Personal

“I’m exhausted by my heart”

It’s complicated,” she whispered softly the other night. Several nights ago. And I never knew what that meant all those nights ago. In these sleepless nights, I stare at the oblivion unraveling before me. The darkness has crept in, hasn’t it? And I understand what she meant.

“Why do some people insist on staying in a toxic relationship,” I ask my friend one night.

“Because they’re used to being in it and change is hard. And scary,” she responds.

Maybe it’s that I’ve forgotten. Forgotten what it’s like to be in a relationship. In a romantic relationship. The need of having someone who you can wrap yourself to and just let all the heaviness fade away. It’s been eight years since Jeanna, nearly as long apart as we were together. I tried to remember how it was in those days. Feeling empty. Abandonment.

“I miss you,” her text message read. And a part of me wants to respond with a cynical line: It would be hard to miss me if you stopped leaving me behind. But I don’t have the nerve. Because somewhere along the line, I stopped being the self-centered, selfish asshole. And I start thinking that this is some sort of self-issued penance for the years I was a terrible person to those I loved.

“I feel like this a healthy relationship for you,” my friend texts.

And I bite back the tears as I respond: “So I ask again: Why do some people insist on staying in a toxic relationship?”

“I don’t know how you do it,” my supervisor tells me. We’re in her office at work and I just broke the news that I want to leave the library. After everything I’ve been through in the last two years and now COVID-19, I’m feeling less and less content at work. Every morning it’s a fight to convince myself to go in.

“Do what?” I ask. But I know what she’s going to say. Because I ask myself that every day.

“After what you told me about the accident. Your father last year. I think I would have broken down already.”

“And yet I smile,” I say, rolling my eyes at the fact that I just quoted a zombie show. “The smiles aren’t for me. They’re for everyone else. Because if I crumble, the I feel…” and I let that fade into the silence.

“A friend one told me,” I continued, “that I carried the world on my shoulders. That I made everyone’s well being my responsibility. And maybe I do. There’s Jeanna. There’s Shaun. There’s you and there’s Doris. I do it for others and rarely for myself.” And before I go too far into the good guy complex, I fall silent. “I’ve been thinking of seeking someone,” I end my part of the conversation.

Six years later, things are still complicated. And after a lengthy text conversation, she ends it with, “This could be the wine speaking…” And the oblivion wraps its arms arms around me in a welcoming embrace, an old friend falling back in step with me. And as I close my eyes and welcome it, my mind whispers, “Is this all there is?”

Personal

“The bandwidth is throttled”

I should be doing something. I have the whole day off and all I’ve managed is to go back to sleep after dropping Shaun off at school. I’ve also watched several minutes of Tik Tok videos. I blasted through two hours of watching YouTube. On my bed, lies my journal, my Dungeon Master’s Guide, and a magazine with an article I’ve been meaning to read for three weeks now. Yet, I can’t muster up the motivation to write, work on a D&D campaign, read, or anything.

Hell, the moment I turned on my computer, I opened Word then quickly double-clicked the Left 4 Dead 2 icon and wasted half an hour shooting modded hellish zombies.

Last night, the library held a book reading by local poet Edward Vidaurre. I haven’t been to many poetry readings recently. This year’s Love & Chocolate event was the first I stepped foot on stage in ages.

El Senor and Amado were also there. They were talking about getting the old band back together. I could be working on new material, but I’m not. I’m just here, listening to the song on repetition while writing these words and wondering what the fuck am I doing?

Maybe, I’ll take a nap. Figure some shit out in my dreams. Or, I don’t know, make an actual attempt. Maybe it’s just time to panic.

Doldrums

“I don’t know what compels me to do the very thing that fells me” *

Never been the spoken wordsmith. These things take time, I suppose. There was a plan, and the plan didn’t pan out. Not like I could say anything before the trip, and after it just felt too cliche. It’s a practice, getting the right words down. As a child, I practiced every syllable in the mirror. As a teen, the smart remarks came to me late. Day later, actually. Plagued with zingers and one-liners after the fact.

Each word carefully selected for the presentation, but the day came and I stood frozen before the class. Words blurted out in the moment always felt wrong. Out of place. Misused. Uncertainty rules my decisions, which is that I’m usually not making them.

How many times have I backspaced on this sentence? Or this one? Or this one? How do I used pauses to create some sort of false symphony of sound? Each word is important. Each placement proper. There are beats in my writing, right? A cadence, at least? Maybe. But who knows?

I just want to say the right thing. Find the perfect words. Because all these silences are becoming too unbearable.

*I know “Bad Ideas” by Tessa Violet has already been used, but it’s a damn catchy song by a damn catchy artist, ok?

