I write perfect stories. The problem is, they are all in my head. I can talk to myself for hours, weaving stories and creating what feel to me like gleaming sentences and hearty paragraphs loaded with meaning, laughs, tears, emotion, sanctity, universal experience, a sympathetic and humorous voice that will make people giggle despite an inner sadness and tartness….
Then I walk to my computer, and it vanishes. Even now, as I write this, my perfect story about Oakland is gone.
I recently moved to Oakland. I work in a warehouse in a cruddy, trash-ridden (and I mean literal pieces of trash) area of town. I stick to Berkeley. I stick to the Berkeley Hills. I have been to downtown Oakland three times, and for one of them, I didn’t get out of my car. I wasn’t scared to, but there was no need. I was just passing by to pick someone up. The second time, I walked straight into the rock gym after debating what hour the parking meter stopped needing to be fed, and walked straight out afterward and drove home to my comfy bed to rest sore arm muscles.
The third time, I ventured. I went to MUA, had a vodka-grapefruit, and it was beautiful. I watched people play drums, spray-paint artwork in the street, taste pastries and South American sandwiches, and a soft chilly breeze swept through under the sun and I knew I had landed in a special place.
Less than 24 hours later I stood in downtown San Francisco, working a trade show on a Saturday, listening to a story. A peculiar story. “When I was younger,” this woman, this stranger, told me, “I lived in downtown Oakland. My brother and I were 4 and 6. My aunt lived two miles away, and one day she called my mother and said, ‘do you know where your kids are?’
‘Yes,’ my mother told her. They’re playing in the backyard.’
‘No,’ my aunt countered, ‘Go and look.’
Sure enough, we weren’t there. We were at my aunt’s, in her backyard. When I was 4, and my brother was 6, he took my hand, and we walked down the street in Oakland in the late afternoon, for two miles, and we made it. Can you believe that? Kids would never be able to do that today.”
I had been terrified this woman was going to tell me a horror story. I had been terrified she would be teaching us a lesson about walking down the streets of Oakland, even as adults.
She didn’t produce the blatant horror I had been inspecting. But, she did tell a horror story. One about cities deteriorating, becoming crime-ridden and drug-ridden, a place that isn’t safe for children to play and wander. I was struck. It seemed different than the city I saw last night, different than the one I had seen the second time and the first time. What kind of place is this, I asked myself. Where have I arrived? It seemed so close to home – to Trenton, where I worked just a few short months ago, and yet so far from what this other city on the Bay is supposed to be.
I felt the emotional shock of a story involving two kids walking around Oakland by themselves, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t create a written story of it, not even in my head. That sympathetic humor – my favorite part – was missing. I’m still searching for it.
www.facebook.com/kaytitaniumjewels Life came and by chance I had a kid at age 21, a Family of my own. How it happened was sheer luck and a bitter twist of fate at the age of 20. Out seeking revenge I fell into the hands of someone who was as equally angry as me. He was even angry with some of the same person as I. After the initial fear of telling the farther to be I was pregnant had passed and he did not reject me. Instead he promised to love and protect me. I was then so relieved I could stop running I said to him “Then I shall love you too” For the next nine months I lived in his mother’s basement. Which was awful because I hate the basement, I hate the dark and bugs too. However I did not complain. I worked every day for 8 and half months at a coffee shop while I was pregnant. I slept on an old fashioned military bed and woke every morning with morning sickness. While I got ready at 4 a.m. to go to work the 11 The Who I am Essay 2011 smell of the low tide from the sea seeped in my window. The forty min ride to work I puked the whole way, and still I was grateful. When I grew fat with pregnancy I loved it. I was so happy she was such a miracle to me. When I delivered my baby on May 11, 2004, I was moved into an apartment. I signed the lease from my hospital bed. Soon after I was home I sat in bed I grabbed my journal and pen. I then write in the journal I kept by my bed. I was in my new apartment on the sixth floor of a tall towering brick building. It was 2004 I had just had my daughter and nine months of safety within thy future enemies’ hands. I can’t believe I have found a place where I don’t ever want to leave. Spring has come and a new life has begun. I finally have the family I craved since I was young. I now consider my old life good and deceased for I have found some love and a place to live in peace. I have found a place where I feel safe and loved, a place where I belong. A place where silence is a welcoming song, this is place where no one wants me gone, a place where I am not always wrong. This is something I have always wanted and something I never had to call my own. It is called a home. To me a home is where people love me and I have people to love. It’s simple, it is plain but since it has come I’ve started to feel sane and not so much pain Thanks you so much Love me I left my journal open that night, on the bed side table under the light, for my daughters father to 12 The Who I am Essay 2011 read that night. It was the only way I had to express my gratitude to this man. This same man, whom had fathered my baby, yet was practically a stranger to me. He did not even know my name was K. To my daughter I write…. My little angel sent from above, Changed my whole life, she has filled it with love. She flew in like a dove so beautiful and white; she has created a bond that is secure and tight. Gone is the darkness for she is my light. So innocent and pure, she is the reason I am here, this I know for sure. She made me strong and gave me the will to go on. For her I will fight against all that is wrong. She depends on me to make everything right, to cherish, love and protect her thru life. Laughter is the only song I wish her to sing; to her it is unconditional love I bring. The sound of her happiness is music to my ears; it has a way of easing all my fears. Only for her would I acknowledge defeat, accept that I had been beat. I would lay my soul down at the devil's feet. To him I would say "This is the price I would pay, if you would let my daughter be, if you would only set her free, to you I will give me I will pay my toll and sell the devil my soul In return all I would ask of him is this, everlasting happiness and 13 The Who I am Essay 2011 safe passage thru your evil world for my precious baby girl. For this I would gladly give him my soul to burn. Gone are the days when I only think of myself here are the days when I think only of her I do not miss yesterday for it is gone, today is here and tomorrow is near, Yesterday I lived only for me, today, tomorrow and forever more… I live only to care for her! Things changed about three months after she was born. She was perfect; she and I were always great. However her dad and I suddenly began to fight. I’m not sure what started the first one but it was