i see them change when they look at me
soften and dilate and love
and i can see my own reflection in your eyes
and i can see our futures and you in every part
of my life and mine in yours
and every moment has led up to this
every look has been practicing for this look.
soften and dilate and fade
with hands placed palm to palm
i bend my elbows to draw you close
you think i'm gearing to push you away
so you slump back
now my arms are extended and yours held back in fear
so i reach to embrace but
you're too far gone and you realize and
you reach but i have put my arms down
in rejection and you put your arms down
why don't we just do palm to palm
step two. someone needs to be blamed
and the great finger point begins. you to her, her to him, him to him, him to them.
but so far no one is turning their finger around
and nowhere is the finger pointing back at their own chest
we don't even need elbows anymore because everyday our motions need to become more pronounced. and if you can't do a gesture big and powerful then you mustn't at all.
and if you aren't pointing a finger outward then you wouldn't point at all.
one finger pointing out is just three pointing back at you as they say. next step is to point all of them and then you will resemble someone else from history.
It is weird to be almost out of place where I never really felt in place in the first place. the sheer mass of the people here and the sheer plainness and consistency of thought have always made me feel like an outsider and have made me prefer the outside.
I often wonder about my choice to come to school here. I always knew how it would be, because I went to efy and I pretended and suffocated and I went to high school and my seminary class was all friends with each other but not me. And I knew college would be somewhere in the middle of that, between pretending and out. I guess the decision revolved around what kind of exclusion was I more interested in? The kind that dominated my high school years with my friends partying and living lifestyles that were completely unparallel to mine, but friends that I could carry on meaningful conversations with about religion and law and music and relationships? Or the kind of exclusion where people carried a cookie cutter, semi-intolerant state of mind, and who were unprepared and unrequired to think on their own. The kind that may eventually lead me to hate myself and my background, the kind where I am living in fear waking up on any given day with a mind wiped free of judgment and personality and I have become the people who write obnoxious reviews in the artists’ book at a non-conservative art show displayed on campus. But on some level the biggest decisions we make, we don’t even make, they just happen. And the biggest decision ends up being how we respond to what “just happens.”
But I am almost through now, and here I am on my way out of a place I was always out of. I’m juggling between feelings of relief and guilt and excitement, but I can’t help and look back at my experience and progression. I’m still very much the same skeptic who came here in the first place, but maybe now I’m starting to know why.
But on the line of being out of place, it seems like the key is just finding your place, no matter how small or how frequent, is to find that place and those people that have reciprocal meaning. And that’s all it takes in any city in any school in any whatever—just finding where you fit into the puzzle. And even if it’s on the outside, it feels good to just fit.
It’s almost as if the people I am passing
Have been training their whole lives to look directly forward
And beyond me as if I am nothing more noteworthy than a shrub
I guess that could make sense
Since there are probably more people on campus/on planet earth than shrubs
But still, I have eyes
And I am looking at you.
I have tested the theory that it is unnatural to avoid eye contact
It feels unnatural.
Even cats make eye contact with me when I look at them.
They can’t help it!
Little kids look at me every time.
And the younger they are, the longer they will maintain eye contact
I rarely win staring contests with babies
Maybe people have just had bad experiences with making eye contact
Like “Oops, I promise I don’t have a crush on you (but oops I really do!)”
Or “You are wearing the weird clothes, I can’t look away”
Or maybe feelings pass too much
Or maybe then you have to talk to people and you are in a hurry
Even though it is a friend you haven’t seen in five months because you’re just too busy
Too busy to make eye contact
Too busy to be natural
Too busy to recognize that someone is not a shrub
but i'm thirsty. and i'm 70% made of water. and snow is pretty but it's also 32 degrees at the most and i am 98.6 degrees at the most. so come on rain get into my eyes.
As far as I can tell, there are two different types of birthmarks. There is the kind that our parents see when they are first inspecting us after we come out of the birth canal. They count our fingers and then our toes—one, two, three, four, five—and there between the third and fourth toe of the left foot is a little strawberry discoloration that suddenly becomes the most beautiful non-flaw that has ever existed. When our parents show us off as new babies, strangers ask, “Did she get any birthmarks anywhere?” And our parents beam and say, “Oh yes, look right here just between her third and fourth toe, have you ever seen anything more beautiful?” And the strangers Oo and Aw about the beautiful little difference that is the first sign of a baby that has never existed before.
And we grow up a little bit and during recess in elementary school we show each other our birthmarks. Most of the kid’s are brown and in funny shapes. They are over the knees or behind the ears but all the kids show their birthmarks like a badge of honor, like a badge that has never been given to anyone else.
The sad thing about this birthmark is how it usually fades away by the time we get to junior high, and it only shows up from time to time at events like jumping into a freezing cold pool. And now I am leaning over and pulling my toes apart but there is nothing there, not the slightest remnant of my little strawberry birthmark badge.
And then there is the second kind of birthmark. The funny thing about this kind, is that it’s not really a birthmark. It’s just a mark that shows up and it still gets called a birthmark, because it usually looks the same. No one really knows why it shows up: maybe sun damage, or just general aging, or maybe for the same reason we get real birthmarks. That reason being, of course, that no one knows why and there is no reason. But it definitely has something to do with what we do to ourselves as our lives go on, whether that be intense sun exposure or simply just allowing the years to pass. So all the sudden I have a birthmark that I wasn’t marked at birth with and it is on the right side of my right leg.
