I Bite To Break Skin
Pockets of the city streets hold plumes of air steeped in the scent of your sweat. Your presence becomes palpable once I stumble upon them, your smell colliding against my skin. Devouring me, forcing me to revisit the memory of our story, the one about you and I, existing now only in a present being lived out in our past. The years of its narrative summarized in seconds. Initiating a highlight reel projecting instances of pain and elation permanently trapped within my head but experienced inside my heart.
I have acquired a new habit as of late, when I am stalked by the memories ignited by your familiar odor encountered while shuffling through the streets of the city…I bite to break skin, to exsanguinate that sudden surge of you circulating through me every now and again.
For once in the past 3 years, draining the toxin of you from my body and watching you drip out of my life has been a satisfyingly serene scene to surrender into while attempting to escape the putrid sweetness of your stench. I've chosen insanity for my sanity's sake.
Nothing new, I only ever made a mess of everything.
15 Years For One Day
Today I happened to glimpse through a dusty window and saw a present world I had known and occupied during my past. It was so strange, that my first reaction was be flooded with relief. To be so grateful I no longer reminisce on pursuing that feeling of discomfort I had familiarized myself with and always embraced and normalized, existing in a constant state of disarray during my time spent in that place. I mean, my current self is far from the woman I will forever strive in my pursuit to be, I never thought I would say this and I know my 16 year old self is giving me a death stare right now, but striving to become a woman more like the mother I was so beyond lucky to have to act as an example for me..Even if I have been painfully slow on the uptake up until now. Today I surprised myself that without hesitation I turned and gladly walked away from the girl set beneath that dusty glass that holds the memory of my past existence and those souls still trapped within that space and time. I hope that all those who feel like they are a stranger stuck in a place that should be left in their past, find the strength to embrace the discomfort that comes with your decision to start walking toward the possibility of a better present future. It's not Mother's Day, or someone's birthday, or any day worth celebrating. But for me, today was simply just a very good day.
Note To Self
Sometimes I am certain that I am completely generic.
I am a mass produced 8 1/2" x 11" glossy sheet of photo paper.
I decorate my stock identity with stock photos that meet the world's stock expectations,
depicting instances of elation,
pixelated ink perfectly smeared across the faces of smiling children,
in happy families.
a fabricated composition of uniqueness.
I am one of those bland image filled pieces of paper,
set beneath glass,
to compliment an eclectic mix of countless picture frames,
displayed on department store shelves.
My purpose: help a prospective buyer visualize what the future could hold--
I am pained to concede and accept
my purpose as a sheet of paper.
I exist merely as a filler until I can be replaced
trashed to make room for captured memories the continuation of my presence is not permitted to permeate
never even considered capable of holding a place of permanence
under the glass upon another's mantle.
who purchases a frame for the stock photos
displaying strangers in the act of creating manufactured moments of supposed happiness? I am the prospect of better days that lay ahead in a frame for another's future to fill.
“Gray,” she replied while straightening her back to accompany her brazen tone.
Silence stung the air circulating through the car. The emphatic delivery of her answer had disrupted the flirtatious fluidity that had entangled the two in uninterrupted banter over the past hour. She couldn't help herself. The color had once again started to systematically drain from the world she had come to know and love the closer she came to their parting of ways. It had all become too painful of a ceremony to shroud under the 'c'est la vie' facade she had been trying to maintain.
Dorian focused her gaze upon the coastline, empty aside from the vicious winter swell pounding against the white sand shores. She rolled down the passenger side window, permitting her right hand to play with the balmy air outside, slicing through it in undulating waves. She closed her eyes and embraced the warm light spilling through the car’s windows. Longing for this paradise rippled through each of her days. He always initiated their stream of synthetically digitized interactions, forcing her to continually long for the happiness that swallowed her entirety. The technology of the future charged with eliminating the separation between people and places had been serving to remind her where she wished she was when she was not.
“Gray? Why gray?” James’s confusion was soaked in to every syllable of his response after her abrupt answer to his playful probing.
She looked over at him. At his bright green eyes focused on the gray cement ahead of him as the car rolled closer to their end.