brutal and scaring to say the least. It never really ended after that. Always made to feel as though it wasn’t enough, always accused of things I wasn’t doing, I could never make him happy. However I held my ground and in year two of motherhood I write to my daughter. Though the last two years have been filled with many fears and a lot of tears, I wouldn't change one second of them. For I have been giving the blessing of watching my baby grow and learn. Each and every day I have been blessed with the gift of watching you play, rediscover an old toy, listening to you laugh with joy for each new word you learn to say. Every step of the way, I have been able to love and teach you in my own crazy way. Somewhere along the line I was enlightened to the fact that you have been not only listening and learning, but you have been 14 The Who I am Essay 2011 doing some teaching of your own. You have taught me the true meaning of love without before saying your first word. You are my angel of love and mercy, you are my miracle, you bring me endless amounts of inspiration, and you deliver me from my darkest days in the most unique ways. When I hold you, I can see all the wrongs and pains in life, all the hurdles in our way, but my confidence does not waver, for I can also see in your eyes that you believe that, I can do anything. You are amazing and most defiantly the greatest thing I have done or will ever do in my life. I know every choice I have ever made or sad day I have had to face brought me to you and you to me. There are no accidents or mistakes each moment in time was meant to be. You were created by me and born to me for a reason you have a purpose and meaning are my one true love and only child. I have sworn to love and protect you on your journey thru this world. This oath is the only oath that I have ever taken, but it is one that I would die trying to keep. To my father I write, Dear Dad, As a child there were many times when you had to go far away. Sometimes you could take me with you other times I had to stay. Whether we went together or you went on your in our hearts we were never alone. You always 15 The Who I am Essay 2011 remembered me, when you couldn’t take me with; you always brought me a surprise. A locket from France, some chocolate from Germany, and really so much more On the trips we took together sometimes you had to work but, most times you blew it off and took me out to play. On those very special times when you could steal me away I saw The Magic Kingdom, took pictures of shadows of people we didn’t even know, rode rides and saw places I only dreamed of. How it made my young heart glow. As a young adult in need of some space to learn and grow I saw the coast of California, a place I always wish I could go. I had the breakfast at the Sugar Shack, ate lunch at Huntington Beach and at night we ate at the nicest restaurants I had ever seen. As a young mother struggling to my best, knowing you are just a phone call away put my minds at rest For whether I am in need of words of wisdom, encouragement, love or just answers to questions only a parent would know. If my car is broken down, or my heart is sinking, when the storms are wild and my ship is rocking to and fro, when my ship is lost at sea and it is to foggy for me to see You always find a way to lead me safely back to bay. You always stay with me until the raging storms have passed my way. You comfort me in my darkest hours; you came for me when no one else would. Like no other has before or probably ever will again you see past my mask of deception. You know what my real smile looks like. You can thru my eyes to the very bottom of my soul. When I finally saw that it did not matter what face I put on, that you always knew how I was feeling on the inside. Happy, sad, angry or blue was when I knew I need not hide from you. I knew then that all I had to do when I was with you was just be me. I know now that I am a parent that parents always question if they know just what to do. We will always wonder the “what ifs of life” and if we did the right thing. In case you ever wondering if you did right, I just wanted to tell you tonight That you did the very best you could as a parent, you still do amazing things for me even now that I am an adult. I could not have a better farther than you even if I could have picked him 16 The Who I am Essay 2011 myself. I love you Daddy and I Always will love you truly Kristen To my mother I write, Dear mother, I know you don’t believe me when I say that you’re the best. You are better than all the rest, you have passed all the tests. Now is your time to rest Growing up you and I did not always agree, there really wasn’t much time for you and me. Even this you managed somehow to get to know a part of me. Time has passed and I have grown, now I make important decisions all on my own I have determined that, Some things have to change others don’t. We will probably never agree and that’s Okay with me. There will never be enough time but you will always make some time for me. Now that I am older I can clearly see the two things 17 The Who I am Essay 2011 that will never change are, How much I Love you and how much you mean to me. Love Krissy Years passed and brought us to 2009. When my home and life had grown to be a place I could no longer exist, I went back to the meadow again. I was safe sitting by my brook with my mirror and candles that I always took. The baby was safe with Kristen and Krissy and they could protect her better than I as I was just a child myself. I watched them from my mirror just to be sure. Though it pained me to hear her words, I knew she was right. There wasn’t all that much I could I do about it, after all. So I gazed on threw the mirror at the hour glass in her hand and smiled as she told me told how she felt. ‘I’m bored and restless, waiting for ever. You always say “No, not today!” I can’t take it anymore the silence is unbearable, it is worse to not know. I’m waiting for the phone to ring, the door to open, someone to come in. How can you stand to sit and wait?’ ‘Well it happened to be your great folly, my friend. Your errors cost me dearly, once before and never again will it fall that way. I’ll send a message when its time, until then she will be fine. Just sit tight and don’t cause any needless fights ‘ She walked over and flipped the hour glass one more time, sat down and stared out the window past her reflection. ‘Was today the day? Would I ever escape? Was I destined to feel this way forever?’ Like the sand in this glass am I never to be free? Flipping from side to side, always pouring my way to half empty. One grain of sand, for every tear my eyes have seen. How could life be so mean? So tempting and alluring, yet leave me so much pain and morning‘ The door opened and in he came… “Hello, glad your home. I just was thinking of you.” 18 The Who I am Essay 2011 “You were? Good thoughts I hope.” He said walking past her headed for the bedroom “Of course ….. Did I mention that house I saw the other day? It was so nice can’t wait to move into it, so cute, quiet, a nice fence and big yard. “Yea, yea, Kristen three times already, I know about the house, Geesh! I swear sometimes woman, I think you’re smart and other times you just say the same things over and over. “ he yelled down the stairs “Oh and I’m going to the gym ” I called up to him looking at the clock. Gathering my gym bag, and putting on my sneakers I walk right past the mirror without even looking in it. However I look over my shoulder to ease my sense that someone is watching me. No one is, that I can see so I walk out and lock the door. “That asshole its ten am and he’s just getting in. Your gunner let her be all nice to him. I would have wrung his neck, and then called his mom and told her to buy a plot because her low life son was on his way home in a body bag. Then I would have..” “I know a hundred dirty tricks as well; I have spent so much time watching I know em’ all as well as you. This time is the last time though, we can’t afford a mistake. This time when I go out, it is for good. To blow it now is to throw years of your work hiding me away in the trash. I have plan we just have to be at the new house for it to work!” “God you sound like an alcoholic, changing the geography isn’t going to change anything. Your problems are your own, no matter where you are. Think!! It will be half the weight if we drop that baggage now. “ “Krissy, I have plan but we have to wait. This stuff only happens once in a life time. The stars have to be right, please, please, please don’t rush this one. You are going to love what I have planned. Don’t worry everyone will be happy in the end.” Kristen gets in the car, and starts the engine and pulls off heading to the highway and Krissy takes over. Looking in the rear view, I put my left blinker on and zip into the fast lane. Turn the radio up, switch the radio onto my favorite cd and started singing..” He treats me fine….But I could be better. You bring the wine and I’ll bring the letter…” Looking in the mirror, I smile and can’t help but notice my hat dangling of it. Never did understand my connection to that dingy thing but there it dangled anyway. Turning brown from the baking in the sun, the label still read KRISSY and that was all that really mattered. 19 The Who I am Essay 2011 ‘You’re so bad; you know it and like it, that’s what makes you especially awful. You take pleasure in watching others dismay, you really should watch what you say. People have feelings, even if you like to pretend you don’t. Kay may forgive you but the rest of the world won’t. When you’re done admiring yourselves would you mind watching the road, another car is merging this way ’ ‘I’m delightful; I don’t know what you’re talking about. My honesty is refreshing and most welcome people know not so ask me if they don’t want to know. People need to hear the truth, even when it hurts. The world isn’t going to sugar coat it why should I’ I lay my right hand on the horn, “BEEEEEP BEEEEEP “ and a flip of the middle finger takes care of that guy.. ‘Well…. to be on the side of fairness.. I enjoy you’re honesty and I do find it refreshing, however I wish you would have a bit more discretion about it. Like that old man you just flipped off was that REALLLy needed? I just can’t help, being reserved and guarded. It’s my way, to think of others feelings first. I don’t like thinking bad about anyone.’ “More like you can’t, that’s my miserable job and you only have yourselves to thank for that. I think you should be grateful, I mean that just my opinion.” I pull off the highway and turn into the gym parking lot. Rolling up my window and checking my makeup I am off to make my incredibly sexy body, even sexier. I stop at the mirror in the locker room, throw my hair up in a ponytail and plug in my ear buds. ‘You really are going to do this to me again. My back is killing me and my knees too. I can’t stand this. How did you and K get control and I get stuck up here?’ ‘Shut the hell, up about your pain. That is exactly why you’re in there and we are out here. That and you can’t hear us when you’re out, which impairs our plan. ’ I jump on the elliptical and start the settings to uphill. I turn the TV on so it looks like im watching it and stare at the girl in the mirror. ‘We’re almost there K, it won’t be long now. What are you going to do with this body, once it’s complete? Feel like cluing the rest of us in? I can’t believe you haven’t told us yet, and yet here I am running on this silly machine anyway.’ ‘No I don’t plan on telling you. In fact this is a lesson in trust; you need to have some, in me and in others. This is my life and you guys have hi jacked it, and no offence, fucked it all up. I know you guys were trying to help me so, I won’t hold it against you. 20
walking alone down empty city streets in the rain is romanticized because someone found romanticism in the misery of the little drops of water that soaks through skin, runs down bones, and dissolves arteries til my heart is a dirty puddle on the side of the road. if only the streams running into the gutters were melted transparent walls. if only the oxygen mask could be lifted so that you could choke on your first breath of real air. i would embrace the IV at once. i would let the cold run through my veins. at the sight of your asphyxiation, i would allow my blood to stop flowing. i would welcome the end of days.
Once upon a time there lived a college boy who was low on gas. It was the beginning of the week, but he was only drive to parking lots and back, so he figured he could fill up at the end of the week. This decision was a monumental one, for little did he know that this decision, along with a slightly more constructive one, would cause “The Stress-Filled Day” to begin.
This boy (we’ll call him Phil, short for “Philanthropist”) went through the week, having a pretty great one, in fact, despite the massive workload choking away his life. He had recently acquired a tremendous boon, one that he often kept with him to bring sunshine to the cloudy days, even though it wasn’t entirely fond of the sunlight it brought about.
Anyway, the week went on, and Phil’s car was driven more and more, and the gas meter dropped lower and lower like an elevator with its cords cut. At this point you’re probably thinking this is a story about running out of gas – let me assure you immediately that this is not at all the case of this story.
Wednesday night was a night any 40-year-old living in their parents basement would dream about, since Star Wars was the setting for being with a real, live girl, but Thursday was far less eventful. However, once again, this is not a romantic comedy or tragic love lost story, this story strictly concerns the events of Friday, May 19.
French. Lost bets, hopes undashed after being dashed and then forcefully dashing them led up to a frantic walk across campus to pick up a car required to car pool three people not entirely wanting to be carpooled, but were carpooled nevertheless. With a forty-minute window to get to his destination, by the time the adventurers were gathered there was only twenty minutes left, and a gas light that had been on since the day before (at least). So a stop at the gas station left them even less time; so little time that Phil only put in ten dollars worth of gas – which, at today’s exorbitant prices, meant not so much.
Fortunately, the larger half of Margris has an uncanny knack for breaking the law and getting away with it, so Phil entrusted his fate to him while driving 70 in more than one 55 zone. They made it on time, but not after a necessary turn around to avoid construction halts, a yarding truck, a combine, and a mysterious gas tanker seemingly set by the Lord Himself perpendicular to the road, trying to turn around.
