Writing Challenge

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Day 1: Things We Carry

The lint in our pockets and the grievances in our hearts (you have not forgiven) where Jung’s collective unconscious comfortably resides. We haul around our: keys, wallets, purses, shoes, bags, judgment, beliefs, luggage, wounds, clouds, assumptions, dreams, hopes, backpacks, jackets–

The things we carry

Fear, mostly.

 

Day 2: An Open Door

4AM: the only source of bleak light that tentatively floods this room

5 AM: is bleary and blurred and obscure (“I didn’t know”) some rectangular glowing patch I stare and stare and stare at

6 AM: and when the sun rises ray by ray the light pours in and illuminates the open door (my head is too heavy to fall) (“It’s okay”)

 

Day 3: Faces In The Street

that you look at but do not see

litter the empty spaces in your dreams

 

Day 4: Mirror

there’s one on the living wall of the first house we bought when I was small enough to cartwheel across

I peer over

my hair is short. my collar bones jut out. camera slung over one arm, book clutched in the other hand, posture bordering on “poor” so I straighten my back

as I stare out the car window later I feel frozen empty shrunken in time

 

 

Day 6: The Aftermath

I never let you see anything, except maybe an organ or two.

Like: this bloody fleshy thing, with all its pipes and nerves. With all the cars stocked to the brim, with baggage clogging it up perpetually. And on this street were trash-cans set aflame in a dreamt-up city where everything was burning down and I was running away (Ophelia drowned, the Little Prince ran away. The drunken man drank to forget, to forget he was ashamed, to forget he was ashamed of his drinking)–

And this was the aftermath.

 

Day 7: Very Loud

few things as deafening as

your silence filling the spaces

Day 8: Shoes

He’s posing in shoes that don’t quite fit. Her hair is neon and she’s been off running since. Grief is running in shoes that are too big; identity’s trying on countless glass slippers to see if they’re it. But don’t worry—we’re young and we’re twenty and we still have time–

 

Day 9: Nothing

2AM I feel oddly consumed and obsessed with absolutely nothing

 

Day 10: Anywhere

I don’t know what I’m chasing after

and I don’t know what I’m escaping from but

I’m starting to think that it isn’t anywhere in this world.

 

Day 11: Stars

We pointed our fingers towards the sky. Amid all the light pollution in Manhattan, New York you could still see the stars.

I counted thirty two.

On a burst on spontaneity we’d bussed to NYC for shits and giggles. By then it was nighttime and we had–cramped and crouched over our cameras–finished watching the sun set. Now we stood across from Manhattan’s beaming glittering skyline in mind-numbing coldness and heart-fuzzing company.

In 30 years, I remarked, this would be what we’d remember: impromptu trips into the city, staring out at the skyline. Silly wild moments and mellow quiet ones, flickers of dialogue that made no sense out-of-context. Soon we’d forget the exams and the stress and the bullshit, but we wouldn’t forget the shnow and spontaneity and the stars–

We had come up with different numbers. We must have miscounted. So we hopped back onto the ice-glazed blocks to count the stars again.

Day 12: Out of Control

And he’s off. Always on the verge of going but never leaving, has finally left, albeit temporarily, for training. I made him promise me a million times he’d send me his address so I could send him weekly Letters from a Sentimental Mop. He promised. I said I’d throw in Tall Tale Thuradays.

He’s always telling me I’m out of control.

A few days ago we visited the lake and sat there talking about aliens and spiders and other ridiculous things. I was wearing my Ender’s Game shirt.

“If you could ask an alien one question, what would it be?”

I didn’t skip a beat. “Where are the Missing and Lost and are they delicacies on your planet?”

He chuckled. He said that he’d ask them where they’d come from and what language they spoke and if there were more of them. Of course there were more, I responded. I thought of Astronomy class and how small we were and this big hunk of rock hurtling around that we called home. I thought of this one star, the sun, that we worshiped and feared and didn’t stare dead in the eye and how there are billions of them out there: stars and planets and beings.

The sun set. We wandered around a bit. Skirted around the topic of politics through the drive thru. Later, we pigged out on milkshakes and waffle fries to DJ Khaled’s new album.

 

Day 13: Forgotten

except that I haven’t

 

Day 14: Home

10: like a sleepy warm embrace 9: the sound of hisses pots pans before dinner “o I just throw things together” 8: organized disarray groaning under its own weight 7: driving down winding empty roads

6: (tethered) 5: dancing, singing, stepping on my own toes 4: cardboard sign that reads FREE HUGS 3: cracking tilting falling apart but it’s not about the SHELL it’s about the PEANUT 2: happy slow light

1: and warm. very very warm

(Earlier I was reading Michael Mira’s (@journalofdisposablethoughts) post on how we all have to have a “home as a reference point….It could be at a railway station in Nairobi or in your wife’s loving arms.” Just something that keeps us 6: tethered–“we all need a single point in the universe to attach our roots.”)