“Well.. Gray has this way of shading a person’s perception. It happens slowly and then all at once as Hemmingway put it. You are walking down the street wearing your rose tinted glasses and then it knocks the wind out of you. And you start to see the world as it actually is, existing in absence. Like the color gray, it is found directly between white and black on the color spectrum. If you look up the word “gray” it is actually defined as being without color. And when it hits you, well then your fucked. With your eyesight no longer impaired, you notice the world around you is functioning to fill an inherent sense of absence, because it creates purpose for humanity.”
“So you’re saying I create purpose in your life?” he teased with an arrogant smirk slapped across his face.
“No. What I am saying is that you have created an absence within me..” the pain was painted upon her words as she spoke, “that I know you will never relent to fill. We, you and I, exist in a poetically tragic state of passing goodbyes. You entered my life slowly then all of sudden the gray came crashing into my world and I was not ready for it. And after I met you, the world looked uglier. You are every shade of gray I want in my life but cannot endure the continuous pain that your absence causes.”
James’s face was tight. “What airline are you flying again?” The airport terminals appeared through the front windshield offering an opportune escape from responding to her imploring explanation.
“Hawaiian Airlines,” her chest hurt as it always had from his absence.
She wanted to stay. She wanted to live her life in love with his gray. She wanted to scream out into the gray world he had created for her and she found herself trudging through each day because of him.
The car stopped. She looked over at James but her voice was absent. She slid out the passenger side of the car and gathered her backpack from the truck bed. She came around to the driver side of the car and met James standing outside smiling at her. He hugged her and she kissed him on the cheek. He leaned in to kiss her on the lips but she pushed him back. “Aw, come on, one kiss for the road. I’m going to miss you.”
“No,” She turned her face away refusing his offer of affection.
“Text me when you land,” James offered, his tone sympathetic, knowing he had escaped responding to her proclamation of want and love.
Dorian managed a smile, turned and walked toward the airport doors. James’s voice echoed against the gray world around her, “I love you, I’m sorry that I will always be gray for you. Don’t go to Bali!”
Typical she thought, ‘don’t go to Bali, but you can’t stay here’ is what he truly meant. She looked up, watched an airplane take off into the bright blue expanse of a cloudless sky, disrupting its innate beauty with its gray body, and whispered to herself while walking through the sliding glass doors of the airport, “I love you too.’
When we awoke again it was spring and the sun’s light was just barely beginning to break through your blinds, the bands of light bending in and caressing us in a tender warmth. It is with the strength still radiating from that warmth that I write to you in hopes of melting away the bitter chill emanating from the depths of your glacial state of being.
Your arms were cinched around my waist, our torsos tightly pressed against each other and our legs a tangled mess from the countless hours we had spent asleep. I knew by the unsteady pace of your breath that you were awake. To break the silence I spoke in a gentle softness that slipped through the air like the breeze blowing outside of your window,
“Hello darling.” You could hear the smile crack across my face through my chapped lips, broken and dry from dehydration.
“Hello,” you mustered languidly in response.
“What shall we do today love?” I said while exhaling the last bit of my lingering exhaustion in a heavy heap, as though I was finally rested from the long night, day, and night once more I spent asleep in your arms.
“I suppose we should shift our focus to foraging for food rather than continuing to habitually hibernate for another day,” you replied with a smirk slapped across your face, amused and satisfied by the rhythmic fluidity of your response.
“I am famished!” tumbled out of my mouth desperately. Yet I was met with no reply.
Instead, there we continued to lay, soaking in the silence. We were both wasting away from the several nights we had enthusiastically foregone our primal urge for sleep and ignored the pangs prompted by the forgotten feeling of hunger. We had reveled in our finite time playing together, the prelude to my upcoming departure to Bali. Do you remember all of the time we spent exploring each other’s voice penned on paper producing pages upon pages covered in sloppy handwriting? Can you recall the inspiration spilled from us with fluidity while scribbling sheets of poetry, random momentary reflections, and insomnia induced concocted narratives we pieced into what we perceived to be exquisite poetic prose created for each other’s amusement? When I walk along the shoreline I am haunted by the scent of the Egyptian sheets that covered your bed, how they had swallowed our sweat as our skin slipped against one another, overcome in moments of lustful madness and then in the darkness they had sheltered us from fear with several of our soirees with insomnia induced psychosis in those hours we spent lost in the chasms of our own minds. And then the last night came before my departure, and I wish for my memory to dissolve into the hollow space that separates then from now.