Upon arriving at the theatre, Phil had to make a quick decision between viewing pleasure and a far more preferable seating arrangement; in the haste of it all he perhaps chose a regrettable answer, but the possibility of changing his mind was quickly squelched. Fortunately for him, the lost choice was, for a brief moment (hereafter known as “intermission”), available to him, but once again made itself scarce once the entire ordeal was over with, leaving Phil to dine with only his carpool.
Finally arriving home once again, Phil decided not to waste the day, but instead work towards a looming goal. Sadly, he made steps even a baby could have outpaced, but they were steps nonetheless, so he really couldn’t complain. But he did. He wanted to make up the time of Thursday and the Friday ordeal, though prior engagements prevented more than a one-hour reprieve, punctuated by being forced into the public eye. A quick fleeing soon followed, and Phil parted for his abode once again.
Unbeknownst to him, his prior engagements at the Sandy actor’s theatre production of “Play It Again Sam” would begin in nearly 2 hours – his companion had already left, and called to let him know the tickets were reserved. However, after packing and preparing for the greater Portland area, he was down to 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach his destination: a slightly tight yet achievable goal. Shortly after leaving, though, the red-headed ball of energy called to let him know to drive through Independence to avoid a traffic accident, which undoubtedly cost him far more time getting to and through Independence in the middle of the day than the car accident (which had probably dissipated by then) would have taken. Nevertheless, our intrepid adventurer continued on.
Traffic was poor in odd places, and after a clog on 99, he decided to up his speed a little bit more over the speed limit, right past the waiting radar gun of a motorcycle cop. Being the fastest car in the pack, he was a little worried; this worry was exacerbated to a death-fear as the cop lowered his radar gun and headed towards his bike. Panicked, Phil got into the slow lane and turned into the next side street available, which turned out to be a parking lot. Scared to death at the consequences of the attempted evasion should he be discovered, he humbly turned around in the lot and hoped against hope the cop hadn’t pursued him.
Apparently some of the Margris gene was still embedded in the backseat of the car, for Phil continued on undeterred.
Somewhat wary, Phil went far slower than his earlier trek to the opera house, and was making livable time until the unthinkable happened: the gas light came on again. Apparently ten dollars worth of gas really won’t get you that far. He passed, Oregon City, Clackamas, Portland, and by Fairview he knew he needed gas. Already flustered by the mental mangling of the day’s many moments, he was forced to do a stoplight-left-turn and cross traffic again to get into the gas station he found after oh-so-long. To add insult to injury, he pulled up on the wrong side of his car; a feat he had never to his memory transgressed before this fateful Friday.
Flustered, Phil circled around and pulled up on the right side of the gas tanks. Unwilling to allow the rest to proceed peacefully, the garbled English of the gas attendant, after several attempts, revealed that not only could he not use his credit card, but that he had to pay inside. Please note that by this time he had approximately ten minutes to get about ten minutes to his destination. Slightly irked by the trouble translating the attendant’s instructions, he grabbed his wallet, rolled up his window, locked and slammed his car door, and headed in to pay for another ten bucks of gas.
I repeat: He grabbed his wallet, rolled up his window, locked and slammed his car door, and headed in to pay for another ten bucks of gas. There is a key event missing in this process that would allow him to make it to his destination on time, n’est-ce pas?
He realized this as he approached the cashier. Realizing this could cause his mood to swing violently, he decided to instead take action – he grabbed a king-size Snickers bar and bought it along with his measly amount of gas into the now unenterable car. Fortunately for him (as unfortunate as the day had been, he ruefully realized how many “fortunately”s there also were in the fateful day), the cashier was friendly enough to let him use his phone to contact the matriarch or his brood and beg her to bring a spare key. She arrived twenty minutes later, and they convoyed all the back to his parent’s domicile, finally accepting the fact that Sam would have to play it again some other day.
On the way home he called his good friend Drawback Zack, the punk rocker and LAN party staple, who arranged to have him and his friend E (not a drug reference, this is a real person) come over for some Warcraft III craziness. All went according to plan there (Read: an hour’s worth of set-up, multiple install attempts and firewall fiddlings like strawberry fields forever) until Zack revealed to Phil that his girlfriend of four years had just “mutualishly” terminated their monogamous affair. A harsh scar of bitterness never before present in Zack made Phil want to weep for his punk rocker (but soon to be emo) friend, though the masculine mandates forbid any such shows of emotion.
The gaming was pleasant enough, but once that was over, Phil’s best friend of six years sent a message letting him know that she, also, had jumped back into the great fish pond of loneliness just this night. He suddenly realized he had upset the balance of nature – three significant figures of his life had, since three weeks ago Sunday, gone kaput in the S.O. section. He pondered to himself what long term effects would arise from this, but resolved to stand up against nature’s ugly head and ride out this storm. Especially since the entire time the driving disaster had been happening, his thoughts kept resting on that one element that he knew would have calmed him – not a little bit frustrated that rehearsals had built up to prevent any Friday night fun.
But the clock struck 1:35 AM, and he knew he had to draw the story to a close. So he did. Even though his gas light was still close to coming on once again.
This is part of a personal story that will be shared in segments.
“Who am I? “Is a complicated question for anyone to answer isn’t it?
The very first time I wrote something about who I was, this is what I wrote.
Growing up there were many hurdles I had to overcome. Often times my life with filled with hardship and strife. I remember more than one time when money was tight. I knew right away that I could be bright because I knew immediately that things weren’t right.
My house was always a pit and this did not get any better after my dad split. My mom always worked harder than one woman should. She gave us everything she possibly could. I learned early in life to be rough, that you had to be tough and made of the most solid stuff.
At school I never got along, I always felt as if I didn’t belong. This was place I never fit in and was made to believe that I would never win. Soon the boredom began to kick in and they labeled me dumb and defect instead of comfortable numb. Soon after this I was then further condemned as crazy and misunderstood. I called them ignorant, after all it is them who can’t understand me isn’t it?
