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Now Is Not The Best Time

Sandy Price was laying in the bed, hands folded on her chest, breathing slowly, eyes glued to the stucco ceiling overhead. She could remember it clearly. She could remember everything clearly. She rolled over and looked at Derek, asleep, and grimaced. She got out of bed and walked softly to the kitchen, where she took a glass out from the cupboard, walked to the sink, looked at it for a moment and then instead reached under the sink for the gin. She poured herself a glass and walked to the large window at the end of the living room of their studio apartment, glancing out at the city. Sandy had always liked the city at night. She’d always liked night, in general, but especially the city. How it lit up, looked so vibrant and welcoming and warm. She now knew it wasn’t, but as a little girl, it comforted her to think that there was this place that was so safe and cozy.

She sipped her gin and heard a groan behind her. She turned to see Derek standing in the door frame between the living room and the bedroom. She sighed as he rubbed his eyes and approached her.

“Are you ok? Why’re you up?” he asked, and she shrugged.

“Why not,” she replied, “What’s the point of sleeping. Doesn’t make me feel any better. All my dreams are terrible. Might as well be awake at a time when I actually enjoy looking at the shithole we live in,” she said, motioning her hand with the drink in it towards the cityscape.

“Is this about Rufus?” Derek asked, hushed, like he was afraid of what would come next. As if saying this name would spawn forth from the depths of hell a million demons hellbent on the destruction of the earth, and often when regarding Sandy’s anger, that wasn’t a far off analogy. Sandy slowly turned back to the window and swirled the gin in her glass.

“Rufus has nothing to do with any of this,” she said coldly, “Besides, how could he be involved in anything when he’s a thousand miles away…when did I get so cold? When did we get so cold, and not just you and but the proverbial ‘we’. Nobody asks how another persons day was anymore, and nobody seems to provide simple acts of human kindness like holding doors open for old people. This isn’t a rant about the death of humanity, god knows that’s been overdone to death by bleeding heart liberals writing for websites with cutesy names like ‘Boodles’ or something. I’m a liberal too, but I’m not the kind who thinks simple technological advances like smart phones are going to cause the death of conversation.”

Derek sat down on the arm of a chair and rubbed his shoulder, sighing.

“What is this about then? Just how distant you feel about everything?” he asked, and she rolled her eyes and snorted.

“Yeah, distant, let’s go with that. Everyone wants personal space in a city that thrives on community. There’s nothing wrong with privacy, everyone is entitled to it, it’s their right to want to have their own time and their own space, but engagement, even on a level as simple as saying ‘nice day, isn’t it?’ is so crucial to simply keeping the lines of communication between our own fucking species going. We cannot allow ourselves to become this cut off from another. Those girls I teach…”

Sandy sat down on the window sill and looked at her nails, exhaling loudly.

“…they don’t judge one another,” she continued, “They help one another figure out their moves if they’re having trouble, and they rally around one another as a team to support eachother and the team as a whole. People say evil is taught. That’s debatable. But what I can tell you is actually taught is cynicism. Bitterness. Coldness. It happens when you’ve been hurt one too many times, when you want to withdraw because you feel you can no longer trust anyone; including yourself, because you keep making the poor decision to open up to just one more person, always knowing the end result is the same.”

“Sandy,” Derek said, “…did I hurt you? I know we’ve had our problems, but we’ve always worked it out one way or another. I know Rufus hurt you. I’m sorry. But how can you stand there and honestly claim that the end result is the same when you live with someone who cares about you tremendously and only has your best interests at heart?”

“…you’ll leave too,” Sandy said softly, letting her hair cover her face so she could hide, “You will. Someone can only put up with negativity for so long before ‘love’ turns to ‘tolerate’. I try so hard to be who you think I am, who you would love for me to be, but it’s not me. I’m an angry, upset young lady. Is that really who you love? Or do you just love the idea you have of me?”

Derek stood up and walked over to the window sill, sitting in it with her, looking out the window at the city lights.