“Love,” I said sweetly. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”
I could feel your body tense, heartbeat quicken and your breathing pick up its pace as you spoke, “I honestly don’t want to think about it, I want to pretend that it never happened. In fact, I don’t ever want to know what actually happened.” Your tone was stern but ridden with fear.
The silence you demanded sliced through me, even your body was rejecting the mere mention of what happened, leaving me alone, the narrative of which replays relentlessly in my mind.
It was the middle of the night. You stood up, let out a deep, labored breath, then suddenly your body went rigid and you fell backwards onto the couch. I was not prepared, it all happened at such a rapid pace.
I have forgiven myself for not being able to immediately process what had transpired before me. I thought you were acting out a cruel joke, and I just stood there and screamed at you to stop. When I realized what I was witnessing was the product of our indulgence and irresponsibility that had been dictating our actions, I froze. I have not yet found a way to forgive myself for that. I watched your body begin to shake uncontrollably, your limbs flailing, your eyes rolled back into your head and foam was spilling from your mouth. When your convulsions finally stopped, I was sitting on top of you, trying to make your body stop shaking. I sat there and stared into your clenched face, into your beautiful vacant green eyes. I was silent.
I still wish I had not bit my tongue at the last words you uttered to me seconds before your collapse, “This is a big one, I can’t even see what I am doing.” Those words still sting my heart and make my brittle bones ache with remorse. I should have stopped you in that instant. I should have said something. Anything.
I watched you finally surrender and take what I thought at the time would be your final breath. I did not call for help even though my phone laid there next to us, instead I started pleading with you to survive and began pounding on your chest and punching your arms. How fast it was that your flushed and beautiful face was completely drained of its color once you were deprived of oxygen. I was certain you were gone.
You laid there, not breathing, unconscious, your eyes were open but now rolled off to the side, locked in an empty stare. In that moment I knew the person I had become, all the hideousness that had been festering inside me for years. Putting your life in my hands finally confirmed my ugliness as a human being, there were no more facades, my fake innate goodness absent when you needed me most. And with that realization my only response was to begin to beg the cosmos to let you come back. I was wasting what time you still may have had left, time that could have been spent calling for someone to arrive that had the ability to save you because I knew that I could not.
I tell myself that your humanity must have been the good to my evil, because suddenly your body shuddered beneath me and your heart beat once more. You resurfaced from your glimpse down at the endless abyss that waits for us all, gasping for air, in sparse, deep breaths but unable to move. All I had done to resuscitate you was barter with hope and plead with despair for you to return. I found myself flooded with a selfish form of gratitude as I witnessed you begin to battle and beg for breath. Minutes passed as you laid there gasping for air while I sat silently holding your hand and watching as the green and blue painted across your face began to fade and slowly disappear. You looked like a child having encountered their first fear, and for you it was the darkness. You still do not realize that part of the darkness you fear is actually me.
I suddenly wanted to scream all these enduring details, I needed to fill the void you insisted on permitting to persist to protect yourself from the reality of the possibility that your decisions could have caused your ultimate finality. Your memory of the night is completely void. You would not let me tell you how scared I had been by what had transpired. You would not let me tell you that you had just survived a seizure brought on by a cocaine overdose. You refused to let me explain that you had pressed your body to the brink of its own demise from too many syringe filled doses delivered through too many needle points having pierced into your thirsting veins in too short of a time. You had thought you were invincible while wearing those countless needle marks that you had collected on your forearms like a badge of shame. You do not remember how I refused to let you fall asleep while we tirelessly began piecing your parts back together like a puzzle, your speech, your movements, your cognition, all that had been affected during your seizure.