I am the type of person to say it how it is even if it means a little bit of pain. Yet I will go that extra mile just to see a care free smile. So what if I live my life in denial. When your world moves as fast as mine mind revolves you would be confused to. Confusion mounting, my anger building my fire explodes.
Looking up to all the right people I saw all the wrong things. I learned to be hard and cutthroat as well as sweet and nice while I do you in. My father taught me young to use my silence as my punishment and my words as my weapon. He warned only draw your sword if you ready to kill.
Of course on the outside everything looked swell but, on the outside it was a living hell.
That was when I was 14, when I first fell prey to the question of Who am I? Why it was so confusing was because my real question was more like “Am I her? Or am I her?” I never gave thought to the fact that if I wasn’t either there had to be three of us to start with.
Daddies little girl Kristen wanted to get married, have kids the white picket fence. Sweet, shy, quiet and thoughtful Kristen was. She was smart and studious, she read books and watched animal planet. She liked to stay at home cook and clean. It was in her nature to be this way.
She wrote at 16 on a pad of white lined paper with black pen
Dear someone who cares,
This morning when I woke up I looked right into my mirror. The reflection that stared back at me was the face of a perfect stranger. The eyes I had seen only days ago that were filled with happiness and anticipation of my fiancés return had vanished.
Looking back on it this birthday was almost perfect, I was with the one I love and together we spread the news of our wedding in the following spring. Each moment we spent loving each other; even doing nothing at all we had the best of time doing it together.
In my mind nothing could have gotten in my way of this marriage. However as I had learned on his last trip home our time was limited and would soon come to end. The clock seemed to tick louder and faster than ever before pushing us closer into the next day. Days before he left I began to crack inside my heart could no longer hold in my pain.
On our last night we drove to look out point, a place I had shown him long ago. Never before was there so much silence to fill, the radio played songs we had long forgotten about. As I looked out at the night sky, the stars seemed to cry for the injustice of it all. Planes departed from miles away their lights seemingly fade into the darkness. As we watched them leave from miles away our hearts beat faster knowing that on the morrow one of those very planes would be taken him away.
On the way home to pack I would swear that we drove slower than ever before. Just so we could just hold onto the night for a moment longer. Pulling into my driveway, parking the car I invited him into my empty home. I collected my stuff into a pile and set it aside for a while. The lights were low; curtains drawn and the dark seem to fit me just right.
As I walked into the kitchen the thought came to my mind that this was the last time for a long time we would stand together in the only house that I called home. My heart just burst, I sobbed out words he could not understand. He held me tight in his loving arms. The only safety I had ever known since my dad left years ago. When I could no longer stand he carried me to the couch, as the tears swelled over my eyes running like waterfalls down my face.
As I cried, I tried to say everything I could but could only sputter words of pain and sorrow. In those moments I cried because he had to leave, I cried about how unfair it all was, I was angry that I had no choice the matter. I grieved for all I had lost, all the lonely nights I was about to endure, I resented that he had done this to me knowing how much I needed him. I screamed out all my pain and cried a million tears one after another.
He held me and made a thousand promises; he said we would be together soon. He kissed me and told me of the days when we would be man and wife. He told me of the years of happiness we would share if only we could part this one more time.
My tears slowed to a drizzle and I gasped for the air that would give me the strength.
That night he and I made promises to each other that nothing would get in the way. We left my house full of sadness yet we had hope. We left my home and went to his house to pack has stuff. When I got there I could not watch him pack so I got in the shower and cried. Hot shower water washing away my salty tears as I sat in the tub and attempted to regain my strength.
I got into bed that night; I crawled under the sheets and just watched him silently. When it was all packed away he crawled into bed. He held me thru the rest of the night as I cried out in silent tears…
As dawn made its approach we wake from our trance. As he got ready I studied everything about him. The sun approached the horizon and we said our goodbyes. Our last kiss seemed to go on forever, each of us holding on to the moment as long as we possibly could.
It isn’t long until she writes again maybe three months at most. Her hand shook as she wrote, this letter was barely legible and in an envelope. The envelope was addressed to her fiancé in Okinawa, Japan. However it was never mailed.
Imprisoned in this lonely love, lie alone in my bed crying softly to Jesus.
Jesus, why is what I do not know, does my heart ache me so?
I can only say that I knew from the start that this would rip us apart, this I know is all wrong. For how could we love for so long, grow to be so strong only to have it all be gone. The loneliness I bear has become so unfair. Since the day that we did part the pain has not left my heart. How can the love that we shared so easily have disappeared?
Though the pain is great it is only the distance I have come to hate. You are all I know, I cannot believe I let you go. However I know that if I had said “no” your resentment would only grow.
Time has passed as it is known to do, it’s only fail is failing to bring me closer to you. With miles between us and oceans apart for one night of play you throw it all away.
Lying just beyond your reach is the faith that you made me preach. When confessing your sins, you only showed me where my pain begins. Burning in my eyes is the painful vision of our demise. Though I’m tempted to hide for you see, what you stole was my pride. My honor demands, I do the right thing so to you it is forgiveness I bring.
This hurt me bad, it made me mad but, I will not destroy the love that we had. I refuse to loose what I love so much. There are nights I turn and toss over the lessons learned and all the loss.
Looking past my pain and sorrow, I never fail to see a brighter tomorrow. I hope and pray each and every day, with forgiveness in my heart and remorse in your eyes, that we never do part, that our love never dies.
So I will tell you now that I love you no less than I did before. I may even love you a little bit more. I rest assured knowing for all the pain and suffering I have endured, there at the end will be a beautiful reward.
She wasn’t aware that there was another who looked just like her, Krissy.
She was mischievous at times silly; she would even say and do inappropriate things. She liked to hang with boys twice her age, party all night and get wasted. For fun she would play pranks on unsuspecting people and help others get revenge. She was a fast talker and an even faster mover, could lie, steal and cheat with the best of them. She could steal you blind and when she was done all that you would notice was missing was her beautiful face. She was what we like to call a fire starter…
She was very aware of her counterpart Kristen, and was totally against her plans. Her idea was to get the hell out of town as soon as she could, any way she had to. She had a plan B, and she liked it better. Kristen’s plan was already failing anyhow so she took it upon herself to act on the 1st of January 2001.
