TRICK (Twisting Reasons Into Careless Knots)

Oh, to not only suffer but suffer well. With a suspicious heart always focused on what isn’t yet and what will never be, happiness is the enemy. The consoling thought is that great art springs from despair and other people’s joy makes most people nauseous.
Once more into the depths then, to where the voices sing songs of the quiet times, hindsight, contemplation and questions over answers.

I always was sadder than I had any right to be – objectively. Seems reasons work retroactively too. Maybe my soul knew the things to come long before and so I was prepared when the time came.
Now I just want to make a mess of things, say yes to everything I know won’t last and live in the space between today and tomorrow.

If you held my hand, maybe you would feel the melancholy seep into you too and see how it adds a hue to the world that’s hard to shake. Maybe that’s why you wear your sunglasses at night: reality is too bright unfiltered.
Those rings I wear tonight I wear to feign the grace I wish I possessed and wish you’d notice. What I am really saying is not in the many words I speak. They are a distraction – my greatest magic trick.

And I am so disappointed you fall for it every single time.

“So it falls apart, it falls apart
Just like you wanted it to fall apart
It falls apart, it falls apart”

[Part 17 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

OVER (Old Visions Eagerly Return)

In a time where time has stopped making sense and only moves in circles, I yearn to leave the track and swerve to the left. But the hourglass just gets turned over – and over, and over. Lessons not learned keep the plot ever the same and an ending cannot be found.
So there we are in perpetuity and all that will help is to find new ways to walk this figure eight. Next turn I might prance instead, then gander, then sprint – and hope the pictures on the walls will make different forms if passed at different speeds.

But a closed loop returns you to places you had left behind and I get tangled in the webs I’ve spun from your blue shirt and the walk through snow in Vienna. What was it you wrote onto that car window with icy fingers?
It would not be hard to find you now, but I am not sure I could explain the tangled strings that hang from your fingertips and tug at the very soul of me. For what are they to you but figments of my imagination? And to that, I am sure, you wouldn’t live up to anyway.
You are not full of magic; you have been circling your own figure eight and it’s unlikely you still wear the same shoes.

If there is no forward, if there is only round and round, then how do I keep the ghosts from haunting me? How do I start a new web when no new fingers appear to hang them from?
If all there is are do-overs, then why can’t you and I do over what we did once – painful conclusion and all? At the end of it all I won’t even ask you to stay. Because although we’re all stuck, we’re all moving. On our treadmills, our rowing machines, our stationary bikes – all those contraptions that make us think we’re going places.

My place has always been people and you’re my favorite one. Your well springs eternal and I have discovered oceans in it. Teach me diving.

“What happens will be
Pain of my own making
Cut short by eternity”

[Part 16 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

Searching for Atlas

Not one to falter, she marches ever on. A mountain is just a journey of a few thousand steps, a valley just a few thousand more. There’s nothing for it, time only moves in one direction, and so she continues forward – for what else is there? Stop and let the cresting wave behind her catch up?
And because her feet don’t stop moving in the face of overwhelming obstacles, even strangers now tell her that she is strong, that she is brave, that she can do it.
She wears a smile and a suit of armor assembled over the years – and from afar both look convincing and shiny. You have to look closer to see the cracks.
The wind whips her hair, rubble and rocks line her path, sometimes the fates release arrows her way – just for the hell of it.
And she ducks and weaves and climbs and overcomes, sealing her own fate.
She’s drawn her sword more than once to do battle and survived every wound and fight – regardless of who won in the end. She’s held her own against formidable foes – some self-made, some merely encountered – and she has rarely been afraid.
She doesn’t hesitate to bet on herself when the odds are even.

But lately the odds have been stacked against her and she is tired. So tired.

Where is Atlas to carry her world for a while? Just a minute, just a second, just so she can catch her breath, gage how much trail still lies ahead and start to believe again that Spartans really never do surrender.

STOP (Safety Transforms Other Priorities)

If I squint, I can see things clearly, but that seems dangerous for the road ahead. I treasure depth over breadth, but my depth perception is currently off. So I stumble forward with what I hope is awkward, perfect grace. And I try to be kind, because that’s a choice I still have, when others seem to be dwindling or have been taken away. It’s not that I wanted to say yes, I just wanted to have the option.

Now everyone relies on me giving them time, when that is the one thing I’m not willing to part with. I don’t have enough of it and I can’t make any more. The roots are all growing back – in the garden and on my head – and it’s not a pretty sight.

Projects inside piling up when the only ones I’m interested in are on the other side of this door. Even the cat is sick of me.

At the worst of times the stories in my head have gone quiet and so the pages of all the notebooks I found in old boxes will stay empty for a while longer.

I surprised myself when asked if I would return to a time, a place or a person I still named you – after all these years. Why do I still believe you hold some kind of key? That my choices would have been different if I could return to my cheek on your dove blue shirt?

Once, in a dream, I breathed a sigh of relief, felt my shoulders relax and the ground give way underneath. I was both falling and free and knew that’s how it’s meant to be.

It’s not often you find yourself suffering from too much of a good thing – or a thing people tell you is good, only you’ve never liked it much – like bacon.

I’m having too many cups of tea while knowing I’m not everyone’s – nor do I want to be. Just don’t be a coffee snob.

 

“To fall asleep I need white noise to distract me
Otherwise I have to listen to me think
Otherwise I pace around, hold my breath, let it out
Sit on the couch and think about
How living’s just a promise that I made”

 

[Part 15 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

TIME (Tiny Increments Move Everything)

I call it one thing and you call it another. And I know you’re trying to make me feel better, but I’d like you more if you spoke the truth.
There’s so much these days I don’t say, because it’s better to let the pieces of my soul settle after the shake-up.
As I contemplate engraving the memory of the impact, I try to define the Before. The caesura that heightens both the prior note and the chord to follow. It’s time I learned an instrument.

Generic phrases flicker across my screen and I despair at all the laid back, easygoing people who don’t take life too seriously. If this is the only life you get, the only heart to feel with, the only eyes to see out of, then don’t you want to make it mean more?
In a room full of people I can feel completely alone and so I learned to like my own company. The IPO wasn’t great, but now it pays dividends to loyal traders.

What a lot of life you can squeeze out of time when you accept that once even a diamond was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or maybe it’s time squeezing life out of me.
Some chapters need more words than others, and I have left my place on the shore. The water is warmer than I imagined, and my body remembers how to swim. My mind alters between reminiscing about the shoreline behind and planning for the adventures ahead.

I feel the wheel ticking along, in step as ordered, and then – click – I feel the disconnect. Though I hope it’s just the heating coming on.

 

“What have I become?
Truth is: nothing yet”

 

 

[Part 14 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

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”]