Stream of Consciousness

“I still don’t know how I even survive”

Mornings aren’t any easier. Thirty-five years old, still trying to make sense of the world. On more than one occasion, adulthood has felt like a child playing dress up. Wondering when it’s suppose to set in. Wondering why it’s even a struggle to comprehend the roles we’re given. Punch in the numbers. Punch in the clock. Going through the motions without feeling. Punch out. Go home. Sleep. Repeat.

It’s easy to feel jealous of the youth and all their wasted potential. Ever wonder what you’d do if you could do it all again? Probably make the same mistakes. Just with better technology.

Saw a kid with Apple AirPods the other day. Nothing looked more ridiculous. Disembodied earphones. Fashion statement or poor design? Or brilliant marketing tool of making something so ugly into something you’ll dish out hard earned cash for? Saw an adult with Apple AirPods the other night. Skimming a novel. Nothing looked more pretentious. So desperate. So utterly sad, pathetic.

It’s all so overwhelming in this underwhelmed society. Moving on with the new fads. Thinking of starting a podcast. Thinking of starting a side hustle. Thinking of writing a book of poetry. Lyric essays. Short stories. Feeling trapped in myself. The world is just bleak.

Personal

“You make it difficult to not overthink”

“Maybe you should try being alone for a bit,” she said at the end of it all.

It’s true. Chasing others occupied most of my adolescent and post-adolescent lives. A syndrome inherited from someone who preached my importance was measured by those who loved me.

The three-year road leading to this peace of mind was forked, unpaved, and pot-holed. There were those I hurt and those who used my vulnerability to raise their self-esteem. I gave myself freely to anyone who gave me an ounce of attention. I fell for every smile. For every woman who made me laugh. I became the type of person who once made me cringed. I became that long, greasy-haired high school kid.

In the end, I came out scathed with a better understanding of myself. Of what I wanted. Of who I needed to become for my son. I focused on that world. And I grew in my contentment of being on my own. I learned, if you will, how to measure my worth by loving myself.

Then came you, the proverbial monkey wrench in the cogs of my machinery.

And I’m just tryna play it cool now

It happened slowly. And sometimes I find myself wondering if this was somehow orchestrated. As if that night that drove me to know you better was by designed. That someone meddled with my blossoming contentment of being alone.

Others painted you as aloof. One called you his arch nemesis. So when it came to interacting with you, I paced myself. Tested the waters before I cracked a joke. I wasn’t sure which way you’d lean. Of course, I rarely spoke to until you were invited to join in our reindeer games.

Then you gave me a ride home. And I got to know you as you are and not as you were made to be. I gave you my number without any thought later. A just-in-case for when we planned our next hang out.

I tried to ignore that pang when you confessed to me that your cat desecrated my copy of Bloodline. I failed to hide my smile we spoke in front of others. It shocked me that when your hand brushed mine, albeit accidentally, I didn’t flinch. Your touch didn’t drive my anxiety like so many others. And that scared me. It worried me.

I’m pretending you ain’t been on my mind

I’ve never been one to hide my feelings well. Never been one who wanted to talk about them either. So deniability worked well for me even though I reminded transparent on how I felt about you.

There were moments I felt we were on mutual ground. So I admitted it to you. And you panicked, so I panicked. And it was never brought up again.

But you filled up my free time. When not thinking of Shaun and being a father, I thought about you. I wrote cryptic passages on this blog, journal entries. I asked friends to help me figure you out.

I took an interest in the things you liked. I gave shows and movies I never thought of watching before. If we were a romantic comedy, the ending would be obvious. Inevitable.

“So why are you still single? I thought you were in a good place,” they ask.

There are moments when I over think the possibility  of an us. I’m not an easy person to be involved with. There are moments when my depression wins. There are moments when I become withdrawn. Where I ghost the people I love. Where I allow myself to fall into the abyss and stay there. There are moments when I feel undeserving of love. Moments when I realize how much of an asshole I am. There are moments when I drive out those who love me most. I play all the scenarios, seeing all the possible endings. I fall in and out of love. I’m selfish. I’m unkind.

But I like you. I like us. I am comfortable in this moment. I like texting you. Telling you that i like texting you. Sharing my peanut butter cookies with you. I love our conversations in the dark of your car as we leave another game/movie night. I like critiquing movies with you. Sharing those pop culture videos with you. Nerding out with you. Venting to you. I like sharing my truest self with you.

I just fear that one day I might become a source of your misery. And it scares me.

Maybe I’m just getting accustomed of being on my own. Maybe this is the doubt that I need to show me that I’m not where I want to be in life.

But I like you. And I think of you constantly. And I brighten when I receive your texts. So wherever this may lead, I’m glad that I met you.