SEQUEL (Soon Enough Questions Unravel Every Layer)

I was right and I was wrong and I liked that I was right about how wrong I was going to be. Funny how I choose the same thing over and over, but I am not insane: I don’t expect the result to change.

When I walk the streets I came from, I can feel my soul chafe now. Like a wool sweater you can never take off. A low-key itch you just can’t scratch, an edge you just can’t smooth, a contrast you just can’t blend in anymore. Maybe I never truly belonged here.

I carry pieces of here with me, they are part of my mosaic. Maybe I am too close to the puzzle to make sense of it, I can’t read my own mind. But more and more I am convinced the puzzle forms a circle and tracing the outlines and creases I am bound to return to places and people I let go so many times.

This time, again, I let go and I smile.

Space and time suspend across the years and across the table, and the feeling is both lighter than air and heavier than lead and it’s not the alcohol to blame.
I’m never the same after, though the details why always escape me. You’re hard to remember, but impossible to forget.

What started as a single thread has become complex knit-work and I don’t care to take it apart. I wrap it around my shoulders as I step outside, lock the door behind me and venture on.

And then I catch myself looking back over my shoulder.

 

“Is it all in my mind?
Am I lost in my own head?
Worrying about something I should have said
You’re the only thing I don’t regret”

 

 

[Part 13 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

CIRCLES (Can I Rightfully Call Labored Encounters Soulless)

At 7 a.m. already reduced to tears at the top of my stairs by perfectly composed words. And my thoughts drift ahead in time.

My heart, against better advice, is hopeful. But I already know how our encounter will go, because it has gone the same way every time we have had it. Though I don’t mind repetition – it breeds familiarity, and everything seems strange to me these days.

Ever the same conversation with ever changing ears listening, I can’t help wondering if I am talking to them or myself. Epiphanies abound and never stick. I should take more notes and more notice.
Did you say you have a sister?

My mind, my rut, my labyrinth… I chase my own thoughts more than others’ company and therein might lie the problem. But if you could figure out why that one song lyric means so much to me, maybe then I’d look up from the stream of my consciousness I have watched gurgle on and on.

Sometimes I poke at it with a stick to see if I can find the bottom, but usually I just rough up the surface and make stupid decisions while it settles again, showing the same impenetrable surface.

But see, I like this spot at the riverbank I have found and if I dive back in, I worry the currents will whisk me away and I will never be able to return. I have left too much to lose any more.

So I have fruitless conversations with the voices on my stereo, which answer only with the melodies I request and the wisdoms already ringing in my ears.

When my first instinct has always been flight and yet what I run from always seems to follow and catch up, maybe the second instinct will have to do this time.

 

“If you ever get tired of your conversations with ghosts

And all those that you let too close,

I’ll be waiting”

 

 

[Part 12 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

WORLD (When Other Routes Lead Deeper)

You’ve made a list of all the countries you have set foot in; you’ve counted them all and boastfully tell strangers the number, as if that somehow makes you more. Or better. Or desirable. Or more cultured.

But no one knows what you have truly seen when you watched Balinese dancers, Kenyan elephants and Peruvian jungles. Did you take any of it in? Did pieces within you rearrange and can you express the internal shift to anyone not looking through your own eyes?

And in the end, who is better for you having travelled this far and wide? Not the planet, it coughs out your exhaust. Not the sights you laid your eyes on, they are indifferent to passers-by. So really, what was gained?

Are we all playing a zero sum game? Have stamps in our passport become the ultimate status symbol? Does anyone care still or again about the floods, winds and quakes we leave behind?

So I read your list – shrug – and make my own. Not of countries. Of people and moments. That fence, right outside my childhood home and the first kiss two teenagers shared leaning against it, forever burned into both our memories. That couch, in the lobby of that cheap hostel, where two twenty-somethings talked the night away to make the coming goodbye seem further away. That street corner, on a tipsy night-time walk back from town, when one sentence uttered made the other one of us feel seen for the first time in years.

It is not the distance travelled that counts; the mileage of your soul is what should always be increasing.

And if I die not having seen the Grand Canyon, the Northern Lights or the Great Barrier Reef, it will give me no grief, because those things would have never loved me back. But the teenager at the fence did. And the twenty-something on the couch did. And the night-time walking companion did.

When we tally up the score, whose life will have been fuller and who will have the most regrets?