 

Day 15: Witness

 

sea of fleshy shadow

 

Day 16: Small Things

Like freckles scattered across your nose and in the morning I wake up sloppy bright. I nod at your sadness because it makes you real and raw, rawness makes you real so life can touch you. And when the sun’s up and we’re swimming in a sea of faces I admit I’m only ever looking for yours

 

Day 17: Early Morning

I rewind in multiples of 3 6 5, count on my fingers when it’s orangey hot outside. I’m blinded at 8, sweaty-drowning at 4, despairing at 2, and counting down to 1 (12, 11, 10–)

Think Lua, Bright Eyes, cramped attics, friendship and sleepovers. How what’s ‘so simple in the moonlight/by the morning never is’. And today when I wake up it feels like hot winter in the middle of December.

Early morning ‘s forgetting when all I can do is remember.

 

Day 18: Warning

[708 days ago I trekked] onwards, onwards, [towards] the lit-up skyline [and] water’s reflected orbs [towards] the lost-and-confusion-inducing water that, every so often, would ripple with fish

[and they] leapt like the one catfish back home, the massive, lonely catfish that hung out with the turtles–

 

Day 19: Walk Away

I heard Nina Simone in Starbucks today; she sang this other song about walking away. It’s called “You’ve Got To Learn” and how you have to leave the table once love’s not being served. I liked the metaphor. I’ve always found dish metaphors to be interesting, like the one in Keri Hilson and Kanye West’s Knock You Down (“you see the hate they’re servin’ on a platter? So what we gon’ have: dessert or disaster?”)

But on the topic of walking away–

I mean, I understand the necessity of walking away. Sometimes you have to. Sometimes people are unkind. Sometimes people treat you badly. Sometimes people are traitorous or abhorrent or manipulative, and ain’t nobody got time for that. “Life is short. The opportunity cost of time is too high.” My economics professor said that two years ago, and I thought it was hilarious and true so I wrote it down. And it’s not easy to walk away from people or situations or what-have-you’s, but sometimes you.. have to, and it’s good for you. Like Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements, how it’s ultimately a blessing when disrespectful or unkind people walk away, despite it hurting initially.

 

Day 20: Supermarket

My favorite place as a kid was the supermarket. Not the park or playground, not a friend’s house or my beige-walled room, not the blanket-hut I’d constructed in my mother’s closet (close second), but the supermarket. So every time my parents announced they were off to buy groceries at this supermarket or that, I’d cry for them to wait up, throw on presentable clothes and then skip off to join them. Embark all glittery-eyed in our not-particularly-adventurous adventures to the supermarket.

I don’t know why I loved the supermarket so much. Maybe it was the space or clean tiles or the way everything was so cleanly arranged. Toys in the right-back. Christmas trees to the sharp right. Milk, eggs and essentials in the left-back, real-real-back because, as I learned years later, marketers used this as a clever ploy to get you to pass everything you didn’t need before reaching the things you did. Or maybe it was just the way the supermarket made me feel, like I, eight and skinny and bony and small, could expand with endless curiosity and familiarity.

Nowadays, though–and you saw this coming, you saw this coming–trips to the supermarket are tinged with Adulthood. Like managing a Budget while crossing things off a List and carrying out this Obligation on whatever regular basis I should. It’s less of an adventure and more of an obligation, a matter of need and convenience rather than inexplicable childish excitement. I suppose it was always supposed to be the former anyways. It’s a grocery store with household items, not the local amusement park.

But, I mean, it was still oddly magical for me. It was where I went with my parents. Where I quietly pined after toys (cough, sputter–Barbie Jammin’ Jeep Wrangler, Pink). Where I prepared myself to run into other fourth graders at any minute. It was where I splurged on back-to-school items and bathing suits I never wore and ice cream I finished too fast. It was where I felt like a kid, was happy as a kid: the supermarket. So every time I go home, I visit the supermarket again. And I can’t say it brings me the same expansive happiness, but I still get to revisit it for a while, the place and the feeling.

 

 

[30 Day Writing Challenge]

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One thought on “Writing Challenge

  1. allisonali June 12, 2018 / 8:20 am

    I so enjoyed reading 30 Day Writing Challenge, it is interesting the twists and turns it takes so much like our rambling thoughts – it starts off simple, clean, poetic, sparse but pointed. Then some days nothing and then some days more prose like with more to say. Self-imposed challenges are possibly more hard than other kinds. I may consider doing this myself. Inspiring as good writers can be.

    Liked by 1 person

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