Krissy writes in her very own black leather journal. She kept it in a removable floor board at her my mother’s house, back then. In april that year she writes with nice big happy lettering and in blue pen at age 18…
Dear Secret Keeper,
All though he told me not to eat the forbidden fruit, from the forsaken tree of knowledge when your lips hit my skin, I throw caution to the wind. As the waves of pleasure rise from within, I look deep into your eyes and I can see the face of my demise. Lying just beyond my reach is the faith that we so often preach. Nevertheless with one kiss from your lips of sin, I seal my fate and eat the forbidden fruit. I sigh with relief as I say to myself, that only your lips of sin could taste as sweet as the forbidden fruit.
This is a secret that nobody knows you make me feel so good inside that my heart literally glows. I can’t help but sigh when you touch my thigh. For it feels so good to have you near, it’s a feeling I can hardly bear. As I run my fingers thru your hair, I say I silent prayer that you will always be here and always care. You’re so kind to me all of the time, sweet are your kisses soft are your cresses, this is how I know you really do care. Do I deserve this happiness I feel when you are near? I hope you can see how much you mean to me, I know I don’t say it often enough as this is hard for me. When I know you won’t stay longer than a day, how can I just let you take my heart away?
These are the secrets I can no longer hide, for it hurts too much to keep them inside
Then there was K, and she was constantly being forced into one of their lives. She tried to fit as best as she could but neither would do. Quite like Cinderella’s shoe, in fact. Day after day she tried to fit but it never felt right, it was always too tight. She always felt so hollow and empty, she never could imagine…. Why?
Krissy was also aware of K and often played referee when needed to keep everyone peaceful and unknowing of the truth. K was aware of Krissy and Kristen’s radically different lives but didn’t have a clue which way to go. She really did not know what to do. She certainly liked the idea of getting out of here. However just didn’t know how to go about it. When Krissy told K about plan B and enlisted her aid K had no idea what she was getting into. She soon fell in love with a man and it wasn’t long before the war began.
K writes in a leather bound journal by her bed in a slightly messy print,
Dear someone who cares,
Just as a kaleidoscope turns my mind spins, I try to listen to the many conversations within. Debating inside which feelings to hide, most times even I can’t decide where my heart will reside. There is mass confusion between the reality and the illusion, a self-created delusion that there is order in confusion.
Careful emotions can be deceiving; they can have your heart and mind misbelieving. Try to look past all the colors and see the black and white. Go on go into the light, make and attempt to make everything all right.
I can’t sleep at night, all I hear is an endless fight between wrong and right. Battles are won and lost here every day; I never know which way I will sway or where my heart will stay.
How can I live this way? How I feel changing from day to day in so many conflicting ways. Looking thru the daze into the hate haze, I can still see an endless maze.
My trust in life has been shattered, tossed and kicked about like it never even mattered. Torn to shreds and burned to ash, too many forgotten, to many I haven’t forgotten. I think all you people are rotten.
It will never be the same; it will always be a game. Look at all the games we must play, look at all the hateful things I must say. I can see that underneath your skin you’re just a snake. You must lie in wait just to spread your viscous hate.
A beautiful yet tortured soul, restless and disconnected from all the rest. I tried so hard I gave it my best no matter how hard I tried I could not pass God’s tests. Sleepless nights and endless fights, it seemed as though I could never get it just right. The point of life makes no sense to me since it is only filled with pain sorrow hardships and strives.
I hope that on the morrow that this will end. I do not fear death I welcome it with open arms. If this isn’t hell I don’t know what is, for that is what it feels like to me. Anything would be better than the life god created for me.
I pray that someday my feelings will change but, as for right now I think this life is all fucked up and deranged.
As that year continued the mind grew sicker and sicker and I grew more desperate than ever to escape home, I was so confused.
Krissy didn’t dare tell a soul what had happened. Soon Krissy began making hurried mistakes to cover her tracks, not even looking at the stakes; she fell into a trap that nearly killed us all.
I remember that day long ago about 2002 I was then 19. Terrible things began to happen, one after the other. Soon the wall started to fall; soon it would all come tumbling in on me. In the moment I realized what was happening, I suddenly could remember it all. What I saw was so terrible, I saw not only the present I saw the past.
However now I can barely remember what it actually was. So I will just tell you the things I can remember, which is this.
Trying to find the words to describe how I felt then realizing that there were none. The pain so deep, the sadness so great, I went deep into myself, into my soul. I heard the words and saw the actions, but I just couldn’t comprehend. Where did the love go, why was it all gone, will it ever be okay again? It grieved me, it pained me, almost broke me.
Was it all an illusion, did you only feed my delusions; my mind was spinning in revolutions’. In that moment I was humbled, I had been broken, my spirit was crumpled. My legs felt weak beneath me, my feet felt like lead on the ground, but the girl inside my head said,
‘Run child, run fast, don’t stop until you are free, do not look back run, run, run with me.’
So I set my feet on the floor, I looked around to set my path. Without another thought, I ran as fast as I could. One foot in front of the other and suddenly I felt like was flying. Feet pounding on the ground, slamming the cement, heart racing, and adrenaline pumping I went on.
The pain in my heart eased a little with each step, the rain hitting my face felt like ice. I felt little of it, as I ran the whole night thru. Tears streaked my face the wind burned my cheeks but, it did not stop me. I just kept running until the breath ran right out of me. I did not look back, I just ran blindly, wet with rain and tears, filled with pain and fears.
When the sun came up, I fell asleep in the park. my eyes closed from fatigue the world grew dark.
He came to me, and said
“Everything seems so dark right now, times seem so gray. Do not lose your way, do not let the pain and sadness block out the light. Don’t give up the fight. Look around for signs that I am near, for I am with you every breath you draw, you are never without me, I am always here, always near. Do not have fear. You may feel alone and sad but, I promise this won’t always be. Some day you will be with me. You will think of these terrible times you had and won’t remember the pains you have had. “
I cried out in my sleep, I moaned and begged him to come for me. He did not take me.
