I once saw a video of a starfish walking and it made me not want to eat for a week. It no longer looked like an ethereal star but more like a mutated spider. The way it crawled on the ocean floor truly ruined my childhood, it made me wonder what else people were lying to me about.
If starfish aren’t beautiful home decor pieces sold at tjmax and are practically sea spiders, and Santa isn’t real, is anything what we expect nowadays?
Could this world be a collection of tears on the side of a penny, like those science experiments where we are waiting to see how many drops it takes before the dome of water explodes and we all go flying? Are we all just Heaven’s experiments, participating in a mini ant farm given too many steroids?
I wonder if we are disappointing to watch, I bet we are most days when we torpedo ourselves around our to-do-lists and worry about if we took the trash out on garbage day. Maybe in the end we are all just God’s starfish where he thought we could be so much more yet we continue to scrape the floors of the ocean looking for Santa or people’s approval. Wouldn’t that make for a lousy conversation starter in God’s decoration scheme?
Art by Vintage Art Originals
I have a scar on the side of my ribcage around the size of two mini hot-wheels cars, the ones I used to roll around my legs pretending I was a race-car driver or God.
This scar is fresh. 16 stitches, 13 dressing changes, 5 hand squeezes from the nurse, and 4 panicked calls from my mother. They said my skin was cancerous and it needed to be removed. It’s a simple enough procedure. Took less than an hour. But I cried of course, I always do that.
When the nurse held my hand and asked me to think of something else I thought of you.
I thought of Warsaw in the summer and the smell it had when the grass was freshly cut for the Sunday Chopin concert we lounged at. Next to me, even in your suit you seemed so casual. I couldn’t hold myself as confidently as you though, because I knew moments from then we would let the music settle and walk towards where we’d say goodbye. I said all I could say, “I love you.” You said it too, no longer composed but shaky and scared just like I was. Then you were gone.
I open my eyes and I’m back in the hospital room. The nurse assuring, “Everything will be okay.” I believe her, it has to be, but I know it won’t all disappear, love never does that. It settles and pools in the places you once held me, the same place my stitches now rest- the scar you will never kiss better.
Art: Eric Haacht
I moved away from home 6 years ago, assuring my mother I could live by myself. Over 20 countries later, a nearly finished college degree, 2 true heartbreaks, and far too many quit jobs, I found myself in Northern Poland sitting on the train station floor waiting for a way to escape to yet another place. It was 3 am. Exhausted, I rested my head on my single suitcase which held my built up silent desperation for a home.
Next to me at this station slept two homeless men and one homeless woman. Their bloated and tired bodies laid in a state of never ending unrest. They looked how I felt inside and this pressed on my chest until I surprisingly began weeping. I did my best not to wake them, to do so seemed inconsiderate, they were actually homeless and there sat a homesick traveler, crying because for a moment she felt despair while they were caged in it.
My cry was interrupted when I heard someone shuffling toward me. I glanced up. It was another homeless man reaching out trying to place a small cup of coffee in my hands like a child offering handpicked dandelions tied into a bouquet. At first I didn’t want to accept it. Shouldn’t I be the one helping him?
Seeing his continued gestures to accept this small offering, I graciously took the cup. We didn’t say much, from my accent he knew I was foreign and maybe he didn’t want to play charades this late at night. I watch him shuffle away into a different corridor of the station and I was left to sit silently realizing how much this moment changed me.
I’ve been searching for a bigger life and a place to call home for years, but had I forgotten the other people around me who were seeking the same? This pushed me out of my momentary misery to want a home for that man, for the Syrian refugee, for the abused wife, for the homesick college student, for the abandoned child, and for the young solider with his finger on the trigger pointed at someone else’s home. I wished we could all rest if even for just one night- tonight. But if we all couldn’t, and we were stuck in our lost state of distress I wish we could find a way to be like this man, offering all we have (even if it seems like nothing) so for just a moment someone next to us could feel what we wish for most, the feeling of our tired hearts resting at home.
Art Courtesy of Nicola Kloosterman
Of course there are days I think my lungs will collapse because I’m only breathing in silence. But there too are days the solitude sings to me lullabies in a language only we know. Traveling extended amounts of time can divide me like this-Madly in love with the aloneness and going mad with the aloneness all the same.
This past month for work, I have been rotating around Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Poland. Each week I leave only to return for a matter of days then back once again. With each countryside train ride, accompanied with my aloneness, we retreat into my mind.
