhelming.

You told me you were falling for me. You told me you wanted me to meet your brother, and more importantly your son. You spent so much of your time here, with me, holding my hand, kissing me, making love with me. You seemed so genuine, so happy. You seemed so honest, so caring. You seemed so funny, so brilliant.

You said you loved my mind, how smart I am. You said you had been looking for someone like me for so long. You said that you were ready. You said you loved that I was interested in your mind, in your stories, in your work, in the things that made you tick. You said I made you feel safe and wanted and important.

Was it just a lie? Was any of it true? Or did it just not matter?

Was it a game that you wanted to win? A trophy to put on top of your dresser? Was it nothing more than a joke, watching me make a fool of myself for you? Was it just fun to have a “rich girl” take you out for massages? Was it just a moment of weakness?

I hate that I miss you and I hate that I give a shit. I hate that today I read an article about the negative effects of giving your children melatonin and the first thing I thought about was Sean*. I hate that I listen to Sia’s House On Fire and Halsey’s Ghost and think that those two songs capture my feelings completely. I hate that every house I enter and every book store I pop into has The Goldfinch on display. I hate that you think you have the power to tell me that I can’t write about you, when you’re just afraid of the things I could say.

I hate that you think you know me, know exactly how I’ll react and what I’ll think. I hate that you had the audacity to say that you couldn’t have the pressure of knowing that I would wonder if you are coming back. I hate that you said you would miss me, but that you wouldn’t tell me. I hate that you cried. I hate that you made me feel like I needed to comfort you. I hate that you found me endearing, if your words are to be trusted.

I hate that you invited me into the relationship you have with your son, having me sit next to you while you FaceTimed. I hate that you played house with me; I hate that I know how you take your coffee and exactly how toasted you like your bagel. I hate that I know what your living room looks like and that on Thursdays I picture you sitting at the table working. I hate that after reading the first thing I wrote about us, you said that you never wanted me to feel that way. Then you did exactly the same thing.

I want to hate you, but I can’t. Instead I am trapped in this mind of mine, wondering where you are and what you are doing and if you are ever going to figure it out.

Lauren is a twenty-something who can often be found searching for the perfect IPA. An ex-Portlander, she is enjoying the warmth and sunshine of the East Coast, while acting as the glue to this network of amazing, talented individuals. She is the proud parent of a perfect rescue pup named Snugs, and just recently checked off the 14th country on her travel list. If she had it her way, she would wear lulu lemon every day, and always have a beer at lunch.

Connect with Lauren at www.twentysomethingliving.com and on Twitter @laurenharbury. 

Thirty

July 18, 2016

 

Life has taught me that’s its completely possible to love, and not be loved, or to offer truth, only to have it withheld from you.

A Guest Writers’ Week post by Austin Weatherington

Even on my best days I’m teetering on the verge of hypocrisy, which makes me wonder why I bother taking a stance on anything at all. As each hour ticks off the clock, the personal tie which so dependently binds action to truth becomes less and less secure. That’s why I knew I had to write this in the morning when I knew I’d be inspired, clear, and prepared. I don’t know much, but there are two things which cause little confusion: I know what I am, and I certainly know what I’m not.

My responsibility to love? To truth? That’s the shit which is really beginning to fuck with me nowadays. Undoubtedly those two realities are the most fulfilling experiences this life has to offer, however it’s the painful, sacrificial mystery which surround them that is the source of my torment. Life has taught me that it’s completely possible to love, and not be loved, or to offer truth, only to have it withheld from you. The stakes get raised even higher when you realize your incumbency to love is boundless, and veers far beyond the equitable participation of others. The fundamental pursuit of both love and truth is like being asked to box your own shadow.

Just last night I established a pillow-top deal with the devil, we shook on it and everything. In exchange for my truth, I was given ponderous guilt. The type of guilt you feel when the information needed to triangulate the truth, gets manipulated into a binary understanding. This was far from my first rodeo, much like a savvy businessman I deliberated the terms; pokerfaced and stern, my involvement signaling my agreement.

An endearing kiss on the neck, and an amorous squeeze of the thigh started things off. Stares, words, and the white noise of the moment began to fill the room—and others. We eagerly begin to transition our bodies from one position to the next. I was amazed by how such harmony stemmed from something so selfish. I begin to thrust deeper and deeper as if I was looking for something, and the truth is, I was. As beautiful as she was, I knew what I was looking for could not be found inside of her. Yet I wanted my search to be remembered.

**

Late nights alone leave me reflecting on life as I thumb through scripture. I have loose thoughts of getting married and buying acres of land with a Jim Crow dollar. My mind can’t seem to escape a recent conversation I had with a wise black man who challenged by understanding of my condition given the most recent homicides of unarmed black men by the hands of law enforcement. As we watched little black and brown children innocently play on the basketball court, with a thick Boston accent he stated “It’s true that we’re all crazy (human beings), but the better question is who’s winning the race?” He later explained “Let me ask you a question. Who’s crazier, the killer? Or the one who witnessed the killing and believes things may somehow be different for them?
My 30 years of life have seem to go by in all of 30 minutes, leaving in their wake an honest and sensitive disposition. Things that once didn’t seem to matter now rattle the truest parts of me. I blame the countless conversations on intersectionality and afro-pessimism, or the exhausted facial expression held by the tattered black woman in handcuffs outside of the grocery store who was being detained by police for attempting to quiet her hunger.

I’m maturing into a place where decisions–and not settlements–are the defining parameters of my life, yet I know that process will require some time which I’m still walking myself through. However, what I do know is that I want to write beautifully; with confidence and command. What I do know is that I want to love, and be loved to life, not death. What I do know is that I’ve never felt more human, or more alive.

Austin Weatherington

Austin Weatherington

Austin Weatherington is a writer and multi-media communications professional with a true passion for content creation and story development. He’s always, always, always looking to collaborate with people on things. Whenever, whatever, however; as long as its positive. 

Connect with Austin on IG and Twitter: @A4aus