When I woke, the sun had fallen behind the horizon and the sky was filled with pink and yellow streaks. Calm had come over me, nevertheless my heart was heavy, yet it seemed possible to go on. The pain almost felt gone, I was numbed in some way that I could not explain.
I didn’t realize that day when I woke, with those first words I spoke, that it had all but gone away. It felt like they were all in place, but really what I had done was locked them in that special space. I was a clean slate, and I was no longer was filled with only hate. I had managed to forget the pain but the facts still remained.
What an odd feeling it was to wake up one day, and not have a memory of your own personal history. To not really notice that I didn’t remember why I was so sad for so long like I did that day. To just know that you are who you are, because you know it. Not because you remember what made you what you are.
Ten years came and past before anyone but me knew anything about the mirror and me. Even the therapist I began seeing that next day in July of 2002 didn’t quite know what to do. The mirror suddenly spoke very clearly to me that day as I passed it by and for every day after that. I didn’t tell a soul what was really going on in the mirror I did not dare. My biggest fear is they would try to lock me up again. I still don’t why but I never touched a black pen again after that day.
Every day I encountered the girl in the mirror with skepticism but, her smile was so inviting and her conversation so stimulating. She spoke as if she knew my intimate thoughts and desires. Her face was not of mine, it was slightly different in an alluring kind of way. She had a way of calming my anxiety and soothing my fears with her wooing ways.
It wasn’t long before I went looking for her when I was worried or scared. She was so comforting and she seemed to have all my answers. How could it be that the mirror knew me? How could the mirror have the answers to my heart? It was tearing me apart and making me mad. To look at the mirror and not recognize the girl who stared back. To not feel the feelings she was telling me I had.
Who was that girl in the mirror, and where did she go? Who are you, and why are you here? You’re not so nice and hardly pretty at all. Why did she leave, and where have you come from? I hadn’t a clue that there were more of you…
“Well of course you can’t forget about me. There is you and her, and then of course there is me. That is what makes us three.” The older woman in the mirror said to me.
“What do you mean us and three I thought it was only her and me?” I replied to her in my head
“Well of course can’t you see? You can’t live without me. I inspire you to go on when you are about to expire, I stay awake when you tire, I scream out when you are angry, and I protect you from all hazards and dangers. I help you make tough choices and hard decisions. I take all your pain and make you feel none. I hide all those terrible secrets while you know none. Can’t you see you need me as well as her and twice as much as far as I can see?”
“Ha, Ha she only says that cause she can. Why don’t you shut her up for good? She has always been a rotten little goodie too shoes. Kissing ass and being all prim and proper, making everyone think she’s sooo good. Well.. She might be smart and cold as ice but she isn’t nice or sexy like me. She’s a prude, as well as a tight ass, never has any fun. Doing things the right way doesn’t always pay. In fact the odds are against the nice guy. I mean if she was in charge we still be virgins, with no friends at all” Said the beautiful woman staring back
“Well…” I said suddenly aware it was my turn to comment “I think you both are great but, will you get the fuck out of my head?”
I stayed in weekly therapy from that day on for 6 years or more. I went weekly sometimes by weekly appointments. Even on the days I had to walk six miles, or I had slept on the streets, nothing stopped me. The medications helped a little but not much. Therapy helped me heal a lot of the pain I felt about first 19 years of my life
I didn’t know I talked in the mirror at first, but I always have. For as long as I remember I have looked in the mirror and heard a voice. It’s not like a voice but rather more like their own trains of thought in the form of dialogue inside my head. So always there are two trains of thoughts in my head, that are not my own. I was always aware of Krissy or Kristen lives. I just wasn’t aware that they were different people. Especially for the first years of my life, I thought everyone was like me.
As for what I can remember I know some of facts of my life, but not all of them. So many parts of my life are unknown to me, how many are even unknown.
I didn’t realize at first that I had amnesia; I just knew something wasn’t right. When I knew I should feel something and I didn’t, or people I trusted told me I did things that I had no idea I had done. I didn’t recognize people, sometimes significant people, or was recognized by someone I did not know. Or suddenly I had no feelings about something that was really important yesterday. The scariest is waking up in your lovers arm and being pretty sure you fell asleep at home the night before. I was oblivious to the fact that I was having time gaps and memory losses. However the more these things happened the more frightened I got.
Since my life was often fraught with confusion I always chalked it up to this or that. It wasn’t until my life slowed down, that I was able to see what my own writings were telling me. It was clear that I had feelings that were there, and sometimes memories would resurface at odd times. A smell or an object would resurface a memory I had long forgotten about.
Since I felt like I knew the significant facts, I never questioned my memory. In fact I relied upon my memory, as it is reportedly photographic in nature. How would someone with photographic memory, also have huge memory losses? I can recant a book years after reading, and see the objects in a room years after leaving. How could I be missing memory? It sounded so contrary I never would have believed it. However I picked it apart and I almost have no memories of my life at all, just feelings that I have had them.
When I look back at my life, I have pictures in my mind but, only a few. The ones I do have are very precious to me. I see faces and places, times and spaces of my life, all picture form. More often than not I can I bring to memory someone telling me what I have done, the expression on their face. My mind can build a moving picture of a story you have told and plant it as my memory. However these memories play in their perspective though, not in my own. If you ask me to find memories that are mine and mine alone. All I can recall is memory of the facts, absent of the feelings associated with them.
but as much as i felt obliged to point out the faults in her confident navigation method for her own future good, i stayed quiet, trying my best to look as though i was contemplating her statement seriously, for, after all, we were lost in the woods, alone, holding hands, and my instinct was telling me to put my interest first in such a situation.
perhaps this is the reason for my being so adverse to anything flagrantly pink; must tell my father, who has always found this fact perplexing to the point of being distressed.
anyway, i kept my mouth shut because i didn’t know what she was going to do if i contradicted her. i didn’t want to be found with an axe in my head, aged six. that would be a horrible thing to see on the news while eating dinner with your family. it sounds unlikely but that’s really how i felt then.