“Remember a few years ago when we went with my folks to that ski resort? We spent a lot of the time inside, just sitting by that giant fire pit, sipping cocoa and reading and just…enjoying something for once without worrying about the financial ramifications? You looked really pretty with that fire light flickering on your eyes, curled up in that chair, just sucked into your literature.”

“What’s with the nostalgia kick?” Sandy asked, swirling her index fingertip inside her empty glass, “You think this is how we fix our problems?”

“I’m just trying to get you to remember something nice, that’s all. If we could go on vacations like that as often as our parents could at our age, I would love it. You want to dance, you want to teach girls to dance, but then you go to work and you seem so miserable and you only seem happy when you’re alone. When you have no responsibilities.”

“So you’re saying my argument is hypocritical?” Sandy asked, sniffling.

“Well, who isn’t hypocritical?” Derek asked, grinning, “But no, what I’m saying is that a lot of people can’t do both. You can. You do. A lot of people are so…dead inside or something that they just shut off their humanity and do what they must to survive, even if it means only caring about themselves or their family and nobody else. But you can do both, and, hell that’s admirable. You’re mad because you don’t know why everyone else can’t do what you do. That’s what I’m saying. You want to grab them and shake them and scream ‘Why is this so goddamn difficult for you?!’ but that’s the thing, it just is goddamn difficult for them. I agree with you, it’s sad, but…it’s for them to deal with. You keep doing the good that you’re doing, and you’ll feel better I think.”

Sandy pushed her hair out of her face and smiled slightly at Derek, her eyes remarkably pale blue, her skin so pale in the moonlight. She looked out the window again and shook her head.

“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I want to just climb out this window and throw myself to the sidewalk. Just let it all end,” Sandy said, “But then I realize that suicide, at least for me, only seems like a viable option because I am surviving. The others who generally seem to kill themselves really do feel like it’s their only option, or it is their only option, as they’re perpetually unemployed or sick or homeless or something. But I have a place, here, and I have you and I have a job and I…I’m surviving. That’s why it’s an option, and not a necessity.”

“I’m glad you see it that way, because-“

“I miss my mom,” Sandy said, choking up, tears starting to roll down her cheeks, “I called her to talk about my first recital with the girls you saw and…and she wasn’t even in the least bit interested. She called it a ‘hobby’ the entire time. I want to please her so bad and yet I hate her so much. You have your family. Do you know what it’s like to not have family? To be that alone? I have your parents, and you, and the girls at the dance hall but…to not have family. A place you came from, a home…it’s exhausting trying to figure out where you’re supposed to be or even if you’re supposed to be. To not have a place of origin, a backstory, a prologue…is your story even worth reading?”

“You’re worth reading,” Derek said, “You’re the one who pays the majority of the rent on this place, that car is yours, you’re the one with meaningful employment. You’re worth reading. Each chapter it gets better and better, and we can make sure there’s a happy ending.”

“I don’t want to be distant.”

“I don’t want you to be.”

Some dogs barked in the distance, and a few cars drove by underneath them.

“Hey,” Sandy said.

“Yeah?” Derek replied.

“Promise me that if I do ever kill myself, you’ll write my sequel.”

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The Time Travelers Strife

When you’re a kid, sometimes you have a really close friend. Sometimes, you make plans with this friend, things like “When we’re out of high school, we’ll get our own place and have fun all the time”. Most of the time, that friend leaves. But the other half of that friendship actually meant what was said…they really believed those things would happen, and that’s a crushing blow to believing anything, especially regarding the future, can come true and it makes you close yourself off to others a bit more than you were to begin with. I know because I experienced this.

I was the kind of kid who only had a few friends in my entire adolescence, but they were friends I was extremely close to. One in particular I spent almost all my free time with, and we had dozens of in-jokes, running jokes and could sit with one another doing whatever we wanted without ever needing to say a word, for hours upon hours. We often spent nights and even entire weekends at one anothers homes, and we created a lot of stuff together like short videos and comics. This was my absolute best friend, and we came up with a lot of plans of what to do after we graduated from high school.

And then, they left, and things fell apart.