I needed to confront you and repent for all of the decisions I had made the night. I wanted to tell you I would not have let you die, that I would have dialed 911, that those 60 seconds during your dance with the darkness, that the time between your last breath and your own body’s recitation felt like hours, days and years were inching by endlessly while I just sat there. The emptiness reflected in those green eyes of yours remain as a constant punishment for my lack action when you needed me most. All I could do was sit there pleading and begging and bargaining for you to come back to me. I know that I should have spent that time calling an ambulance. I know I should have forced you to go to the doctor immediately following what had just transpired, instead of allowing you to convince me otherwise because of your own fear for what had just happened. I’m sorry that I did not have the courage to collect myself enough to do anything to save you when there was not anyone else around to take on that moral responsibility. It was not the fear of any legal consequence that left me paralyzed, it was staring into the face of what could ultimately be my own fate and an innate evilness that must consume me. I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. I changed my flight to Bali the following morning because I did not want you to be alone for the next few days after everything you experienced. But after all of it, you were here, lying in bed next to me, the time surrounding your lapse of life, a non-communicable occurrence that left me swallowed by its looming shadow.
“Okay,” I had conceded. I was lost in memory of you, green and blue, with foam soaked lips and that lifeless stare of forever’s bleak but absolute surety coming for us all painted across your face, which I know will always be there to haunt me, always to keep me company in my loneliness, chiseled into the annals of my memory as a reminder of how I had failed you that night.
I turned over and you laid onto your back and stared up at the ceiling, I could tell you were adrift in thought. I wondered how far off you currently were from my stranded state in my mind, guilt and fear holding me hostage, confined in a lonely prison cell, encased and slowly suffocating in my own coffin, replaying all those terrifying moments from that night like a relentless highlight reel projecting the past.
I crawled up your side, pulled my arms around your chest and laid my head down to rest so that I could hear the heavy thump of your strong heart. Then I took my hands and encircled the outline of it and let my lips loose several small but deliberate kisses upon each perfectly timed beat, and thought silently to the cosmos, ‘thank you.’
We remained silent for another five minutes or so before we crawled out of bed, both of us physically able to face another day. I cooked you breakfast and you sat on the bench outside on the lanai, watching the sun and swell rise in a powerful silence. I told you I was going to the store, but that was never my intention. It would have come as no surprise to you had you known that I drove out to Keana Point, you knew that I always called it my happy place. There I walked down to the shore break still baffled with by inability to act and reflected on the person that I had become in the moment you needed me most. I decided to stay on shore and I skipped rocks for most of that day. I imagined that I was throwing all of those rotten parts of myself that had failed you away. I watched enthralled in the way they delicately skipped across surface of the water then visualized them sink to the bottom, where I wanted them to settle and remain at rest, anchored to the ocean floor far away from me, but I felt their presence as they came roaring back toward me on waves that crashed before my feet. My wretched soul compelled me to grasp for them in desperation, having regretted my decision to leave them behind and their familiar discomfort I had always used to keep my life in continuous disarray. But they were pushed and pulled at the whim of the tide and slipped through my fingers, dissipating out into the turquoise water, as if confirming that after everything that had transpired, by letting go of them, I had finally made a sound decision to be a better version of myself and perhaps I could be saved. It was then I was reminded of that leaky sink faucet in your bathroom. It seemed to always hold fluids that dripped so steadily, I pictured that it held all of your own personal pain and discontent in the water that flowed down the drain and into the current of a stream roaring out into that same sea that lay before me. The continued existence of your leak it seemed, would always push the goodness of the fluid comprising your painful parts into a riptide within that sea, forever pulling you away from the ugliness of the liquid holding those similar discarded pieces of me.
With this realization my love, I retreated into my favorite memory, a reoccurring dream that had always made reality seem less ugly, in a picturesque setting where the entire world seemed airbrushed. Surveying that scenery in silence I finally understood, that needless to say, it had been our words that had failed us.
My Dealings with Death.
It was November 8, 2015. I will always remember the date.