“Hands just reaching out for hands
This is so damn simple, yeah
It’s so damn simple”

 

[Part 11 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

CURE (Casual Utopias Rarely Endure)

Why do they call it a “labor of love”? Does anyone ever love labor? Or do we mean to say love is something to be worked on, not something that magically falls into your lap and works itself out? When the truth is, things never work themselves out, people work them out for you.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see more than I seem to reflect. And I cannot say that I am blameless, there is an image I project. But the girl in black and white in that picture on my wall – the one that looks so sad – she’s really more me than the bubbly one you met one sunny Saturday.

Don’t you know to look out for the overly happy ones, because they’re the ones with fault lines on the inside?

I am not the antidote to your ailment, I am not the stitch to hold that wound, not the tonic to your gin. This body of mine has never healed anyone, it barely heals itself these days. That cut on my leg has been there for weeks now.

You might be better off with drugs and alcohol if it’s oblivion you need, because in the end my skin is just as warm as the skin you’re trying to forget. And unlike you, I am straining to remember what a warm body next to me feels like, one I would want to reach out for, so what you offer is a bitter pill to swallow.

If I flushed it down with some vodka and my pride, I’m sure it would make me feel alright for a while. After all, what would be the harm?

 

“And I think I’m scared that maybe
After all this growing up
I’m only good at being young”

 

 

[Part 10 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

SPIN (Some Paths Intersect Naturally)

All the clocks and watches in my house have stopped running. I don’t replace the batteries as an effort to stop time.

I am living my life backwards again. Before my inner eye plays a retrospective of the questions I never answered, the paths I never took, the open doors I never closed and never walked through either.

I remember the doorway I stood in, straining to see in the dark. That night I followed the call and walked into the room beyond, but then I retreated in the morning and never went back. What I’d give for another chance at that doorway.

In hindsight my pattern has always been two steps forward and one step back. But I’m hoping lives are circular and you will lap me soon, briefly existing in the same space and maybe this time I can follow in your drift.

Like planets, we each have our own orbit that spins us in giant loops and every now and then we conjure up an eclipse when our lives intersect and overlap. But time stops for no one, celestial forces move us on and soon we are on opposite ends again.

And then I remember that returning is not the same as going backwards. The hands of each clock pass each spot twice a day yet move ever forward. So I don’t want to go back, I just want to revisit and continue moving.

“And I wonder where you are tonight
If the one you’re with was a compromise
As we’re walking lines in parallel
That will never meet and it’s just as well”

 

[Part 9 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

DOOR (Declining Other Offers Repeatedly)

There’s a dip in the mattress, right in the middle, where I always sleep, because no one else needs the space beside me. So now I try to confine myself to either side, to wear it down evenly, so that my long-standing singledom is not so obvious to every visitor.

I like things just so and ‘so’ is how I ask you to keep them. I struggle to trust you could improve upon what I have spent all my life adjusting. And you don’t fight to convince me I am wrong, which disappoints me. How I wish someone would fight me.

When the weather rebelled, and many cursed the heat, I came alive. I let the sun mark my skin and reveal the natural colour underneath the ghostly shell. Maybe this is why so few see me now: I have faded too much.

I bought another notebook whose pages will stay empty, because nothing ever means enough to deserve the honor of staining the pristine white. The stories are better in my head.

And it’s not that I’m comparing you to the visions of people I’ve conjured up, it’s just that you never seem to measure up. But then I use the metric system and you calculate everything in pints, so our math is off.

I keep meaning to get a door with better locks, but I have always been too good at not letting people in, so maybe tonight I’ll leave the chain off just to prove a point.
And I will lie in the half dark in the dip of the mattress with the window open and listen to the neighbor’s dog barking at ever the same things, eternally surprised by its own surroundings. And I will wonder if someone will open the door.

 

“I have known more empty bedrooms than I’ll ever know myself”

 

[Part 8 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

START (Some Trips Alter Reality’s Tracks)

I’ve packed some essentials, but I keep looking out the window to try and gauge the weather. Will I need that jacket? Will I need those boots? Will I need an extra dose of bravery and determination? Should I take the mountain path or the island path? Should I ask for company or set off alone? Should I dance or go on horseback?

I imagine one of these days I’ll just go, like I always have. I’m not afraid, just undecided.