The thing is, the people who leave are often the people who can grow up, advance and move forward with life. The ones left behind are the ones who really thought things would stay the way they were forever, and that was me. I thought this wouldn’t happen. I thought they really cared. But this isn’t realistic, a truth I begrudgingly accept even as I wish this truth had a physical form so I could stab it repeatedly in the face with a rusty, jagged knife. The funny thing is, even though this was a truth that didn’t take years to discover, I still refused to acknowledge its truthfulness. I refused to accept the reality of this truth, and as such, I haven’t done anything with my life, because the way I saw it, why bother? It all falls apart and none of it comes true anyway.

The real problem here is that it’s impeded into every aspect of my life. Why wash my hair? It’s just gonna get dirty again. Why do dishes? I’m just gonna eat again. Why do laundry? I’m just gonna wear these clothes again. A mixture of depression thrown in and this is the most dangerous combination I can think of. So how does one break this cycle? I truly don’t know. What’s worse is my memory for things like “e-mail this person tomorrow” is absolutely worthless, but my memory regarding people I used to know, even if they’re people I’d rather never think about again, is crystal fucking clear. I can recall every single room of every single house of every single friend I have ever had. I remember all the time spent in those living rooms, those bedrooms and more. You cannot escape, even after these people have left.

We, as a species, like to plan for the future. This is why we have daily planners, wedding planners, funeral arrangements and thousands upon thousands of movies about time travel. It’s not enough to plan for the future, we have to plan for the future because we hate the present and things are never going the way we hope they will. Even with the uncertainty of ‘you might not even be alive next week’, we still like to daydream about what the future might hold. Fortune tellers are nothing more than a source of immediate faux comfort for $45 an hour. This explains why people would much rather go to a fortune teller than a therapist. A fortune teller tells you how things might improve in the future. A therapist tells you how you can improve things in the future, and seeing how people don’t like to take responsibility for being the reasons their life sucks (this is the entire idea behind fate, honestly, “it can’t be my fault, it’s fate!), they never want to be faced with that prospect.

To us, the best thing we can do with our present is plan for our future.

The problem with the future though, is that it often doesn’t come true.

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Destination, Someone

Personality is like a road map.

Some are very easy to read, easy to understand, easy to follow. Some are a little more complex, not so surface level, and make you a bit frustrated when you think you’re supposed to take a right turn but instead make a left and infuriate someone even more because you’ve now said the wrong thing in reaction to the conversation. Then there’s some road maps that are stained and torn, that aren’t understandable in the slightest. They’ve been stuck in the glove box for like, 30 years, and everytime someone pulls that one out everyone groans and goes, “Ugh…not this one.”

My personality is that road map. It’s confusing, filled with wrong turns and bad directions. It’s almost impossible to follow, even with the pen marks someone once made on it for others to later use that are a sad attempt to ‘update’ the map for current use. Eventually the person using it gets so annoyed, they toss the map down in frustration or they ball it back up and violently shove it back into that dark glove box again. Some people would think this would make the map feel bad, but really, I’d rather be an incomprehensible road map than a road map that easily leads you everywhere with no questions asked. I like being the complex map.

“Frustrating”, “Challenging”, “Annoying”, “Impossible”, “Irritating”, “Useless”. I’ve heard all of these in reference to my personality, in reference to attempts to understanding me. Even those who’ve made the attempt eventually start to run into annoyances, wondering why they didn’t take an easier map.The thing is, while this, in theory, should make me feel even worse about myself, it’s a source of odd pride. I’m glad people don’t understand me, because it means I’m not the same. I’m different, and usually that wouldn’t be said with such happiness, despite people always tell you being different is good and being unique is special, because being different means not fitting in but why would I want to fit in with a species who’re so quick to dismiss me simply for such insignificant things like how I look or think?