It was that day I was taught to differentiate all of the numerous nicks and scratches that my natural haphazard gait and clumsiness had caused throughout my life with marks and tracks that now remain as badges of pain and shame painted in scars across my arms and legs. No one put a gun to my head and said, “try this or die.” I was never forced to do anything other than satiate my own devious desires and temptations. Rather, it was a sweet smile and what I now understand and have reconciled to be a lonely whisper disguised and paraded before me in poisonous promises of a good time that coaxed me out of what had been a decade of declining to take that plunge. Smoking and snorting drugs were child’s play with which I had engaged habitually over the course of my life and I knew that injecting would be my own end game. I continue to combat the urge to fall prisoner to all of my pointy preoccupations, and I know I will until my last breath. As time has passed since my last stab wound, I am fortunate to have been granted the gift of perspective and insight. After allowing myself time to reflect upon those concepts, I find that I am now left with a year and a half of dark memories I have aptly and ominously labeled ‘death.’
I am obviously still physically alive, I know that I am breathing so I must be alive, though most of the time it does not feel as such. So I use the word ‘death’ as an analogy to define the all encompassing finality that first plunger pushed set into motion with respect to my life. The death of my self-respect and dignity. The death of my self-control. The death I sat atop pleading with and pounded upon after it crept into the chest of the owner who had first given me a taste of death’s sharp sting. Two of my own intimate caresses with death during subsequent overdoses, both occurring on the island where I had come to make death’s acquaintance. The death of friendships, both false and real. The death of trust in me by family and friends. The death of hope. The death of my own sanity during the month’s I spent skipping stones across the dark placid pools in my own mind labeled logic and reality. Death and its unwavering chokehold has strangled me for the last year and a half, and I now find myself searching for air amongst the rotting and putrid pieces of myself and all those associated with death I now choose to leave behind in my wake.
I skim through the annals containing my blood splattered pages of pain each moment I find myself tempted to surrender to that sharp needle tip just one more time. I often frequent the lustful feeling of succumbing to just one more fleeting foxtrot with that numbing sensation the needle brings with its efficiency at silencing the world around me. The trade off is its instantaneous ability to swallow me in despair following that moment of serendipitous silence. At this time this desire still happens frequently in every other passing moment of each day. I am told my pangs for tasting that destruction will slowly dissipate, I scream often for this sanctuary, though I have yet to find it or any solace there as of yet. What distinguishes my current plight for salvation from my countless prior failed caresses with sobriety is the presence of hope that now pulsates through me. That subtle glimmering light is but a flicker in my eyes fostering if only seconds of passing positivity and I can feel it as it permeates outward from my lungs as I gasp for air during my darkest moments. I can feel hope struggle with and push against the gravitational pull of each form of death I have experienced. All that I know to be death has lost its power over my future life and as such has begun collapsing back into the universe like a burnt out star. Without reprieve death screams at me, beckoning me back into its now brewing pit of destruction or future as a black hole trapping all matter, energy and light from which I would be forever imprisoned if not for the promise of hope I now carry.
The beginning of the end began with a search for relief. I sought refuge on an island in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles away from the anguish that had bound me in an immobilizing and stagnating grip for so long. I went to work searching Oahu for such a reprieve. What better place to rest my head and search for my own self satisfaction than this parenthetical paradise far from the reach of my daily debacles back home? I started my journey in a rental car watching the sun rise each day over the small offshore islands and sandbars on the picturesque beaches that met a ravenously beautiful jungle on the east side of the island. At the end of each day I would drive up to gates of surfer heaven on the north shore to then watch the sun set serenely into the ocean next to Kaena Point. To this day, despite all of my enduring endeavors and bitterness with Oahu, I stay firm in my resolve that when asked to visualize my “happy place,” my thoughts turn to Kaena Point.
fullsizeoutput_b3I guess it was appropriate that I came to know Kaena Point as such a space when my thoughts go to dark places. In ancient Hawaiian mythology and culture it is said that Kaena Point is sacred land and it is known as leaping place for souls into the afterlife. It is located on the westernmost tip of the island, which gives weight to the analogy Hawaiians use for one’s journey to the afterlife with the phrase to “travel west.” Hawaiian culture recognizes a separation between the spirit and the human body, much like that of Catholicism, which I sometimes still call upon in times of turmoil as it is the only spirituality I have ever known or was taught. It is told that the human spirit has the ability to exit the body and wander from it leaving the physical qualities of an individual asleep or weary. These souls normally travel west to the leaping place into the afterlife found at Kaena Point, though some are not ready to pass and therefore not permitted entry. Those souls must then return or wander back to their original body. A wandering soul is considered hazardous however as it is susceptible to being captured or blocked from finding its physical presence once more. Forever destined to wander between actually living and the finality of death.
