Irish music from the hotel lobby beneath me mocked our goodbye. There was dancing, clamorous small talk, and if alcohol could speak, it would be too loud to hear yourself think. Two floors above, our phone conversation was ending “I’m going to miss you.” He gave no response other than “Goodbye Katie”
It all felt so cold- separating over the phone. After, I was left in my room watching as the textured minty green walls became muted, the sound below blurred, and the tears came without the slightest recognition. It’s strange how I’ve ended phone calls my whole life yet this one felt like I had forgotten how to do it.
At this point reading my words, you might assume I loved him deeply. But what if I was honest enough to admit I didn’t? Him and I were not good together, give or take a few sparse moments of euphoric affection, sidewalks witnessing our entangled hands, and the first days of our weekend trips. But mostly our relationship felt like an unopened book that was only admired for its cover art. He was stunningly beautiful, so much so that I dismissed all of the communication books that I marked up for months trying to formulate the right way to tell him I was lonely and tired of our harsh conversations that rarely ended in a tender surrender. Now that he’s gone, my longing has tricked me into believing this was love… It has tricked me into believing we could change.
Currently, I am flooded with moments I miss. I picture him now in our heated political discussions or our playful banter and kissing on a public tram after arguing over our least favorite Sex and the City character. He was wrong, obviously it was Miranda. But he was also wrong to believe that it would be easy for me to let go. Even with reality screaming our incompatibilities, I cannot help but feel a tugging to pick up the phone and surrender everything that’s good for me and say, “Hey you, Let’s do it all over again.”
“I desire the things that will destroy me in the end.” –Sylvia Plath
Art by: Beth Hoeckel
I fear routine like it’s a childhood trauma waiting to surface and bring about its wake of Friday night grocery store runs, and the church pews every Sunday at 10am. I run from it like a hot wheels car gaining speed on a down hill ramp. Most days I’d rather be spit up into the unknown territory of chaos than into the subtle pastel colors of a desk job with the clock that’s audible ticking reminds me that time is cut up into 60 pieces of pie, and each one of them is being eaten by someone other than me.
Now, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. And maybe I’m creating a false dichotomy that in this life our only options are torpedoed unrest, or witnessing our own burial accompanied by elevator music.
As I’ve grown older I’ve been trying to logically tell my skittish heart that being still for a moment, or wanting things like a home, or a stable relationship isn’t a death wish or even at odds with the girl inside me that can’t stop laughing at how sublime this life is. But apparently I was created with a rather high dose of chaotic passion. I am filled with hunger that drives me around this world like a kleptomaniac collecting spontaneous moments, delicious croissants and short-lived romances with foreign men whose names I can’t pronounce. It’s been like this for years now, and I bet it’s exhausting just watching.
Believe it or not, I’m a bit tired too. I woke up this morning with the unexplainable urge to avoid my daily plane ticket search and to just sit for a moment and daydream about going nowhere for a time. “See,” I whisper to myself, “Staying isn’t so scary now is it?” Then I open my eyes, walk out the door and go shopping for sandals for Egypt next month.
The realisation sets in, my heart aches. Not a deep red but the soft hues of a rusty pink gone purple. It’s the color of knowing it’s too early to claim heartbreak but past pretending not to care.
When we met we were a faded cream, then from the first night to the next we became a rich burgundy. I wondered if we were taking things too fast- like maybe the rosed reds should be after the pinks not before them. Yet, we skipped our way to the deeper shades until we were left with no other option but to grow pale.
That’s where this leaves us, a purpley indistinguishable hue of hearts not as certain as they used to be. The color that can be mistaken for subtlety but really is the removal of vibrancy and the marking of our descent into simply acquaintances.
Belonging was a sliver somewhere lost up in my first beer. He shared his with me as we abandoned our car and found some swampy field that overlooked the ocean. The drink tasted far worse than it smelt, and I only took two sips because I was afraid my throat would burn down to my stomach leaving me empty.
This was my one chance at being normal and I hated it- the taste, the smell, the fact that I felt I had to clandestinely drink it. Despite all this, I gripped the bottle yearning for something to mark the leaving of my Mormon faith. Touching alcohol, a sin great enough to exempt me from full membership, seemed like a big enough statement. But the beer was just as much a lie as was the past 3 years of me in my religion. It was the silent pleading for someone to look away so I could pour it out- the script, the regurgitated answers, the amens and now it was the same battle but in the form of a bottle.
He saw my hesitation, the wincing of my eyes as I swallowed. “If you don’t like it you don’t have to drink it.” Reaching out to take the bottle he gently reminded me, “It’s okay.” Silent, I wondered- Could it be that I didn’t have to play hopscotch with facades? Could I believe what I wanted, drink, or in my case not drink, as I pleased? He let me put down the bottle just as much as he let me take off my past. Being seen so vulnerably felt unfamiliar- it tasted strong, uncertain and free with a twist of lime.
Art courtesy of Eric Haacht
The music here is akin to dropping kitchen utensils on a tile floor. People fuse together slowly attempting to move to the beat but a melody is required for that, and here there is not one to be found.