The problem often isn’t the person being excluded. The problem is that society excludes people. That’s where change needs to be directed towards. Because society and pop culture has cultivated this idea that conformity is something to be attained in order to even be remotely accepted, there’s a lot of people out there who think that just because they’re alone means they’re required to be unhappy. Bullfuckingshit. Alone and liking yourself is better than surrounded by people who make you hate yourself because you’re not really being you. Be that fucking road map. Be the one with the coffee ring right in the middle, and who’s edges are all tattered and frayed. Be that road map and mislead people, teach them they can’t judge maps by a few simple red and blue lines. That’s the great thing about poor GPS tools. Yeah they can misdirect you, but they can also misdirect you into places you’d never expect yourself to go and sometimes have an adventure.

Sure, those road maps can take them to their destination.

But your road map can take them on a journey.

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Roadside Attraction

I’m a roadside attraction; a novelty. A tourist trap for all to see. Snowy channel viewed by curiosity; Neon light blinking “vacancy”. A passing interest, second hand store, short lived affair, open house tour. A pop quiz, some bad press, a poorly written sidequest.

You interest wanes more than the moon, and you’ll forget about me soon, you’ll tell another about me, a quickly fading memory. I’m nothing more than a pit stop, a camping ground; you window shop. When you think back, my face obscured, voice distorted, dreams unheard; I’m the thought you forget when you enter the room, the song you remember just as a tune.

I’m a short film and a novella, the forgotten diner tin can umbrella; I won’t be missed when you move on, I’m brief, forgotten, like the dawn. You want something longer lasting, something you won’t forget in passing. I’m a guest room, a garage sale, I’m store brand, I’m yesterday…

…I’m the shortcut. Not the highway.

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Hello, My Name Is Identity Crisis

I’ve been having a severe, existential identity crisis lately. I’ve come to realize that I don’t know who I am anymore. Oddly enough, when I was younger, I knew exactly who I was, even as young as 15. I knew what I believed, what I subscribed to ideals wise, all of that crap. Now though…now I feel as though I’m simply an amalgamation of everything I like, with no real personality. I feel like I’m a collection of anecdotes, opinions I’ve taken from people I admire and respect, and what I enjoy media wise (literature, radio shows, etc.). It’s…one cup embarrassing and three cups disquieting, which makes for a delicious crisis cake.

To be fair, even as a little girl I was always at a loss when told to introduce myself to the class, or how to tell new people I met what I was like. I’m not sure how to be a person anymore. I know that I’m more than my illnesses, my hobbies, my sentiments. I’m more than my anxiety, my depression, my autism. I’m more than my favorite authors and most listened to albums. I just don’t know how to really assert that part of myself, even just to myself. Am I really just a list of interests and medical diagnoses? Is that what the internet, social media, have made me? We are really boiled down to a checklist. Every single webpage for any social networking site consists of a description, whether it’s okcupid, tumblr or facebook:

Hello, my name is Maggie. I’m 27, and a lesbian. I like reading, gardening, bike riding and collecting comic books. I am currently learning how to play violin, and how to do taxidermy. My favorite bands are –

And so on and so forth. So you can see, we’ve all really been boiled down to nothing more than a list of hobbies and political opinions. It makes it easier to make friends or meet romantic interests, at least that’s what they say, but what happens when you begin to feel like that in real life? When you literally start to feel like nothing more than a chart? Who am I anymore? What do I really believe in? I know I have certain things I believe in: practicing witchcraft, equal rights, feminism and the like, but how fleshed out are these really? I call myself a witch, but I rarely practice the craft. I don’t have an altar anymore. I don’t even read anything related to the religion anymore. As much as I believe in equal rights, I don’t do anything to help further these causes, not even sharing stuff from friends on social media, and as a gay women, I think people that’s probably a problem when in reality, I just already have so many mental issues, the last thing I need to do night and day is post things like that. It’s not good for my own mental health.

You’re supposed to know who you are as you get older, aren’t you? You come into your own, and all that jazz, but I knew who I was when I was younger and now know nothing about myself other than what bands I like and that I think everyone should have the right to get married. I don’t know who I am anymore, and it’s terrifying. And instead of focusing on fixing this very real, scary issue, I throw myself headlong into work projects and the like. I ignore it all, maybe in the hopes that it’ll go away.

But my problems didn’t go away.

I went away, and I don’t know how to come back.