I was a wandering soul. I had traveled west to the Hawaiian islands searching for my soul and found my death. In the time I spent at Kanea Point, I mostly sat in silence on the picturesque white sand shores that swallowed the high and lengthy mountain face of the point that lay steeped with cracks and bordered by boulders that looked as though they were originally meant to roll off the abrupt edges of the point’s face and into the expansive ocean at its feet. During my most trying times, when death would unexpectedly make a decisive debut, I went out to this fairly isolated space to be alone so that I could just sit and cry. I remember telling myself once that I would be okay as long as I could feel my tears run down in streams across my cheeks and taste their salt once they pooled around the corners of my lips. I knew during these introspective interludes I required from the fracturing state of my reality that I was consumed with evil, I just needed to make sure I was still alive. Whenever I was confronted with that looming toxic cloud I now scream out at as death, and it should be said that it was frequently, I drove out to Kaena Point.
I had fallen short in my life in so many ways. I was usually out at Kaena Point alone with my thoughts. I realize now, that my incessant resolve to retreat to those shores was my subconcious reaching out for a connection to anything. I had no resolve to maintain a connection with my family whom for years had loved me dearly all the while I spent that time pushing and cursing the outpouring of love that they gave me away. I hated them for it. How could they love something so evil, selfish and broken as me without fail? All I had ever done was lap at their ears with sweet lies undulating in waves before crashing onto sands that were hesitantly soaked up by the shores of their love and redirected into the vein of their hope for peace for the daughter and older sister they loved. My friends were fleeting and as time passed I found fewer and fewer instances or excuses to spend time cultivating relationships with them. I had lost my job, my boyfriend and my apartment due to my mental instability and inability to find happiness in the cookie cutter future I had been repelling against but appeared fated and forced to ascribe until my breakdown.
I had been teasing and flirting with death even before that first needle prick, but it was not until that moment it pierced my skin that I was finally ready to be consumed. After learning the history Kaena Point, I began to spend time there pleading with the gods to be released. I must have looked insane to the few explorers that ventured out to the point and happened to witness me talking and screaming at the ocean while walking alone along those empty shores, always relenting to permit the wind to play with each strand of my wild hair. A autonomous reminder that I still could feel. I begged the Gods for the strength to let go of the earthly realm so as to commence my welcoming party that certainly must be patiently waiting for me at the gates of Hell. My soul lusted for the depths of those turbid dark blue waters that are told to hold the souls of all the ancient Hawaiian ancestors whom have crossed over and what must also contain all those others, like me, whom had been ready to pass into the afterlife.
But as it is said in the stories and the mythological writings of cultural tales within Hawaiian history, the spirits of loved ones and friends whom have already passed on come to meet the arriving soul in question with the wisdom to differentiate between those individuals ready to proceed to the afterlife with others that have arrived earlier than their fated time of departure. Though I tried to convince a sea of souls that my time had come, I know now my soul had arrived prematurely. My soul required a guiding presence back to my body that it had been tirelessly wandering in search of for a decade. I needed helping hands to renounce death and embrace salvation. I believe the journey back to my self began with the arrival of my ancestral spirits sent to assist me back into my own sleeping, weary and fatigued body. I like to think they were accompanied by the souls of my parents and brother, compelled to wander because they could feel the depths of my pain and were pulled them from their bodies by my ancestors knowing that I danced with death too many times to be dissuaded just by the spirits of those whom already called death home. My ancestor’s must have known that I required courage and strength to pull me from the depths of my anguish and despair. Such relief could only be provided through the breath of life, which came in the form of a life preserver cast out and within reach just as the water surrounding me began to fill my lungs.
What have I learned from my confrontations with Death? That nothing is as it seems, or rather everything is as it is, and you can choose to give up and scream for a release from this earthly realm, or you can embrace love. Love will guide you through your shadow valley. Embrace love.