I dream up complications of words that make utterly no sense but taste good when I say them. I create, I wander, I lecture, I fall in love all within the comfort of my head against those bouncy train seats. Contrary to everything I’ve been taught, I never wish to be too present. An element of madness keeps me loving this life. It loosens my perceived limitations and opens my identity to be far beyond what reality could ever give me.
I don’t fear public speech because I’ve sung at Carnegie Hall once while daydreaming on my train from Bydgoszcz to Kraków. I am confident because on the bus through Romania I imagine myself to already be the woman I wish to be- Mother Teresa with platform red high heels and a rather exquisite taste in Italian gelato.
Without a doubt, it is all an illusion, but I am free from the illusion that anyone is free from illusions. This state, this highly dramatized attempt at reality, is far from adolescent. I think it’s our creativity begging for a space in this life, it’s our possibilities asking to be tried on and walked in. It’s reality taking a taste test of life outside of its train window. I rairly resist. It’s my sweet tooth that keeps me coming back for more.
Art Courtesy of Danielle Krys
Some kisses are apologizes, some are hurried preludes to more, and some are engagement rings and lasting dreams. And his kiss, this lingering kiss on my shoulders, was like he was admiring the strength of where I carry my burdens. He traced his lips up the staircase that leads to my hungry mind only to move back to the gentle dip of my collarbone filled with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.
This is when I froze in utter confusion. Normally we are in a rushed dance, one where true affection and feelings are not required. We agreed on casual kissing, but in my heart there has never been anything casual about kissing. That’s not the “chill” thing to think, and truthfully I am about as chill as the Sub-Saharan Desert on a sunny day. Because with every kiss I want to say, “Come rest your heart here” but I save it for a time he’s not in such a hurry. He’s always in such a hurry.
That is until he kissed my shoulders. For a moment it felt he was there to stay. The moon can tell the earth its uninterested but its orbit says otherwise. Yet it’s silly of me to pretend he is my moon because I am no earth- I am a blazing wildfire and he wants a calm sea to swim on occasion.
I’m kidding no one, not even myself. Regardless of how many kisses we twist ourselves into I can’t become someone I was never meant to be. I can’t be someone’s sea when I am meant to burn.
Art Courtesy of Eugenia Loli
I officially entered the stages of adulthood yesterday by separating my colors from my whites while doing laundry. Normally, I just chuck them all in together. I don’t even bother with the temperature or those annoying washing instructions that I cut off from my tee shirts. Never have I had a problem with shrinking or seeping colors, either.
For years I have been convinced people around me were lying about this bleeding colors thing, surely everyone was set on adding more time and hassle to chores to keep us women domesticated and stuck at home. But it sounded too ridiculous to believe, at the age of 22, that separating laundry was some clandestine sexist conspiracy, so I gave up my defiant ways and decided I should do my laundry like an adult.
My laundry isn’t the only adultish thing I’ve been adapting to lately. My mother is pleased to know after graduation I’ve committed to a ‘real job.’ What she’s not so pleased with is that it’s located in Warsaw and requires a lot of traveling. I could think of worse things..
In the coming months, I’ll be searching for a flat, which means I won’t be a nomad living out of my one duffle bag hopping from people’s couches or the occasional airconditionless beach house. Even more drastic for me, is the notes I now keep with various paint colors for my future place. I’m debating between Nimbus Grey or Apricot for the bathroom.
It’s all pretty exciting actually. I’ll have a flat- my own space filled with real art, travel memorabilia, bookshelves, Polish pottery and properly washed laundry hung up next to a fern I’m set on naming Angie.
I know myself and my hunger well enough to know these plans are subject to change depending on the day, the weather, and the country of the man I fall in love with this time around. But making these plans constitute as a step towards adulthood.
Cheers to growing up, or at least the paint colors and proper laundry suggest I’m doing so.
Art courtesy off Beth Hoeckel
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I recite literature to God. He likes the ones I can’t get through without tears, mainly because He knows I’m offering my soul and not just steering words with autopilot.
Sometimes I use my own, other times someone says it better than I ever could and I trust that God accepts it the same. So this one Thursday night, Sylvia Plath said my prayer,
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
As I sat under Plath’s fig tree God remained tied tongued- tongue tied, I wondered if He too was trying to borrow just the right words.
After laying in that awful silence for over a week God spoke, “I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou [me]? Thou shalt see great things than these.” Luke 1:50.
The silence was broken to remind me God has always been the best of Poets..
Art Courtesy of Carlo Mattioli