And so here I am with life, fighting to hang on to the badges I was born with, and dealing with those that have been placed on me. Trying to combine the past with the present, and label it all “me.”
But in actuality, I don’t have anything to do with my own birthmarks, they’re just something I was given. They’re just there! Something I claim as my own and my own distinguishing features, but I am not distinguished by their existence, they are distinguished in and of themselves. I work with them and I make them mine, I make them part of me. With both the birthmarks that I started with but have since faded and the birthmarks that have since appeared.
The weekend trip to California for my 21st birthday was a much needed break after four months of continual snow and below-tolerable temperatures. We drove directly to Huntington Beach, changed into our swimsuits, walked out to the beach and realized, some level of winter does actually exist even at Huntington Beach. Sure, the weather was significantly warmer and the sun was more than some distant fixture in the sky, but we were perhaps a bit optimistic to start with. We huddled up in our beach towels on the eve of my birthday and couldn’t add much more than our feet to the water. So we retired to the city. There were some cute shops and restaurants, and my roommate from California insisted we eat fish tacos at Wahoo’s. Now fish tacos did not sound like an appetizing combination, but I went along with it anyway.
The restaurant’s beachy atmosphere of surf videos and surfboards was the first thing to welcome us. The line went quickly and after fighting for a table and receiving our food I understood the popularity. The fish taco was one of the most delicious things I’d ever eaten. It was simple: good fish, tortilla, cabbage, salsa, rice and beans. It was perfect. The next day was my birthday and all I wanted was fish tacos. I was afraid to leave Huntington Beach because I knew I was also distancing myself from the likelihood of that great fish taco.
Upon our return to Provo, I knew what I needed to do. I was to find the best fish taco in Utah. We began by making a professional spreadsheet: complete with complex formulas and a color-coded labeling system. Categories were placed in columns with which we used to judge each individual taco. We used twelve categories including condiments, mess factor, price, and atmosphere. They were all placed on a weighted scale, the category of “overall taste” getting the highest weight. After we entering the criteria, the tacos would be ranked against each other, for an overall scale. When we ate out, we would find a place with fish tacos. Then when we would hurry home with fresh memories and rate the tacos. After we ate one in every known Mexican restaurant in Utah Valley, we extended our boundaries to Salt Lake.
After about a year of research, we had formulated an impressive list. We knew the best of Provo, of Salt Lake, the best deals, the best kept secrets, the best of everything. So you probably have two questions at this point. Did you ever find anything as good as Wahoo’s? No. I don’t think it’s actually possible 800 miles from the ocean. Also it’s been so long that the memory of the fish taco has become elevated and untouchable in my mind. Second: So where is the best fish taco in Utah? And that, my friend, is something you must find out for yourself.
One for me and two for you
One next to the ocean so you could hear every wave
--Smell the breeze
--Have that ocean-front view
And one on a hill so you could see for miles
--Get fresh air
--Watch people from a distance
--Watch the sun rise and set
And mine in the middle
--Close enough to the ocean
--And close enough to you
--Wherever you are
From the castle on the hill we looked around
--A perfect view
--Of the waves washing away
--The castle by the sea
From the empty plot where the sea castle stood we looked
--To the beautiful mountains
--And saw the wind eroding
--The castle on the hill
And mine in the middle
--It’s not big enough for the both of us
--But you can have it
--It will be safe from the elements
--Be careful to not knock down the walls
There’s enough sand to build you another castle
But now I’m too tired.
I cannot see your face
Nor can the police: smashing their
Small silver crown
Holding a big mushroom
And here’s your partner, Mario
You are…a robot?
No wait, you are changing
To a car! Oh, Optimus Prime.
Fanta—do you drink it?
Or you just like wearing less clothes.
All a little scary.
Other things are more frightening
I like going through train tunnels and feeling like my head is about to implode
I have dined in palaces and kingdoms
All of life is just passing time
It is raining in Hakone. I cannot see Fuji-san today.
I liked our Yukatas best in the Kyoto Ryokan.
I think we are going to
It is so foggy. First and last time to
This is my 25th and final place to sleep.
I finally was having a good dream but I woke up for no reason.
I hate wallpaper.
Room service, unicorns, I don’t want to squat shower, I don’t want gross breakfast.
Bless you, 9:28 am, eleven hours of sleep, three days until God knows what.
I just read about Buddha’s enlightenment, it sounded kind of cheesy.
Why can’t they just have some internet for me somewhere.
Someone has taken our robes and replaced them with new ones
This is unsettling.
Today we took many many modes of transportation
And even made it home before dark. And saw Fuji-san again.
I am going to
I had a funny dream and you were wearing funny shoes.
I don’t want you to be any different than before. I’m just so worried.
We are going to watch Firewall and not
I am hungry for gorgonzola cheese spaghetti.
I bought a beautiful little dolls
You’re still the only one who feels like home.
Hopefully only two more days with this huge pit in my stomach
I can’t sleep anymore
Time to pack one more time.