And decisions have always mattered, because once I start I do not stop. I may stumble and fall, but I do not quit.

It has to be soon now though, the hourglass halts for no one. The grains that have passed cannot be reclaimed now, but I can remember and treasure them as I carry them with me in my little pouch. Some, those that really mattered, strung up like pearls on a necklace to tell the story of who I really am.

I’m better equipped for the trip now than I was before, I’ve acquired some tools along the way. But I’ve also lost some things, like innocence and boundless optimism and I cannot help but wonder if what I lost opened doors more easily than any lock pick I may now possess.

Then I shrug and think: there’s plenty of ways inside, I’ll dig a tunnel if I have to. Just remember this: you cannot regret what you haven’t done and Spartans never surrender.

 

“Now don’t look down,
The world below’s made up
A photograph of life,
Never quite sure enough”

 

[Part 7 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

The Chase

I’m not chasing you, I’m not even chasing the idea of you. I’m chasing how you made me feel.

How my heart skipped a beat when you walked into a room. How I hoped with every fibre of my being you’d notice me and then crumble when you did.

How everything we said and everything we didn’t say seemed like it was taken right out of a movie script. Real life rarely gets it this perfect.

I’m chasing that fire you sparked with one touch that you made me wait for forever. One finger tracing down my arm, that’s all it took for me to want you and no matter how much you gave me, it was never enough.

How I got dizzy with happiness from the sensation of feeling how soft your skin was. I don’t miss your skin, I miss the dizziness.

How my brain was so wired it memorized every detail of every moment in an instant and now I can never forget. Not much these days seems worth remembering all that well.

I’m chasing that feeling when one word from you could cut me open and make me melt. How you saw what was important and all the rest just fell away.

How you showed vulnerability just when I was convinced I’d never break through to you.

How you brought me to my knees by sinking to yours.

I’m chasing a time when every second was heavy with meaning and intent. When I was somehow more alive, painfully so. When my corners caught your edges and left my entire being raw.

I’m chasing the visions you conjured in my head and the ghosts you left behind that linger in all the words I write and echo in every song I hear.

I’m chasing what cannot be captured, for once you close your hand around it, it’s already fading.

And a part of me still thinks that maybe I should be chasing you and that dove blue shirt.

But answers don’t lie back there and if I don’t fix my eyes on the road ahead, I’ll lose the race no matter when I finish.

NONE (Never One Never Ending)

I longed for warmer weather, but now that it is here I miss the comforts of winter. Hot tea, cozy sweaters and less spiders invading my personal space.

Like the flowers in my garden I try to open up to every new day and be welcoming to those coming my way, be they bees or wanna-be’s. But when the night draws nearer, like the flowers too, I retreat – I don’t want to share my bed.

I have two pillows for another reason and there are corners of myself I know I will never share. That is not your fault – it is my choice. Because then at least there will be something that can never be tainted, forever mine, forever true. Where the stories live and all those lovers I never had except in dreams.

I always cook enough for two, but if I gave you a plate all I’d be thinking is how you’re eating next day’s lunch.

I like remembering people. How they were, or who I thought they were, in that one moment, on that one day, during that short time we shared. I like staying in the “before” so I don’t have to live with the “after”.

I know you want a chance at the in-between, but it is heavily guarded by those ghosts of people I’ve made up.

There’s one more glass of wine and while I drink and once again the night settles in I wonder: how to make that one ghost real, the one that’s been there all along, never left my side and knows my story. Now that would be a feat.

 

“I think I was born with a broken heart, lonesome deep in my bones.”

 

[Part 6 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

Himself

On your knees now you say you are not the same man. You have travelled eastward and inward and found yourself. It’s not that you were ever lost, or that your core was silver when your life was golden. You were never that far off in the first place, but at least you know that now.

On your knees now you are willing to be accepted rather than be judged. You have acknowledged your flaws and you no longer apologise. The only person you can disappoint is yourself and your own expectations are unchanged.

On your knees now you are not asking for rules, you are offering control. You have finally understood you have the power and it is yours to give and not something to be taken away. You will only be led to where you want to go and you’ll wear a smile on your face on the way.

On your knees now you are taller than you have ever been before. You have revealed yourself without fear in your eyes and without expectation in your heart. This moment now transcends you and dissolves into intent and promise. No matter the outcome, you will rise the same.

Forever changed.