I don’t exactly know why I’m here.. at this concert, in this European city even. It’s all a bit random, even more senseless is the strange satisfaction I have during it all. It’s not because I’ve found belonging here per se, I mean I’m wearing a strapless red and white polka dot dress amongst Warsaw’s best hipsters in an all black collage of strong beer and unnecessary winter hats in spring. I’m the easiest Waldo to spot.
Yet, I’m welcomed all the same, that’s the fascinating part. There’s a place- a place for this strange music, and a place for salsa dancing on a Tuesday night, for Jewish bakeries, and quaint bookstores, and yes, a place for a girl who doesn’t yet know where she belongs in it all. There’s a place in this city. Endless places that I continue to fill.
Art by: Heather Day
‘Quick’ I think to myself. ‘If you write something as uncomfortable as you did yesterday you must make up for it with something nice. Maybe write about the flowers you witnesses scattered on the streets of Napoli Italy, or the red threads of the new sweater that frame your collarbones. No one wants to read your hurt.’
So I begin lying. I press my forced optimism into my words until rage finds its way through.
I don’t know how people grieve their loss of security- the loss of their bodies belonging to them.
I don’t know how many women feel this small.
I don’t know how long it will take before pretty words will come out of me again.
I don’t know
I don’t know
For now, I’ll forget pretty and stick with truth.
Art by Nicola Kloosterman
I don’t want to be beautiful. I don’t want to be womanly. I don’t want to be desirable.
I’d give back every compliment and every lovers’ kiss if it meant I could take back the night he locked the door behind me and put the keys in his pocket, not long after they dropped to the floor when he undid his belt.
Why have I been so goddamn polite all these years? Why have I spent so much time putting on my lipstick and my smile? It’s like I made myself out to be sold.
What was my price, a drink at the bar? That chocolate dessert? The quarter tank of gas to drive me home?
He said I was so sexy.
Let me be clear, I don’t want to be sexy. No, I want to be released.
Art by Sofia Bonati
I seem to find words for everything except for God. Vocabularies, pictures, sacred text filled my childhood so I could organise Him into a container with its labeled position on my night stand to watch over me as I slept.
That same God eventually died when I could no longer match the world that was evolving inside of me with the dogmatic and undoubtably ridged God I had grown up believing. When He died, so too did the part of me that rested in simplicity and certainties.
Now I am a woman filled with faith and with doubt, both valued equally in the search for my soul to find rest in the divine. My eyes are fully open for answers that I’ll be fine if never come.
Rilke, an Austrian poet wrote, “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.. live the questions now, perhaps then, someday far in the future you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
I pray Rilke was right, that somehow in my patient contemplation I might stumble upon the God who at the moment appears rather cryptic. In its rightful time, this very God might allow intellectual honesty coupled with sacred yearning to occupy my faith. A faith that leaves its sanatized shelter and joins the robust, and at times messy, dialogue of this life.
Art- Clement Mancini
A sense of helplessness battles inside me each time I enter a plane. I know the chances of it being just an ordinary flight are high, yet with each belly growl from the engine I feel as though my life is no longer in my hands- it’s in the pilot’s, the ascending cloud’s, or whichever God in the end was the real one.
On occasion, a presence of peace comes from my monitor screen. I stare at the map that tracks the flight mid air, breathing relief like an exhaust pipe when we exit ocean territory and hover over land. It’s strange if you think about it, whether we crash over sea or over ground, me and all these passengers would be recycled away. Definite gonners. But somehow knowing my preference call on how I go (ocean or land) was acknowledged breeds the illusion of having some semblance of control.
Though, there too is a strange paradoxical calm that comes from passing my life’s responsibility on to another. There’s someone to blame when the plane plummets, but when it’s just me I don’t have to luxury of shewing away accountability. That’s what this move to Europe feels like for me- a lot of pressure to not crash out there on my own. Maybe I should bask in the surrender that takes place in the loosely buckled seats and turbulent warnings- for a moment I can sip my ice cold water in a cup smaller than my hands and know that’s all I have to be holding. It won’t be long before I have bigger things to hold together.
Art by: Whooli Chen
“So there is this man,” as most of my stories begin. This man puts most men to shame- he is a total flower-child, beat generation hippie that my parents would never want me dating. So I date him. He touches me till my voice cracks into song- It’s been so long since I’ve heard myself sing.. It’s been so long since I’ve felt myself loved.
Being loved by him makes me yearn to stay in Hawaii, give up all my aspirations and join him in a yurt somewhere making homemade kombucha and sun babies. We very well could do that. But then there is this soul in me that knows I need more than comfortable. In my moments of doubt, I wonder if it’s my greed telling me that instead of my intuition. Either way, I’ve got my suitcase on the floor like an open casket.
I won’t stay. Adulthood slowly approaches then all at once. I’ve signed the dotted line for work and I’ll be moving to Warsaw, Poland in a matter of days. I simply know I’ve got to go, and just like that I’ve made our hearts break.
Art: Frank Moth