I’d watched this man for a few months without any intention of documenting that fact. If anything, it would be only to note his anachronistic clothing and curious gate. This changed early one morning, when my voyeurism paid off, so to say. Meaning that I saw something worth seeing, saw the man in a desperate moment.
I was staying in a midtown hotel, been put up there by an acquaintance who had my best interest at heart, although also in her brain, body, and soul. More accurately, her intentions where selfish, but in any regard, at that time I wasn’t above selling my soul if it got a roof over my head.
My life was monotonous. I hadn’t taken the subway in months; I existed in midtown, something I could never have imagined before, nor here after the fact. The most exercise I received was a shallow expedition into the park, and then only to sit on a particular bench, one who was dedicated to Emily M. Grangerford. Watching this old man was the basis for my existence, in a way. If ever I missed him, the day felt oblique, and I was not right again until I saw him.
As anyone can imagine, it was not the most invigorating spying. Each morning from my fifth story window, I saw the man emerge from the subway, walk half a block, and sit down in between sculptures of Atlas and Prometheus. There he stayed for the next hour, occasionally contorting his face in what must have been screams. People seemed to avoid him, in some cases even crossing the street, wiggling through stuck traffic. Once I saw a young tourist woman come up to him and push him backward. He didn’t get up from immediately, but stayed flat on his back so long I became bored. I turned my attention to something else, but saw eventually from peripheral I saw crowds milling away from him again, and I knew the screaming had resumed.
This location was only the first stop on the old man’s itinerary. From there he crossed the avenue and walked up two more blocks. There he always entered a deli, but came out empty handed. Once he did have a king cone, an anomaly, but he gave it away to a child. I was surprised to see that sort of humanity, didn’t really like it, as it made me think of him more as a person and less as entertainment. After the deli he crossed back over the avenue and sat down on the steps of a theater. The police hardly bothered him, a fact unimaginable presently, but it could have been because it was so early in the morning and huge crowds had not yet amassed.
This was his mainstay for the next couple hours, and I never knew his next move because I always went out, and obviously at street level I lost sight of him. I never sought him out either, and by the time I returned to my rooms there was no sign of him. It was always easy watching him from up high, I should described this in more detail earlier, because he dragged his left foot, and besides that, his getup was unique, clad strictly in a black double breasted suit with wide lapels, and very bright, even florescent, sneakers. Also, this is so out of sequence I should give up, after he left Prometheus and Atlas there sometimes appeared a priest with whom he seemed to speak in a normal sort of way. Once I saw them embrace and found that to be extremely singular. What happened on one particular day really mixed things up for him, one could say.
I had never seen him beg or solicit people, and so perceived he was in no want of money, plus the sneakers he wore changed for a new pair quite often. Stranger it was, then, when I saw him sprinting for, and finally catching up to a five dollar bill. Bending down to pick it up, the bill abruptly blew away from him. It occurred twice more, and I didn’t realize until then what exactly was happening. I remember laughing at the ridiculousness of it, couldn’t in fact believe that the trick was happening, nor that my old man was falling for it. Yet there he was, dragging his foot behind him, eager to catch the five dollars. The bill must have been weighted because once it flew up, right away it fluttered down, spinning like a helicopter propeller. Such a precise action looked very comical, with the man jumping up to catch the bill, clapping his hands together and then jumping again, all quite uncoordinated.
I searched building after building, window after window, and finally spotted the culprits of the unmerciful act. It was two young boys, brothers ostensibly, who held a fishing pole out a window, almost level with mine, and laughed and laughed as they teased this poor fellow. What had possessed them to pull off a prank that, frankly, I had never seen outside of television, I don’t know. Despite myself, I enjoyed the whole scene, glad for a change to the daily monotony.
My diversion soon ended. The bill leapt up before the old man snagged it and fluttered down again, landing in the avenue. The man followed, and in what proved to be his last attempt to catch it, was struck by a bus. The bus was not moving slowly, readying for a stop, but must have been cruising through at least three lights. It was immediately obvious that the old man would not move again. Traffic around him stopped and a crowd gathered, followed by five or six police officers.
Drawing up my gaze I saw that the boys had disappeared but had flung the fishing pole out a window where it became caught upon a gargoyle a floor below. I could have easily identified exactly which building, and even floor on which they’d been. I can’t rule out the possibility I was the only witness to the full scene, but it seemed unlikely. As it happens I had been watching for longer than usual and was late for my appointment. Anyway, I didn’t have much desire to see him covered with a sheet and loaded into the back of an ambulance. The last image I have in my mind is of those bright green sneakers lying about fifty yards from the accident scene. No doubt they’d been knocked off from the force of the bus striking his body. As I left my rooms I could not help wondering if it would have happened if I were not such a voyeur.
by Barbara Fox
September 30, 2011
San Francisco, California
You’ll notice that I skip some days on here. This is not because I don’t care or because I don’t feel like being attentive to readers and writers or because I don’t like these projects or stories. No, it’s not that.
Part of my own story is depression. Though I’ve struggled through days, weeks, and months of depressions for years (for as long as I can remember? Could be.) I’ve only started confronting it nearly two years ago.
On some days, I like to challenge my depression. Wave a red flag in front of it and see what I can do. This is, of course, important in overcoming it and living a fulfilling and satisfied life (and is it also for the thrill? I think so) despite the strings of despair and disinterest that sometimes trap me like a marionette.
Just as importantly, on some days I must succumb to the lows, remind myself it’s okay, and accept them and be familiar with them and with myself.
On days when I don’t post something, one of these two things is happening. I am either waving a red flag, taunting my depression and beckoning it to dare come after me, or I’m letting the waves wash over me. Sometimes, doing one means doing both, as contradictory as that may sound.
When I don’t stick to the “every day” promise of my title, know that this is what I’m doing, and that the silent stories are just as important as the vocalized stories themselves.